Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Little Erin - A Story of LIFE!

On Saturday, July 23, 2011, I was sitting downstairs working as I heard my cell phone vibrate over the monitor. I continued on with what I was doing and planned to check it later. As I waited for a file to load, I checked Facebook and saw that my lifelong friend, Ashley, posted the following status.

"Erin was found floating in a pool, CPR was done, she spit up water, started crying and is headed to Baptist. Morgan doesn't have her phone. Please tell everyone you know!! Pray for this baby!!!!" 

WHAT!? Immediately, I realized that Ashley must have called me. I started praying for Erin right away. You see, Ashley and I have been friends since we were 12 years old. I suppose Morgan was 9 or 10. I could say that Morgan and I have been friends that long as well, or I could honestly admit that she was just my best friend's bratty little sister. ;) She is one of the people I've known the longest, and because of how close we were as kids and teenagers, I consider her just about as close to a sister as I'll ever have. 

UGH. I was freaking out for Morgan, just praying that little Erin was okay, and that her brain was whole. I was actually there when Erin was born. I don't want to get into the way that Morgan gives birth, because it might just confuse people and make them think it is nothing more serious than a walk in the park, but it was a special birth for me, because I was pregnant and due with Ransom right around the same time she was pregnant and due with Erin. Honestly, that memory popped into my head as I prayed for her, and I thought, "Lord, let her stay with us." 

As status updates kept coming, they were growing more positive and less urgent, and I was relieved. Thank you, God, for saving this little girl. 

The following day, Morgan and Eddy (Erin's parents) posted some of their experience on Facebook. I cried as I read their experiences, and I want you to have the chance to read them as well. Since their profiles were set to private, I got their permission to share here. Be encouraged!

This was the first thing I read on Sunday morning, written by Eddy.

"Never in my life have I felt such sorrow than I feel tonight. I really believed, when I saw her lifeless body, that she was gone forever. The feeling of hopelessness angered me and I physically tried to destroy the pavilion. When I started screaming I wanted to make sure that God heard me, I wanted his full attention. I wanted to make sure that he heard what was about to exit my lips. "Oh God not my Erin, please God not Erin, give her life." What I heard next was her hero, my Uncle Julio Jimenez say, "Eddy, she's breathing." I continued sobbing and I heard my Uncle say with urgency, "Eddy! She's breathing, get over here, she's needs to know you're here son!" I immediately got up and knelt by her side listening to her wheezing. I put my hand palm down on her chest just to feel her lungs breathing in and out. I had to make sure for myself that my angel was in fact breathing. And she was. Shock took over and I knew at any second that I would be awakened by her. She's usually the first running into the room in the morning screaming, "Daaad, Daaad!" But then I heard sirens, and a few seconds later, a stranger dressed in blue picking her up and running to Engine 150. That's when I knew that I, and the rest of us there, were living in our worst nightmare. If it were not for the heroics of Julio Jimenez, my Uncle, Erin's hero, I, along with countless others, would be grieving a terrible loss. God in his unfailing grace, used Uncle Julio in a way in which, I will be eternally grateful. And laying here with my wife and my living, breathing Erin, is truly a blessing. Thank you God for hearing me. Thank you God for extending your Grace to my family. Once again you amaze me."

Late Sunday night, Morgan shared her point of view.

