Lucas’ Annual Birthday Interview, age 8

12345678▪ Favorite colors: “blue, yellow, pink, orange, green, clear, silver, gold and navy.”
▪ Favorite activities: “go to “Jump” (a trampoline park), ride bikes with Daddy, play Minecraft, and build things”
▪ Favorite toys: “Legos”
▪ Favorite friends: “Luca and Mira”
▪ Favorite foods:  “soy glazed salmon, peaches, pineapples”
▪ Favorite book: “Harry Potter books”
▪ What makes you happiest? “being with Gigi and snuggling Mommy Daddy and Mateo”
▪ What do you want to be when you grow up? “a scientist and an inventor”
▪ What new thing would you like to try this year? “algebra”
▪ Where in the world would you like to go on vacation some day? “Kyoto, Japan”
▪ What do you love to learn about? “science, physics and nature”
▪ What are you really good at? “math and also going into the woods by myself.”
▪ Which three words describe you? “fun, playful, happy”
▪ What will you be doing in 10 years?  “Driving!”
▪ Please give me a recipe: “mix flour, water and dandelions and smash it up in a tea holder and put it in the fridge.”
▪ Give some advice/words of wisdom to Mommy: and to Daddy: “you should make a torch.”
▪ Describe a perfect day: “I would have all the custom Minecraft mods I ever wanted and all my friends would be available for playdates and I would eat my favorite foods and we would go to a hotel!”
▪ How would you spend a million dollars? “I would buy a giant mansion and a cool car”
▪ What’s your favorite family/holiday tradition? “When Daddy dresses up as a gorilla at Halloween and scares all the kids from the front porch!”
▪ STATS: Lucas is 49.5 inches tall (40th percentile), 54 lbs (40th percentile), and he wears size 7-8 tops, 6-7 pants and kids’ size 3.5 shoes.

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Lucas’ Birthday Interview

I ask him these same questions every year. Love this chance to talk with Lucas about his favorites and to show him how much we value his thoughts, his dreams and HIM!

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The photo above is from Carter Mountain Orchard here in Charlottesville. We took the first photo just before his 4th birthday and once every year after!

▪ STATS: Lucas is 47.5 inches tall (40th percentile), 50 lbs (40th percentile), and he wears size 6-7 tops, 6-Slim pants and kids’ size 13 shoes.

▪ Favorite colors: “shiny orange, bright yellow, highlighter pink, blank white, light green”

▪ Favorite activities: “swimming, rock scrambling, singing, eating”

▪ Favorite toys: “Legos and iPad”
▪ Favorite friends: “Lily, Mira, Luca, Josh, Leo”
▪ Favorite foods:  “soy glazed salmon, peaches, pineapples”
▪ Favorite book: “Jack and Annie’s Magic Tree House series”
▪ What makes you happiest? “Mommy, Daddy, and snuggling while watching a video together”
▪ What do you want to be when you grow up? “a scientist, an inventor, and a city pool snack bar attendant”
▪ What new thing would you like to try this year? “singing lessons”
▪ Where in the world would you like to go on vacation some day? “China, Japan, and Vietnam”
▪ What do you love to learn about? “math, reading and writing”
▪ What are you really good at? “being a cat”
▪ Which three words describe you? “I’m kind, smart, active, and I’m a weirdo!”
▪ What will you be doing in 10 years?  “Driving!”
▪ Please give me a recipe: “Mix walnuts and oats and nutella and put it in an ice-cream cone. Put strawberries on top. It’s called a Super Dump.”
▪ Give some advice/words of wisdom to Mommy: and to Daddy: “You should go in the woods with me and watch Pokemon with me.”
▪ Describe a perfect day: “I would have lots of screen time and play Minecraft with Daddy, and I would paint our back woods with silver spray paint and we would all spend time together with Mosby and Gigi too and I wouldn’t fall out of a tree.”
▪ How would you spend a million dollars? “I would buy lots of shiny spray paint, and have an awesome house and fun backyard with lots of trails and give some to poor people and save some too.”
▪ What’s your favorite family/holiday tradition? “I like lots of things! Easter egg hunting and when the kitchen is decorated for my birthday and when I come downstairs Christmas morning and the presents are out!”

Thank you

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While this whole first year without Sophie has been an endless emptiness and heartache, we’ve been working hard to overlay more enjoyable feelings and experiences on top of that baseline sadness (which I imagine will always be there). We’ve filled our weekends with outings and visits, staying busy and distracted from the pain. I think I might still be in denial though… I just can’t believe that this happened. Sometimes it feels like “did Sophie ever really exist?” And sometimes it feels like I’m looking for her and have no idea where she is and just want someone to give her back to me. How could brain cancer happen to her? There’s no history of cancer in our family, we are conscientious of healthy eating and living, and I thought we had gotten a hang of improving her below-average immune system she was born with. And how could she be gone? Some kids survive brain cancer. Why not OUR baby? Anyway, we wouldn’t be able to get through this sadness without support from our families and friends. Sometimes that support means giving us space to grieve as a tiny family of 3 and sometimes that support means financing her memorial service and remembrance tree (planted in our backyard and about to turn a beautiful autumnal red), or helping us celebrate Sophie’s spunky cuteness by enjoying a “cupbake” for her on her birthday. Focusing on endearing things about her without thinking about those things being gone now was really helpful. I loved seeing the photos pour in and knowing that you all took the time to remember and appreciate her. And if you’d like to participate and have a cupbake *after* her birthday we would REALLY enjoy adding more people to our photo collage- we have pictures of babies holding plush cupcakes, kids with wooden/plastic cupcakes, drawings of cupcakes, anything!  You’ve all shown us love and thoughtfulness in so many ways during Sophie’s illness and again after we lost her. I hope you know how important that was (and is) to us and how grateful we are that you care so much about us, and I hope you also know that after December 29th, it became impossible to thank you all for your kindnesses because writing a ‘thank you’ somehow made us re-live the trauma of her death- the reason why we were writing to you.

