What people do out of love includes all sorts of things. This week it included my aunt, uncle, cousins, nieces, nephew, brother-in-law as well as my mom’s two dear friends sitting through several very long performances before seeing the ballerina they came to support. It was so kind of them to come and it meant so much to Natalie that they all came to see her. She was so excited about her performance the next day she wore her tutu all day long.
The day of her performance, I came home from a doctor’s appointment and she was wearing the tutu I had for my first recital. She looked absolutely adorable! It was a bit big since I was six when I wore it, but still so sweet. That day I put make-up on her, just like my Mom had done for me for my recital many years ago as well. It reminded me of when my friend Judy and I had ours and what happy times those were. Now I am living those happy times with my daughter. What a delight. Every day I thank God for my children and pray blessings over them. It is my prayer that they will be blessings for others as well as for me. As you watch the video may it remind you of the blessings God has given to you or the promise of what is to come.
Lily’s Ballet Recital from Ryan Bridges on Vimeo.
I’m getting in the Christmas spirit. Admittedly, last year I was a bit bummed not to have my whole family together for Grant and Maria’s first Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, it was still fun even though my brother and his family were living in Germany, but I think this year is going to have a whole different feel.
I gave Grant and Maria their first gift on Friday. It’s a singing and pouncing dog that I got in a silly Christmas gift exchange at work. I thought they, especially Maria, would be exceptionally pumped about this dog. She might have been had it not been for the initial trauma inflicted on her by said dog. The thought never occurred to me that it might accidentally get turned on during opening and forever terrorize her against mechanical animals. As she lifted the dog from the bag, he started his rendition of Deck the Halls and Maria freaked out. Grant stood beside watching and smiling as I filmed the terror. Jeremy was across the house and heard the situation unfold and started cracking up. Does laughing at her sheer terror make us bad parents? She continued to scream and back away from the dog, now named Trauma. I stopped filming and she ran to me and climbed up my body to get away from the ferocious beast. She stayed glued to me for some time and when Trauma was sitting out she’d take a wide berth around him. We’ve spent the weekend trying to get Maria to warm up to Trauma but to no avail. She was brave enough to hold him, but dropped him and bolted when she pressed his “on” button. Grant thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread and will play with him for hours on end if we let him.
In addition to traumatizing Maria, we put the Christmas tree up for the first time since 2004. The first year we didn’t put it up we had a legitimate reason. We were getting ready to move and didn’t need to be taking anything out of boxes. The subsequent years were really just laziness and a lack of desire to deal with the cats’ tree antics. I limited our Christmas decorations to my nativity scene and a brushed metal art deco tree that I got at a local art fair. But, this year it was time to pull the ole Charlie Brown tree back out of the box. Grant and Maria were super excited and “helped” me with the lights and ornaments. After the tree was decorated, it proved to be much too tempting for both the cats and the kids and it is now in protective custody behind the baby cage. You do what you’ve got to do.
Christmas is right around the corner and I’m working on focusing on its real meaning, rather than getting caught up in the commercialism that is everywhere. It’s not about Santa Clause and parties and presents. Yes, we might laugh about a Christmas dog named Trauma for years to come but the season is about birth of Christ and we’ll work to ensure that Grant and Maria don’t forget the reason for this season.
I just read an article, “Six Things I Miss Now That I Have Kids,” and it made me think about what I miss. Of course those of us who went through infertility might relate to feeling guilty for thinking any negative thoughts about having kids, since I tried and wanted them for so long, but the good outweighs the bad things!
• Memory, which was never great anyway, but now it is much worse. Julian often asks me when we get in the car if I have my phone. I seem to always be looking for it!
• Sleep when they were infants, but I have to say, for the most part it is much better, but no sleeping in on Saturday!
• Alone time with myself. This just includes showers, baths and toilet time.
• Time alone with my husband. We use to eat dinner in the bath, those days are long gone!
The ways my life has been greatly improved since I have children are as followed:
• Seeing God through my children.
• Eating healthier, this was not hard to accomplish, since I did not make it a priority before.
• Feeling such pride in someone. Their accomplishments just make me want to burst with pride.
• Understanding the amount of love my own Mother felt for me.
• Being given the gift of parenthood, which I do not deserve, has made me more appreciative of those who donate embryos or children to another home.
• Just overall trying to be the best person I can be for my children.
Whenever I start to miss things I had before I had kids, I just think before long they will be grown and then I will be missing all that I had while they were living with me!
Nine years ago today Grant and Maria’s lives were suspended. After spending their first three days on earth in a Petri dish dividing and plumping they, along with at least 11 other siblings, were frozen. Grant and Maria would wait nearly seven years to break out of their cold living quarters.
