THIS WEEK

Vacation Bible School started at our church on Sunday night. I was so wiped out after teaching the two year-old class that I came home and went straight to bed! My feet, back as well as several other body parts ached and I just could not take any more. Since then it has gotten easier and easier for me. There are 12 two year-olds in my class and five teachers. The church has averaged over 300 children a night!

Natalie and Julian have enjoyed VBS and it is nice to see them interact with other children. Last year, one of Natalie’s first words was “God” the second night of VBS! We are so blessed that our church provides classes for such young children. It is amazing how much they can absorb.

Julian loves to talk about our cars. He started out saying “Mommy’s car” or “Daddy’s car” and then it evolved into “Daddy’s car silver!” or “Mommy’s car silver!” Since we got DVD players in the car, my car is now known as “The Elmo car!” Unfortunately, this week the air conditioner in my car started acting up and now Julian refers to my car as “The hot car!” So now we are in Daddy’s golf cart, also known as a Toyota Prius. So I hope Dad can get our car fixed soon. If not we may get used to the golf cart!

TIME FLIES

Last year at this time, my family and Marti’s had planned to meet for the first time for a vacation in Williamsburg, VA. This was a halfway point for both families distance-wise, and we were both familiar with the area attractions. It is hard to believe that a year has passed since this event.

I’ve blogged before about how I had read a magazine article in the March 2009 issue of Good Housekeeping about a family that had donated embryos to five other families, and they have a “family reunion” of sorts. I thought it was a pretty neat idea, and admired the fact that they had developed and maintained a relationship with all the families involved. I thought Marti would be interested, so I sent it to her. It wasn’t long afterwards that we suggested we do the same.

She had already sent us an invitation to Natalie and Julian’s first birthday party, but we had already been on vacation in February, and had one planned for April, so we weren’t able to attend. Obviously she had no qualms about meeting us if she is sending an invitation, but it took some convincing on my part for Jim to come around and realize that this would be a good idea to meet them. When we chose open adoption, I had entered into the process with the idea that I would most likely only get periodic updates. I had never imagined that I would have a relationship with the adopting family such as it is.

We booked our hotel accommodations in a place we had stayed before, and Marti booked there as well. Jim was hesitant about this, for he only knew of them through what I told him, and was concerned it would be awkward staying in the same hotel if the families didn’t make a connection. I told him it would be fine, and each family would go their separate way if we didn’t hit it off. I was excited about the trip, until we started to see the signs for our exit, and then I began to panic. I was worried that it wasn’t going to go well, and beginning to have reservations about meeting them. All my fears were allayed once we spent time with Marti and her family.

In my mind, I have likened the development of the relationship between the two families as “dating” and or “dancing.” You meet someone, you like them, and than you develop a stronger bond which eventually grows to love. You want to be yourself, but at the same time, you want to present a persona that the other person will like. You are always aware of the other person’s next move and reactions to you. I feel the same way when I meet and make a new friend with one of the mothers of my children’s friends.

Now that so much time has passed, I am comfortable in our relationship, and don’t have that giddy feeling that “Marti sent an email.” I feel as if both families have always been a part of one another.

LIFE AND DEATH

Mother’s milk does a baby good. Grant and Maria have each surpassed the weight of our cat Lucy and combined surpass Ally, aka Fat Al, who weighs somewhere between 13 and 14 pounds. Grant is tipping the scales at 7 lbs 13 ounces and Maria is not far behind at 7 lbs 7 ounces. Both measured 20 inches long. While they are not on the growth chart for their actual age, they are doing very well. People look at us funny when we tell them how old they are and we often have to explain that they were born seven weeks early and therefore developmentally they won’t look or necessarily act like a normal 10 week old. Our doctor has given them both a clean bill of health and based upon their shrieking at the office declared that their hearts and lungs are quite healthy. Additionally, Maria saw the cardiologist last week and we were pleased to find out that her VSD closed on its own. Both babies have to return to the cardiologist next year to see if their patent foramen ovale (PFO) closes. PFO is not an uncommon preemie issue and the cardiologist wasn’t concerned at all. I can only imagine what it will be like to do ultrasounds on one year olds. Our sonographer said that he and his partner flip a coin when it comes to scanning toddlers. At least with Maria’s trip this time I came armed with “boob in a bottle” so she could happily eat while getting her ultrasound completed. If I hadn’t it would have been a total disaster. She was fussing when we first got started and her little heart was racing on the screen. As soon as I plugged her up her heart calmed down and we could get down to business.

