Monday, June 6, 2011

Letters to My Boys

Scattering Sunshine Contest Winners
Our three winners for the Positive Thinking Every Day book are....
1) Leah & Nick
2) Dana
3) Anna T

Please email your mailing address to and I will get your books in the mail!

We leave tomorrow.  Where did the time go?  How did the days slip away like a Dali painting?  How am I not totally packed?  People ask, "Are you ready?"  The only truthful answer- is no and we'll probably never be completely ready.  We're as ready as we could ever be.  Tommy has activities and visitors lined up.  He has a different present to open up every day (and only one of them is actually from us).  He will have playdates and dinners and hopefully he will barely notice our absence.  Yesterday I started talking to him about Joey's "boo boo" and how the heart doctor is going to fix it.  We read our photo book that Tina from Help Me Joe (that's our name for Help Me Grow) brought us.  It has pictures of our last trip to Michigan along with other pictures and it has recordings of me talking to Tommy about why we are taking Joey there.  I'm not sure he understands exactly what I'm telling him, but I hope that it can somewhat prepare him for when he finally gets to visit his brother.

Tomorrow or Tuesday, Bummer Bear's Mended Heart Bear should arrive for him:

Mended Heart Bear

My hope is that "Mended Heart Bear" can help Tommy understand what Joey has going on.  As their website describes it-- he features a functional zipper on his chest (which opens and closes to expose his mended heart) and a red felt heart, hand-mended with white thread "stitches". 

On Friday a very special bouquet arrived for him.  I'm starting to worry less and think that he may end up enjoying us being gone! 

Thank you Bairds!!!

We had a wonderful photographer, Keri Conrad, come out today to capture some family photos and most importantly, to get some photographs of Joey and Tommy.  It was important to me to get some photos of Joey before his surgery and before his "zipper" gets put in.  

It's hard to describe what this process is like and what it has been like knowing that Joey would need this surgery, but never knowing exactly when it would actually take place.  He has passed some major milestones-- he made it past six months without having to have it.  He has not gone into heart failure.  He has gained weight.  He has pretty much surprised us at every single turn in the road.  He is definitely, as his shirt says, A Lover and a Fighter.

Before the week gets even more crazy and we don't know which way is up, I wanted to write each of my boys a letter.

Dear Thomas Henry,

You are my precious, precious son.  I had no idea what to expect when I had you 2 1/2 years ago.  If God had told me that I could create any child I wanted to, I would have never even dreamed of creating one as funny, precious, sweet, smart and amazing as you.  I never dreamed that having a son would be the incredible journey it has been and will be with you.  I love your sense of humor.  The way you say, "Hmmm. I have an idea." Or the way you think all people who have short hair are little boys.  I love that you asked "Whaz that?" for almost a year and now that has turned into, "What's that man doing?".  I love that out of nowhere you will exclaim "There's a puma!" It was alarming the first time you did it, but now I cherish your joy and I love catching the imaginary pumas with you.  

I love that at 2 1/2 you have a favorite song and that you demand I play The Zac Brown Band's "Colder Weather" every single time we get in the car.  Your father is going to have a fit when he realizes I've already got you listening to country music.  He will soon be trying to sway you to the ways of Bruce Springsteen, but for now, we can listen to our song every time we run errands.  

I am so sorry that we have to leave you for a few days, but this is a very important time for your brother.  We have to help him be the best he can be.  I know that your brother has a lot of appointments and that we spend a lot of time with him.  My hope for you is that you will grow up to love and respect the hard work your brother has to put in to do the things that may come easy to the rest of us.  I hope that the two of you will be the best of friends and I pray that you will never feel in the least bit slighted for some of the extra time we have to spend with him.  

Tommy-- mommy is going to miss you so much this week and mommy and daddy love you so very much.  You bring such joy and laughter to every day of our life and you made us a true family when you were born. 

Love and prayers,


Heart Monkey-- Thank you Jon and Mark!!

Dear Joseph David,

Tomorrow we begin our next adventure in this wild first year of life.  You have surprised us every step of the way and your resilience, your spirit and your determination provide us with such an incredible amount of awe and pride that I can barely describe it.

I will be there with you every single step of the way and I cannot wait to have you back in my arms after you come out of the surgery and we will work together to get you back in your top shape.  

You are only nine months old and yet you have already taught me a lifetime of lessons.  You have shown us what is important in this life.  You have inspired me to write.  To be a better person and to be a better mom.  When we were told that you have Down syndrome and that your little heart would need mended I had no idea what was in store for us as a family.  Little did I know the amount of joy you would bring on a daily basis.  Again, God had a huge surprise in store for us and he created such an amazing little boy.  

I am going to try to be super strong for you and I would give anything to be able to take the pain away from you and go through this surgery in your place.  That is probably the hardest thing about being a mom-- seeing your babies in pain.  I so wish it were me and not you going through this surgery.  

Joey-- I love you with all my heart and being and I will always be your number one fan and advocate.

Love and prayers,



  1. I'm officially crying at 6:51am. What a great post Jen. Safe travels and my prayers are with you!

  2. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. I'm sure it won't be long before you are able to post blogs announcing a successful surgery, great results, and a quick recovery! Jim & Diane

  3. I don't know who is stronger and more amazing, you or Big Joe! I guess he gets his fight and drive honestly!
    I can't wait til you all return! I will be thinking about and praying for you daily!
    I love the Towell crew!

    Ps, no worries for Thomas Henry! He will do just fine! :)

  4. Having been through this, we can understand your feelings. Just know that you will be in our thoughts and prayers throughout your journey and we're always available for you. Please look to Todd as an inspiration of the AFTER of Joey's surgery. Zippers aren't so bad; they remind us of how lucky we are. Lee, Debby & Todd

  5. Love and prayers your way - xo

  6. Oh Jen, your letters left me crying! Little Joey, your entire family, and the medical team will continue to be in my prayers. I know that this is going to be a difficult time and it looks like Tommy has been well prepared. The Bummer Bear as well as the daily gifts should help him with both the separation from you guys as well as in understanding Joey's "zipper". We know that Joey is a strong little guy and a fighter. I have no doubt he will be quite the trooper and have all of those nurses wrapped around his finger!

  7. You're letters are beautiful! HUGS & prayers that Joeys surgery & recovery will be quick & uneventful.


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