The 6 Butterfly Bushes I planted in Leah's garden have actually started to bloom. Despite the heat wave, and county water restrictions, and just plain ol' forgetting to water them ..... they're actually blooming.
This is what they're supposed to look like:
And these are Leah's ...............
This is what the best one looks like, as of today:
That's the best one of the six. The four that are on the shadier side of the house are doing the best. The other two .... well, I might as well just give 'em a big non-green thumb down.
This is the next best one .... the lonely one of the edge of the flower bed.
And this one is about to bloom any day now .... and the other one of the 'best four' looks like this too.
This is from last September (I think) - when Leah's great-grandpa and great-Aunt Jody came out from California to see her, as well as Leah's great-Aunt Penny who was up from Virginia.
This is the video I've been dying to post to show everyone how precious it is. The song he sings is a Turnquist family tradition; as Jeff remembers his late-Grandma singing it to him when he was a little boy - Leah got the chance to be a part of the tradition too:
Thanks to Aunt Jody for getting this on a DVD to send to me - along with some other super cute pictures and videos!
The latest adventure at the Turnquist house is that we are remodeling my bathroom. Our house was built in 1968 - and pretty much everything in it, except for the washer and dryer; are from 1968. My bathroom was a massive pink glow ...... pink tile, pink tub, pink floor, pink sink. Oh and the tub has these lovely cheap stick on flowery things that are supposed to be non-skid - and I couldn't remove them for love or money. They're gross, and I've struggled to keep the bath mat accurately positioned to cover all of them so that my toes never touch them.
The first thing we're tackling is the shower and tub:
After awhile it looked like this:
Then Jeff ripped up the floor last Friday:
And cut the uneven drywall that had been left:
On Saturday Jeff and his Dad worked the get rid of the old tub. Turns out the thing was steel covered in porcelain. No smashing that thing ..... needless to say it was a chore to remove it.
This is what is left; just a puppy and a bare floor:
But you know how they say cats don't like change .... well as long as the new shower walls lay on the guest bed, Hannah is as happy as a clam to lay on the cool surface on a hot day:
"Oh ... you're home from work ...... Hi".
"Ahhhhh I can't get up ...... this is so cool".
"Honestly!! Feel it ...... climb on".
"It's enough to put you in a trance".
"No - lady. Lookit, put the camera down and feel this stuff!"
Now, if Petey is really a grasshopper than I guess I should change the title of this post, and his name ... but in any event: little Petey had an adventure today. He rode on the hood of my car from the parking garage at the Metro stop, all the way home. (About a 12 minute drive). I suppose he was there on the hood before I even got into the car, but I didn't notice him until I was pulling up to swipe my card to exit the parking garage. As I waited for the first traffic light, I took a picture of him:
I figured by the time I made my first few turns and got my speed up to the mid 40's, he'd tumble, or get blown off; and it made me kind of sad. But, somehow he kept hanging on. By the time I was about to get onto the main road, which would take me (us) up to speeds of about 60 - he got thrown onto the windshield!! See:
That's when I really figured he was done for .... poor little Petey. But no. Smart Petey ducked down into the crevice below the windshield wiper and behind the hood, and stayed there for the rest of my ride. (During which I could not take a photo cause I was too busy not being that person who plays with their phone while driving on a major road). It was somewhere along that stretch of road that I named him Petey, and was literally saying things like "Hang on Petey!!!".
Sure enough, he made it home with me - safe and sound, albeit a tad windblown.
P.S. Yes, we did have an earthquake here in Maryland this morning - yes I did feel it - no I wasn't scared - yes I knew it was an earthquake right away - and no, neither Sam nor Hannah 'sensed' it or freaked out. (Just a quick string of answers to the same questions I've been asked all day).
Remember 6 months ago when I wrote about wanting all the EB supplies out of my house?
Well, then why does Leah's room still look like this:
That is just a small amount of what we used to have. We took the boxes that were for Jonah and Tripp to the UPS store right after Leah passed - but most of these are going to Leslie Radar, who then organizes supplies for families that need them. Although going through them just now, I did miss one for Jonah - sorry buddy!!
I think I'm stalling for several reasons. One: it is, understandably, depressing to be in her room. Even though she only ever took 1 nap in her room, it is still Leah's room.
When we want to store something in there for the time being we'll say 'Put it in Leah's room'. It's hers, and it's full of her stuff, but not her. So we're not exactly going in there a lot.
Secondly, if I finally take the boxes to the UPS store, well then I'm kind of beholden to clean up and organize the rest of her room - which would be ... you guessed it: depressing.