"I know there are a lot of people who are curious about what happened last night. I have no problems talking about it and I wanted to share the details while it is still fresh in my memory. I can only speak for myself here but I feel like talking about it has helped the healing.
Last night we celebrated my mother in law's 50th birthday party at her neighborhood pool. At 9pm I had walked to their house to take Jordy to the potty and left Erin in the care of my mother. Eddy and I bypassed one another as he was returning with Caiden doing the same thing. When I returned, I told Eddy we need to get going, and by the looks of it everyone else was leaving too. At this point Eddy had removed Erin's water wings in preparation of us leaving. Eddy had written a special note for his mother that he wanted to read before we left. We took care of that promptly. I never recalled seeing Erin when I returned from the house but it didn't say much because Erin had been all over the place all night. For some weird reason I felt uneasy about her absence because of it being so dark. I know now that it was only the Holy Spirit prompting my curiosity of her whereabouts because like most of you know, they are always accounted for when it really matters.  Surely we won't be that family whose child dies or gets kidnapped.  All night I kept feeling worried about her for some reason and Eddy kept assuring me she was fine. My first instinct was the park connecting to the pavilion/pool area. I went to the park calling her name and heard nothing. I was still pretty calm but managed to ask Eddy if he saw her at the pool and he said she wasn't there. Eddy's sister was trailing close behind him double checking everything and started to walk with him away from the pool. She later told me that she didn't know why but she felt the spirit tugging at her to take a double look in the pool. From the moment I first asked where she was, about 30 seconds had gone by when I heard the terrible news. “Morgan, Oh my God she's in the pool!” What happened next is something you only experience in your worst nightmares. I sprinted from one side of the gate to the other as Jennifer pulled my precious baby from the water yelling in hysterics. She was limp, she was blue and she had no pulse. The noises that came out of me were uncontrollable. “Oh God no, no, no no!!! Oh God! Jennifer put her down!!” I knew CPR couldn't begin in her arms and I started to walk away screaming for someone to call 911. I don't want want my last memories of Erin to be spent watching her dead body on the concrete.  I kept looking around for someone to comfort me. But all I saw was panic. She was dead and nobody could do anything about it. The next thought that came to my mind was from the devil himself. This is your fault, you have too many kids. I stopped immediately and got flat on my face before the Lord and I remember praying, Lord what do I pray for?! Help me! And then it began, something that cannot be explained by man. A perfect peace that truly surpasses all understanding. Then the prayers began as though I put no effort into them, Lord nothing happens apart from your will. I believe that your Hand is in this! I had made my peace that my baby was dead and I realized in that very moment that while it was such a terrible pain I would be okay despite hating it with the fiercest of hate. God's promise came ringing into my ears, all things happen to the glory of God to those who love Him! And then I thought about his deliberate sacrifice of his very own son. How horrible he must have felt, and then it hit me. God you lost a child, and now I have lost a child. You will carry me through this storm and you will receive Glory. You know how I feel! Please help me. I then ran to the street to wait for the ambulance. It was then that I began brainstorming how I would cope with this loss. First I would get rid of all her clothes, and Devyn would wear nothing of Erin's. Next I would have to get rid of her bed, her passies and her blankets and all of her favorite toys. How did I become that parent?! The one everyone snickers about saying “Where were the stupid parents when this happened?”...How was I that mom now?! You know that you do it, we all do.   I realized then I was collapsed in the middle of the road alone. I was thinking of all the people in their homes perfectly safe, and I had just lost my baby. I just wanted someone to comfort me. And then came another answer to prayer. My brother in law hopping the fence telling me my baby is breathing and holding me as I sobbed. He is telling me she was okay, but all I kept thinking was how brain damaged would she be?? When did she go missing? How long was she under?! As the ambulance came I ran back to where she was, she was crying and she had pooped and peed on herself. Eddy's uncle had done CPR on her the entire time and said her heart had not beat for 2 minutes solid. My first thought was, how long was it not beating in the water?! Eddy hopped on the ambulance, and for once I wished I weren't breastfeeding Devyn. I don't remember them carrying her off, but I stopped to comfort Caiden a moment before I rushed off to the hospital. What a horrible thing to see at his age. I get to the hospital and Erin is awake. She is crying to go bye bye and wants to get off of her table. I was not shocked to see her alive, but I was shocked to see her talking to me. I saw her bathing suit in a ball on the floor and asked them to dispose of it. Never again do I want to see my baby in that suit. My sister in law said Erin was floating head down but she almost didn't see her because it looked more like a life jacket than a person. I hated that of all people she was the one to pull Erin's lifeless body out of the pool but praise God for his prompting in her spirit to do sol. As the night progressed, Erin was fussing over juice cups and asking for Yo Gabba Gabba. I knew she was going to be okay.
I later learned this morning that 2 people had noted Erin being present as I read the letter to Eddy's mom. It was exactly half a page length and took no more than a minute and a half to read. We don't know exactly when she wandered away, how long she played on the step before she drowned, or how long she struggled before she quit breathing...but my closest estimates are 2-2.5 minutes from the moment she walked away to the moment she was pulled from the water.  Maybe less.  We are so blessed because it could have been so much worse.  You never think this will happen to you.
I am forever grateful for God's grace on my Erin and my family, but we have been left distraught. I did not lose my Erin forever, but for a short 5 minutes I did. And that feeling has left a hole in my heart that will take time to heal. So please pray for us, all of our friends and family that were present.
I believe that my God is a Sovereign God, and a God of divine intervention. Today at the hospital we met another couple whose baby also drowned yesterday. Her parents are close in age to me and Eddy, and like Erin baby Bristol was only 2. It was her second birthday in fact. We are so blessed for our daughters recovery. So I ask again that you pray for this precious family. Kayla, Mike and Bristol. I can't begin to tell you the comfort I received in knowing another mom who felt exactly like me. We exchanged few words mostly rehashing our experiences...but it left me feeling peaceful. And again, in his divine sovereignty I discover that I have been friends with one of her cousins for years.
When I close my eyes to sleep, I hear Jennifer, I see Erin being pulled from the water blue and limp less and I hear my scream. It replays over and over like a record and I can't make it stop. I am praying for rest for me and Bristols family tonight.
Erin is completely back to normal, sleeping on the sofa right now actually. This little girl has one powerful testimony and I know the Lord has great plans for her!! Thank you Abba!

