Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Sweet Olivia! - From Guest Blogger, Daddy

As many of you know, our sweet Olivia turns 4 years old today! Our Leap Year baby and what an incredible 4 years it has been. It's hard to believe how time flies. It feels just like yesterday that we were holding her in our arms. A big baby no doubt, weighing in over 8 lbs! It's unimaginable what our life would be like without her. She fills our days with love, laughter, passion, compassion, and just enough little girl attitude to keep mommy and daddy on our toes.

You see, so much of our life these days is filled with caring for Juliana that it's difficult at times to give Olivia the attention she deserves. She patiently waits her turn, knowing that her turn might just not come because we need to help Juliana with something. She never puts herself ahead of her sister. Instead, holds her hand and walks with her, always by her side. She watches her sister struggle every day to do the most simple things, and never asks why, instead wants to know how she can help. When one of us is flying solo with the girls, she's our little rock, helping where she can, running back and forth getting what we need to help Juliana. Her laughter is so contagious, spreading through the house like a wild fire and seems always timely when we need a good laugh, a chuckle or a "pick-me-up." The love she has for Juliana is unwavering, beautiful, honest and true, it's because God filled her heart with compassion knowing what she would do. We don't often take the time to talk about how truly incredible the siblings of our special needs children are, but you have to know, they are amazing gifts from God. As parents, it warms your heart to see such love and makes you thankful to God for the blessing.

So today, Leap Year 2012, let's make today about celebrating another reason that makes our lives special, and that's Olivia!

Olivia, we love you from In-phineaus and Ferb! May God continue to lead and give you the strength you need to continue to do great things in your life. We can only imagine! You make us so proud!

Our love always,

Mommy and Daddy

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Disney Priness Half Marathon

Ok, who knows the Backyardigan's song "Racing Day, It's Racing Day!" because I was singing it all morning.  I couldn't get that little cajun song out of my head.  So here began our journey for the day.  Our bus left the hotel at 3:20am.  That's right, I said 3:20!!!!!  

 And here we are, all bright and cheery! (Nikki, Tina, Kelly S., Kelly B., Soojung and Kristen)
 Ingrid, Emilie, Nikki, Tina, Kelly S. and Kelly B.  And here's a little tid bit.  It was 38 degrees that morning!  So they encourage you to start the race with a sweat shirt or whatever you want and then at whatever point you get too hot you can just throw it aside.  Then Disney will pick them up and donate them to a local shelter. Pretty cool, and definitely beats tying it around your waist.
 Getting really pumped with our sparkle skirts and all!

 With Stef and Manny!  Love those guys!
 Me and my roomie Tina - She rocks her face off!!!!  And yes, those are socks on my arms.  Cheap sleeves and they roll down whenever I get too hot, then up when I get cold.  Not bad for $2.50 at Target!
 Stef checking her pack one last time!
 Kelly S. and Nikki were the speedy girls.  They passed us up pretty early on and then we never saw them again!

 I was so excited to finally meet Soojung in person.  We had corresponded back and forth on our Facebook page and she ALWAYS posted the funniest things that would literally make me Laugh Out Loud.  Happy to report she is just as awesome in person!  Love ya Soojung!
 She's a rock star!
 And this was my running crew for most of the race - more on that later.  So another little fun fact: They start you off in different corals - from a-h depending on your best time and when you registered.  A of course being the fastest and H being the slowest.  We were in corral F. But the funny thing about this is that in order to stay in the race you have to maintain a 16 minute mile or you will be picked up and not allowed to finish.  The funny part is that they don't start counting the 16 minute mile until the last corral leaves.  So, by starting in corral F we had about a 12 minute head start - Thank God!
 This is just a small portion of the people just in our corral.  I think there were over 20,000 that participated in the race!
 Here we are just waiting for our corral to start
 Then at the start of each corral, the fire works!
 On your mark. . . . . Get set. . . . .
 And away we go!

 That was the Fairy Godmother wishes us well.  It came out blurry, probably because I was running so fast. . . NOT!
 As we passed the gates into the Magic Kingdom
 People were in all kinds of crazy costumes, mostly of a princess but some a little more bizarre.  Rumor has it there wasn't much under that tutu - really for 13.1 miles????
 I was just amazed at so many people!
 This was the best part as we actually ran through Disney

 That's my team!
Watch out!  Here I come!  Look at how serious Tina is when she is running!
 Quick stop for a picture in front of the Castle

 Love the Castle
 Well this is really convincing, isn't it.  I guess when taking a fake shot you should actually be facing the right direction.  Oops
 There were many photo ops along the way with all the princesses and Mickey Mouse, a really cool one with all the villains and one with all the Fairy Godmothers.  You won't see me in those.  You see at each character there was a huge line that extended about 70 people deep.  My only thought was, "If I wait in line to take a stupid picture and then get picked up for not making a 16 minute mile and am going to kick myself."  So I decided to be the tortoise, instead of the hare and keep going!
 At this point, I was starting to feel a little rough.  The knee was bothering me and Stefanie and Manny just passed us up.  No offense to Stef and Manny, it's just that we started with a major lead since they were in the corral behind us:(
 And here I am with my best game face!  This is where it got really tough for me.  This is where I had to start telling myself the things I often say to Juliana when she is tired and doesn't want to walk or finish therapy or any old thing.  I thought back to all the times I have told her to be strong and FINISH!  You only have a few more minutes or few more steps.  And I thought about how tired she must have felt all those times and she did it.  Rather she DOES it EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HER LIFE.  So I said Suck it up Brooks and keep going.  You can't stop now!
 I'm pretty sure this is also the last time I saw Kristen, Kelly and Tina.  Tina is a Machine and she left us at around mile 10.  Kristen and Kelly got just a little ahead of Ingrid and I. 

Here is Ingrid at mile 12.  She asked if I wanted to take a picture here, but at this point I didn't want no stinkin' pictures until I hit mile 13 Baby!
 This was really cool.  As you turned one of the last corners there was a huge choir singing.  Really fitting at this very cathartic moment in the race.  So many emotions running through my head.  So much about Juliana and all she over comes on a daily basis.  How much this little girl of only 5 years inspires me every single day.  How in shock I was that I was actually doing this. . . .
 And here we are at mile 13!  This is our tired pose - or should I say the more honest of the two.
 And here is our - we rock! pose.
 And here my friends was the sweetest part of it all.  Actually crossing that finish line.  So many emotions.  I finished the race, 13.1 miles in 3 hours and 23 minutes and 14,566 out of 16,906.  Thank you so much to everyone that supported me in this race - It has truly changed my life.  And thanks to Ingrid for crossing that line with me - it felt great holding your hand as we ran across the line. 
 And here are just a few of the amazing Rett moms that ran this race.  I feel such a closeness to you ladies and I look forward to running this with you again next year!
 More of Team GP2C

 And yes, this is my awesome metal!
 Tina you are such a rock star!
 After that, I proceed to take the hottest 45 minute shower of my life and it felt AMAZING.  Then I got back into my pajamas and had about a 3 1/2 hour nap.  Then we all got ready for dinner at Captain Jack's in Downtown Disney.

 My date for the night - Gabe
 Love you ladies - until next year!