It's somewhat organized, her closet is full of Tupperware tubs, more tubs are lined up against one wall .... each one full of different things. But, if one day I wondered: "Where is that Elmo doll she loved so much?", I wouldn't know exactly where to go. Some tubs have blankets and clothes, some have clothes she never wore, some have clothes that have been 'stained' with Alwyn cream and Aquaphor. (EB moms will know what I mean .... that stuff is impossible to get out).
Overall I'd like to separate everything out. Toys she loved (that we'd never give to another baby), clothes she wore (that I'd never put on another baby, not to mention that I'd like to use them to make into a quilt), blankets she loved (again, for a quilt), toys that were never opened. I have toys still in their Christmas wrapping paper ....... I can't bear to open them but the sight of unopened Christmas presents might be the saddest thing ever. Hence, I didn't even take a picture of them.....
Not every memory of Leah's room is bad though ......
I remember the pre-trach days: after her 7 o'clock-ish bath we'd go up to her room and that's where I'd do any bandages she needed (which at that time - weren't that many - so few, in fact, it was easy to do her dressings myself), diaper and cream her up, wrap her in a blankie and then downstairs we'd go for a warm bottle and cuddle time. Which was my favorite time of all....
Yesterday my Mom and Dad made the drive down from Philly to visit Jeff and I. Yesterday, the 10th, not only would have been Leah's 17 month birthday; 1 year ago on that day was when Leah needed her emergency tracheostomy performed. It was the day we almost lost her; the day we were ushered out of her PICU room while Leah and I didn't break eye contact with each other for one second as she screamed at the terror of not being able to breathe; and all the multitude of strangers faces crowding in on her. It was the day we realized the road we were travelling with her would come to an end; sooner rather than later. I remember sitting in the totally empty operating waiting room with Jeff - blankly staring ahead, gripping one of Leah's binkies in my hand; praying she would make it. Because honestly, at that moment, we didn't know if the doctors were going to save her.
Her trach was made an emergency because no one could intubate her; it was literally impossible with how narrow her throat was. We were taken into a consult room where the resident basically said (in a very kind and calm way): "It's either let her go or trach her. It's either end this now, or go on with more stress and work than you're already doing with her.". We signed the paper to allow the surgery without a second thought.
So, suffice it to say my Mommy and Daddy wanted to make sure we had a good day this year. So we all went out to a nice dinner, and then to a baseball game; which ended in a fireworks display. (The stadium for the Bowie Baysox is literally about 7 minutes from our house). So I guess I need to add to my thank-you's and thank them as well! : )
But; to explain: the address that used to be listed on the sidebar here for which people could send any kind of card or gift to us was actually my parents address. So I could only retrieve those things whenever I went up to Philly, or they came down here. And since it's been 2 months since either of those things happened, there were 2 things waiting for me to open. (The address listed now is my work address: so I would assuredly get any mail quickly).
So first: a big belated thank you to Tina; who went to high school with my sister, and whose letter went unopened for almost 2 full months. Tina sent me a beautiful letter, on beautiful butterfly stationery, and a $50 gift card to Massage Envy. Tina won the gift card through Jonah's EB Auction - but said she wanted to pass it along to me, rather than use it for herself. How sweet!!!
So thank you Tina!!!
Secondly: a big thank you to the Verret family in Louisiana. They made, and sent me this:
A butterfly quilt!!!
Here are some close up shots:
This block says:
Little guardian Angel,
Fly high above the sky,
We'll be again together,
In the blinking of an eye.
And each block has a butterfly shape quilted in:
How precious is that?!?!
So again, huge thank yous!! I still can't get over people's generosity with these types of things. I have gotten so many kind and beautiful cards, letters and gifts from people I don't know and have never met! Believe it or not, some of my close blood relatives have sent me neither card, email, etc ... but these 'strangers' out there in the 'blogmosphere' fell in love with Leah's face and story and continue to share their hearts in this way ..... it's really unbelievable. But it helps me to remember that the world is still full of some really good people - and that the faceless 'strangers' out there across the world and in every timezone, carry memories of my little girl - just as I do.
The other day I realized how few pictures of Leah I have. In reality, I have tons; but I feel like I need more. Other people have photos/videos I don't have; have never seen, and I feel like I need to hoard them. So I've been emailing people like crazy asking for all their Leah footage. I'm also in the process of pulling the 200+ photos/videos I have on my phone onto my computer.
So I'll have some more new photos/videos to post in the near future .... but for now, these are some of my new favorites.
Would ya look at those eyes .....
"Yes, yes, Ma, I get it - I'm the cutest thing ever ...."
So I just found this picture while I was cleaning my office and had to share it. It's me, not sure how old, (maybe 4ish) sitting on the steps outside of the Philly rowhouse I grew up in. It not only shows how nerdy I was (Jeff calls this smile my 'too big smile' - and I still do it jokingly), and that I really did have HUGE glasses, but it also shows that I always wanted to be a Mommy. (Notice the baby dolls big blue eyes, blonde hair and ....... of course, binky). And since Leah looked like me .... this is what she would've looked like in a few years (though without the glasses and dorky 1980's clothing).
