5.14.2014

Happy Will Butts Day! Also - meet the CMN Texas Ambassador!

I have waited so long to finally blog about this and am so excited to share some big news...
Will has been announced as the official Texas Ambassador Champion for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals!!!

It's huge! It's surreal & exciting & so very humbling... & a bit overwhelming!

We were shocked when the announcement was made in January.  We didn't even know such a program existed.  Will was nominated without our knowledge and even our family photographer (& dear friend, Olivia) kept it a secret when she submitted photos of Will.  My mom kept it a secret when she filled in gaps on the form & submitted an essay... and the local CMN director kept it a secret that he was nominated!
In the 27 years our area has been a part of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, Will is the FIRST kiddo ever chosen from this area!



So what is a Children's Miracle Network Hospital Champion Ambassador?
He's a spokesperson.  He is chosen for "displaying courage in the face of unique medical circumstances." 
When I read that I just sat and cried.  Courage & Joshua 1:9 have been our theme for the last year as Will has faced some hard things.  To honor him for showing courage just blew me away. 
He has no idea how brave he is daily.
Will will have opportunities to tell others about the work CMN Hospitals do every day across our country.  
(Did you know 62 children A MINUTE access a CMN service?)
He will get to hopefully visit some CMN Hospitals across Texas to encourage other kiddos and families and doctors.
Today, I was asked in a press conference what my hope would be for people meeting Will in this role.  
I answered that Will breaks barriers every day.  When people put up walls and try to stigimitize people with limb differences or disabilities, Will climbs over the walls or runs around them or tunnels under them to make a friend.
My hope is that in this role, he would have a bigger platform to continue breaking down barriers.  I hope it will enable people to see him as just a typical kiddo and that in seeing him as a kid - instead of a diagnosis- they would tear down their own barriers they may have erected about people with differences.  I hope people's eyes will be opened to seeing that there is great quality of life and celebration to living a life with differences.  I hope people will see a kid who loves life and who can do all kinds of typical kid things and a family who loves their kid.  I hope they will see beyond differences to see that we are a lot more alike than we are different.
When that same question was posed to Will, he said he would be able to "encourage kids who struggle."

Today, at a press conference (I know - that seems funny in relation to a 6 year old!), the Mayor declared it officially "Will Butts Day!"
Will asked me if he could do anything he wanted on his "holiday."  I told him no.
I told him I didn't know anyone else with their own day and then he reminded me that Jesus has a day too  - Christmas!
That gave me a good laugh.  

Will's teacher, his school nurse, & the assistant principal all came to show him love and support and celebrate Will at the press conference.
Wow - it meant so much to me.  In just 9 months I have come to LOVE the people that pour into kids every day at his school.  

Ready for the press conference to begin.  (Will & Ellie did ok throughout - they appeared a little bored at times but thankfully managed to stay quiet and in their chairs.)

Cookie & Lovie & Mimi all came!

Will & Mrs. Harden - his kindergarten teacher

Will & Rachel & Molly - nurses at the local Special Needs Clinic (completely funded by CMN and one of the few existing in the country!  They serve over 500 kids (& their moms and dads!)

Will gave several tv interviews and did some radio recordings.
(If you are local, he'll be on the news tonight!  If you live elsewhere in TX, CBS will be doing some sort of state wide story at some point in the future I think.)

Sweet friends from school came to support Will!

All of the neighbor kiddos he plays with daily came too!


Guess what else a CMN Hospitals Champion Ambassador gets to do?!?!?!

Travel to Washington DC in the fall and meet his Congressman, hang a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, participate in various activities around the Capitol, &

MEET THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!!!

I am so excited I can hardly stand it!
(As a former US History teacher I'm already drilling Will on Presidents, US history facts, & pets owned by each President.  Did you know there have been hippos, lions, bears, tigers, & alligators in the White House!?!)
Will is really hoping he can meet Bo - the First Dog.
I however, am so humbled that my barrier breaking boy will have an opportunity to shake hands and visit with the first African American President - a man who broke a huge barrier. 
The significance is not lost on me.
Someday, I think that will matter to Will too.

As if that's not enough for the WOW...

after hanging out in Washington and getting to know kids from each state (plus one from Puerto Rico & one from DC,)
we will fly on a chartered jet all together to DISNEY WORLD!!!
Apparently I need to subscribe to People magazine to catch up on pop culture because from what I'm told, there will be celebrities there CELEBRATING these champion kids are various ceremonies at Disney World!!!
(So to recap - in preparation, we are studying US History facts & People magazine.)

Does it get any more magical than this?!?!

I am so so so excited for Will to have these opportunities and can't wait to share more with you as we learn more about what being a TX Ambassador Champion means.

In the meantime - want to melt your heart?
Check out these two brief highlight videos for the 2012 & 2013 champions:





I cry every time I watch these videos - I can't wait to be a part of something that celebrates kids who show courage in the face of unique medical circumstances and an organization that fights to save lives and better lives and normalize lives for kiddos every single day.

