Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I was an aunt first

Before I became a mother, I became an Aunt. I title that I was thrilled to take on and meant something more to me than my siblings probably realize.

My niece graduated today, a semester early from high school. I'm thrilled beyond belief for her. She dreams of going to nursing school and becoming a nurse. It makes me a tiny bit excited to think she could follow in my footsteps! Nursing is my passion and it has allowed me so many opportunities. I hope she realizes that this could open a world of doors for her. I am so so so proud of my first niece... and a little sad that it makes me feel super old to have a niece that's graduating from high school!

 My nephew is killing it in drama and free style rapping. Did I mention he's taller than my brother (who's well over 6 feet) and towers over me? I've been watching his raps on Facebook and I love how he pours his heart and soul into them. I have no doubt that he will continue to reach for the stars and excel in all that he does.

They were the first two kids that I loved more than I loved myself. I fell in love with them both the minute I saw them. It was weird for me at such a young person (in my late teens) to fall so deeply in love with someone who couldn't even talk back to me. It is strange to look back and think about how they changed me, how they both made me want to reach for the stars, work harder, set a good example and show them endless love. I hope throughout their lives they always realize they can count on me. I know that as I've had my own children, I've watched them play with them and love them. It's awesome to think that they love my babies and would do anything for them.

As I think back, I realize that both of these kids have had struggles in their lives. Things could have turned out different for them both. They broke down walls and soared! They are amazing young people now and no longer my little loves. I hope that somehow I made a difference in the people they have grown to be. I hope that they will continue to feel my support, encouragement and unconditional love. I hope that you too, can reach out to those kids in your lives and show them unconditional love and support. Show them that despite struggles, they can succeed. Show them that love and hard work can make a difference!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas cookies

Before school, the kids and I were talking about how we bake cookies every year and take them to the neighbors. A few of our neighbors are grandma and grandpa ages (most 70 or older). Each year, we take them a plate of cookies near the holiday. We've done this for as long as I can remember.

This morning I mentioned that we should make them this weekend since Christmas is next week. I said we should also take some to a homeless shelter. Bella and Grayson asked what that was so I explained that it was somewhere people can go to be warm and safe when they don't have their own home like we do. The kids started coloring pictures for the people that we would take cookies to. Bella and Grayson both colored houses. Bella said "So they can have a house too, can we just get them a house?" Grayson said "so they can have a family too". Grayson is ALL about family.


We talked about how we would make cookies and deliver them so they could have something special for the holiday season. I was proud of both of my "big" kids for thinking about how they might not have a family and thinking that maybe a colored picture would bring a smile to their face. It made me even prouder than I already am to be their mama.

We've made our list for ingredients and are excited to shop and get to baking! With 3 kiddos, baking can be as easy as rice krispie treats (besides, who doesn't love those?!) or as complex as homemade chocolate chip cookies (trust me that's complex with 3 kids!). What are your go to treats? What should we take them? I'm open to any recipes or ideas!

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's Christmas time in the city

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year! I would attribute a lot of that to my Grandma Tootie's traditions that trickled into my family when I was a child and now into my adult life. She LOVED christmas. She loved her family and boy was she a spit-fire... Bella may have inherited a bit of that from her.

This year with school finishing up for me and the changes in our jobs and lives, I had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. Right after graduation and Thanksgiving, it started to hit me that Christmas was coming and like a freight train, it hit me and the spirit came over me! We set up our tree as a family, one of my favorite traditions as a child and still a favorite. Bella loves it as much as I do, this year she made me promise not to put up ANY decorations until she was home from school. Our house is decorated and ready to go. 

One of my favorite things about Christmas is figuring out the perfect gift for each person on my list. It's not about gifts but I do really relish in picking out something fitting for those that I love. I love handmade gifts too, giving and receiving them! I really enjoy when people really think about what they give. I can't spill all of the beans about what people on my list are getting but I will say, I put LOTS of thought and love into each and every one. There is ONE gift that I'm stoked to give this year and I can't wait to see that person's look on their face when they get it. It's a gift of love and time... lots of both. I'll share pictures once it's given. I will tell you it has something to do with my sewing machine. 

This year, I wondered what other people do or give. What are your traditions? What makes your holiday special? Do you celebrate Christmas? I love hearing about other culture and traditions! Is there something you eat every year around the holiday? What is on the TOP of your wish list this year? 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Paybacks

Welcome to a short morning in my shoes...

Mom these pants are iiiittchy! 

That's ridiculous! I can't wear that! 

I lost my shirt and I'm not wearing one if you don't find me another one. 

My toes are squished. 

No hat, mess up hair, no mess up hair, no hat. 

I'm not wearing a coat. I'm cold, where's my coat? 

This is NOT comfortable! I don't like that at all! 

Are you serious, I'm not wearing that. I'm wearing short sleeves. 

Me pick, notchu. 

Me wear that? Me NOT wear that one. 

MOM I need a pony, ugh a SIDE pony!

And that was only FOURTY FIVE short minutes of my morning, at 6:15 am. Did you hear me? AT SIX FIFTEEN AM PEOPLE!!! It's no wonder why I feel like my butt has been handed to me by 7pm! A number of you on my Facebook page thought this was SO hilarious. It's super funny, right? Until I drop them on your door step for the weekend!