1.Before we had Leah, neither Jeff nor I had done any of these tasks: changed a diaper, fed a baby, or dressed a baby. In fact, I can't recall if I ever held a baby before I had Leah.
2.(My excuse for number 1) I'm the baby of the family ..... truly. I am the youngest grandchild from both sets of my grandparents, and my Dad is 1 of 8!
3.Jeff and I are both left-handed.
4.Both Jeff and I are the products of right-handed parents.
5.Leah, Jeff and I all have names with initials that spell something. (It's a tradition in my Mom's family ..... LET, JET and MEG (now MET)).
6.Until my first ultrasound I was convinced Leah was a boy ..... Jeff was convinced she was a girl. (One of us had to be right).
7.I was named after the main character in the novel The Thorn Birds (my Mom read it while she was pregnant with me).
8.Jeff was named after a street inLong BeachCalifornia (where he was born).
9.We decided on the name 'Leah' partially because of one of the sextuplets on Jon and Kate Plus 8.
10.I wasn't crazy about the name at first; then I did research into it and found out it meant 'wild cow'. Then I was really hesitant. Then I read somewhere about how Laban (Leah and Rachel's father in the Bible) was a farmer, and so he wanted to name his daughters after the things that brought him his livelihood and that he cherished. His ewe's (Rachel) and his cows (Leah). Then I fell in love with the name.
11.Leah and I both share the middle name of 'Elizabeth'. It means 'Gods Promise'.
12.My Dad picked 'Elizabeth' when presented with 2 choices from my Mom: Eileen or Elizabeth.
13.I’m really thankful my Dad pickedElizabeth!
14.My maiden name of 'Gehring' is of German derivation.
15.The last name of 'Turnquist' is of Scandinavian derivation.
16.Jeff is the only boyfriend I have ever had and I wouldn't change that for the world. God chose us for each other and my reward for waiting patiently for my prince is the bestest hubby in the world.
17.I have 3 tattoos. All are related to my family - my favorite is my maiden name on the small of my back, it's actually in my Grandfathers handwriting. (I'm autographed by my Grandpa!)
18.Jeff has 0 tattoos, will never get a tattoo, does not like tattoos; you get the picture!
19.I didn't learn how to drive until I was 23.
20.I have never been on a plane!
21.I think my parents are awesome. My Mom is amazingly strong and my Dad is amazingly wise and industrious. They're parenting style (though I'm sure they don't even think they have one) is perfect. To this day I fear disappointing my parents - which is a big difference from 'making them angry'.
22.I have 1 sister and 1 half-brother.
23.My brother was an extra in the film Rocky 2.
24.Both of Leah's grandfathers are Navy men.
25.Leah and I both lived in 2 different states:PennsylvaniaandMaryland.
26.The name of the town we live in is:Bowie- but it is not pronounced like David Bowie - it sounds like: buoy.
27.A job I've had that most people would be surprised to know is: Counselor at a detention center for juvenile delinquents. It was not fun.
28.Something most people definitely do not know about me: I was legally blind in my right eye as a child - I had Strabismus. After years of eye therapy and an operation, I don't even need glasses and have 20/20 vision.
29.I am extremely stubborn ….. and I think that’s a trait Leah inherited from me – and so now, I’m proud of it. When she was being stubborn I’d call her a ‘stinker’ and she’d just smirk. : )
30.My favorite Leah memory: Quite often I would sit Leah on my knee, and hold her torso to balance her, and we’d watch TV, dance to music, etc.– every so often, in response to a question or just my voice, she’d turn her head, look up at me, smile; and throw herself back against my chest and raise her hands up to my face as if to give me a little ‘Leah hug’.
Our beautiful daughter Leah was born with Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa on Feb. 10 2009. Leah earned her wings and entered heaven pain-free and glorious on Dec. 31 2009. I started this blog in August of 09 to share stories of our lives and pictures of Leah with our family and friends who do not live locally. Over the course of just a few months, we found that thousands of people from all over the world were sharing in our stories; encouraging our family, and lifting us up in prayer.
After Leahs' passing, we are more determined than ever to continue her story of courage and faith; and to invest in the lives of other families who are in a daily battle with the awful disease known as 'EB'.
Please come back and check on us often, as we appreciate your love and support and thrive on your prayers and well wishes.
We hope Leahs' smiling eyes and playful smirk have touched your lives and made you appreciate the 'little things' you may have taken for granted.
Leah will always be our daughter; but we are more blessed than ever to have her as our guardian angel.