While we’ve been busy cultivating life inside our house, there’s been a battle raging against it outside. It started in early spring with an ant invasion outside our bathroom. It got to the point where the ants came inside and we were having a daily mass ant death by flooding in the tub. After spraying several times outside, we finally got the good stuff and killed the queen. Ant problem has now been solved. Our next battle has been with yellow jackets. A couple of weeks ago our dog, Charlie, was out back when he came running toward the porch in distress desperately trying to get away from being stung. Unfortunately he was running toward me and Grant. I couldn’t let him into the house while he still had bees on him, so I had to take a broom and swat them off before we made our retreat in the house. I told Jeremy about the incident and he had been keeping an eye out for the nest. Well, he found it while cutting grass to the tune of no less than 4 stings. The grass didn’t get completed that day and we’re in the process of trying to eliminate the nest. To no avail, we’ve sprayed one can of stuff that was supposed to kill them. In a second attempt at mass death, he unloaded an entire can of Raid into the hole where they are living as well as a yard fogger next to the hole last night. I looked out back this morning and think I saw at least one little bugger flying back into the hole. Jeremy will be sorely disappointed if I’m right. The grass is nearing unruly levels and if we don’t get the yellow jackets taken care of soon, the grass might take over and we’ll be unable to find Charlie when he’s out back. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

A BIG WILSON WEEKEND

It’s been a weekend of milestones at the Wilson household. First, Jeremy got a “new” car. I am actually surprised by this as when we first looked on Thursday I became frightened at the prospect of a long and drawn out process. Our first attempt was foiled by the dealer. I called in the morning to make sure the prospect car was there, which he said it was. After arranging for Mom to watch Grant and Maria, we made the short trek to New Albany, Indiana only to find that the car was not there. It was out getting a little work done on a scratched bumper. The salesman, who had less personality than my big toe, said he would call me when it was back. Still haven’t heard from him. Since we were already out and had several hours before Mom had to leave we came back across the bridge and went to another lot. Here, there was a 7 year old Accord that we could probably manage to get down to our price. However, when Jeremy got in it, he said it didn’t feel right, meaning there wasn’t enough bacteria to surround him to make him comfortable. He said the brake pedal was too high and he couldn’t see the front end like he likes to. I tried to reason with him that no car is going to feel like his current one. After 14 years, he and his car have molded together nicely. We walked about and didn’t see anything else of interest in our “paying cash” price range. Jeremy ranted about all the digital displays in cars and how newer is not always better. After all, he worked in television during the analog to digital conversion and still has nightmares and complains about the downsides to digital every time the TV pixilates. To home we returned and I continued my internet search. We later got a call from the salesman we were working with who realized that Jeremy was probably only going to be comfortable in something a little older and called when he found a low mileage 1998 Accord. On Saturday we ventured back out. As soon as he got in it, I could see a grin spread across his face and I asked if the brake pedal was in the right place…he laughed and said yes. After a test drive and a little negotiating, Jeremy drove off the lot in his new car. He said it seemed like a car his mom would have previously owned and it indeed was a one owner “lady driven” car that was taken care of very well. Next step is to rent a dumpster so he can clean out his old one and we can attempt to sell it before donating it.

The next milestone was Grant and Maria’s first trip to the church nursery. Mom has been watching them each week, but was unable to this weekend. We decided it was time to see how they did. I’ve worked in the infant nursery for ten years; so I know what to expect, I just didn’t know how they were going to do. After getting them registered and getting the usual barrage of looks and comments I took them to their room. They were nearing the ugly combination of tired and hungry and I had a bad feeling. I handed over Maria who was, to put it nicely, a bit peeved. Next, Grant was passed across the counter and they both disappeared into the familiar room. Bottles were packed and I instructed the team leader that bottles sooner than later were probably a good idea for everyone involved. Jer and I went into worship and I was pleasantly surprised when we made it the first 15 minutes without our ID number coming up on the screen. Every 15 minutes I took another sigh of relief as the Child ID numbers that popped up were not ours. Service ended and we looked at each other with satisfaction that they made it the whole time. We picked up two sleeping babies and made it home. They were so worn out from their big adventure that they hardly made a peep after getting home and ready for bed. We put them down and enjoyed the sweet sound of silence. Jeremy and I crashed on the couch during 48 Hours Mystery, which reminded us of our pre-children life. It wasn’t uncommon for us to go to church, dinner and come home to pass out on the couch for the night. Call us boring, but since we lived opposite schedules during the week, this time together was something we both cherished. Alas, our couch nap came to an end when baby bellies demanded another feeding and to reality we returned.

