Thursday, August 4, 2016

One Month without Callie

Today marks one month since Callie went to be with Jesus.  For most people it has probably flown by.  But for us, it has been the longest month of our lives.  Every day feels like a week as the days just crawl by.  It feels like it's been 4 months since July 4th and not because it's hard to remember her or remember that day, but only because the days are just so long.

I know I say this often, but we miss her so much.  I think of her all the time and what we would be doing together that day and what she would be like.  I think about how sweet and fun her personality was.  She didn't have a mean bone in her body.  She was just a joy to be around and was so special to us.  I also think about July 4th a lot whether I want to or not.  It's like a videotape that constantly plays in an endless loop in my mind, running through all that happened that day.  Random things make me sad.  Walking around the grocery store and seeing a mom with her kids makes me sad.  A part of me is upset that they are so happy and the other part of me wants to tell her how lucky she is she has her kids.  Seeing kids Callie's age makes me sad.  Seeing happy posts and pictures of people's kids on Facebook makes me sad, which is why I can't scroll through Facebook anymore right now.  Thinking about her 2nd birthday makes me sad.  I know it's far away, but I still just can't imagine her not being here for her 2nd birthday.

To be honest, I didn't really feel like writing a blog post today.  It's been a hard week.  We feel a dark cloud over us that just won't go away no matter where we are or what we do.  I also just don't feel very encouraging right now so I didn't think a blog post would be a good idea.  But then I realized the reason I write is for me as it's therapeutic, and also for others who may read this one day who experience a loss of a child.  So I must be honest with the hard road we are on.  And that sometimes I just don't feel like saying all right things and just want to shout out, "this stinks, this is not fair and I just want our daughter back and get back to normal again."  But at the same time, I do have to speak truth to myself.  I do have to think about things that are true and what Scripture says.

A few weeks ago, Justin and I watched a video called Flame On.  It was about the Jasper family who lost their 5 year old son in a dune buggy accident.  I read his book in 3 days and then we watched the video which documented their grief journey just a couple months after the accident.

At the end of the video, they said, "What do you know about God on the hardest day of your life?" Go to the deepest thing you know about God and hang on."

What do I know about God on the worst day of my life?

I know God is good
God is faithful
God is sovereign
Nothing catches God off guard
My sins are forgiven
Jesus Christ lives in me
I know for certain I'm going to heaven
He never makes a mistake
God loves me unconditionally
God uses everything that touches my life for my good
God uses everything that touches my life to accomplish His purpose
God's grace is totally sufficient
God's plans for me are for my welfare
God's will for me is good and perfect and acceptable
God heals
God delivers
God sets the captives free
God gives joy in the midst of adversity
God will see me through this storm
God will provide my every need
I don't have to carry my burdens alone with fear of anxiety and worry
I don't have to live in fear of the future
I don't have to live in shame

Thinking of these truths, and believing what I know is true when I don't feel like it, is what I must do daily on my darkest days.

I highly recommend watching the entire 40 minute video, it is powerful.  You can watch the video here:  Flame On

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Funeral

July 5th, the day after Callie passed away was a complete whirlwind.  Of course we didn't sleep the night before and I came downstairs at my parents house just downcast and sobbing.  I didn't want to think about planning a funeral.  It was the furthest thing from my mind.  How in the world can I plan a funeral for my baby girl who was in perfect health and happy just 24 hours ago??  It just didn't seem real.  I didn't know the 1st thing about planning a funeral and what to do.  I even said that I didn't want the funeral to be until the following week.  It was too stressful to think about and I just couldn't deal with it.  But then the hospital called Justin and told him that we needed to choose a funeral home ASAP.  What?  Already?  It has only been 12 hours.  When choosing a funeral home, then you're choosing the cemetery where she will be buried, a place where we will visit for the rest of our lives. That's a huge decision and I didn't like being rushed into it.  We have only lived in Spring a little over 4 years and I didn't know anything about Funeral Homes there.  Would we even stay in the Spring area?  We didn't know.  Should we plan the funeral in Kingwood where I grew up and where my parents were?  That seems like the easiest option, we already knew the funeral home and could use my parents church, but it just didn't sit well with me.  Our life was in Spring. Our home, our friends, our church.  The only home Callie knew was in Spring.  But where would we have her funeral?  Our church is a small Acts29 church that doesn't have their own building.  I really didn't know what to do.  It was the last thing I wanted to deal with, so I just prayed.

Through my 2 best friends who helped me, we had a place for the funeral that was so perfect.  A church we have gone to many times before and have dear friends who go there as well.  It's a beautiful church that wasn't too big and wasn't too small.  Right when I thought of it, I knew that was it.  Through one of their pastors that helps with funerals, he gave me some good advice on choosing a funeral home and talking with them first about days and times.  It is so much like planning a wedding, the funeral home and the church have to match up with their timing.  Except instead of planning the best day of your life, you're planning the worst.

I decided to have my dad come with me so we could go visit cemeteries and funeral homes in Spring to figure out which one we wanted to use.  We also had to go back to our house to get clothes and to get our poor dog.  I knew Justin was not ready to go back into our house and I didn't want him to go back there.  I knew it would be SO painful.  I also didn't want to bring Cooper with us and I knew we couldn't leave Cooper by himself right now so Justin stayed at my parents with Cooper and my mom while some visitors came.

 So here I am calling funeral homes, getting quotes, getting information on cemeteries, trying to figure out the place where we will visit for the rest of our lives.  I was stressed and just wanted it done.  One funeral home was incredibly helpful but after visiting the cemetery, I just felt sick.  It was ugly and incredibly hard to find.  So then I call the other funeral home that had someone training who answered the phones and just didn't know anything and was unhelpful.  We went to visit that cemetery location and loved it.  My dad and I both just said "this is it"  It was easy to find, peaceful and beautiful.  I really liked it.  We then went to that funeral home and met with one of the directors who was AMAZING.  I told him that we almost didn't choose this one because of the people answering the phones so they can maybe fix that issue down the road...but all in all we were so happy with everything we chose and how much we got accomplished.  We worked out details, then called the church to coordinate and everything was seeming to fall into place.  It was crazy since just 2 hours before I had no idea what we would do.  Thank you Lord.

