TRAINING WHEELS

Last week we got the book “Training Wheels” in the mail, a book about embryo adoption. The twins were very excited to get a book in the mail so we sat down to read it. As I read it, I also related their story to it as we went through the book. I explained how the different characters in the book were also like, Mommy, Daddy, them and Patty and Jim Cassidy. After I finished reading the book I asked Julian what he thought about it and he replied, “I want to go back to Disney World and see the Cassidy family!” I decided I like how he thinks!

Last year at this time we were getting ready to go to Disney World and we wish that was the case this year too! But we are looking forward to seeing the Cassidy family this summer. Plans have not been completely made, but we do plan on seeing each other one way or another. The twins are talking so much more now and just say the cutest things.

Just this morning Natalie was praying before breakfast and while she was doing that Julian was reaching for money on the bar. When she got done she told Julian that he was not “being sensible.” That he needed to have his hands folded. She also told him today to stop pooping in his pants that she did not want to change poop anymore! He did not poop in his pants at that time, but later he did. Natalie knows him well. Just got to love her! Julian is very close to being potty trained and we are very proud of him and hope that it continues. Maybe by the time we see the Cassidy family this summer we will be able to celebrate being potty trained as well as all the wonderful changes in the twins this past year.

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LEARNING TO DO HARD THINGS

This past week with all that has been going on, I think the twins have done exceptionally well. They were in the Grandparents’ house most of last week with a limited amount of toys. On one of the last days I decided to take them to play with inflatables to jump on with my friend Katina and her girls. Julian asked Grammy if she would come too and she replied, “I can’t we have so much to do here.” Julian then told her, “We buried that word in the yard!” Of course she wondered what on earth he is talking about and I told her that we buried the word “can’t” in the yard, so we are not to use that word. She just laughed and laughed. She then told him that she had lots to do at the house and that this was not the best time for her to leave. I got that idea from my preacher’s wife, Beth, about burying the word, to teach the twins that they can do hard things.

I think we all got a lesson in doing hard things this week. Natalie had told Brian that we all were going to die on Sunday and this was several days before Evan died. I even told Patty about this on Christmas Day, before her and the family left for Disney Land. I am not sure why she told Brian this, but I was happy to see it did not come to pass. She now has a better understanding of death and yes we all will die. So she wanted to know when we were going to die. I told her that only God knows that, but it is my hope that it will not be for a very long time.

Julian was very excited that he could open the refrigerator at his Grandparents house since he is not able to at our house, and even better that it had Capri Suns in it! Who knows how many he drank while we were there. He was also spoiled by Grammy putting his blanket in the dryer for warmth for him to cuddle with. Whenever I have washed their blankets they fuss that it is hot right out of the dryer, but at Grammy’s it was the best ever! They also enjoyed learning to color in the lines with their Grandparents as well as reading books about sharks and the “Coat of Many Colors.” One of the biggest hits was a small stuffed cat named Fuzz, that the twins pet and played hide and seek with. Gramps was great at hiding it, but they always found Fuzz. They would wake up every morning excited to see the Grandparents so it was sad when we had to leave after the funeral that went very well. It must have been very hard for Brian’s parents the whole week we were there. But they not only did well, they continued to make special memories with family.

Another hard time was the funeral when each brother got up and spoke about Evan. The pastor spoke and sang twice along with two other songs, one of which Brian sang, thanks to video. The twins sat quietly; I only had to threaten Natalie once. By the end of the service she was sleeping and snoring away. I was afraid, it would get so loud it would disrupt the service, but just a few people heard that were sitting close by. As hard as it may have been for the twins to sit quietly it must have been even more of a challenge getting up and trying to say in a few words just how much your brother meant to you.

At times we may all think that we cannot do something that seems hard or impossible. I think putting your son in the ground has to top the list of impossibilities. God gave them peace and comfort, just as he gave me during my time of going through the transfer, bed rest and living day to day not knowing if the twins would survive long enough to make it to the “viable” stage. I am very blessed that they did survive, but at times like this we are all reminded that our days are numbered. Most of all I am thankful to our God who gives comfort and peace and that Brian’s parents know where to put their cares.

CHRISTMASTIME IS HERE!

This morning we got an early Christmas surprise in the mail from the Cassidy family! Julian and Natalie were so excited to open up their gifts. They each got a book with a cd in it. We have read some of each book and listened to Natalie’s Ballet cd from her Ballet book! Julian’s book is about animal tales. What a wonderful way to start the day!