WEDDING DAY

Saturday we went to my cousin Bryon’s wedding. Julian was dressed in his suit and tie and Natalie was in her party dress. We took pictures of them before the wedding. They had such fun playing hide and seek we just had to capture it on film!

I sure did miss my mother-in-law at this wedding. Last summer when my other cousin got married she had kept the twins in the nursery, so Brian and I, as well as everyone else, could enjoy the wedding free of distractions. This time the twins were with Brian and me so I did not get many good pictures of the ceremony. The twins were very good, they just had to have their drinks, and then they had to have us draw pictures for them while I was trying to capture the perfect shot. It was a beautiful wedding that we are so thankful we were able to attend. Bryon and his new wife Shelby have been dating for a long time and we were all happy to see this day arrive.

Natalie and Julian had a great time. They got to eat as much cheese as they wanted and a bit of cake as well. At each place setting was a gift box, with chocolate in them. The twins ate almost all the chocolate at our table and were very disappointed when they would look in other people’s boxes only to find them empty! Julian and I got to enjoy a mother and son dance while Dad danced with Natalie while he was sitting in his chair. Just the kind of dancing Dad likes to do!

It made me tear up thinking about how my mom was not here for this glorious event. I have heard people say that it is times like these that we think and miss our loved ones the most, but I miss her all the time. I have found that I still have good times, they just are not as sweet.

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LEARNING CURVE

My son is a fan of Linda Ronstadt. This is a fact that causes some concern for Jeremy. She recorded a CD of old songs into lullabies, including “Dedicated to the One I Love” and most disturbingly, Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” However disturbing it may be, it has helped us win today’s nap battle. Grant is proficient at falling asleep on you then popping his eyes open as soon as you put him in the crib. Don’t dare walk away while his eyes are open or else you are in for it. While we both enjoy holding him it’s not practical to have to spend the whole day holding him. We might, I don’t know, have to use the bathroom. I don’t have any of those Lisa Novak NASA diapers, so I must put him down. Maria is a little better about this and often, when all else fails, wants to be left alone. This is one of the many differences we’re seeing in their personalities. Grant is more extroverted and Maria is the thoughtful introvert. As they are getting bigger we are enjoying learning more about them and their quirks.

One thing they both really like is being outside. If they are fussing, stepping onto the front porch is almost instant quiet. We took them to a baseball game on Friday and they both gladly slept in the heat. They were a hit with those around us and we get hit with the usual barrage of questions and comments….”how old?”, “they are so tiny”, “my so and so has twins or had preemies”, and so forth. Jeremy and I aren’t quite used to being the spectacle that we feel like we are when we go out and about. We always get double takes and smiles. Sometimes I wonder if they are thinking “better them than us.” With the evening hours being designated as “fussy time” in our house, Jeremy was frightened about our venture out at that time of day. I assured him that they would be fine because they are happy being held and my mom would have no problem giving them squeeze time. Thankfully, I wasn’t wrong, and despite a minor meltdown in the car on the way home, they both were quiet when we got home and remained so the rest of the night. We’re getting a little braver as we learn what works and doesn’t work and hopefully we’ll soon not be scared to venture into public.

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VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL

The neatest thing happened at Vacation Bible School on Thursday night. We got to see another couple who had adopted from the NEDC. We first met them at a meeting that Bethany Christian Services had and then we got to know them a bit better when we were both asked to take part in a filming for the NEDC. The little boy was almost three so he was in class with Natalie & Julian. It was so nice to see them and to be able to tell the teachers about the three miracles that they had in their class. Neither one of us attends the church, so it was neat that we got to meet up again like that. The last night we got to have our pictures made with the King and Queen as well as their court since the theme for VBS was The Knight’s Tale. We were very pleased with the wonderful teaching that the church had to offer and we will look forward to sending the twins again next year.

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HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

Today Jim woke me up to ask what his Father’s Day present was, and I told him I could hear it walking down the hall. Chad showed up right on cue, asking for us to read him a book. Which, by the way, is pretty hard to do without your first cup of coffee in the morning. Next Harley, the cocker spaniel puppy, better known as Jim’s girlfriend, came bounding into the room. She headed right for him for her daily rough housing with him. He gets her so wound up that she is actually trying to bite him. I guess she doesn’t like being in a headlock for extended periods of time, which happens to be his favorite way of showing he likes her.