We then take the dreaded drive back to our house.  The Lord gave me the grace to walk in and I was just running on adrenaline.  Haven't slept, showered, eyes puffy from crying and I'm just a mess.  I walk in and immediately just start gathering up all of Callie's stuff and throwing it in Callie's room.  Her stuff was everywhere.  My dad was helping me while I'm also trying to pack some clothes for everyone.  I was just trying to move as quickly as possible and get out of there.  Finally we get the stuff, get the dog, shut Callie's door and leave to head back to my parents house.  On the way back to the house I have a big breakdown.  I just cry out, "why did this happen to us?  Why is this our story for the rest of our lives?  Why does this have to be Cooper's story for the rest of his life?  Why do we have to through this?  It's just too painful, it's too much.  I miss her."  Something along those lines.  It was hitting me hard and the pain was just too overwhelming.

I then text some friends from church to let them know the funeral plans and ask them to help plan the funeral.  Say no more, our Pastor, music pastor, and friends planned the entire service for us.  Literally everything.  It was a huge blessing. I was too overwhelmed with planning the details that I just couldn't think anymore.  The only thing we wanted was Great is Thy Faithfulness and also Thy Will that was played at the beginning of the service.  Other than that, they pretty much planned the entire thing for us.  The slideshow, the music, everything was so perfect and it really ministered to us that they just took care of it all for us.

The rest of the week was crazy busy still planning things, grieving,  and getting investigated by know, just normal everyday things.  And let me tell you, CPS was so kind, sensitive, and understanding of our situation and just a joy to work with....and yes that is MAJOR sarcasm.  And I will stop there because I have a lot of NOT nice things to say, and I'm sure they are reading this :)  Lets just say that most people cannot believe the way that they treated us.  It was awful.

Then Friday comes along which is the day of the visitation.  Justin and I had been discussing if we should let Cooper see Callie.  Justin felt pretty strongly that he should see her.  I was afraid that he wouldn't understand and would think she was sleeping or something.  We explained to him as much as we could for his little 3 year old heart and mind could handle.  We arrived there an hour before it was open to the public.  Justin, Cooper and I were able to go in there first by ourselves.  There were flowers everywhere and Callie looked beautiful.  There were parts of her that didn't exactly look like herself, but overall she looked like Callie and she was beautiful.  We talked to Cooper again and asked if he wanted to see her.  He said yes and it was the sweetest moment.  It was like he understood exactly what was happening.  He wanted to touch her and he kissed her head.  It was the sweetest thing.  He would also ask to see her at different times throughout the evening.  And he would touch her again or kiss her.  The Lord gave him understanding and we were so thankful.

We were blown away by all our family and friends who came to the visitation.  It was nice to talk to people I haven't seen in awhile but also hard to know what to talk about.  The support of everyone was overwhelming and encouraging.  There was a long slideshow of Callie playing in the background for people to watch as well.  As it gets closer to 7pm, people start to trickle out, and I knew that we would have to say our final goodbye to Callie.  The funeral would be closed casket, so it was the last time I would physically see her face again.  The grief hit me hard and I broke down.  I just didn't want to say bye to her.  I didn't want it to be the last time I saw her beautiful face.  It was so painful.  We said our last goodbye here on earth to her earthly body, but it was not our last goodbye.  We knew we would be reunited soon...

Saturday morning was Callie's service and I was extremely nervous.  I prayed in the car out loud on the way there and one of my big prayers was that people would be pointed to Jesus.  That God would be glorified through her death and people would come to know the Lord through her service.  We arrive and set a few things up and then we greet everyone that comes in.  It was so sweet to see some people who drove in that morning just for this.  People I never expected to be there showed up.  It blessed us greatly.  People were grieving with us and hurting for us.  Seeing people even for 1 minute and a quick hug ministered to me.

Then at 10am our family and our pastor gathered to pray before the service started.  We then walk in to sit down and the service starts with the lyrics video of Thy Will.  This song had really ministered to us that week and we wanted it included into her service.  Our friend and community group leader Josh reads Revelation 21:1-7 and then prays.  We then sing the song that we sang to Callie every night before bed, Great is Thy Faithfulness.  It's hard to even describe how we are feeling at this point.  It's just an overwhelming feeling of controlling our emotions but also wanting to soak it all in. We then sang Great are You Lord.  After we sang, we watched a video that our friend Trey put together for us.  He used the pictures I had of Callie and a few videos of Cooper and Callie together.  It was so sweet and special.  Everyone especially told me they loved the videos of Cooper making Callie laugh.  He always made her laugh, it was so special.  After the video our Pastor spoke a little about Callie.  One thing he said was that Callie's main dance move was the spin.  For the past few months, Callie would dance and would just spin and twirl in circles over and over again.  If music came on she liked, she would do her spin.  If we say, "dance Callie" she would do her spin.  She would even do it without any music.  Cooper would join her and it was just adorable.  Our pastor mentioned about her spinning at Jesus' feet.  It was an imagine that stuck with many people.

Our Pastor did an incredible job speaking truth and giving hope in an incredibly difficult time.  He is such a gifted speaker and the Lord used him to really speak truth to everyone and bring hope and peace to us.  After his sermon, one of our Elders closed out the service with prayer.  We then followed the pallbearers and were led out of the church and were ready to go to the cemetery.  Since we had greeted people before the service, Justin did not want to talk to anyone afterwards so we left immediately to go to the cemetery.  We had a private family service at the cemetery which was perfect.  Our pastor read scripture and said a fews words.  Then Justin wanted to say something so he stood up and touch her casket and starting praying to the Lord.  It's hard to even remember exactly what he said but it was very sweet and emotional.  He thanked the Lord for her life and the opportunity to be her Daddy for 18 months on this earth.  During his prayer he also spoke to Callie and told her that we would never forget her and the joy she brought to us and how much we loved her.  He told her to wait for us as we would see her again.  The Lord brings us comfort as we do grieve with Hope.  We know Callie is with Jesus and has no more fear, pain, tears, and sorrow.  We long to be with her.  Justin is such a sweet and good Daddy and you could get a glimpse of his heart by hearing him talk about her and praying to the Lord.  It was a sweet moment.

After the graveside service, our church helped with a reception lunch afterwards for our close friends and family.  Once again, they did everything for the lunch.  People set up, brought lasagnas, salads, drinks, desserts, etc.  It was nice to have a place to really talk to people especially friends and family who drove from out of town.  We talked to everyone we could and then it was time for us to go home.  We come home to our quiet, empty house partly relieved it was all over, and partly sad that our new life is just beginning without Callie.

