Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Girls meet grandpa Kevin

Brighton and Berkeley enjoyed meeting "Grandpa Kevin" this week. Sean's dad came to visit from Phoenix, Arizona, for a few days. Unfortunately, Sean's grandma "Meme" (Kevin's mom) had to go to the hospital with pneumonia only minutes after he arrived. She is doing much better, but still in the hospital. Meanwhile, the girls are enjoying a little extra time with him.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Just HAD to put up these pictures. Hat: courtesy of Sandra Popham, Shirt: Courtesy of Tanya Henry
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Half Birthday Party

December 19th, 2009, marked the halfway point between age 3 and age 4 for little miss Brighton. She is now officially three and a half. We had a special tea party to celebrate. We wore our finest hats (Brighton - Strawberry Shortcake, Mom - gray elephant)and had our finest drinks (cranberry juice with cream, and even some eggnog!). Brighton has been very sweet lately, possibly exiting the sassy stage that kicked in at the beginning of age 3. I know all you parents of teenagers are laughing at the thought of a child "exiting" the sassy stage...but a mom can dream, right?
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Berkeley's First Pigtails!

Berkeley is growing up! This is a picture of her with her first pigtails! The back of her head still barely has hair, but the top has enough to squeeze it into pigtails.
This week I saw some definite use of sign language to tell me she wanted to eat, and that she wanted more. We are so proud of our sweet little girl.
Many people have asked about Berkeley's health. We are happy to say that she has been doing wonderfully! The cardiologist gave her a great report this month - he doesn't foresee any future problems or need for any more surgeries. Praise God for all the wonderful care she has received, and for keeping her healthy!
Thank you to everyone who keeps up with the blog. It means a lot to us to know that so many people care about our little gals.
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Say it into the air!

Disturbed that she had forgotten her offering for church, Brighton was making plans for saving up her money to take to church next week. She was very adament about "giving her money to God."
I told her, "That's great! The bible says that God loves a cheerful giver!"
She said, "I love God!" I told her that He loves her, too. Then Brighton asked, "Can God hear the stuff we're saying?"
I said yes.
With that information, she quickly said, "Then I'll just say it into the air...I love you, God!"
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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Buddy Walk

Our first try at the Buddy Walk was a success! We showed up...we walked...so, I guess we accomplished our goal. :)
It was nice to see so many other kids with Down Syndrome - like a little sneak peak into the future for Berks. On top of all the family fun, the adult Smiths got to get a little exercise. Of course, following the walk with mexican food at Chuy's kind of defeats that purpose...but boy, was it good!
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

See why we love these girls???

Brighton proclaims her love for the Smith family!

Berkeley's laugh is contagious! Watch out, you might catch it, too!

Friday, October 9, 2009


Update on Brighton - Sassy!!!
She is getting pretty sassy these days...and too clever for her own good. Last night she proclaimed loudly, "I...WANT...SOME...ICE...CREAM!!!" So, following her lead, I said emphatically, "N....O!" to which she quickly replied, "N...O... minute!" She didn't know what I had spelled, but used it to figure out how to get that ice cream "in a minute."

Update on Berkeley - Roly Poly!
Gone are the days where I can leave Berkeley and expect her to be there when I return. She's rolling, twisting, turning, and "craw-fishing" to get around. She's not quite crawling, but she is making progress! Sean took her for another hearing test yesterday, and it looks like she'll probably have tubes put in within the next few months. Other than that, her health is great! She is constantly charming us with that famous grin. Oh, and she's finally accumulating some of those cute little baby fat rolls!

Sean and I are so thankful for these girls!
For more pictures and videos, visit

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I'm posting this video, knowing that my family in Hog-country (Arkansas) will probably disown this branch of the family tree after seeing this. Yes, even I (Julie) was wearing an LSU shirt on this particular evening.

Last night we had our first family tailgaiting event of the year at the Smith house. Sean was so excited about the LSU season starting that he bought LSU t-shirts for everyone, and even made a 1 1/2 hour roundtrip journey to pick up "Raising Cane's" chicken (a restaurant chain that was born on LSU campus and has now spread to Texas). We had our little tailgaiting picnic in the light of the TV as we watched the Tigers play the Washington Huskies. If any of you keep up with football, you might already know that this game didn't start until 9:30pm! Sean made sure that the girls had a long, late nap so they wouldn't miss this all important event! Geaux Smiths!
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Monday, August 24, 2009


Berkeley celebrates her first birthday a few days early with her Arkansas crew. Next step, party hard on Saturday night after church with our Texas gang!