Starting last week we were privileged to attend a birthday party for Jesus! It took place at a church near my house, in a program called, Mornings with Mommy. Later that day we got our picture made with Santa at the mall. They would not sit with Santa alone, so Mommy had to join them. The next day the whole family went to a “Winter Celebration” held by Healthy Families, and then last Saturday we went on a train ride with Santa and our friends! Later that night we attended a parade with the Thomas family as well. We are very excited to be seeing friends during this Christmas Season and are looking forward to our Bailey Family Christmas celebration tomorrow morning.

TIME FLIES CAUSING ROLES TO CHANGE

I can’t believe how quickly time has passed this month. It seems that since the weather finally turned warm and dry, time passes much more quickly. Since the middle of May, it seems there hasn’t been a moment not spent preparing for something.

In mid April I had the idea of throwing a baby shower for one of my husband’s cousins. She was expecting her baby in June, and she was living on the West Coast while her husband was finishing his degree up in the Midwest. A few years ago she had lost a baby early in her pregnancy, and her mother died unexpectedly. It just occurred to me that this must be a difficult time for her, and a surprise baby shower would be a great way to show her others were thinking about her. The problem was now this: how do you throw a shower when all the potential guests are in other locales? I emailed my idea to Jim’s aunt, and she suggested contacting another cousin. We each started brainstorming, and I found a website that described a “Shower in a Box”. Quite literally, one person organizes, gathers and sends the gifts and cards to the recipient. Our goal was to have the package arrive for Mother’s Day, but we decided to have it come a few weeks later due to her schedule demands. The e-shower was a huge success, and she has since delivered a healthy baby boy, on Father’s day none the less!

This endeavor went so well that I next got the idea of organizing a class present from the kids for Joel and Chad’s teachers. I had planned on crocheting Market Bags for them, and suggested we gather items or gift cards for a related theme to fill the bags. For one teacher we chose a beach theme for her summer cottage and for the other we chose activities to do over the summer with her children. The e-vites were once again sent, and the responses began poring in. The boys and I managed to pull it off without both teachers finding out, and the gifts were presented the last day of school.

As the school year winds to a close, it always makes me think of what has transpired in the last few months. It makes me pause and notice how my children have grown, not only physically, but academically as well. This year is especially bittersweet, for at the start of the next school year in September, I will now have one child in elementary, middle and high school. I knew this would happen someday, but it is hard to believe the time has arrived. The hardest to accept is the fact that Chad, my youngest, is now going to be in school all day. He has grown the most this past year, entering Kindergarten not knowing how to read, and leaving able to read several books that contain mostly his sight words. It truly amazes and scares me at the same time. This leaves me wondering (and worrying) about how I will spend my days come September.

Jim’s aunt (the one who helped me organize the shower) came and stayed with us for a visit last week. She spent time visiting with Jim’s Mom as well as us. It was just a short visit, for she also cares for his Grandmother who is 96 years old (97 in November). It occurred to me after her visit that she has become the family caretaker, and that this role evolved over time, much as a mother’s does. I often times feel that my kids need me less as they get older, but that really isn’t the case. The needs just change, and you as a mother need to change as well.

SIGNS OF THE CHANGING TIMES

Today was a day full of surprises, fortunately all good. As the school year quickly draws to an end, I’m once again reminded that as the seasons change, so do my children, and how this will impact my life.

The principal at the elementary school that Joel and Chad attend had announced his retirement at the end of the school year. This announcement was made a few months back, so the initial shock has worn off, but I’ve often wondered how this will impact Chad’s experience attending this school. Next year Joel will be in his first year of middle school, which I know will have a big impact on all our lives. Today we attended a surprise breakfast in honor of the principal, and I think this made it more of a reality for some of the students, especially the younger ones. Oftentimes those in the younger grades don’t realize how life will impact them from one year to the next as events unfold in the facility members’ lives, such as marriages, births, etc.

I’ve been busy organizing the class end of the year present for both boys grades, and had had a little trouble coming up with ideas for one of the teachers. I talked with one of her co-workers at the breakfast this morning, and she was able to help me come up with some ideas. After we left the school, I decided I would pick up a few items we are gathering for the gift, so Chad and I set off to Kohl’s to pick up those items. When I returned home, the answering machine light was flashing, and there was a pleasant surprise waiting for me. My best friend Tracey had called me to see if I was available to get together today. I have lost touch with her over the course of the last ten years, because during this time period so much had happened in our lives. We did keep in touch, but not like before. We would go years at times between visits or phone calls. It was during this time period that I was dealing with infertility, but the real cause of our relationship becoming distant was my losing multiple pregnancies. Instead of turning to friends for support, I withdrew for a period of a couple of years, and as time passed, everyone else went on with their lives while mine seemed to be at a standstill.