Cooper and Peyton at lunch after the service

Justin suggested we get out of town for a few days since he was able to take another week off work.  We thought through a lot of options but finally decided to stay at the Woodlands resort for a few nights since they were running a deal there and we wouldn't have to drive anywhere far.  It really was so good for us to get away just the 3 of us.  It was too hard being at our house.  On our way there, we stopped by the cemetery to visit Callie and see what her site looked liked.  It was beautiful with all the flowers there.  It was also surreal as it sinks in more that she is not with us anymore.

We did have a good family time together at the resort even though we missed Callie terribly.  Cooper loves to swim and they have a great pool so we did have a fun time despite the deep sadness and pain we were carrying.  We read a lot and were able to spend a lot of time in the Word and in prayer.  It was refreshing and good for us to just get away from everything for awhile.

Coming back to our house from our getaway without Callie was hard.  Being in our house and walking by her room is hard.  Everything reminds us of her.  She was such a light and joy and her presence is missed every second of the day.  We spent the rest of the week reading, resting, crying, and also picking out her stone for her grave which was a lot of work and decisions.

Before we knew it, Justin was back at work the following Monday, everyone had seemed to be getting back to normal and moved on, and here Cooper and I are left with our entire lives and world rocked.  Everything changed for us.  Every meal, every outing, every conversation, every playtime was different.  Everything.  It's hard to even explain the hole I felt.  We can't get away from the fact that she is missing and not here.  I can get out and I can hold conversations and I can smile and not cry, but deep down she is all I think about.  It's constantly on my mind and my heart hurts every second.  We love you Callie Gracie and we cannot wait to see you again!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Worst Day of my Life

I know it may seem strange for me to write about the details of the day that Callie died, but I do so for several reasons.  Justin and I both want to remember our last moments with her, what we said to her, and everything that happened, and the ways the Lord was working through our pain.  I also want this blog to be relatable and encouraging to anyone who may down the road go through this terrible nightmare of losing a child.  So here is the story about the worst day of my life....

It was July 4th, 2016 and everyone woke up happy and excited to have a fun family day together.  The plan was to go to our neighborhood 4th of July parade and party, and then go over to my parents house that afternoon to spend time with the family and eat some BBQ.  The first part of the day was perfect.  Justin pulled Cooper and Callie in the wagon and we walked the short little route in the neighborhood parade.

We talked to our neighbors, enjoying the fun morning all while Cooper and Callie were both enjoying their little ride in the wagon and taking in all the people.  After the parade, we stayed around the neighborhood clubhouse for the festivities.  We ate some food, got some snow cones, Justin pushed Callie in the swing and everyone was having a great time.  The kids especially loved the firetruck and getting sprayed by the water hose.  Callie also explored every area of the grounds while Justin was chasing her around and I was helping Cooper with the big water slide.  Callie had so much fun exploring, observing everything around her, playing at the park and enjoying yummy food.

watching the fire truck spray everyone 

After a little while, we headed back to our house.  I remember specifically coming back home and the kids having so much fun together.  Cooper and Callie were running around, playing legos, and just playing together like they normally do. Callie was SO happy and joyful.

Running around with her brother playing legos

I wanted to get a picture of both kids together since they were dressed so cute for 4th of July but thought it would be better to wait until after Callie napped.  I did want to get some pictures of Callie since she looked so stinkin adorable that day.  And thankfully I was able to get the sweetest picture of her in her dress, that now most everyone has seen.  It was the last picture I took of her.  And she looked beautiful.

I then put her down for a nap.  She never cries when we put her down for a nap, and never even cries when she wakes up.  I did notice that she didn't sleep super long during this nap and I could tell she was a little more fussy than her normal self when she was waking up.  I went in to get her and when I picked her up, I noticed immediately that she was warm.  We checked her temperature and it was 101.  Poor baby had another fever.  It was a common thing for her nowadays, but the doctor was never concerned about her fevers so I tried not to be either.  We gave her some medicine and the fever went down.  Our plan was to go to my parents house after she woke up, but Justin offered to stay home with Callie, since he had some orientation work to work on (he just started a new job the week before).  He wanted Cooper to be able to still go and play with his cousin at my parents house.  His cousin was really looking forward to seeing Cooper, so it just didn't make sense for all 4 of us to stay home.  I agreed, and so Cooper and I left to go to my parents house about 30 minutes away.  That was the last time we saw her.

I wish I had some awesome story about how I went back in  and gave her an extra hug and kiss and told her I loved her 2 more times, but I don't.  Cooper and I actually snuck out quietly because I knew she would get upset if Cooper left to do something and she had to stay home.  So I didn't even really say bye.  I stress this because in a lot of the books I read, they have some magical moment with their child the last time they saw them.  I don't have that and it made me very angry.  Why does everyone else seem to have that and I literally didn't even say bye??  I stress that because it doesn't always happen like the movies and the true story of the books I read of the last time you saw your loved one alive.  It's just not realistic and I hope that brings some type of comfort to anyone else who doesn't have that last "magical moment" with their child.  I just look at all the wonderful moments and memories we had over the last month together, otherwise I would drive myself crazy with that.

I also want to point out that it is not normal for us to be separated like this.  It was very odd that we were even separated and Justin was with Callie and I was with Cooper.  Usually it's  the other way around and Justin takes Cooper somewhere, and I stay home with Callie.  But on this particular day, Justin was alone with Callie.  I  drove to my parents house and Cooper had a blast playing with his cousin.   Justin and I texted the entire afternoon.  He was giving me updates on Callie and I was telling him what Cooper and Peyton were doing.

 He sent me one last picture of Callie sitting in her pink chair, sucking her thumb, hair a mess, in her diaper watching jungle book.  It was the movie we played for her when she was sick.  It always calmed her right down.  Justin also texted me and said that Callie leaned into him and gave him a kiss and that it melted his heart.  I'm so glad he had that moment with her.  He checked her temperature again and she had no fever as it went down with the medicine.  I texted and told him to go ahead and put her down for another nap since she didn't really nap well earlier.  Callie was in a transition of going from 2 naps to 1 nap, so some days she would take 2 naps and some days she would take 1 nap.  I am a huge nap scheduler and since I'm with her 24/7, I know her best and knew she would need another short nap before dinner.  So Justin put her down for her nap.  I texted and asked if she went to sleep.  He looked at the monitor and said yes she is asleep.  And that was the last text from Justin that day.