Nine years ago, Jeremy and I were recent college graduates and had been dating two and a half years. Marriage wasn’t on our radar yet and we had no idea that our children had already been conceived. I recall coming back to work after Christmas that year and having numerous people check out my hand for an engagement ring. I laughed and said I didn’t want one yet. Instead I got what I asked for — flannel sheets.
Nine years ago, I was living in a little one bedroom apartment with my cat Ally and still driving my first car – a 1995 Ford Contour named Selma. Jeremy was still at his parents and had just gotten a job in television production working weekend nights. He would keep his job at Dick’s Sporting Goods stringing tennis racquets during the week in order to afford (barely) to get his own place a few months later.
Nine years ago, the iPod was only a year old and the iPhone was years away from revolutionizing the way we use cell phones; Bob Barker was still hosting the Price is Right, Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” topped the Billboard charts and the war in Iraq had not yet started.
Nine years ago, life was simple and quiet. I didn’t really know much, if anything, about embryo adoption. I had read an article once about Snowflakes and thought it was pretty amazing, but it was nothing I fathomed for Jeremy and me.
Nine years ago, I lived with the 22 year-old naiveté that we would one day get married and easily have a child when we were thirty.
Nine years ago, God had other plans.
The twins just started taking choir this year and have loved it for 30 minutes every Wednesday night. This Sunday was the Christmas play they had been working on. We have listened to it in the car for months and months. Our church joined with the Baptist church down the road from our church to do the play. Our church performed a small portion of the play and Julian just sang his heart out! Natalie looked a little preoccupied at times with her outfit and all the people around, but she too sang with enthusiasm. I was very proud of them both. After the night performance I asked Natalie how it made her feel to perform the play and she said hungry! When I asked Julian the same question he told me he felt happy, but Natalie told me it made her sad. I asked her why and she said because Julian was singing so much and she was not beside him. Julian said, “I was doing what my teacher told me to. She told me to sing loud!” The twins sang two of the many songs in the play, which was Away in a Manger and Joy, Joy, Joy. Where’s the Line to see Jesus, was one of my favorite songs which was a performed as a solo. Both the performances were just a blessing to see. All the children did an awesome job and the work that was put into it was shown.
The twins loved listening to the play and have learned so much from it. They both have a better understanding that it is better to give than to receive. Julian also knows that instead of giving material things he should just give his heart. They both have only asked for a few toys for Christmas and I think if it had not been for this play they would have rattled off more and more, Julian wants a train and a dump truck and Natalie wants a Tangled Castle. Julian particularly is very interested in what others want for Christmas and had such excitement in giving his teachers gifts. They have both taken such joy in wrapping gifts and putting them under the tree. After placing them under the tree, Natalie gave me the biggest hug and said “You are the best Mommy in the world!” That felt so good, since I had not given her a gift or even wrapped any for her, these were all for others. Those words were not from a child who just got what they wanted, but a child who really is beginning to understand that it really does make the heart feel good when you give. That for me was the best gift in the world!
Thanksgiving was a busy time for us. We celebrated Thanksgiving day with Brian’s family and his birthday as well. That night I then went shopping with my friend, Katina in Kingsport at around 10:30 p.m. and got in around 6am in the morning. We had such a good time, we laughed and got to spend child-free time together. The shopping was fun, but being with my friend is what made the long night a blast! The funniest part was trying to get all that I purchased into a Toyota Prius along with the whole family! I needed a picture of that!
When we got home Brian and I got ready for my side of the family Thanksgiving dinner. We were thrilled when the kids fell asleep around seven, so we were able to work without having to go behind them and clean up again and again. Thirty people attended the dinner and everyone brought something to eat. I was concerned about having enough turkey, but we had plenty. It was so nice to see people we do not get to see often and a blessing to see how all the kids are growing. I just have always loved kids and enjoy spending time with them. I even got to play a game with them while my poor husband was slaving over the stove!
For Brian’s birthday, the Cassidy family called him to wish him a wonderful day. The twins each sang a Christmas song that they are singing in the church play for them. I told Patty they have changed so much since they last saw them at Disney in February. We talked about the next time we will get to see each other and that I will have to have all my family over then too! She and her sister as well as her boys hope to come at some point this summer.
Embryo adoption for me has become not only a way to increase my immediate family, the twins, but also my extended family. If the Cassidy family lived in Knoxville I would have invited all of them to my house as well. I think we would have had to have several tables in the yard at that point, but to me they are family and that I am truly thankful for.