Thank you so much for your prayers, and your encouraging words. It gave me great strength when I needed it most. He is my strength and my rock!!"

Finally, Eddy shared this on Monday, writing to his sister. 

"Jennifer, I want to thank you for double checking the pool after I frantically searched for Erin. If it weren't for you, the entire incident would've turned out much worse. Jen, thank you so much for staying calm long enough to grab Erin out of the water, allowing her to get the attention she needed. I love you so much and I always will!" 

This may or may not seem significant to you, but I can assure you that even the momentary thought that you might lose your child can change your life forever! I believe in a God of resurrection, and I believe that this little girl was raised from death by Him. The lyrics from "You Alone Can Rescue" by Matt Redman are playing over and over in my mind. The hands of Eddy's sister were the hands of God, lifting little Erin from the watery grave. The breath of Uncle Julio, the breath of God, giving life to her lungs. Isn't it amazing that the God of the Universe would let ordinary people like us be HIS hands and breathe HIS life-giving breath!!??! Thank you, Lord, for letting us be a part of your story. Thank you for Erin's life, again!

Tonight, we'll gather at the park and celebrate Erin's life. I know that Morgan and Eddy would be honored to have you join us! We'll be at Ed Austin Regional Park at 6 pm. Join us if you just want to celebrate the God of LIFE!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


When I am stressed out, anxious, and overwhelmed, I tend to write. Read at your own risk. I will now emotionally vomit, beginning with my own insignificant issues, and moving on to the big things.

Since yesterday, the rather insignificant issues have included sleeplessness (duh), child with concussion, argument over treating said child with concussion, air conditioning going out at rental home, and flat tire. Very selfishly, I do not appreciate this bombardment of "issues." I am on edge.

So, in the midst of all that, I feel like all the people I love the most are having major crises. Tonight, one of my friends, a friend who is as close as a sister as I will ever have, found her 2-year-old floating facedown in a pool. They resuscitated her and took her to the hospital. She is stable now. Hopefully, she will be fine, but this is just a scary and overwhelming situation! I have several friends in serious marital distress. Families are being attacked and falling apart all around us! I have friends with all sorts of workplace drama and difficulty to wade through. I genuinely feel like all the people I love the most are in the midst of some sort of serious struggle, the type of struggle that is beyond any of our own abilities to solve.

Hope remains. God is still God. I have no answers or thoughts other than His Word, so I'll leave you with that. 

Lamentations 3:21-26 - "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Great Park Adventure - Victory Park

This is going to be the first time I ever recommend NOT going to a park. Don't go to this park. There was something shady about it, and I don't mean the trees!

You see, there was this fella just watching us the whole time we were there. I didn't want to alarm my children, and I'm not a particularly fearful person, so I was ready to shank him if it came to it, but it was still very strange. He was on his cell phone most of the time and I overheard things like "Wait a few minutes. They are still here." That's always comforting. This park has a pavilion area with bathrooms and some other indoor area that was closed off for maintenance. I could see that one of the doors had been bent and that the wire mesh had been broken off one of the "windows." I don't know what is going on inside that building, but I'm guessing something is happening in there. This park adventure felt more like investigative reporting or detective work. Anyway, the guy just sat in one spot the whole time, talking on his phone... until.... the MOMENT we stepped on the other side of the back gate into the parking lot. I heard the loud door creaking open and what sounding like moving giant metal trash cans. I don't know what was happening. I didn't care. I just thought, "Okay kiddos, let's get in the van and get the heck outta dodge!"