Meanwhile, at my parents house, my brother and dad grilled some sausage and ribs and we ate a nice BBQ meal. I remember showing my parents the picture of Callie that I took of her and how cute she looked today and how I wish they could have seen her. I then packed up a ton of leftover food to bring dinner home to Justin and Callie.  We said goodbye to my family and Cooper and I were on our way back driving to our house.  All was right in the world...or so I thought...

I called Justin on the way to let him know we are coming home.  He didn't answer.  No big deal, that's normal he usually has his phone on silent.  A couple minutes later, he calls me back and immediately I knew something was terribly wrong.  This part of it all is very blurry for me, but all I remember is Justin telling me that Callie was not breathing and was unresponsive.  The paramedics were there at the house working on her.  I'm sure I asked him what happened and he told me he didn't know.  Justin later tells me (no idea when he told me or when I got all the information as it's all a blur now)  that he looked at the monitor and noticed that Callie's face was down in the crib and the way she was positioned was not normal.  He immediately went in there and picked her up, and she was not breathing and unresponsive.  He lays her down on the living room floor and starts CPR.  He called 911 on speaker all while giving his daughter CPR.  He knew deep down inside, that she was gone, but he knew he had to try.  He had to pray for some miracle, but it just wasn't looking good.

At this point, I'm in full on panic mode.  I'm a basket case and pretty much freaking out.  But I have to drive and I have my son in the car with me.  I called my parents and told them to pray.  I called one of my best friends and told her to pray.  I then call Justin for updates and all I ever got was "she's still the same, still unresponsive, still not breathing".  I ask Justin about 5 different times "Is she going to die??" and all he said was "I don't know".  Justin asks the paramedics if I should come to the house or go straight to the hospital and they said for me to go straight to the hospital.  I'm sure they didn't need hysterical mom coming through the door.  I then call my parents back to let them know what hospital they are taking Callie to.  I pray out loud as much as possible for God to spare Callie's life.  Since I was driving, I couldn't text anyone, but thank goodness for bluetooth, I could call people easily. I then think to myself that I need one person from church to know so they can pray.  So I start calling people, and NO ONE would answer their phone.  I used stop lights to look up other numbers, and again no answer.  Oh well, no one from church will know, God just wants me to pray.  It was the longest drive of my life.  I keep trying to call Justin for updates but his phone died.  The last I heard was that they were putting a tube in her to try to help her to breathe.  They worked on her at our house for at least an hour.

About 5 minutes from the hospital I decided to try to call our Pastor.  I was hesitant, because I didn't know for sure what was going on, but I did anyway.  He didn't answer at first but then he calls back a couple minutes later.  I explained to him that Callie is not breathing and unresponsive and say something like please just pray God would spare Callie's life.  He then asks what hospital we are at.  As I'm getting Cooper out of the car, my best friend calls me because she drove to my house after I called her.  She said the ambulance just left my house and they didn't have their lights on.  She also said she thinks everything will be fine.  I told her I don't know about that.  But I did start to feel more hopeful.  Maybe I was overreacting.  Maybe she will be fine.  She later texted and said that the ambulance did have their lights on after turning the street.

I walk into the ER and have to wait for Justin and Callie to arrive, and it was the longest wait of my life.   Thankfully my parents showed up quickly after that so they could help with Cooper.   I kept asking the lady at the desk if Callie had arrived yet.  I was so frustrated that Justin's phone had died so I had no idea what was going on.  I just kept praying and hoping.

Finally, Justin uses someones phone to call me and tell me that they are here and he comes and gets me.  He is with one of the paramedics and the paramedic tells me "Every doctor, nurse, and hospital worker is working on your daughter right now, they are doing everything they can do."  I walk by and I see about 20 people in there working on her very frantically.  Just like a scene from ER or Grey's anatomy,  I completely lose it when I see that, and they had to pull the curtain so that I would not disturb them.  He leads us to the small room with 2 chairs to sit down and just wait.  That was when I probably got more of the story from Justin.  I asked the paramedic if Callie was going to die and he just said I don't know.  Justin and I are crying out to God at the point, holding each other and praying.  Lord please save Callie, please don't take her from us.  I don't even remember what we were saying, we were just crying out to God.  Another paramedic comes in and says that the Doctor will come in soon to see us.  I ask her the same question I asked everyone..."is she going to die?"  and the answer was always "I don't know".  

Then at some point, and I'm not even sure how this happened, our Pastor walks through the doors and we were right there.  I think it even took him by surprise that he found us so quickly.  He never went into the waiting room like everyone else, he just walked right in, and we were literally right there.  We prayed, and cried, and not sure what else happened the minutes before the doctor talked to us.

The worst moment of our lives was about to happen.  The doctor walks in.  He calmly tells us that they have been working on Callie for 2 hours now.  They have done everything they can for her.  They are going to try one more time to resuscitate her and asked if we wanted to be in the room with her to hold her hand.  I knew what he was saying, but I needed to hear it.  I ask again "Is she going to die?"  And he said "Yes."  I then ask "So you're telling me that my daughter died???"  And then he simply says, "Yes."  I'm sure he said he was sorry but I don't remember anything else but that Yes.  We cry, our pastor hugs us and tells us how sorry he is.  And somehow we are able to stand up and walk into her room to see her.  It felt like 15-20 people in there with us.  Justin gets on one side, I get on the other and they try one more time to resuscitate her.  We just cried out to Callie and cried out to God.  I remember rubbing her hair and her head and saying "Callie, Mommy is here, please come back to us, Mommy is right here."  I remember crying out to God and begging him to please do a miracle.  I remember saying "what happened, what happened."  But it was mainly just crying and telling Callie that we loved her.  Then they stopped.  The doctor said something like  "is there anyone in this room who thinks there is anything  else we can do"  Silence.  I'm guessing that was when she was officially pronounced, though she was long gone before that.

At that moment, everything moved in slow motion and I went into shock.  I remember all these hands on my back, and I thought all my friends were in the room.  I turned around and it was all the medical staff who had been working on her.  They were crying, trying to comfort me, but I felt paralyzed.  Justin immediately went into deep, deep sorrow.  He was sobbing uncontrollably while I felt frozen.  Surely this is just a nightmare.  Surely I will wake up from this terrible horrible dream.  This can't be real life.  It just can't be true.  But I just kept looking at Callie and Justin and I knew deep down it was real life.  This was my real life.  My beloved daughter just died, how can I even go on??