Sophie’s birthday started the season of big deal ‘firsts’ for us. Laith’s first birthday without her, Lucas’ first birthday without her, the first Halloween since 2007 that I didn’t have a baby on my hip, and soon to come: first Thanksgiving and Christmas without her. Though it might just be another distraction-from-the-pain technique, I’ve decided to focus on small (and big) things that I am thankful for each day through this season. It’s quite hard to feel unadulterated thankfulness when there is such an undercurrent of defeat and loss and brokenness in my heart. But in my mind, I know there are so many other non-child-loss ways that we are actually quite lucky and blessed. So my first item of thankfulness is the biggest: I’m grateful for all of you. I know of many families through our pediatric cancer groups who suffered similarly to us but without a team of wonderful people holding them up like you have for us. Thank you. Thank you.

In One Week…

In exactly one week, Sophie would be turning 4 years old. I find myself getting more and more emotional and anxious as this date approaches. September was National Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month and that was hard enough to handle the barrage of daily reminders through social media, emails, and snail mails that there are SO MANY children and families struggling through the heartache of cancer and it’s painful treatment. And so MANY who no longer are fighting the disease because their babies are gone. It’s all so heavy and makes me miss Sophie so much. But worse of all, these stats and photos and awareness campaigns make me focus on how horrendous 2013 was for us and what trauma and sadness Sophie had to endure for a third of her life. I don’t want to remember the worst parts. I want to remember who Sophie was during the brief moments she was happy last year. And remember her joyful, playful, sweet personality before cancer stole her. And that can pretty much be wrapped up and represented in a cupcake.IMG_8178smSophie has always loved cupcakes. Except she called them “cup-bakes”. It was mostly the candles that made them so appealing to her. So in recognition of Sophie’s 4th birthday, I think that it would help us emotionally if we celebrated what she loved (trains would be a bit too painful for me- a cupcake is more light-hearted with less heavy meaning that could be read into it). ABC_0212sm

If our friends and family would like to celebrate Sophie too and remember her in a way that doesn’t make our hearts hurt so much, please get yourself a cupcake this weekend. And put a candle on it if you want! We would love to see pictures of you with your “cupbake” if you could email it or post it on Facebook on Sophie’s birthday. It would bring us smiles on a day that will otherwise be quite hard for us.

IMG_3832sm IMG_4079smHere she is pointing to the Mommy Cupcake and the Baby Cupcake on her shoes:   IMG_0618

More Pictures From the Kids’ Birthdays

Lucas had a Halloween-themed party and asked his friends to dress up!IMG_4202smIMG_4208sm

We played a game where the kids tried to wrap eachother up like mummies

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And I did a game where the kids put their hands in covered bowls to guess the monster’s body parts (packaged cherries were eyeballs, candy corn was teeth, spaghetti was intestines, etc). It got a little out of hand and the kids started stuffing the food in their mouths! That was my clear signal it was time to move on to pizza and cake!

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Lucas picked this Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Cake and wanted this written on it. 🙂ABC_0388smABC_0392smIMG_4189smSophie was so excited about her birthday. She played birthday pretend games and sang to herself and all her animals 100s of times 🙂
IMG_3832sm Gigi seemed to enjoy it too! 🙂IMG_4079sm Pink Hello Kitty crocs with Thomas & Friends accessories!!IMG_4186smIMG_4190sm

Lucas’ 5th installment of the “yearly interview”

123456smABC_0415smYearly Interview with Lucas: 20 Questions…

  • Favorite colors: “orange, yellow and light green”
  • Favorite activities: “go to Bounce N Play and then eat at Cici’s”
  • Favorite toys: “legos and couch cushions”
  • Favorite friends: “Ellee, Aurora, Lily, and Skyler”
  • Favorite foods:  “soy glazed salmon and Annie’s Mac N Cheese and steamed salted broccoli”
  • Favorite book: “Jack and Annie’s Magic Tree House series”
  • What makes you happiest? “when I can play legos in my room”
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? “a chemist”
  • What new thing would you like to try this year? “make a book”
  • Where in the world would you like to go on vacation some day? “to LegoLand”
  • What do you love to learn about? “sea creatures”
  • What are you really good at? “riding my bike”
  • Which three words describe you? “I’m fun and smart and nice”
  • What will you be doing in 10 years?  “Going to college”
  • Please give me a recipe: “Mix chocolate and peanuts and then put whipped cream and strawberries on top.”
  • What kind of little girl was Mommy? “nice and fun and she liked CareBears”. What kind of little boy was Daddy? “he and Aunt Janeen got in trouble together! And he was nice and fun and he liked cars”
  • Give some advice/words of wisdom to Mommy: and to Daddy: “You should let me play outside all by myself”
  • Describe a perfect day: “I would ride down the hill on my bike and then go to Lily’s house and then make something out of wood in the garage and then eat at Eppies”
  • How would you spend a million dollars? “I’d buy a bunch of Bounce N Play Castles and a really cool house with lots of property and I’d go to a rock and gem museum and I’d give some to Mommy and Daddy.”
  • What’s your favorite family/holiday tradition? “When I come downstairs on the morning of my birthday and it’s all decorated!”
  • STATS: Lucas is 45 inches tall (40th percentile), we don’t know his weight, and he wears size 6 tops (for his long arms), 5t pants and size 12 shoes.