Just before her heart surgery in March, while anxiety was building, I had a dream. The dream was just a tiny little glimpse of Berkeley celebrating her first birthday. Usually, I have such bizarre dreams that I never take them seriously...but this one was so comforting, and at just the right time. Right then, I felt like everything would be fine. And it was. She has arrived at this landmark, and we are so proud of her! Praise God for taking care of little Berkeley this year...through heart defects and surgery, pneumonia x 2, hearing issues, trouble eating and gaining weight...He was right there with us, and we'll just keep entrusting her to Him.

"For this God is our God for ever and ever, and He will be our guide even to the end." Psalm 48:8
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Feeling Silly (not a rare occurrence)

Brighton and I are sporting this year's latest fashion trend - wearing hats made of the leftover demin from my cut-off capris. We are very ahead of our times in the fashion world...so far, in fact, that the general public may actually never recognize this as fashionable during our lifetimes.
Anyway, this is my last week of total hang-out-with-the-girls-days. I will definitely miss it! Fortunately, Brighton and Berkeley will be spending their daytimes with our friend Tracey Rose. We're very excited about this, because Berkeley will get really individualized care and get to stay home. Brighton will get to benefit from Tracey's fun and loving personality 3 days a week, and will get her classroom fix by going twice a week to the same learning center that she's gone to since she was a baby. It's a pretty awesome situation, and we're very thankful to God for working it all out...and in a pretty random way. We had no idea we'd ever have a "nanny." Thank God for knowing WAY more than me!
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Sunday, August 2, 2009

A few random things

Berkeley with her Uncle Tim (Julie's brother)
Brighton and her cousin Carson (Sean's sister's daughter)

Brighton learning to be adventurous with Evie (Julie's best friend's daughter). They are up in a hayloft of a model barn at the Fayetteville Botanical Garden.

Grammy Donna (Sean's mom) thinks the girls are a real hoot.

Just a few pictures of family and friends.

Also, if any of you want to receive an e-mail when we update our blog, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail with your e-mail address. My e-mail is seanjuliesmith@tx.rr.com

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Video of Berkeley Sitting

We are so proud of Berkeley! Here is a clip of her sitting all by herself. She's really getting good at it! She does fall at the end, but she's fine!
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Berkeley's rodeo

8 Seconds -

Doesn't seem like long....

unless you're riding a bull...

or sitting up all by yourself for the first time.

In case you're not currently in the baby scence, most kids learn to sit unassisted around 6 months of age. At the very end of June, at age 10 months, Berkeley made it to this milestone. She sat by herself, on a flat surface, with nothing to hold on to or lean on, for 8 whole seconds! It was just as exciting as when any baby learns to sit, if not moreso, because she had worked so hard to get to this point! Yea Berkeley!
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Brighton's two cents

A conversation with Brighton, who is now 3 and thinks she ought to help with the decisions.

Brighton: Mama, what are you doing?
Julie: Thinking about whether or not I need to swat you for what you just did.
Brighton: I don't think you need to swat me for everything I do.

Well, I didn't get around to swatting her. I was too busy trying to hide the fact that I was laughing.

For more pictures of the Smiths in July, click this link:

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

History In the Making

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I know this isn't about our girls, but I guess in a way, it is (you know...in a "future of our country" kind of way). I mostly wanted to share this picture with those of you who don't live in a racially diverse area like Dallas.
When was the last time you remember complete clothing and accessory lines being churned out that featured a political figure? I was slightly amused and surprised when my students in Oak Cliff (urban area in Dallas) started wearing T-shirts, jackets, and stocking caps with President Obama's face on them. When I told a student that he needed to take off his hat, he immediately got defensive, seemingly ready to fight for "his" new president. I laughed and told him, "No. Hats are out of dress code. Take it off."
Regardless of your political or personal opinion about the election of Obama, it is hard to deny that this event has inspired many young African Americans. Sure, most of them don't really know what his political stance actually is, and probably many of you reading this do not agree with it, but they do understand that he overcame the odds to reach his goal. Hopefully they will be inspired to do great things with their lives as well.
"By Obama being a black president and us being young black kids it makes us feel like if he can do it, we can do it," said one teenager.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Are you Jesus?

"I love you SO much...You are SO beautiful...and God made you JUST perfect!" These are the words Sean tells our girls every night of their lives. Last night, it became apparent just how engrained those words are in Brighton's head. As I was tucking her in, I told her, "I love you, Brighton...but I could never love you as much as Jesus does. He loves you SOOOOO much!" Using her two year old deductive reasoning skills, she asked, "Is Daddy Jesus?"
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Problem Solving - by Brighton

Brighton has her own style of solving problems, and it blows me away. Here are two short stories to demonstrate:
1. A conversation between Brighton and Mommy (Julie), just before bedtime one night:
Mommy: Brighton, you know you're not supposed to pull toys out of the basket before bedtime. Just pick ONE THING to play with, and put the rest into the basket.
Brighton: OK
Mommy: (a few minutes later, after reentering the room and seeing that toys were still spread all over the living room.) Brighton, there are still toys everywhere! Did you pick out one thing to play with?
Brighton: yes!
Mommy: Well, what did you pick?
Brighton: The BASKET!