Tracey is a few years older than I am, and her two boys are the ages of my nieces. During this time period that I was having such a difficult time, her life wasn’t exactly a picnic either as I now see being the mother of a teenager can be trying to say the least. There are now a whole new set of worries that you must deal with, the worst part of this being that most of them are beyond your control. For instance, the influence of friends in their lives becomes a huge factor. I am only now starting to understand some of the things she was dealing with.

We met for lunch, and although it was only an hour, we were able to catch up on the latest happenings with our families. The best part about seeing her was realizing that although a lot of time has passed since I’d last seen or spoken to her, we were able to pick up were we left off, just like it was yesterday. Although the passing of times brings lots of changes to your life, it is nice to know that some things never change.

WONDERFUL WAYS TO SPEND AN EVENING

Last night was the Big Band Bash (BBB) which is an opportunity for all of the schools from elementary to high school in our school district to gather for a competition. Ryan had participated while in elementary and middle school, but had decided he didn’t want to continue on to play in the high school band. I was upset with this decision, put didn’t push the issue. He needs to find his own way in life, and I have to learn the very hard lesson that as his mother, if have to know when to step aside and let him do so. I was very concerned that he would later regret this decision, but when Jim asked him last night at dinner if he missed it, he said he didn’t really. He has pursued other interests, such as the play put on by the Drama Club and he presently is a member of the Crew Team.

This was the first year that Ryan wouldn’t be in the BBB, yet it was Joel’s first year playing the Alto Sax in the elementary school band. He was very excited, and the kid who thinks that time stands still for him was repeatedly asking me what time it was so we wouldn’t be late. He was dressed and ready to go without being told well before we needed to leave. It amazes me how this happens when they really want something. This was also the first BBB that Auntie wasn’t here to attend. She was a great music lover, and would come to many of the events my boys participated in, from Scouts to sports. In fact, last year I think she was the only one at the track meet Ryan was participating in that was wearing heels and pearls, because she was dressed up for the BBB later that same evening. I would pick her up once the kids were out of school, she would have dinner with us, and attend the event. As I prepared dinner last night, it was hard not to think about her absence in my life. There have been so many times in the last year that I’ve thought I needed to call her about something. In the end, the BBB was quite a success, and Joel was talking about how much he enjoyed performing on the ride home. I asked him if he planned to continue on with the band next year when he is in middle school, and he said yes.

Yesterday afternoon while we were getting ready, Marti called to say she had arrived in NY, and we chatted for a few minutes. I’m very excited to have a Girl’s Night, and how ironic is it that it is at the beginning of Mother’s Day weekend? After all, it was our desire to become mother’s that caused us to meet. Another ironic fact, it was NEDC that brought us together in the end, and we’ll be meeting up at their conference, which once again will draw us together. It never ceases to amaze me how life takes such twists and turns. Now on to more important things, like what to wear for our big night on the town!

THANK GOD IT’S ALMOST MAY

This month being a mother has been very busy and trying on my patience. I feel I’ve earned my “Mother’s Stripes” as my Mom would refer to them several times over.

The month started with Ryan suddenly having issues at school, which took most of the month to manage. I don’t think they are quite resolved, but have become manageable to deal with at the present time. I need to check the status of his being evaluated by the school, but we have contacted and seen a new pediatric neurologist for this Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and although it has been a week that he has been taking Adderall once again, we seem to have found a solution which is working.

Joel has finally buckled down and realized he needs to do his assignments as assigned, not just before they are due. This will help him immensely when he is in Middle School starting in the Fall. It took him all year, but he finally realizes it is better to be checking over the final draft a few days before rather than cramming and rushing to get it done in time.

Even Chad, who just had to write a sentence a day for two weeks was a challenge. He had several excuses, but finally finished up the homework once he realized this wasn’t his battle to win.

Usually when a crisis occurs, it has been my experience that it is with one child at a time, not all at once. Maybe in the past I’ve just been lucky, or it is because they are spaced out age wise, but it can be challenging to switch gears between the needs of the different ages, especially when it occurs simultaneously.

Throw into the mix that we had our Spring Vacation with the accompanying activities, preparation for Cultural Day for both Joel’s and Chad’s grades, and in my spare time I have been planning an E-Shower or “Shower in a Box” for a relative out of state (no one lives near her at present, not even her husband), so it has been a little hectic during the month of April.

I see the patients at work who have just given birth, and see how they look at their new babies, and I now think, you just wait. You have no idea the wild ride you have just signed up for. Although it can make life crazy at times, the unpredictability is sometimes the best part. There are some days you just don’t know what will happen, good or bad. Not to mention the unexpected moments of joy that you would have missed out on otherwise.

Now that April is drawing to a close, I can’t help but wonder, is it Mother’s Day yet?