5.08.2014

Spring 2014 (Recap)

Summer is thankfully only a short and sweet 5 days away for this family.  As I helped Will get ready for school this morning (still way too early!)  we daydreamed together about al the things we can't wait to do in the summer:
swimming! sleeping! Reading!  cartoons!  And according to Will - sleeping in for 50 hours!
(Amen!) 
(I have loved his school and his teacher but I am definitely a summer mom & am so ready to have him back home with me!  My countdown may be more about me than him!)

So with summer rapidly approaching, here's a recap of our spring.
It's been fun & busy and wonderful (mostly.)
So with no further ado...
I present the longest post ever.
For Spring Break, the kids & I road tripped to see some of our best friends on the planet in Central TX.
Pretty much it was perfect - 
Will & Mason are the same age as are their little sisters.

The kids were instant best friends

as were the girls

Both Hailey & Ellie spend most of their time being mommies...

More to come on Will's reading but he & Mason enjoyed some good books together

Sweet friends having a slumber party (this didn't last all night)

(neither did this)


Ellie plays doctor all the time.  She loves to give check ups.

Not bad for two dislocated shoulders!

The crazy Waco gorilla - we took a walk one evening to show this to my kids.

Make up time

Mason introduced Will to the joy of creating things from paper.  The boys made paper ipads and even paper plugs for their ipads and then they spent hours playing pretend paper ipads.
This makes my heart smile.
Since returning home, Will has continued to make paper objects of all kinds.

Being with the T Family felt like home to me.  This may be because I spent more meals and hours hanging out in their home while R was in grad school than I spent in my own home I think!




Will was in his second play, "The Dragon of Krakow."
He played "elder #1."  He informed me he needed a beard, a cane, & glasses for his costume.  When I asked him why, he told me he was an "elder" and that means he is supposed to look old!
Of course!

His sweet teacher came to his performance.



The elder with his grandparents

Ellie is getting more and more into dress up too.
Dorothy is one of her favorites



 
We saw another musical in Dallas this spring with Cookie & Lovie - Wizard of Oz!
It was fantastic and we all loved it!

One Friday, Will went with his class to a local field where they met their  8th grade buddies for a kite day & picnic.
He had a blast!


The little sisters had fun watching the kites




For Christmas I really wanted a wooden swing...
& I got it!  
It's one of my favorite gifts ever as there's almost always a kid out swinging now in my front yard - sometimes it's even my own kid.


I've caught neighbor kiddos quietly swinging or loudly singing to themselves and it just makes my heart so happy to look out and see someone swinging.  Already, the grass has been worn out beneath it and I just love that.  Kids belong on swings.
I confess that I often go out late at night and swing under the stars.  It totally relaxes me and makes me feel small to stare at the stars from my swing.

We've enjoyed some recent long walks in our neighborhood and Will has been working hard on mastering bike riding - he's doing great!
Ellie does great too walking and went over 2 miles one day!

Ellie had her little dance class spring show off.  I channeled my creative side (had to dig deep) and made all the girls matching tutus.




Ellie and her favorite dance teacher, Mrs. Jeanne


She got to dance with her daddy at the spring show!  It was precious

After the dance show, Ellie and I headed to the make up store as I needed a few things...
I turned around and discovered that she had found the lipstick.
She doesn't do subtle.

Being a mommy can wear a girl out - Ellie pretend co sleeping with all her babies.

Will has started tennis again and loves it.  He practices in the yard almost daily and always enjoys his lesson.
I joined a tennis team and league this spring too & have LOVED learning the sport and playing so much.  It's the only time where I truly just turn off my brain to every thing except playing tennis.  I can't  think of errands or grocery lists or make phone calls or check email or worry about anyone.  I get to be outside for a few hours, laugh with friends, exercise, and think of nothing except the sport and the game.
It's amazingly refreshing.
I lost my first match but won my second and it is just a blast. 
(Especially winning.  That was more fun.)
(Will made me a pipecleaner ball for good luck which I wore attached to my shoe for my second match.  I think that was what did it.   He has since begun making them for our whole team.)





A few days after hand camp (that gets its own post soon), Honey & G-Dad came to town to take care of the kids & we headed to VA for a very special wedding.
In between wedding events, we managed to explore Richmond, VA with friends.
I love history & Richmond has it in abundance.

Carolyn & I rocked on the groom's 200 year old porch.  

The church where Patrick Henry gave his famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech.  The grave markers here were fascinating.

With dear friends at the wedding

I've known Michael since before he was born - he's like a little brother to me & I loved being there to see him get married!

The dad of the groom & R

Will & I 



My groom & I

The weekend's groom & I


Whew!
And that is it (almost) for Spring 2014 in a nutshell.
Summer Here We Come!


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