I just stared at her, rubbed her hands, rubbed her hair and her cheeks.  We kissed her, hugged her, and then Justin asked if he could hold her.  The picture of my sweet husband holding Callie in his arms, sobbing uncontrollably is a picture I will never get out of my head.  My heart is broken in a million pieces.  Not just for myself, but also for him.  He lost his beloved daughter, he was crazy about her, and what's worse, he was there when she died and he saw it all.  For some reason the Lord spared Cooper and I from being there and seeing her and going through that traumatic experience.  But he didn't spare Justin from it and it broke my heart.   At one point, he started blaming himself and said that he should have gotten to her earlier.  I immediately said, "NO, do NOT do that. This is NOT your fault."  It was heart wrenching.

Being in shock,  I felt very nauseous and also completely dehydrated.  I kept asking for water and kept drinking water all night long, but nothing was quenching my thirst.  I had never felt so dehydrated and thirsty before.  After Justin held her, I held her as well.  It was a strange feeling holding her as it just wasn't her.  She was cold, lifeless, and it just wasn't her.  I loved rubbing her beautiful hair and holding her hands, but holding her was very hard for me.

We cried and stayed with her for awhile before I knew I needed to go tell my parents.  How am I supposed to tell them that their granddaughter just died?  How am I supposed to explain to Cooper that his sister and best friend won't be coming home?  The grief was just overwhelming.  I walk into the waiting room and see my parents and our good friends Christian and Trey who were already there waiting as well.  I just shake my head and mumbled under my breath that Callie died.  I fall into my dad's arms and just cry.  I then ask if they would like to come back and see her.  My dad comes back and my mom stays with Cooper.  The rest of the night was a huge blur.  We stayed with Callie as long as we could until they pretty much kicked us out of the room and we had to return to that small room next door.

At one point, I was told that the waiting room was filled with friends and church family.  I still don't know who all was there, but they were crying, praying and reading scripture.  Though we never really knew who all came, it was extremely encouraging to know that we were not alone in this.

Thankfully my parents, our pastor, my 2 best friends, and Justin's good friend were all back there with us.  We couldn't leave as they had a lot of questions for us and there was a lot more to be done.  It was the longest night ever and I just wanted to leave the hospital.  But no, we have to be interviewed separately by homicide detectives.  I was very angry about this.  I know this is normal protocol but really?  We just learned that our child died and we have to be investigated by homicide detectives?  I kept saying very directly "THIS WAS NOT A CRIME". but they didn't know that.  So here we are, the worst day of our life actually getting worse.  The detective actually told me that he has 3 kids of his own so he understands how I feel.  OH REALLY?  You understand what it's like to have your child die because you have children?  How dumb can you really be?  Justin was sweet and compliant, I was angry and rude.  I guess that's typical of us in stressful situations.

Finally after both being interviewed (and it was recorded, felt like a dateline episode), I went out and saw some of the people that were still there in the waiting room.  I don't know what time it was, but it was late at this point.  And finally they say that we can leave the hospital.  The detectives had to go to our house to "do their job" and we were not allowed back at our house until they were finished.  We decided to just drive back to my parents house to spend the night there with the clothes on our backs.  While we were getting Cooper in the car, Cooper said that Callie was with Jesus and that he was going to pray.  He folded his hands and started praying.

We drove the 30 minutes back to my parents house mostly crying and in silence.  I think it was close to 1:00am at this point. The only thing I remember from that drive is that Justin and I held hands and we said, "this will either break us, or bring us closer together.  We choose to have this bring us closer together.  This will NOT destroy us."  We just had to say it out loud.  I knew no matter how hard this horrible road of grief gets, we will make it.  We will thrive together.  For better or for worse, and this is by far the worst thing any marriage could experience.  We made a vow, and we will make it through this.

The entire week was a complete whirlwind.  I didn't sleep for 2 weeks.  Maybe a couple hours a night I would get during those 2 weeks.  It was awful since sleeping was the only thing to get your mind off of everything that happened.  And every morning I would wake up and remember the nightmare we were living.   I missed her immensely.  I wish I could say that the pain has gotten easier over the past 3 weeks but it hasn't.  It has gotten harder and reality has really sunk in.  The worst day of my life is in reality the worst everyday of my life.  It just keeps going, it keeps repeating itself everyday.  I know one day, the dark cloud will get a little lighter.  I know one day, I will not grieve as deeply as I do now.  Even so, she will never ever be forgotten.  The Lord has been near to us even through our deep grief and pain.  I still don't quite understand why the Lord has us walk through this deep trial that not many people have to walk through.  It doesn't seem fair at times, but I do trust Him.  I know He loves me and I know he is near.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Our Days are Numbered

"A person's days are determined; you have decreed the number of months and have set limits he cannot exceed." Job 14:5

Everyone wants to know what happened to Callie.  Though most people haven't directly asked me this question, I see it asked on social media, and I know people want to know.  And I get it, when a child passes away, I always want to know what happened?  It's a normal question.  I also believe people want to know details so they can somehow prevent it from happening to them.  But here is what I know now more than ever....we are not in control.  We can do every little thing right for our children, and be crazy overprotective.  You can wrap your house in bubble wrap and face your child backwards in the car until they are 5 years old.  You can have them eat all homemade organic food and never allow them to touch processed junk. You can never allow them to do anything remotely adventurous, you can helicopter them and drive yourself crazy never leaving their can be a very protective parent, but ultimately, we are not in control.  God is the author of life, he gives and he takes away.  He numbers all our days.  He knew before Callie was even conceived that she would only live for 18 months.  There was absolutely nothing we could do to change this.  Trust me, I have already driven myself crazy with the "what ifs", but it's just not beneficial and certainly not biblical.  Am I saying that somehow I could have saved her but God cannot?  Could God have saved my child?  Absolutely.  When we were in the hospital, crying out to God to spare Callie's life, could He have saved her?  YES, YES!  But he didn't.  It was His plan. We don't understand and it stinks, but we trust the Lord because we know he is good, loving, wise, and faithful.

This is what we know so far from a preliminary autopsy.  We know she did not suffocate, she did not have a stoke and they do not believe she had a seizure, though they couldn't rule it out.  There were some internal issues that did come up on the autopsy that I don't think is beneficial to go into detail.   They did say they are confident that we will know the cause in due time.  What I do know is that whatever it is, it has to be extremely rare.  I took her to the doctor 2 weeks before she passed away and the doctor was not concerned about her one bit.  She was also ALWAYS happy.  She slept well, she ate well, she was never in pain.  There is no way I would ever known that there could have been something wrong with her.  Even the day she passed away, she was SO happy.  I remember her running around the house with Cooper, playing legos and giggling like all our normal days.