I just wanted to send out Father’s Day greeting to all the Dad’s and prospective Dad’s who read our blog. I think sometimes you are forgotten when dealing with infertility, pregnancy, and all those other things which are related. I wonder if the same can be said with embryo or traditional adoption. I would imagine so. Jim and I had discussed fostering after we had a few losses, and the possibility of adopting. He was dead-set against the adopting, and I told him that may be our only option. I hadn’t heard of embryo adoption, and don’t even know if it was being practiced at the time (late 1990’s, early 2000’s). I wonder if he would have been more accepting the the latter, because it is a closer experience to conceiving the traditional way, and similar to what we were used to with our infertility treatments.

I just wanted to let you Dads know you aren’t alone and are remembered. My mother used to say that everyday was Father’s Day, because the Mom’s do all the work, but that is truer of older generations. More and more nowadays you hear of the Dad staying home to be the primary caregiver, Jen’s Jeremy is a case in point.

My whole point this morning to my husband (which he probably missed), is that your gift is just being able to be among the ranks of Fathers, regardless of how you became one. For those who it doesn’t come naturally to (conception is what I’m referring to, not ability), you have worked very hard and sometimes long to achieve this status. Once achieved, every day is your gift. Enjoy it to the fullest.

IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME

I can’t believe the date today is already the 19th, and the month is almost over. This month has shaped up to being one of the most trying ones in my life. I started with my dog being diagnosed with a Mast Cell Tumor, which sounded like she had 2 1/2 legs in the grave. Jim was even teasing her when she would wander in the woods around our house prior to surgery if she was “picking her spot”, and he didn’t mean to do her business! We lucked out on that one; her biopsy came back with the cancer being between a Grade 1 and 2 (not 3 as expected), and it will most likely not reoccur in her lifetime because of her advanced age. My middle son Joel was so excited, you would have thought he was getting a new pet or going on vacation. I guess he feels like I do about losing one, and when it doesn’t happen it is in a sense like getting one.

Just when I thought life was good and was so looking forward to spending the weekend with my sister and her family at a dude ranch in upstate NY, she calls me the evening before we’re leaving (6/10), and tells me my favorite aunt had passed away earlier that day. I was so stunned I didn’t realize what she had told me until she started with the details. I cut her short because I didn’t think I had heard her correctly and what she was saying didn’t make any sense.

We called her Auntie (pronounced Ante, like upping the ante in poker), and for the longest time when I was growing up, I didn’t know her first name (Barbara). At the time, I was the youngest member in the family, and doted on because my parents had had so much difficulty conceiving me. Auntie would take me to her house and play “house,” letting me use real food, take me swimming, play with her animals, and she would even get on the floor with me and play Barbie’s. I loved my visits to her home, but they became fewer over the years as I started school. As I got older, I would only see her a few times a year (birthdays & holidays), and it wasn’t the same between us. It would be the usual adult/child “How’s school”, etc., and then I would go off on my own. My step-Grandmother for whatever reason kind of took me under her wing and taught me how to cross stitch, embroider, etc., all things she loved that I still enjoy. My mother and sister Cathy had already taught me how to knit and somewhere I learned how to crochet, probably from Grandma.

It was during my high school years that my Grandmother had a series of strokes, and eventually didn’t recognize us. She was moved into a convalescent hospital, and I completely lost touch with her. She was no longer the Grandmother I had known growing up. Although she hadn’t passed away, it was as if she had because she was so changed. When she actually did pass away, it wasn’t as upsetting to me as other deaths have been. I think if it had happened sooner it would have been harder for me.

Auntie and her husband Uncle Jimmy moved in with my Grandfather, which was just up the street from me. I had graduated from high school and was in college at this point, and even though I still lived at home, I didn’t see them much. My mother and Auntie became closer at this point, and I would hear more about what was going on more so than being a part of their lives. It really wasn’t until I was on bed rest with triplets that I reconnected with Auntie. My relatives and friends helped take care of me and things around the house during this time.

I started to visit Auntie every couple of weeks after my mother died, and it helped her and I ease that void that had been left in our lives by her death. Ryan, my oldest, was five years old at the time, and she doted on him like a grandson. Her grandsons (twins none the less), had grown up out of state, so it was nice for her to spend time with Ryan doing every day things, something she didn’t have the luxury of doing with her own grandsons.

