Want a bedroom that makes you feel like Carrie Bradshaw without having to shop around? Check out the new Emily & Merritt collection from PBteen. It’s just scrumptious. And it looks like it was curated from all over the world, but yet you can buy every piece from one easy place! Forget teenagers – I want these rooms! Are you with me? Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.30.24 PMScreen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.30.47 PMScreen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.31.33 PM

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Oliver just had another seizure. It was nothing scary – some twitching and blinking, but it amazes me how much my life has come to revolve around these little bursts of energy. There’s the gratitude when he hasn’t had any in days, worry about upping his meds if he has and keeping alarms on twice daily to remember those meds.

untitled-008-2He’s doing well. We started physical therapy this week. We’re working on pushing switch buttons (cause and effect), holding onto things and keeping that head up and steady in all positions. He’s smiley, talkative and such a snuggler. Where Margot makes me laugh and burst with pride, Oliver makes my heart melt into a teeny puddle.

untitled-019He’s also changing me. Where I’ve always been a worrier, Oliver is smashing that habit single-handedly. Your brain cannot handle even thinking one day ahead with a child like him. It explodes in exactly 30 seconds as it snowballs from, “will the throwing up start again?” to “will he need a feeding tube?” to how you’re going to manage moving your family into a one-level home in the next year, and suddenly you’re at whether he’ll even still be with us next year. So you stick with TODAY, period. If it’s not on today’s radar, it’s off the table. And amazingly, this habit is growing anti-worry muscles that I can use in my professional and marital life.

untitled-033He’s changing others, too. He’s pushing other parents to not take things for granted. He’s making the insensitive rethink their words. (I had to stand up to the first person who used the world “retarded” in reference to a kid with special needs this week. He immediately apologized and said that he realized his mistake as the words came out of his mouth. Thank you, Ollie.) And he’s making his daddy re-evaluate the definition of a father-son relationship to one that lives beyond the traditional playing catch and going to football games model. He’s still grieving the loss of those memories, but he’s now able to learn how to be a great dad to a son who needs to know love simply for the sake of love. Being present in his children’s life is that much more important and he’s even going to the extent of changing career directions to one that will allow him the freedom and flexibility to be a more active part of their lives.

untitled-091We’re having some victories – we seem to be past the regular vomiting, his therapists are thrilled with his relaxed muscles compared to when he first started with them, and we’re slowly discovering the sounds and sights that interest him enough to motivate a reaction. (Vibration, good. Popping noises, bad.) But this is also when the setbacks are actually becoming real. At nearly six-months-old, we find it easy to write off his skill levels on his young age but recent social interaction with all of our friends with even younger babies reminds us that it has already begun – he’s slipping behind. He is not controlling his head like they are. He is not as curious about his environment. He does not reach out for things or put things to his mouth. Other parents of LIS kids tell me that the first year is the hardest – you’re still adjusting to the diagnosis and it’s a year full of comparisons to other children. They say that as they get older, it’s easier to see them as simply THEM and to see the comparison as apples to oranges. We just have to stay focused on celebrating every little thing he does do. If we don’t, that same mental avalanche begins and we’re quickly in the corner in fetal position over the unknown.

untitled-103We cannot be more grateful for the family and friends here that have helped us so much already and are on board for the long haul. The grandparents are always available for both of our kids, the aunties and uncles take every opportunity to hold and love on them, my best friend from college stepped up to babysit Margot when we needed a new sitter, and we have a new set of friends in his teachers and therapists that work with him when we can’t. We would be lost without this support system. God knew what He was doing when He started having everyone move to Chattanooga a couple of years ago and it will go down as one of the greatest gifts of our lives.

In other news, Margot has started Preschool twice a week and we’re so thrilled to have her coming home telling us the memory verse she’s learned and singing new praise and worship songs they sing at school. And even more exciting for her, we’ve started her in ballet and tap dance lessons. She’s only had one lesson and is already obsessed. We spent 30 minutes this morning watching videos of Gene Kelly, Cyd Charise and Fred Astaire so that she could learn the difference between the two types of dance. She used to sneak out onto the dance floor while watching her older friends when she was two. But the little that the teacher saw of her move then led her to tell me that not only did she remember Margot, but she was excited to have her in class because she thought even back then that she had a natural rhythm and grace that excited her. Where she got this, I do not know. You should see Alan and I dance with her in our living room… Alan and I both have some new career focuses that are exciting to us and allow for us to have much more income potential. (More on that later.) And we can safely say that life is adjusting to a new normal. It’s not normal by any means, but it’s becoming our normal and we needed one desperately.