In one of the books I'm reading about a Father who lost his 5 year old son, he was really struggling with guilt.  As parents, we are supposed to protect our children, so it is very natural to struggle with that guilt no matter how they died.  It is a struggle I have to fight daily.  One of his pastor friends told him, "you could have carried that child around on a feather pillow all day, and he still would have died that day."  God is SOVEREIGN and it has never brought me more comfort than now.  There was nothing we could have done.   I'm thankful that I serve a God who KNOWS our future, who determines it, and it's not in our control.  Our days are already numbered and I'm so thankful he doesn't tell us what day that is.  Some people think having a shocking and unexpected death like Callie's is worse than a slow, knowing it's coming death.  And though the shock is definitely worse with the unexpected, I'm so glad we didn't know ahead of time the day Callie would pass away.  We had such a fun few months before she died.  We went to the beach with Justin's family, we went to San Antonio resort and sea world with my family, we did a ton of fun things with our little family when Justin had a week off.  We will always have sweet happy memories to look back on, and for that I am thankful.  She had a full and fun life.  She was loved well by many, many people.

To sum up this random post, I am so thankful God is sovereign and HE has our days numbered.  I'm so thankful He is in control and not us.  I'm not saying at all to be negligent with your children, the Lord gave us wisdom and discernment for a reason.  But please don't fall into the lie that we are somehow in control.  And please do not be scared of Callie's Story.  I will most likely not share what we find out about the results of the autopsy.  It's not beneficial.  I will not be that mom who starts some type of advocate program of what to watch out for or look for signs for some rare virus/infection/disease in your children (again those are just guesses, we don't know what she had).
 I want Callie's story to be used to point people to Jesus, not to point people to fear.   That is my prayer and my desire.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Callie Grace Cummings

Deep down inside, I have always wanted a little girl.  Don't get me wrong, I am crazy about my little boy and the bond we have and absolutely love having a boy....but when we found out we were having a girl, I was so thrilled.  Cooper and Justin have such a special bond, they go off and do a lot of "boy" things together just the 2 of them, and I love it.  I was so looking forward to having some "girl" time with our Callie.  I was blessed with a wonderful pregnancy with Callie, no complications and fairly easy overall.  Then on December 17, 2014 we welcomed the most beautiful baby girl into the world.  Callie Grace was born at 3:46pm.  She was 7lb 13 oz, 20 in. Like a typical girl, her arrival came with some drama.  You can read more about the famous epidural (or lack thereof) and her birth story here.

Callie's trademark were her cheeks.  She had the cutest, sweetest, biggest cubby cheeks.  Every nurse, doctor, friend, or random person who came in our room would comment on her cheeks.  She was famous for them.  I love them.  Justin and I would joke that we couldn't see her chin.  Where was her chin??  Her cheeks just took over her face.

The cheeks did die down some over time, but thankfully not too much and they were just irresistible to kiss.  She had beautiful brown hair and big hazel eyes.  I kept thinking her eyes would change color, but they never did.  Some days they looked blue, some days they looked green or even brown.  They were so unique and beautiful.  She looked so different than Cooper.  Cooper is very white and got the Collier white gene as we say.  Callie didn't quite get her Daddy's olive completion, but she did get a good mix of Justin and I and she had beautiful skin.  To say we were smitten was an understatement.

We did have a difficult first 3 months with Callie.  She was colicky, had reflux and was pretty miserable, especially in the evening.  It was a hard season to go through, but sure enough right at 3 months of age, she turned into a different baby.  She was SO happy and easy going.  She loved life and she adored her big brother.  She loved being on her stomach and rolled over very early and kept rolling to get where she wanted to go.  She was honestly such an easy baby after those first 3 months. She was so independent from the earliest age and could really entertain herself.  When she started sitting up, I would place different toys around her and she would just play and play and I wouldn't hear a peep out of her.   She hardly cried unless she was tired. She was a great sleeper,  put herself to sleep on her own with zero training and started sleeping through the night at 6 months.  She ALWAYS woke up so happy and playful.

It was such a JOY to get her up every morning.  She slept with a lot of stuffed animals and especially loved her stuffed lamb that Mimi bought for her.  She would throw her stuffed animals out of her crib when she woke up from naps and in the morning.  Cooper always woke up earlier than Callie, and every morning he would BEG me to get Callie up.  I would always say no, we needed to wait until she woke up.  Once he heard the smallest peep out of her (she never cried, she would wake up "talking"), he would run in her room and say "good morning Callie" and they would both laugh and giggle.  Cooper also loved getting in her bed with her in the morning and they would just play and laugh.  They had a very special bond.  I could write a whole blog post about their special relationship.  They loved each other deeply.  Cooper, especially adored his sister.  He always wanted her around, he always wanted her to follow him, even though she was so independent and did her own thing.  They played really well together for the most part.  But when Callie had enough, she would let him know.  One time, they were both playing in Cooper's room and Cooper was tackling her (in his normal gentle way) as they were playing and she just had enough.  She went into her room and closed the door.  A couple minutes later I opened the door slightly to check on her and she was just sitting on the floor reading her books.  She just needed her space and her alone time :)

One of my big prayers for them that I prayed constantly was that they would be very close and best friends their entire lives.  It breaks my heart for Cooper that his best friend is no longer here.  It hurts to think that I will never see how close their relationship would be, how they would play together, fight together, and love on each other.  Cooper was VERY protective of his sister.  He looked out for her in public settings especially.  Just a few days before she died, a girl kept taking her cheerio cup away from Callie and put it in a place she couldn't reach.  Cooper would go get the cup and give it back to Callie.  After it continued to happen, Cooper got very upset and told her very sternly it was Callie's.  Another time, we were all at chicfila, and as we were about to leave, I went to throw some trash away before getting Callie and Cooper exclaimed "Mommy, CALLIE, CALLIE!!!"  Poor guy thought I would forget her.  I told him I would never forget his sister.   They would also hold hands often in the car.  He loved her, and he knew at a very young age his responsibility to be a big brother and what a privilege it was.

