What I will miss…

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This week, hubby and I are departing on our annual “no kids” vacation.

It’s always a good trip for us, for our marriage.

It’s always a really hard trip for me, personally. It’s so hard for me to leave the kiddos behind for so long. I know they will be in great hands with my parents, and will have an outstanding time, and not miss us for a second, but it’s hard for me to function when my heart is left behind.

Here’s some recent pictures that will be floating around in my head, and keeping me afloat, until I see them again.
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A PICTURE’S WORTH

I like pictures. I like photo albums, pictures on the wall, pictures decorating my cubicle. I just like pictures. When the babies were born, naturally the subject of my pictures changed from the animals and my landscaping to Grant and Maria. I venture to guess that I have no less than 800 pictures from their first year printed and placed in albums.

I was taking a mental break at work one day and finally finished ordering all my pictures from 2012 so I can have them in an album. One of my co-workers stopped by my desk, looked at me and said, “Why are you spending so much on pictures?!” I replied, “What do you mean? Its $40 after my coupon and it’s for a whole year!” She laughed and said “can’t you just have them all digital?” NO! I want my kids to have pictures…tangible, hold-in-my-hands pictures. She laughed at me as I proceeded to soap box about how kids these days won’t have pictures because they are all stored in a phone that will be obsolete and on facebook, which will likely also be obsolete in the future. Going through old albums recently reminded me of so many fun times and I was able to share those memories with several old friends. It reminded me of things I had forgotten. It also reminded me that I never want to be fat again!

So, why do I spend “so much” on pictures? Because you can’t put a price on the memories held in pictures.

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Animal Cousins

Bath Hugs

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Cheese

Chocolate PDS

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Get used to it, Buddy

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What they say….

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Some things I’ve heard about a second child:

They can be late bloomers.

They don’t talk as early.

They tend to rely on their older sibling to accomplish tasks they could otherwise do for themselves.

I have to say that each of these comments have tended to be true about Little Miss. Looking back to when Brae was this age, he seemed more articulate and verbal than she is now. That said, I think Little Miss is talking more Spanish than Brae did at this age, and is intermixing the two languages a little more.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all concerned about Little Miss’s development. In fact, I think she’s outsmarting everyone. Why would you do things for yourself if your older brother will do them for you? What need is there to talk when all you have to do is give your older brother “the look,” and he will get exactly whatever you need?

No doubt about it. Behind her quiet lips is an active brain at work. And, she’s winning.

PS – I have every intention of taking away this bottle that is in her hand on her 2nd birthday. Don’t judge. : )

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G and M Turn Three!

We celebrated Grant and Maria’s third birthday on April 17th. Three years! Bitter sweet as it seems that three officially means they aren’t babies. I think technically they are preschoolers. How can three years have already gone by? A co-worker mentioned that maybe it didn’t seem so fast to me. I quickly said, yes, it is fast…the days are long, but the years are fast.

Jeremy asked if it seemed possible that in only two years –less time than they have been breathing- they would be in school. No, it doesn’t seem possible. Jeremy said he can only imagine how much of a basket case he will be to send them into the world.

We celebrated by getting cupcakes at a local cupcake shop. I did a surprise balloon delivery to our house while they were gone earlier in the day. They called me at work to tell me about their balloons when they got home. We kept presents simple – scooters bought dirt cheap from a triplet mom, a real Tonka dump truck for Grant and a baby doll stroller for Maria. She opened her package with great anticipation and exclaimed “That’s a baby doll stroller!” Some gardening gloves a couple of new books topped off their birthday gifts from Mom and Dad. They have thoroughly enjoyed and that makes me smile.

We will celebrate with extended family over the weekend and I’m sure they will be adequately spoiled.

If you ask Maria, she’ll tell you she’s five years old now. And tonight at bedtime Grant told me that he was going to stay little so I can always hold him. I know that in no time, they really will be five and one day, I won’t be able to hold them anymore.

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A breakthrough

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Our adoption process through the state is moving slower than molassas. Uphill. In the w.i.n.t.e.r.t.i.m.e.

Each time I’ve tried to get a hold of our caseworker, it’s taken her weeks to respond. When I call her voicemail, the greeting says, “Hello, this is Alice. Today is Monday, February 4. I will be out of the office all week …” The greeting has said February 4 for two and a half months.

When I send her an email, it takes three follow-up emails on my part to get one, two-line response from her.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not necessarily blaming her. There are only three caseworkers in our county for all of the adoptions. Two of those caseworkers only work part-time. It’s part of the economic/budget shortfall.

But it is beyond frustrating.

My last missive to her was no different. I just wanted a status update. No response.

One week later, no response.

Two weeks later, no response.

Finally, this week, the third week, I received a response. She was transferring our file.

Turns out, given her overloaded caseload, another caseworker (the one full-time caseworker) agreed to take one file from her. That file is ours.

We were overjoyed. Already, since that transfer, we have had more communication with our new caseworker than after four months with our old caseworker.

And, just this morning, we received the best news yet: our homestudy is starting in two weeks. (!!!!)

The process will take an average of three months, according to our caseworker. That means that by at least the end of July/beginning of August, we should finally be on the wait list.

A breakthrough.

