~ Let's go ROCKY Let's go ~

You know, I didn't always have a reason to be proud.  And there were some scary times along the way that make moments like this all the sweeter.

I think you all know the story by now, here are the cliff notes, I'll spare you the sad pictures:

Rocky was born with a blood clot in his brain, he was having seizures after he was born and had a stroke when he was 3 days old.  His seizures were so violent they put him into a medically induced coma just to buy the doctors time to figure out what was wrong. 

All the seizures deprived his brain of oxygen and his neurologist had a very serious conversation with his Dad and I about extensive brain damage.  While his early MRI results were optimistic, we wouldn't know for sure until Rocky showed us.   The doctor said to take it "milestone by milestone" and see what happened.  

Well, Rocky missed every single milestone he was suppose to hit.   He didn't sit up until he was 8 months old, he didn't crawl until he was 11 months old, he didn't even try to walk until he was 16 months old.  We avoided our pediatrician like the plague knowing he was going to question every late development and want to run a billion tests.

But then we started noticing how well his gross motor skills were, especially if it involved a ball, any kind of ball, soccer ball, baseball, basketball.  It was like a ray of light for us at a very dark time.  It gave us hope that while he couldn't keep up with the other kids who were talking in full sentences or holding a crayon correctly it was a clear sign that something inside his little brain was processing properly. 

The kid didn't learn how to walk until he was 16 months old, but at 18 months he could dribble a soccer ball across a field at a full sprint and never lose it from his feet.  It was amazing.

Rocky is a natural athlete.  We are all given gifts in this life and we can take them or leave them.  I can't play a musical instrument to save my life, and I'll never know what it's like to be a really good singer.  Rocky might not be valedictorian of his class, or ever win a spelling bee, but the kid can knock the stitches off a baseball.

                                                                   (Baby Rocky in a baseball outfit, maybe a premonition he would love baseball?)

This month his school is participating in "Homers for Health" with the St. Louis Cardinals.  A fundraiser for Cardinal Glennon (Ironically the same hospital he was at when he was sick) - hosted by David Freese and Matt Holiday.

Rocky made it though the preliminary rounds by hitting the most home runs in his grade, but then he had to go to the finals and compete against the best kids from other grades.  

I was able to sneak up to his school with the girls and watch the final rounds.

I was nervous for him, I know he has the talent but every batter hits a slump from time to time, some of the kids he was against were older and bigger, and the whole freaking school was watching, plus teachers and parents, I knew he was nervous, mommy was too. 

Rocky stepped up to the plate, I held my breathe, and he hit that ball like it was his job. 

He was awesome, 8 out of 10 home runs.  I wasn't even going to try and hide my smile.  I was so proud.

Only one hitter from his level (Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade) would  advance to the champoinshops and here were the results.

I didn't video tape him hitting, I thought it would jinx him, plus I was a little busy juggling a 4 year old and a 2 year old.  Even though he hit the most home-runs he also needed money raised from fundraising so he wasn't sure if he won until they announced it.

After the derby one of the parents came up to congratulate me and asked "Wow, he did awesome, how long has he been practicing for this?"  - I smiled and said, "Since he was 2" 

Next, he gets pulled out of school on May 22nd  to represent his school at the championships in Forrest Park with MATT HOLIDAY and DAVID FREESE!   He will compete against the winners of other schools.   Holy Cow we are excited.  I don't know if he is more excited to see Matt and David, or that he is getting to miss school.

I am so proud, not just of Rocky but of all the kids at his school.  It takes alot of courage to get up in front of your whole school, there were some really great kids in the competition.  I am thankful to Rockys wonderful school for taking part in such a fun activity for the kids, and of course the St. Louis Cardinals and Cardinal Glennon for always giving back to the kids. 

Next time you hear a mommy worried sick that her baby isn't hitting their milestones on time please remind them Rocky Manno.

~ Mandy Murphey & Girls ~

Over the weekend I got to hang out with my favorite news anchor and her beautiful girls.  Last time I spent time with this family Lacey was a newborn.  Mandy is one of the sweetest, warmest folks I've ever met.   Get her talking off the air and you can still hear a hint of her Kentucky twang ;)    Her girls, Natalie and Lacey, are the most perfect mix of poise and sass, I was so excited to catch up with her for some new family photos, enjoy!

Opening Day 2012

So we took the kids to opening day.  It's something we've been talking about for a long time.  My husband and I both have deep family roots with the Cardinals,  generations among generations passing down their love and devotion for the birds on the bat.