As Callie grew older, she became more feisty, fearless, independent and very opinionated. She knew exactly what she wanted and she had no problems letting you know.  She loved to shake her head no when she didn't want something, and she would clap when I would guess the right thing that she did want. We read to her before every nap and nighttime and she was very opinionated about what book she wanted to read.  I would pick out 2 or 3 (or 5 or books and she would push it away and shake her head no until I chose the one she wanted, and she then would sit quietly, listening to every word and help turn the pages.  She knew exactly what she wanted.  She also thought she was a big kid and wanted to keep up with her big brother.  She had no fear. She got very upset if she wasn't allowed to do some of the things he could do.  Our good friends went to the cemetery the day after the funeral with their kids who knew Callie.  They sang songs, drew pictures, and shared their favorite memory of Callie.  Their 4 year old son shared that he remembered Callie always wanting to play like a big girl at McDonalds.  I had to laugh because it's so true.  Callie did not want to miss out on all the fun the big kids were having.  I would find her halfway up climbing UP the tunnel slide and would have to crawl up the slide to get her out.  She definitely did not like me ruining her fun.

 The girl loved to eat and would pretty much eat anything we gave her.  Even from an early age, she never turned down food.  She was always heading to the fridge wanting a snack.  Before we ate a meal together she would fold her hands and say "pray, pray, pray" until we started praying.  She ate healthy and would eat well, but when she was done, she was DONE.  I was still working with her on not throwing food on the floor! Cooper never really did that, but this girl, she wanted to make a statement when she finished eating.  She also threw her water cup or milk sippy cup on the floor when she finished it.  Not just a little push on the floor...oh no, she would crank it back and literally throw it.  It was not funny at the time, but now we can look back and laugh...especially my parents who claim I did the exact same thing.

Callie was also very smart. She started saying words early on and knew a ton of words.  She "talked" and babbled a lot and understood everything we said.  She was observant, could read people, and always had the best facial expressions.  She can't hide her emotions and so many people told me that you knew exactly what Callie was thinking by her facial expressions.  She was shy at first, but would warm up pretty easily to new people and environments.  She was very adventurous and had no fear.  She would explore everywhere and wanted to go anywhere she wasn't "supposed" to go to.  I always said, when Callie is surrounded by 4 walls she is SO easy.  But get her in an open area with any type of exit and we would be chasing her around everywhere.  She wanted to explore the world.  She didn't care to stay close to mom or dad, but was so independent.  I had to watch her like a hawk especially compared to Cooper who will stay close by me.  Her first time at the beach, she wanted to go straight into the water and would if we would have let her.  She loved the water.  She found such joy playing in our water table outside, the baby pool, splash pads, water fountains...anything with water, she was there.  I changed her clothes often during the summer days since the kids wanted to go outside constantly to play in the water table and get soaking wet.

Callie was a very happy, joyful girl.  She had a zest for life and was friendly and sweet towards others. She made us smile everyday.  She laughed a lot and we called it her "hearty" laugh.  It was this deep, super cute laugh.  She would "dance" which would be her infamous twirl and would spin around in circles.  It was the cutest thing.  She also loved running up and down our long hallway from the front door to the back of the house.  I would comment "here comes Callie" and she would just run up and down "singing" in her little cute voice that moved up and down as she ran.  Cooper would sometimes join in with her as she would run.  She loved peppa pig like her big brother and it was the only show she would watch.  She would say "peppa, peppa" over and over again.  She also had a love for jungle book, which we still don't understand where it came from since she never watches movies.  The only thing I can think of is that it was Cooper's most favorite movie when I was pregnant with Callie and I wonder if she recognizes the sounds from the movie from the womb.  Whenever she was sick and needed a distraction, we would put on jungle book and it would calm her right down.  That movie will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Callie loved the outdoors and being outside like her brother.  She loved going for walks in the double stroller or the wagon and going to see the ducks.  She would always exclaim "duck, duck!!" when she would see the ducks.  She would go bring her shoes to me when she wanted to go outside to play.  There were times when she thought we were going in the garage to go for a walk, but we were actually getting in the car to go somewhere...well, she did NOT like that.  She wanted to get in her wagon or stroller, not get in the car.  I would have to tell Cooper to come in the car on her side so Callie would see that he is coming in the car with us.  She also loved the park and loved swinging.  We have a baby swing for her in our backyard and in the evenings I would push her in the swing while she watched her daddy and brother play baseball and football together.  She was so content just swinging and watching them.  She didn't want to get out when it was time to go in and take a bath.  She also loved her baths.  The kids would take a bath together every night and have a blast together splashing and playing with all the toys.

Callie loved her family.  She didn't really have a favorite person, as she loved each of us in her own way.  She did of course have a very special bond with her Daddy.  Everyday he would come home from work, I would announce "daddy's home!!" and Callie would squeal and laugh and run into his arms.  She wasn't as affectionate with us as Cooper is, but when she gave you hugs and kisses, it was special.  Justin texted me the day that she passed away before putting her down for a nap and said that she leaned in and gave him a kiss, which melted his heart.  She was a master of blowing kisses though.  Whenever we said goodnight to Callie she would blow kisses over and over again to everyone.  If we told her to tell someone bye bye, she would just blow them kisses instead.

Dancing with daddy

She loved wearing hats
I am so blessed to have known Callie for the 9 months I carried her, and the 18 months on this earth.  She is a special little girl, full of life and brought joy to everyone around her.   She is deeply loved and we miss her terribly.  I miss her laugh, her smile and hearing her call me "mama" over and over again.   Even on the day she passed away, she had such a fun day, smiling, laughing and spending time with her family.  We are grieving but we grieve with HOPE. We know we will see her again and she is with Jesus.  We love you sweet girl... a day does not go by that we won't think of you.  You are the most beautiful, loving, and sweetest little girl and it is a joy to call you daughter.  We will see you soon...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A New Chapter

As most of you have heard by now, our beautiful girl, Callie Grace passed away suddenly on July 4th. It has been 10 days now since we lost her, and it has been by far the hardest and longest 10 days of my life.  It is only by the Grace of God that I am able to wake up every morning and put one foot in front of the other.  The pain of losing her is so deep and some days feel so dark that it can be hard to breathe.  But God is Faithful, His grace is sufficient.  The verse that I am clinging to at this time is Lamentations 3:19-25

"Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!  My soul continually remembers it and it bowed down within me.  But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope; The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him."