....Outsmarted by a two year old! At two years old, it's funny, but my mind jumps to the teenage years when she could really hatch a lot of sneaky plans. Sean can deal with her then.

2. On our way out the door to go to church last night, Berkeley decided to unleash a stinky surprise. The original deposit was bad enough, but once her diaper was off, she managed to deliver the next shipment via airmail. I dodged it just in time, and it landed 3 feet away and splatted on the ground. Sorry, I know that's gross! At least YOU weren't there!
Brighton came to see what all the excitement was about and couldn't be convinced to stay in the hallway. She kept walking into the bedroom, where I knew some splatters had landed. In the stress of the moment, I snapped at her and raised my voice.
After the clean-up, we finally got out the door and into the car. I realized I needed to apologize to Brighton for yelling. I told her I was sorry for being grumpy with her. To my surprise, Brighton came up with the best solution for my impatience. She said, "We need to pray to God for you to have a good attitude."

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
1 Timothy 4:11-13
FOR MORE PICTURES, CHECK OUT THIS LINK:http://picasaweb.google.com/seanjuliesmith/20095May02?authkey=Gv1sRgCO7ckvq3kZnH6wE
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grammy!

Happy Birthday to our grammies...Ginger Cotton (April 19th) and Donna Johnson (April 20th)!
We love you!
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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Princess Night

Theme nights have become a semi-regular occurrence at the Smith house. Last night while Sean was at church, the girls celebrated Princess Night! Brighton wanted to be a ladybug princess, Berkeley got to be the bumble bee princess, and I was the butterfly princess (until bumble bee spit up on my tutu!). We played princess memory cards, read princess books, ate princess-y snacks, watched the Little Mermaid (who was actually a princess, in case you never noticed), and took her dressed up bears on a princess parade in the backyard. When Sean came home from church, he brought us a princess dessert - coke floats in princess cups!

Monday, March 30, 2009

She's gone wireless!

Praise the Lord, Berkeley is out of the hospital! No more wires. No more tubes. No more sleepovers in the cardiac unit! The gang is all together again at home.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Party in Room 264!

It's starting to feel like a roller coaster...we've been down, up, up higher, down again, then back up once more! Now, before you read the next paragraph, I want you all to know that Berkeley is doing great right now and resting peacefully. Okay...now you can read the exciting stuff:
Berkeley had made it out of ICU and was doing well on the regular cardiac floor. She decided to have a party, though, and invited 17 medical staff members to it. Unfortunately, her method of invitation was to get a swollen trachea and struggle with her breathing. I never imagined that many people could actually fit into one hospital room at one time - it was the kind of thing you THINK only happens on TV hospital shows. They rushed around making sure she had enough oxygen, bringing in a mobile ultrasound unit, and doing who knows what else (I couldn't see her half the time for the crowd of nurses and doctors surrounding her). Syringes of medicine were flying, and the doctors were talking to each other so urgently that they didn't even have time to "translate" for people like me. It was kind of scary, but Sean and I knew that she was getting good care. And in the midst of the craziness, with all these hands helping her, God reminded me that it was HIS hands that were really taking care of her.
She spent a few hours in the 12th floor ICU, then got moved back down to the cardiac ICU. Today she was promoted back to the regular cardiac floor and has been doing really well! As you can see from the video below (if you're dedicated enough to click on a link, that is!) she is making a great comeback! The doctors are predicting Monday for our departure date. Thanks to everyone for the prayers and encouragement, meals, help, and concern. We love our family and friends!

for the video and for more pictures, check out:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bye C. U. !!

Well, it's official. The ICU at Childrens' Medical Center is no longer our temporary home. We moved on up (but still haven't gotten a piece of any pie) to the 8th floor this afternoon, and Berkeley is still doing great. She is having a little bit of a right lung mucous issue similar to what she had when we were here with pneumonia in January, but it's not nearly as problematic, and the doctors and nurses are still very happy with her status and how she is recovering.

We just met with our cardiologist, and he is very happy with how Berkeley is doing. He said that the goal is to get that right lung cleared out and make sure she's eating well, and we should be going home right on time.