Annnnyyway, my other major criticism is the whole "how to get into the park" problem. Victory Park is clearly visible from Ft. Caroline Road, with a open gate and a sign. However, there is nowhere to park on Ft. Caroline Road, and there are no instructions or signs advising an eager parkgoer the way to get to the park. Fortunately, I attended Ft. Caroline Middle School and could see the football field, so I figured I must have to go well past Victory Park, turn right on University Club, and then turn right onto an again unmarked road, which I followed to a parking lot behind Victory Park. I don't think that most people would have success finding the way to get into this park, but that may be for the best! ;)

The park itself was pretty clean, other than the building, which was clearly damaged. I didn't take pictures of it because, well, I didn't want to risk being shanked myself. When should one use a shank and when is a shiv preferred? Just curious. I digress. The park has a lot of features. The tennis courts and soccer fields looked really nice, and the playground equipment was in good repair... but something is GOING DOWN at the Victory Park.

So, here are the pictures, for what they're worth. Consider this to be your PSA for the day.

This was when Aspen fell attempting to cross the bridge. She actually did a flip before this. I guess this picture is evidence of my motherly awesomeness. Do I pick her up? No, I take a picture. (She was fine.)

These swings were old school! The seat with the CHAIN lap belt! What what!?!?

Ephraim decided to try one out. Still not a huge fan of the swings, as you can see. Again, evidence of my motherly awesomeness.

...But a few seconds later, and he liked it.

Not quite understanding the point of the balance beam.

The signs near the exercise equipment... kind of falling apart and/or faded to the point of invisibility.

The walking path in the wooded area. 

Soccer fields

Tennis courts

So, don't go to Victory Park. ;) 

Here is the website, and here are its amenities.

Bike racks1
Car Parking72
Drinking Fountain
Multiuse Field1
Perimeter Site Fencing
Picnic shelters1
Picnic Tables11
Playground Equipment7
Security Lighting

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Book Project, Continued (Books 81-90)

Wow! We are almost done with the Top 100 Children's Books of All Time!  Unbelievable. It's been really fun to read all of these amazing books with my kid. Enjoy our reviews!

My Review - This is an EXCELLENT book. Really, I love it. It is the story of a girl who wants to do something that others think she can't or shouldn't do. Guess what? SHE CAN! I love stories like this in general. I love stories that teach my children to go after their dreams, despite any discouragement they may face. I want to be the kind of mom who pushes her children to go for whatever they want, no matter how crazy, no matter how young. And with that little soapbox rant, I will say, READ IT!

Ephraim's Review - Awkward because it had my favorite show in it. Do you remember the pirate scene where Captain Hook was with Peter Pan? That was my favorite show, because it was the original one. The original Captain Hook. (hahahah)

My Review - Cute story of a little boy who "becomes a pirate." I loved the illustrations in this book. The little boy didn't particularly like that pirates do not tell bedtime stories or do other things that moms and dads do, so that leads him back home, which I thought was particularly sweet. It seems that pirating is more of a grown-up job. :)

Ephraim's Review - That was kind of silly because they buried the treasure in the backyard. Ooh, here's really good one. wer (He typed the preceding letters.) Now, let me add something with it. wrd (He also typed those.) Word. That's what I wanna say, Mom. Word.

My Review - This is a sweet, beautiful story about the uniqueness of every child. It is a sweet one to share to assure your child of their infinite worth. Just wish it was, "On the MORNING You Were Born," 'cause both of my babies were born in the morning. ;)

Ephraim's Review - Silly because it had a polar bear in it. Those white things are called polar bears. (His typing coming up.) sno. Snow. Now guess what Mom? This is gonna make you laugh and crack up. wetr (also his typing)

My Review - This book made me want to go "owling!" I loved that this was a child getting to have an adventure with her father. Her older siblings had already experienced this, but it was finally her turn to go owling with dad. They do indeed see an owl, which is cool, but the parent-child adventure and memory is even more special!

