This is undoubtedly my favorite time of year. I love the changing leaves and cooler temperatures and the outside fun we can have.
Several weeks ago we had family pictures taken. Getting two four-year-olds to look at the camera and smile without a cheesy grin is quite the task. But, my father-in-law took a ton of frames and I think captured some great and memorable shots.
Last week, I took a couple of days off work for a little fall break and extra family time. I got to do school lessons with the kids and realize how hard it is being a substitute teacher. Jeremy has a definite method worked out with them and I certainly wasn’t well versed on the method. I’m glad I changed my major and didn’t become a teacher.
We also went to a local farm and selected our pumpkins. The kids could not carry their pumpkins and we resorted to a mixed method of rolling them and carrying to a spot and going back for the ones left behind. When we paid for them, we realized that we probably went a little overboard. Our smallest pumpkin was 15 pounds with the other three being 23 to nearly 25 pounds. No wonder we were all sweating! We certainly have plenty of seeds for roasting.
This week we had our first trick or treating event at the college from which Jeremy and I graduated. Grant donned his Spiderman costume and asked if people thought he was the real Spiderman and Maria garnered lots of praise for her unique “dog riding a horse” costume. She takes full credit for the idea and final result. She even named her horse Sparky. I don’t know where she comes up with this stuff. She definitely didn’t get her creativity from me!
Grant and Maria like for me to tell the story of when they were in my belly. Over time they have started to add their own parts. It goes something like this:
Me: “Mommy and Daddy prayed about the babies we would have. You all were extra special because you were frozen embryos.”
Grant: “Frozen!? That’s silly, Mommy.”
Me: “Yes, you all were just waiting for Mommy and Daddy to pick you. We prayed and God told us that you were the ones for us. A nice doctor put you in Mommy’s belly and you decided that you wanted to stick around.”
Maria: “It’s nice and warm in here.”
Me: “So you started to grow and Mommy and Daddy got to see you when your arms were like little fins and you were just swimming around. You grew and grew and Mommy’s belly got REALLY BIG. Grant was wild fist-pumping all the time and Maria was rolled up in a little ball. Then, one night it got really crazy and…..”
Maria: “GRANT BROKE THE WATER!”
Grant: *shoulder shrug and giggle*
Me: “We went to the hospital so we could see what was going on. You were supposed to keep cooking for a couple more months, so the doctors said they were going to let you stay as long as possible. But, three days later, you all said you were coming out. Grant was first…”
Grant (shifting his eyes and shrugging his shoulders): “I looked at the doctors and said ‘hey, what’s going on?”
Maria (with a shiver): “And I said ‘PUT ME BACK! IT’S COLD!!!'”
The story goes on and we talk about how they were in the NICU and how they had to learn to sit and walk and talk.
They love their story. I do, too.
We’ve been doing our home school pre-K curriculum for about 6 weeks now. It is going better than I could have imagined. Jeremy has embraced the extra workload and is supplementing lessons and adjusting methods as they go. Grant and Maria are excited about their learning and are often eager to tell me about something they are learning about.
Grant is a better student that I would have guessed. I’ve worried about him because he often can’t focus, but he’s been an absolute sponge. He was drawing a solar system in the driveway the other night and excitedly told my mom about the planets and how they orbit around sun. He looked at me last night and said, “You hear that water going down the drain? I used my sense of hearing.”
Maria gets more frustrated with some of her lessons. She wants to be right all the time and says things like “I can’t know how!” when she gets stuck. However, her handwriting is improving and she likes to make sure her lessons are completed. She went to the dining room on her own and finished her number coloring pages last night. I think she might end up as an artistic numbers person.
Both are making big strides on their speech patterns and vocabulary. They are pointing out letters on signs and store fronts when we are driving, counting everything they can and overall seem to be soaking up what we’re doing.
Jeremy had them listen for their vocabulary works during their story yesterday. He said that they identified all 10 of them and when they finished Grant declared “Oh man, those vocab words came faster than I was expecting.”
September 17 marks 5 years since our embryo transfer. Five years since we saw Grant and Maria as tiny perfect embryos. Five years since we started our journey as parents. It feels like yesterday and a decade ago at the same time. I loved them the moment I saw them. We prayed for clingers. We wondered what was going on inside me. Was it going to work? It’s a strange feeling being hopeful for a positive result while simultaneously preparing for the next steps and how to handle it if it didn’t work.
Five years down the road we had no idea what our life would look like today. We couldn’t picture the perfect children that God would give us. We had no idea that Jeremy would be a stay-at-home dad and testing out home school. All I knew at the time is that I wanted a baby (or two). A positive pregnancy test and healthy baby was the end game on transfer day.
Five years down the road our family is complete. The thought of a spontaneous pregnancy is exciting and panic inducing at the same time. I asked Jeremy if he wanted to get a vasectomy….just in case. Feeling confident in the deficiency of his swimmers, he declined, but stated he had the same thought.
Five years down the road still worry about the fate of Grant and Maria’s ten remaining genetic siblings. I pray that their special consideration label won’t scare people off and encourage those who are in the process to consider these and others with special considerations. They are worthy of life out of the freezer. I know we were blessed with our decision to honor God’s direction.
