We started 2013 with a new word in our vocabulary...Microcephaly. At first we were devastated but with more knowledge we were able to move forward with a more positive attitude. We now understand that it is possible to lead a typical life with Microcephaly. Piper's therapist and doctors continue to be amazed with her development. In November we were hit with another bump in the road but we are staying positive and relying on God & Riley to help us understand more about our sweet little Piper. We are blessed that overall Piper is in excellent health and continues to develop at a steady rate. Microcephaly is just a diagnosis and we won't let it define Piper or hold her back. She is still expected to participate in life and we have high expectations for her future.
We tried to make the most of winter. Piper continued with Kindermusik. It is such a treat to watch her love for music develop. We also took Piper outside several times to enjoy the snow. It was fun to watch Piper explore the snow but I was not sad to see it go. We were all ready for spring!
This year was full of first! Every first was special but Piper's first birthday was extra special. I had so much fun planning her party. We had a huge purple party complete with face painters, balloon artist and a moon bounce! It was so great for so many to gather and celebrate her first year of life. It was a time for us to reflect on what a blessing Piper is.
We had lots of family fun this summer. We visited several local parks and splash pads. We bought a family membership to the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. We went to the Zoo at least one a week. Piper loved all the animals and we enjoyed getting a little excise and watching Piper's delight! This summer Piper also started swimming lessons. She loves the water. She is a natural in the pool. I might be a little bias but I think she is a shining star in her class!
In early September we moved Piper from home daycare to a preschool. We found the perfect preschool right down the road. The Academy is a preschool for children 12 months - 5 years. Piper started walking at 15 months (with much determination) and started school a week later. She loves her teachers and classmates. When I say that Piper goes to preschool many people smile and chuckle, "how cute they call "daycare" school". No, it is really school. They have a scheduled curriculum they follow complete with arts, crafts, fine and gross motor activities, dance, music ,circle time, sensory activities and of course lots of free time play. The Academy has invited us to back to school night, parent teacher conferences and Piper had school pictures taken! She is growing up so fast right before our eyes!
At the end of September we celebrated National Microcephaly Awareness Day. Obviously, Microcephaly is near and dear to our hearts. We are so blessed that Piper only has a few minor issues from Microcephaly but 90% of children with the diagnosis have serve delays and other health issues. Even though everyday we count our blessings, we have now met many people less fortunate. Please continue to pray for Piper and all her Micro friends that have many more struggles than she does.
The holidays were extra special and exciting this year. Watching the joy in your child's eyes as they are experiencing something new is magical. This year we hosted the Strobel's for Thanksgiving Day. It was exciting and nerve racking all at the same time. I had never cooked a turkey and boy was that an experience. Let's just say watching me take the innards out of the turkey could have been skit on Saturday Night Live (I was petrified)! After Thanksgiving we started to focus on the birth of our Savior. Another one of the joys of the holidays has been watching Piper interact with her cousins. She adores them and mocks everything they do.
This year Eric took his love for running to a new level by entering local races. Eric celebrated 6 years at Lorillard. Eric loves his job and has hopes that a management position is not far off. With Lorillard being such a great company Eric is ready for the challenge and I am supportive of him advancing his career. Eric turned the BIG 30 this year. He was totally surprised by a party with 22 of our closest friends. Eric continues his passion for all sports and is now trying to teach Piper all about sports. They spend many Saturday morning playing hockey on the kitchen floor.
I continue seeking a balance between God, my career and my family. It continues to be a juggling act in constant motion. I continue working at the Drug and Alcohol Consortium. After three and half years the grant I am working under is starting to wind down and will not be renewed in October. I have mixed emotions about finding a new job but look forward to new opportunities. I am a gypsy at heart so this will be a fun new adventure.
I can't forget little Max. Max continues to live the good life of eating, sleeping and getting pampered. Max is now 6 years old and is as hyper as ever. Max and Piper continue to have a love hate relationship. He loves to play with her but hates to share his parents, toys and space with his sister.
We started the year feeling blessed and are ending our year feeling blessed. God is the one thing in our life that will never change. We seek him daily to be with us in our joys and our sorrows.
May you have a blessed 2014!