A FAMILY TRIP

We took a family vacation earlier this week. To quote a friend and fellow twin mom, “it was a trip, not a vacation.” Traveling with young children has its challenges, especially two children who thrive on their routine and sleep…as well as the two parents.

My parents were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, which is awesome, and generously offered to rent a cabin in Gatlinburg for the whole family. Jeremy and I decided to go for three nights so we rented a minivan and hit the road on Sunday. The kids were excited for “cation” with their car seats facing forward for the first time and their new sleeping bags. We had a couple of new road trip CDs, snacks, and great weather.
My parents and brother, along with his wife and kids went down the day before. Unfortunately, the original cabin was flooded so an alternate cabin was offered. It was not in the heart of Gatlinburg and was a bit smaller, but would suffice. Jeremy was apprehensive, considering we were staying on the side of a cliff (he doesn’t like heights) and there were large carpenter bees buzzing around (he doesn’t like bees due to an incident with a nest of yellow jackets as a kid). I texted his mom commenting that it was like Jeremy’s own personal hell. She replied to keep him well lubricated and feed him some red meat. It cracked me up…and I did exactly as she instructed.

The challenge with our kids started at bedtime. I created a sleeping space next to our bed. Grant and Maria would be lying next to one another…I thought it would be comforting. Not so much. Grant took to irritating the tar out of Maria to the point where I put him up in our bed until he fell asleep at which time I moved his floor bed away from Maria and put him in his sleeping bag. They seemed to be sleeping fine. Unfortunately, my nephew came down with a stomach bug and due to the lack of insulation or sound dampening in the cabin, it was hard to ignore. Grant ended up in our bed and Maria flopped around on the floor like a fish. She seemed to be sleeping, so I didn’t get her. Needless to say, it was sleepless night for Jeremy and me.

The next day, we headed into the national park and found a kid friendly trail. Grant and Maria had a wonderful time throwing rocks into the stream, picking up sticks, and jumping off logs. We enjoyed the day in Gatlinburg and headed back to the cabin tired from the big adventure. Jeremy and I fixed pizzas for the family and we mentally prepared to cheer on the Cardinals in the NCAA national championship basketball game.
Night two proved to be as sleepless as night one and Jeremy and I decided that it was time to go home. Given my nephew’s intermittent vomiting, the smaller than expected living quarters, Grant’s growing obstinacy (which is a side effect of fatigue) and Maria’s declaration of “I want to go home,” at three o’clock in the morning, it was the right thing to do for everyone’s sanity and health.

We packed our van and headed home and enjoy my last day off work with a family zoo date. On our way home, we stopped through Knoxville and got to introduce the kids to some of the NEDC staff including Dr. Carol Sommerfelt. She is the embryologist who so carefully got Grant and Maria, as well as so many other NEDC babies, out of the freezer. Grant and Maria don’t understand now, but I’m so thankful we got the opportunity to visit.

Thankfully, we arrived home safely, Maria declared that her bed was “her favorite one!” and subsequently slept 13 ½ hours. We are planning another trip with the four of us later this summer. Until then, we will enjoy our routine and quiet comfort of our own beds.

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Brae-isms

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A recent survey showed that, according to the people who took the survey, the “cutest” age of a child is 4.5 years. Brae is almost that old, and he certainly does not disappoint. So, with that, here is the next installment of “Brae-isms.”

1. We are in the process of painting our house. This last weekend, we got some sample paints (a mix of greens/browns), and Brae and I found an inconspicuous corner in the back of the house to try some of the samples. As we painted swaths on the house, I numbered each swath. After sample #3, I stepped back and remarked, “Brae, I’m not sure I like #3. It kind of looks like poop.” Brae grinned. We kept painting. After we had painted all 8 sample colors, we stood back again to marvel at our collage. I sighed, and said, “Brae, you know, I actually think now I like #3. What do you think?” Brae looked up at me, startled. “Mommy?! You like poop?”

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2. One morning over breakfast, the following conversation ensued (in Spanish):

Yo: “Brae. Aqui esta algunos Cheerios para desayuno. Mira, un Cheerio, y un otro Cheerio. Uno y uno es dos, no?”

Brae: “No, mama! Uno y uno es once!”

(English translation: I asked Brae if one Cheerio and one Cheerio makes two Cheerios. He informed me that one and one makes eleven, not two. Clearly, I’m the one in need of a math lesson).

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3. One Sunday, on our way home from church, the following conversation ensued in the car:

Brae: “Mommy, I want to go to heaven and see Jesus.”

Me: “Okay. But not right now.”

Brae: “But, Mommy! I want to!”

Me: “Brae, did you know you don’t need to go to heaven to visit Jesus? Did you know He’s all around? He lives in your heart and you can actually talk to him whenever you want.”

(Silence).

(More silence. I look in my rear-view mirror to see Brae in the back seat.)

Brae: (Looking down at his heart). “Jesus? …. Where’s my house?”

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4. This last weekend, I was driving with the kids to a playdate. We stopped at a light. There was a homeless man on the side of the road, holding a cardboard sign. He was asking for money. I rolled down my window and gave him some cash. We then drove away. As we turned the corner, Brae said, “Mommy! I want to go home and get my piggy bank so I can come back and give him all of my money.”

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