Great is Thy Faithfulness is the song we sang to Callie every night and it was also one of the songs we sang at her funeral.  My heart is broken, but I know that God is good and He is faithful.  I know He has a greater purpose and I have absolutely no idea what He is doing.  I often wonder, Lord, why me?  Why us?  Why Cooper?  And I will never know why, but I trust and know there is purpose.  This is NOT meaningless.  God is using Callie's short life for a greater good I will not know this side of heaven. Joy is coming, God always keeps his promises, and we have hope.  The Lord will not forsake me, and He will give me a lifetime of grace.  This is not a trial that will go away in a few months, or a few years, this is a trial I will endure throughout my lifetime.  But His Grace is so great and I know He will give me the grace I need every minute, every hour, everyday, for the rest of my life.

I do not say all this to get a pat on the back, and for everyone to think how wonderful I am doing.  Because I'm not doing wonderful, I hurt deeply and I have been in dark places.  I even found myself just this morning dwelling in self pity listening to myself instead of preaching truth to myself.  So I needed to write.  I needed to continue to preach truth and scripture and listening to the truth of God's Word.

I try hard not to live in regret, but there are a lot of things I think about that I regret.  I regret not kissing her one last time.  I regret not fighting for her health more at the doctor when both my husband and I felt like something was wrong with her when she kept getting unexplained fevers.  I regret not soaking in every moment I had with her the weeks before she passed.  I also regret that I stopping blogging about her.  I blogged throughout Cooper's life, but I stopped at Callie's at 4 months old.  Why did I do that?  I know I was busy and had a lot going on with raising 2 small kids, but I so wish I would not have stopping blogging about her.  So this is one reason why I started this blog again.  This is for me, not for everyone else to read or to get likes or page views.  This is for me to process, to honor Callie, and maybe one day the Lord will use it to minister to someone who may go through this horrible tragedy.

Thank you for being on this journey with us, thank you for your constant prayers and love.  We grieve with Hope, knowing we will see her again.  While everyone's life is getting back to normal, we are trying to find our new normal here as a family of 3.  My next blog post will be all about Callie, about the amazing person the Lord created and how she was a true joy and delight to our family.  It is a true honor to be her Mom.

P.S. There is one thing I feel the need to get off my chest.  I have been through 2 miscarriages, and it was extremely painful...BUT it is absolutely not even close to the pain of losing a child.  Callie was a child, yes she was young, but she wasn't even an infant.  She was a child.  Please try not to compare the loss of my child to the loss of a miscarriage or stillborn.  This is not to say having a miscarriage or stillborn isn't painful, because it most definitely is very painful. But it's just not the same as losing a child.  I say this with love and not anger and with not one specific person in mind at all.  Just something that has continually come up that I feel l wanted to share.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Happy 3rd Birthday Cooper!

I can't believe my baby boy, my first born is now 3 years old!  Didn't he just look like this??

What can I say about Cooper?  He is a very sweet and compassionate kid.  He is extremely observant and has been that way since he was a newborn.  He will sit back and observe for awhile before he joins in sometimes.  He is very shy at first and needs about 5 minutes (sometimes longer) in any new situation that he is placed in before he starts to feel comfortable.  If you play with him on the floor for a few minutes, you have already won him over.  He is the type of kid that will have 3 very close friends that he will be loyal to than 20 acquaintances.  He has such a sweet and tender heart!  He can recognize when anyone is sad and will just stare at them with a very concerned look or try to comfort them if it's someone he knows well.  If someone gets hurts, he gets very concerned and will even talk about it days and days later.  He is also my snuggle bug!  He is incredibly affectionate and loves to hug, kiss and cuddle all the time.  He is a typical first born rule follower and is well behaved at school and with other people (though not always with me) :)  

Though he can be shy and quiet sometimes, he is also hilarious and so much fun at home and when he is comfortable.  Sometimes it makes me sad that other people don't get to see his true personality come out, but I so love how God created him.  He is ALL BOY and loves to be outside, running all around the house, climbing and jumping off things, playing guitar, and ALL sports.  He knows the Aggies and will say "Go Aggies, or Woohoo touchdown Aggies" anytime there is a football game on.  He also gets to watch some baseball with daddy on some evenings since Daddy loves watching the Astros.  He has an amazing arm and can throw any ball very hard.  He has also mastered hitting the ball off the tee.  His new favorite activity is playing football with Daddy in the backyard.  He will get the ball like he is about the hike it, all while shouting out some numbers and phases (that he learned from daddy), and then he takes off running with the ball trying to get away before Justin tackles him.  Though secretly he is dying to be tackled and giggles and giggles the whole time.  It's pretty much the cutest thing ever.  

He is also the SWEETEST big brother ever.  I don't know how he understands that he is her big brother and that he is supposed to look after her but he clearly takes this seriously (most of the time…haha).  He gets concerned if she rolls over, spits up, or does anything that could maybe bother her.  The other day we were at chicfila and as we were about to leave, I got up to throw away some trash while Callie was still in the high chair.  Cooper freaked out that I was going to leave Callie.  Sweet boy, I won't forget your sister, but thank you for looking out for her.  He also gives her sweet hugs and kisses all day, every day.  He LOVES playing with her and they are so cute in the bath tub together.  Of course, Cooper is still 3 years old and can still be a little rough sometimes.  He loves "playing" with her on the floor which includes tackling her.  He is usually fairly gentle, but Callie will definitely let him know that she has had enough!  Between daddy and big brother, I'm not sure any guy will be good enough to date her :)

To Celebrate and Remember Cooper at 3 years old, here are his current favorite things:

Favorite thing he is into:  DINOSAURS!  He is obsessed with Dinosaurs right now, hence the reason he is having a dinosaur birthday theme. 
Favorite Color:  Blue
Favorite Movie:  Jungle Book and Robin Hood.  He has gone through phases of loving Toy Story, Lion King and Frozen, but Jungle Book and Robin Hood remain his favorites
Favorite TV show:  PEPPA PIG.  
Best Friends:  Hudson and Maddie
Favorite Song:  How Great Thou Art.  This is the song we sing to him every night and he loves it
Favorite Snack:  Popsicles (a.k.a. "supples") and homemade smoothies
Favorite Food:  Pizza, and Tuna (yes he eats tuna almost everyday for lunch)
Favorite Drink:  Chocolate Milk
Favorite Resturant:  Chicfila
Favorite Stuffed Animal:  The red river hog that Justin bought him at the zoo that he picked out.  His name is Tiki
Favorite Toy:  Anything Dinosaur, Trains, and his Noah's Ark animals 
Favorite Book:  Jesus Storybook Bible, Steam Train Dream Train, When Dinosaur's say Goodnight
Favorite Activity:  Bouncing Bears and the Zoo

Happy Birthday Cooper, we are so thankful for you!!