Keep praying for a good recovery, particularly that she coughs out whatever mucous is still hanging around in that upper right lung, and we'll hopefully be home before too long. Thanks to all of our family and friends that have prayed for us, visited, called, brought food, and been all-around awesome. We love you all, and we thank our God upon every remembrance of you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hospital Update

Berkeley's recovery is going "by the book," the nurses say. I like hearing that! NO DRAMA NECESSARY!
She is resting peacefully right now, and has made a lot of progress today. She got her breathing tube out (it had been doing all the work for her lungs, but now she's doing it herself), her catheter is gone, as well as a tube monitoring the pressure in her left atrium. Also, she is supposed to get to have a bottle tonight! Based on the way she went after the minty mouth swab I used on her this morning, she'll be ready!
She's only really opened her eyes and looked at us once. That was wonderful...until she realized that being awake hurts! They quickly gave her a sedative and I promised not to bother her for awhile.
Since I couldn't hover over Berkeley, I decided to take a spy nap in the room. I like to act like I'm sleeping, even when I'm not, just to hear what all the nurses and doctors say to each other about her when they think I'm not listening. Nothing scandalous, but they're maybe a little more honest. I did hear one nurse make a funny comment when they were discussing Berkeley needing to urinate. She said, "how are we going to do that? Stick her hand in warm water?" I thought that made all my eaves-napping worth it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Doing Great!

This is just a quick update from my iPhone at the hospital, so it will be brief and very well may contain some grammatical errors. But here's the great news: Berkeley is out of surgery and is doing great so far. She apparently did very well in the operating room, and the surgeon said that her heart repair went beautifully. Keep praying for her recovery to go well!

Saturday, March 14, 2009



Brighton has somehow put pat-a-cake on the same level as scripture and prayer. I'm not exactly sure how this happened. A few weeks ago, she was saying pat-a-cake, and getting pretty into it. She was wrapping it up - "and put it in the oven for baby and me!...AMEN!"
This morning, she spontaneously said one of the bible verses she's memorized - Ephesians 6:1. She had learned the verse by way of a little cheer we made up. When we say "Ephesians," we roll our hands and draw the name out, like a rah rah sis boom bah kind of cheerleader routine. I guess it worked - she recited it perfectly! "Children, obey your parents, as believers in the Lord." Then came the ever spiritual pat-a-cake reference. Instead of Ephesians 6:1, she cheered,"Roll it...6:1!"
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Animation of the AV Canal surgery

AV Canal Surgery

go to this link if you're wondering what exactly needs to be fixed in Berkeley's heart, and how they're going to fix it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Change of Plans


Sean, Berkeley, and I spent 8 hours at the hospital today doing preop activities...lots of fun stuff, like x-rays, echocardiograms, EKG's, blood draw, and more! Berkeley got her stamp of approval on having surgery tomorrow. Later this evening, we got a call from the nurse telling us that Berkeley had gotten bumped from the schedule on Thursday (some little baby needed surgery more immediately than her). The nurse said that it wouldn't be Friday, either...but I'm praying that something will open up. I was so hoping to have the surgery before Spring break and have that whole week off as she recovers.
Right now we're just waiting for a call to let us know when the surgery will be. I figure it doesn't hurt to ask God to get us in sooner than later!
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Surgery Calendar

Okay, here we go. This calendar is intended for family and friends to see who is coming to visit Berkeley after surgery so that people making longer trips can plan accordingly and not all show up at the same time on the same day. We'd love to see everyone all at once, but Berkeley probably won't be able to handle too many people at one time for a while. I'm sure local family and friends will be around a lot as well, but this should help those making the drive to see what's going on. Please, please, please make use of the calendar if you are planning to come see Berkeley. This will help us a lot in knowing whom to expect after surgery time, as we will probably be tough to catch on the phone for several days. I've gone ahead and marked off her surgery time on March 12th, and we can expect her to be in ICU for about three days after that, so that's marked as well. Anyway, go ahead and sign up for times that you plan to be around, and yes it's okay if you come at the same time as someone else, but if there's already several people on the same day, please try to find a day with a little less traffic. Oh, and if you have trouble using the calendar, just post in the comments when you'd like to come by, and we'll try to add you in ourselves. Thanks!

EDIT: Apparently, the calendar I embedded for you is difficult to interact with for posting new appointments. You can go to the bigger version of the calendar and make your appointments and see them updated here on the blog version. The link for the full calendar is here:

Berkeley's Surgery Calendar

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Martha Stewart Stall Tactic

 Returning misplaced toys, taking lost socks to the laundry room, straightening a crooked potty, and closing all the closet doors in the bedrooms were suddenly a top priority for Brighton tonight. She may have been stalling to avoid bedtime, but we were amused by her Martha Stewart-like precision about the whole process.
Sean and I just keep saying what wonderful girls we have. We love them so much. And, much to our joy, Brighton is at the age at which she can express her love to us. She initiates the "I love you" now. It usually goes like this -
Brighton: I love you, Mommy.
Me: I love you, too.
Brighton: I love you, too.
Of course, she also "loves" Peter Pan and her stuffed dog,Nana. But we know we're her real favorites.

New pictures from 2009:
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