We were so excited for this game.  We stopped by Maw-Maw and Paw-Paws house to drop off Libby Lu, but first we took a picture with her so when she's older we can tell her she went to the game too.  Ha!  I can't determine if that's brilliant or mean.  I love to drag my kids everywhere, all the time, but I knew better than to take a 2 year old to a baseball game during naptime.   But I missed her very much and commented many times throughout the day how weird it felt not to have her there.

Even though the weather forecast was sketchy we still went down to Busch Stadium 2 hours early to take part in ALL the pre-game festivities.  We were literally a block from the stadium when they announced on the radio the game had been delayed 2 hours.

"This sucks" my husband said as he swiped his ballcap off and tossed it on the dash.  And just when I was about to join his pity party Luci piped up in the back seat and exclaimed in her most adorable 4 year old voice.

"Dad, "sucks" is a bad word, just like "sexy" and "shit", you can't say none of those"

Hands down the funniest thing I've ever heard a kid say.  It instantly turned our moods around. 

(For the record, I swear we don't talk like that in front of our kids.   Rocky learned "sucks" from a kid at school last week and got in big trouble, then I heard Luci singing "I'm sexy and I know it" and she got in trouble, and while I pride myself on never, ever cussing in front of my kids, slamming my shin into the running boards of my car while loading in Libby Lu last week let out a "Shiiiiiiiit" that my kids have not let me live down)

So we took the kids on a St. Louis tour.  We showed them the building where Mom and Dad met, and our big radio tower.  We fed the fish at union station and watched the guys make fudge.

We ate sabarro pizza which is just as discusting and yet still awesome as I remmeber it.   We went to the City Museum which still smells like a homeless man and gives me one giant anxiety attack.

Four hours later, the game finally got going.   The Cardinals played like crap but that didn't matter.  Opening Day is like a holiday in St. Louis being there in the thick of the excitement rivals the atmosphere at Disneyland, it really does.  It's magic, especially for those of us who cherish so many memories of baseball growing up with our parents, and grandparents.

I've always loved baseball.  Growing up my Mom worked nights and we stayed home with my Dad.  So everynight it was just me, my dad and my brother.  We played every kind of baseball you could imagine.  Cork ball, indian ball, wiffle ball, baseball.  We'd slam through the back patio door and  jump off the side  of our porch screeching "I'm Jack Clark", "I'm Ozzie Smith" -

You know what's super awesome?  Kids still do that!  A couple years ago I saw Rocky and his buddies blazing through my house and spilling into the backyard screaming "I'm Albert Pujols!" , "I'm Yadi!" - I smiled so big.

I'm not a Cardinals expert, I don't watch every game, and while I can name most the players I can't give you their current RBI's or batting average.   But being part of the Opening Day experience gave me goosebumps.  It was a once in a lifetime experience.

Well, at least for me, Rocky, and my husband.  As for Luci, she fell asleep before the first pitch and slept for 4 for of the 6 innings we stayed and took the worlds most expensive nap :)

~ Laura and Will ~ MARRIED!

Because I have no patience, let me start with my favorites from Laura and Wills wedding.  These make me happy, they give me the warm and fuzzies. Oh Laura, please get one of these in a huge canvas, I'll cut you a deal sister.

Okay, now back to the story.  Meet Laura, an old friend from my hometown who has grown into an beautiful, outstanding young woman.  Meet Will, a pastor from Kentucky, that everyone falls in love with the moment they meet him.  

They were friends online for a long time, building a solid friendship and foundation.

The little old ladies at Wills church were this close to sending in a submission video to ABC's "The Bachelor" for him.

Enter Laura, they finally met for the first time in "real life" in October and were engaged 14 days later.  Laura sent me a message on facebook that said she'd always dreamt that I would be her wedding photographer and made my day.  
While I'm photographing the bridal party walking down the aisle, it's always my assistants job to shoot tender, loving "back-stage "moments of a Bride and her Father moments before he gives her away.

There are usually hands held tight, emotional glances, and maybe a kiss on the forehead.  

For the record I have no idea what kind of shenanigans were going on back here but I giggled for 5 minutes when I came across this.  

I couldn't be more impressed with Will, he is endearing, and genuine and one of those guys that you feel like you have known forever.  He loves Laura very much, and just might have his hands full with this "Daddys Girl" but I know he is up to the challenge.  Laura I am so happy for you and where your life has landed.   Enjoy your beautiful wedding photos. 

…ending with what has to be in my top # 3 of favorite first dance photos EVER.  Melts my heart. 

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