Ephraim's Review - That was really cool because it was very awkward 'cause it was silly, that it had an owl in it. qwy (Ephraim's typing, again.)

My Review - This was another book that I really LOVED. This is the PERFECT book to read if you have a child who constantly says that they can't draw, or gives up on art projects without even beginning. It may give them a fresh perspective and help them to know that art has many forms!

Ephraim's Review - Really cool because she was an artist! cvbh (You guessed it, he typed that too.)

My Review - This was a fun story, and we got to be a part of it! The book talks directly to the reader, which was really enjoyable! We got to be the "bear" and try to get the mouse to part with his strawberry. I definitely recommend it if you're looking for an interactive story.

Ephraim's Review - Really cool because it was so cool the bear just even took the strawberry. bar (bear).

My Review - This was a sweet story of a world of wumps, who live at peace with their world and with one another.... until..... Well, go find out for yourself! I thought it was cute, and I sure hope things eventually went back to normal for those wumps!

Ephraim's Review - Really, really silly because it had silly stuff on it like when the wumps go on. I don't even know what wumps are. They are so silly. iuytr (yep, that again)

My Review - This is a simple, sweet bedtime story. Different kinds of animals were telling their babies goodnight, and going through bedtime rituals. Good story for helping with bedtime!

Ephraim's Review - Night night! Really cool because all of the babies were going night-night.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Great Park Adventure - Murray Hill Playground

I have so many funny things to say about today... This morning at 10 a.m., I showed up at Murray Hill Playground with my children and a couple of friends. We had bathing suits and swim shoes, but we weren't totally sure that the water feature would be on. It was most definitely on! And guess what? Every single one of my Facebook friends were there too! Okay, not really, but there were like a million kids there. I'm thinking there was one daycare group and one church camp group. SO fun!

Many of the children fell in love with Aspen and followed her around everywhere. There was one particularly funny situation with a 5-year-old boy who had an "outie" belly button. Apparently, Aspen found this fascinating. She poked that belly button QUITE a few times! Thankfully, the little boy found it hilarious and was pretty accommodating. ;) In explaining the story later, Ephraim told my parents that the boy had a "hot dog" on his belly button. hahah ohmyword.

Another funny situation was a little dog showing up at the park near the end of our time there. There was an old lady with probably an 8-pound terrier walking in the park. She was WAY far from the water feature, but several of these children were extremely concerned about a dog being in the park. A group of 5 or 6 girls came RUNNING to me, exclaiming, "Get the baby! There's a dog loose in the park!" LOL Seriously, 8-pound terrier. Aspen could take that dog.

Okay, last funny story, and then on to info about the park. One of the little mommas in the group (probably an 8-year-old) said to me, "Is that your daughter?" "Yes," I replied. "How old is she?" she asked. I told her she was 18 months old. She replied, "Aww, and she already walkin? That's so good. I was walkin' when I was 9 months old. When will she be one?" HAHAHAH I wish I could accurately convey her attitude and mannerisms in this. It was totally like a little momma talking to another mom. I explained that one happened at 12 months, etc. It was really cute. I love kids. They are so funny.

Annnyway.... Murray Hill Playground. FUN times! LOVED the water feature! My kids went nuts for it. There was a lot of spraying in the hiney area and putting feet over the sprinklers to prevent the water from shooting out. They also held out their shirts and shorts over the sprinklers to receive spray. Aspen tried imitating all of this, which was really cute. The park was pretty clean and shady. If it is that popular, they could use SEVERAL more benches. I was a little disappointed that there were no baby swings. Aspen kept running to the swings, and I kept having to turn her down. This park has baseball fields and is the home of the Murray Hill Athletic Association, as well. Overall, it was a really fun time! I just love that some of our local parks have water features. It is really an awesome thing in Florida!

Enjoy the pics!

We had a blast today! I hope you go check it out. :)

Here is the park's website, and its amenities.

Baseball Youth Lighted 2

Basketball Lighted 1

Benches 10

Bleachers 12

Car Parking 135

Concession Stand 2

Drinking Fountain

Perimeter Site Fencing

Picnic shelters 1

Picnic Tables 13

Playground Equipment 3

Restrooms 2

Security Lighting