She would love to see the boys, and especially enjoyed going to hear Ryan play his trumpet at band concerts. The last one we invited her to was the same day that Ryan had a track meet. I asked her if she minded my picking her up so she could go to the track meet, have dinner with us, and then go to the concert. She said that would be fine, and not to fuss for dinner. I decided to listen to her suggestion of making sandwiches, but was thrown into a tizzy that afternoon when I was making the macaroni salad and discovered I had no mayo! Our neighbors are health nuts, and I knew there wouldn’t be real mayo to borrow, so I made a quick trip (1/2 hour) to the store for some. I finished in the nick of time to pick up Joel and Chad from school on time, and head off to get Auntie. She was the only one at the track meet dressed in heels and her Sunday best, but she walked across the grass regardless as if she had on jeans and sneakers (which I don’t think she owned a pair of either). We rushed home afterwards, and she was one step ahead of me pulling out the sandwich makings and the like for dinner, telling me I shouldn’t have fussed so, although I could see she was pleased I had. We ate quickly, and scooted back to the school for the concert. Auntie sat in the row ahead of me, and I could see she was enjoying the music. Little did we know this was the last time that all of my family would have with her.

The week leading up to her passing, Joel was chosen to play his recorder for Flag Day, 6/14. This is also Chad’s birthday, and we said we would call Auntie and invite her to attend. I thought she and I could take Chad out to eat afterwards before he headed off to school. We never had a chance to make that phone call because she passed away.

Yesterday was another tear-jerker day for me; Chad graduated from his preschool class. I was fine during the ceremony until they showed a slide show of the last 2 years, and it started with the most wonderful shot of Chad. I burst into tears, and felt the Kleenex box land in my lap at the same time as Jim started laughing at me. I cried through the whole thing (good thing the lights were out), and I’m tearing up now just thinking about it. He can’t wait to go to Kindergarten, and I get a lump in my throat just thinking about sending my baby off on the bus. I was the same with Ryan and Joel, but I always knew I would still have Chad, but now this Fall it will truly be the last time.

Last evening, we hosted a picnic at our home for all of the leaders and adult volunteers involved in Cub Scouts. There was a crowd of about 24, so I was glad I had something to do to keep me occupied, and not think about things. It was between dinner and dessert that one of the couples we have become friends with told me to stop bustling about and come sit with them. They are moving on to Boy Scouts, and who knows when we’ll see each other again. Of course I got teary eyed and followed them out to the pool where the last few stragglers were having nightcaps and the men were smoking cigars. The party ended when the last guest left at 1 am, so I guess it went well.

This morning it dawned on me that all these things have the common thread of marking how time has passed over the years. You don’t always realize this when you are in the moment, but you should enjoy even the most mundane tasks, because someday you won’t need to do them anymore. Chad is always reminding me that “he’s five and can do everything now”. This may be true, but I don’t have to like the fact. I always was wishing for that day, but now that the time has arrived, I’m not liking it so much. Yes I have more time in some respects, but I don’t like the feeling that I’m not needed as much.

I’m sorry for the length of this entry, but you guessed correctly if you realized I’m trying to make up for lost time. Guess what? You can’t. Just enjoy each moment before it ends.

DATE NIGHT

The twins went to Vacation Bible School at a church near our home last night. This gave Brian and I an opportunity to have a much needed date night! We used this opportunity to celebrate an early birthday dinner for me and Brian decided we need to make it a Father’s Day dinner as well.

We went to Bistro by the Tracks thanks to one of Brian’s golf tournament victories. We got two appetizers, two salads, two entrees and two desserts. The filet bites were so scrumptious that I did not take a picture of them until I ate them all. The calamari was very good too. I was already full at that point and then came the grilled shrimp salad and the warm poached pear salad, half the pear salad I had boxed. Where was I going to put the rest? Brian had the rack of lamb and I had the nightly special of Hawaiian fish. The dessert was best of all with a chocolate toffee cake and amaretto cheesecake. If I ever get to go again I would just have the appetizers and dessert, those were the best by far!

We had left Natalie crying at Vacation Bible School and I thought often of her through dinner. When we arrived at the church we were happy to find them both happily playing with the armor of truth belts around their waists. Unfortunately, they were not able to tell me all about their night since they are toddlers of few words. Natalie told me she ate cookies when I asked her if she had eaten dinner (who knows if that is true) and Julian had to have his belt of truth on to go to bed. So over all I would say it was a splendid night for us all!

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