Five years down the road, I’m still beyond grateful for the gift of embryo adoption.
We took a family staycation last week. We find this an affordable way to have family fun time and see things in and around our hometown that we don’t otherwise see. We did a mix of things including the Louisville Slugger Museum and the Creation Museum. We all enjoyed the time together and additional rest. Somethings I noticed last week:
- I can sleep for 11 hours with no problem. I think I got nearly 11 hours of sleep every night. It was glorious and only made my 5:00 a.m. alarm that much more painful on Tuesday.
- Grant is a verbal processor and is always thinking. I knew this, but not sure I understood the extent. The night we got home from the Creation Museum he was in his bed and looked at me and thoughtfully asked “Do I have to go on the cross like Jesus to go to heaven?” Wow! That was deep. I replied no; Jesus did that for us. Our conversation soon went to how we get to heaven…and by get to heaven he wanted to know if we walked or drove.
- Maria is laser focused in her desires. When we went to the slugger museum we mentioned getting a little bat. She wanted a pink bat. The entire tour she was looking for a pink bat. It was the only thing she could think about. Imagine her disappointment when the pink bats were WAY overpriced. She was stuck with the free baby bat in the color of wood. Her disappointment was quickly appeased when she found a stuffed horse wearing a pink horse. She refuses to name it “Slugger”…
- Glitter is like the herpes of the craft world. We made a giant snowflake out of Popsicle sticks as one of our school craft projects. Maria also made several rainbow colored snowflakes. Each snowflake was covered in glitter. Jeremy merely walked through the room with the snowflakes and ended up with glitter on his face.
- My kids can walk a lot. We parked in my parking garage for work and walked about 7 blocks to the Slugger museum. After the museum we walked to the waterfront and got to see the river and some boats. All in all, they walked over 2 miles. Complaining only started in the last block and was understandable due to heat and hunger. I was quite proud at how well they did.
- “Are we there yet” is a phrase that is innate. Didn’t matter if we were going to the splash park 15 minutes away or the Creation Museum and hour and a half away…we heard the question. And every time the response was “Does it look like we’re there?”… and the reply was always “No.”
- Maria still has to sit in front. In our tandem stroller – even as an infant – Maria had to be in the front seat. At the Creation Museum, they got to ride a camel. It accommodated a child on either side of it’s hump. Maria requested/insisted on being in front of the hump. Grant, recognizing his lot in life, without argument, sat in the back.
Grant and Maria start kindergarten next year. It seems like yesterday that they were thawed and transferred, and now we are researching our school options. Honestly, deciding to adopt embryos was a much easier decision than picking out schools.
Our school district isn’t the best. We have some really good schools; but we also have some of the lowest performing in the state…and in Kentucky, that’s saying a lot! We don’t necessarily get to go to the neighborhood public school and I don’t really think that school is the best option. Of the 5 schools in our public cluster, only one seems to be one we want to be in and it is the furthest from our home. We’ve got options for “traditional” and “magnet” schools that are better, but everyone else wants those too, so there are no guarantees on getting in.
Most private schools are outside of the realm of affordability, especially since we decided that there is value in Jeremy continuing to stay home to handle school pickups and drops offs, as well as sick days, snow days, breaks and other school activities.
We are also considering a cottage school option. Home school several days a week and the balance of the week in a classroom setting. We have started a pre-K curriculum to try out the concept. Our dining room is being transformed into our school room and Jeremy is already at work with ideas, while Maria is plotting her morning strategy in order to be able to hold the flag during the pledge of allegiance.
This will definitely be a learning experience for all of us!
Do you ever have one of those weeks where you are constantly reminded how fragile and fast life can be? It’s been one of those weeks for me.
First, it’s the first day of school. Not for Grant and Maria, but this week marked the last first day of school of which they won’t be a part. Next year they will be heading to kindergarten and I’m not coping well with that thought. How could it be that in a couple of months we start registering? Jeremy said it seems almost unfair that you spend the first couple of years mired in poop and trying to learn these new people and then when they are able to do more and really get involved in stuff that they get shipped off to school. He’s definitely having his own level of anxiety about next year and I definitely teared up looking at all the back to school pictures on facebook.
Second, a friend of mine is pregnant with twins and in the hospital due to her water breaking at 22 weeks. She’s almost 24 weeks now and everyone is still hanging in there. Every day is precious and important and we are praying that she can continue to cook them without water for as long as possible. If born at 24 weeks they will have a 50/50 shot at survival.
Third, a coworker had a granddaughter diagnosed with a rare brain tumor and she has a 1% chance at survival. She’s 2 years old. Talk about a kick in the gut.
Each of these are a reminder to enjoy and embrace each day. We are not guaranteed tomorrow and a perfect and peaceful life can get turned on its head in the blink of an eye. I will cherish the small moments, like this morning while I was rocking Grant and he lifted his head off my shoulder and gave me an unexpected but sweet kiss. Or when reading with Maria and we both get the giggles because of something silly that she says or asks. Or when they are both stalling bedtime and pop their heads around the corner and say “I need to tell you something…I love you.”