Greatest Adventure | westofgrey.comLittle did I know the adventure that this little warrior would bring into my life. Every day is an exercise in trusting God better, letting go more, adapting to the unexpected and loving more readily. And how can that be bad? Signature

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  • Niki KnowltonSeptember 8, 2014 - 2:53 pm

    I so appreciate your updates. You write beautiful and meaningful posts. Your post today brought to mind one of my favorite verses.

    Romans 5:3-5 NLT

    We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

    God’s spirit has given you the capacity to love and care for Oliver and Margot as he loves you. What an added blessing that through our trials, God improves and strengthens our faith and our characters. Your family is continually in my thoughts and prayers. Love you guys!ReplyCancel

  • Joni Whitacre DarmodySeptember 8, 2014 - 6:59 pm

    I’m in tears. We sure do love you guys. Oliver is a special gift to our family and we see that blooming in our lives each step of the way. God is good. He will provide. He will guide.ReplyCancel

The Cypress is my favorite tree. There is something magical and mysterious about the giant that withstands cold and windy skies and crashing waves in my old home of Northern California. This painting was done years ago by my grandfather, who passed away two weeks ago at the age of 94. He was an artist and loved his home of California and even made all of us amazing little wooden scroll saw cypresses over the last year.

cypress painting | westofgrey.comphoto

So this last style board and Pantone Fall Color Forecast is dedicated to him. I’m grateful to have inherited his love and talent for art in all forms. Fall Color Watch - Cypress | westofgrey.com// Landscape of Triangles and Dots // Let’s Run Away Print // Moss Spheres // Dauphine Pendant Lamp // Willoughby Sofa // West Hills Pouch // Chi Printed Jute Rug // Glass Bottle // Glass Bottle Vase // Wire Locker Basket // Bosque Sunglasses // Foothills Bracelet Set // Missy Colorblock Wedges // Laid Back Open-knit Cardigan // Broken-in Straight Surplus Khakis // Tulip-Back Batwing Top // jcp Twill Shorts


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  • Lyn Gibbs ShepherdAugust 25, 2014 - 1:43 am

    Well said. And my fave tooReplyCancel

  • Melinda K HoskinsAugust 25, 2014 - 3:26 am

    Love it. How wonderful you identify the connections!ReplyCancel

  • Joni Whitacre DarmodyAugust 25, 2014 - 2:10 pm

    I love his scroll saw work. He was quite an amazing artist.ReplyCancel

  • Joni Whitacre DarmodyAugust 25, 2014 - 2:11 pm

    I love your grandfather’s scroll saw work. He was quite an amazing artist.ReplyCancel

This week’s Pantone fall color forecast is Cognac – and it makes me want to smoke a cigar in a wood-paneled library. It’s a rich, smokey reddish brown with just a hint of gray. This neutral has just enough color to stay interesting and would be gorgeous with charcoal and cream.

Fall Color Forecast - Cognac | westofgrey.com// Tortoise Double Trouble Pendant // Oxford Street Houndstooth Oxfords // Faux Cowhide Throw Pillow // Oversized Round Sunglasses // Locust Modern Pendant // Moda Luxe Satchel Handbag // Cutout Woven Maxi Dress // Crewneck Sweater // Threshold Leather Lidded Box Set // Owl Plate // Mossimo Weave Belt // Vika Sky Salad Set // Buckled Cutout Booties //


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Mauve Mist is this week’s Pantone Fall “It” Color. It makes me think of an awesome vintage print from a grandmother’s house. It’s not pink. It’s not quite purple. It’s got gray undertones and pairs well with any pastel or jewel tone. Fall Color Watch - Mauve Mist | westofgrey.com// Snake Chain Cross Body Bag // Metallic Beaded Collar Necklace // Promise the Moon Ring // Cool Lavender Glittered Nail Polish // Woven Web Belt // Safavieh Woven Ikat Pillows //  Velvet Cushion Cover // Magical Thinking Ester Pillow // Kate Shaw Quarantine Art Print // Room Essentials Geometric Tumblers // Safavieh Samira Rug //  Tufted Fadeout Indoor/Outdoor Rug // Cotton Tablecloth // Hiptipico Santander Flats // V-Neck Pullover Sweater

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