It's entertaining for sure. Many times, I'm laughing (laugh or cry are my two choices here folks!) Sometimes you'll find me in timeout in the bathroom... but that has failed me now since all of the kids (yes even the 2 year old) can pick the lock. It's real funny when mama's in timeout and the little guy busts in with "Watchudoin?" He's lucky he's kinda cute!

So yeah, I'm getting paid back 10 fold for my entire childhood. I seriously had an issue with the seam of socks and my mom had to come over to my dad's once to "fix" them before my dad lost his cool. Okay so maybe I still have an issue with my socks but at least now I can fix those babies myself. Although I'm tempted to throw a fit and have my kids fix them so they can see how crazy they look. You know it's getting real when the 4 year old tells his BIG sister "YOU ARE ACTING TOTALLY MENTAL". That made him and I laugh. She didn't think it was as funny as we did. I also *maybe* had an issue with the way things felt on my waist... I plead the 5th as to whether or not I'm still picky about stuff.

I'm pretty sure when she's a teenager, I'll be praying for Calgon... Does that stuff still exist?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Death and birthdays

This is my dad. Today is his birthday. He died 4 years and 9 months ago suddenly from what was said to be sepsis...  I was 9 months pregnant with Grayson at the time... yes you read that right. Grayson was due one week after my dad died. Death is something that is talked about frequently at our house. My eyes get "watery" from time to time. My kids ask about my dad and although he may not be here with us, he is a big part of our life. He's a giant part of who I am, why I do the things I do. When he died, I'm positive that a part of my heart died with him.

Sometimes I cry alone, sometimes I don't hide my tears. It's okay for my kids to see that I'm sad or that I miss him. It's okay for them to understand that I wish he was here to share in our life, our experiences and the memories that are being made today. Today, I fought the tears until now... it's nap time at our house. I know he wouldn't want me sad, he wouldn't want me to cry over his death. I'm positive that I can hear his voice in my head today, telling me that he's sorry, that he's proud of me, that he's proud of my life, my marriage, my school, my career but mostly of my kids. The picture above is my dad meeting Bella for the very first time. He drove up with Kat from Kansas City and he was smitten. His love for her could be felt in the air, it could be seen on his face. His smile lit up the room when he held her. I remember him saying how tiny she was. I also remember knowing for the very first time how much my parents loved me when I become a parent myself.

His ashes sit in an urn on my dresser. Bella wants me to be creamated so that "you can live on my dresser too just like your daddy lives on yours". She often tells me she's sorry my daddy died and that she's sorry that I'm sad that I miss him. What I would give to feel his arms around me one more time. What I would hear for him to tell me "Sis, you're getting big" when I was pregnant.
This is the last picture of him and I. This was on our way out of Kansas City. I was about 6 1/2 months pregnant with Grayson Ryan at the time. My dad knew his name. This year when setting up the tree, I was reminded when I pulled out an ornament that Grayson's middle name was originally Ryan.... Two days after my dad died, on our way to the hospital, my husband said we should name him Grayson John after my dad. I remember being in labor, holding my belly and yelling that I didn't want to do this, that my body was too tired, that my heart was too broken. Then, after 12 hours of labor, when they put that sweet boy on my chest, I knew my dad had brought him to me. That my dad had held him first and gave me the strength that I needed in those moments. Grayson John was born.

Before nap is over I'll pull myself back together. Then today, on his birthday, I'll hug my kids a little tighter, I'll snuggle them a little longer, I'll kiss them a little more, I'll be sure that they feel my love like I felt my dad's. I'll be sure that they know that there's nothing else I'd rather be than their mother, because I knew he was proud to be a father. I'll be sure they know how unique they are, just like I knew. I'll be sure that my love is seen, heard and felt for years to come. Although he may not be here to celebrate, I'll honor him in the way that I know how. I will embrace each day just as he did. I will try to live each day like it could be my last, just as he did. Happy Birthday Dad, I hope you are celebrating in a big way. We love you, we miss you.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Disabled


It's not uncommon for parents of kiddos with limb differences or limb difference adults to be a part of many online communities. I posted about a controversial topic the other day. Today, another one arose. Are kids with limb differences disabled? There are two sides of the fence. Which one do you stand on?

Here are some of the things parents of kiddos with limb differences said that feel that their child with a limb difference is entitled to social security benefits or disability. "My child is entitled to it because they are disabled". "There are people who get it and shouldn't so my child should get it because he's entitled to it". "He needs a special keyboard at school so he should be entitled to the benefits of disability due to that". "The surgeon thinks he should get it". "I get it so I can get my son's clothes altered and he cries because he can't jump rope". "It's the principle, he should get it because he should". 

"He may need it when he's older when there are jobs he wants and can't get because it may be harder with a limb difference". "Nothing stops my 16 year old son, he fixes cars and races car, disabled? I think not". "I was born with a left hand difference and if anyone ever called me disabled, I'd pop them in the nose". "My son is not financially suffering due to his limb difference, disability is for people with a real disability". "These kids are not disabled, they are perfectly abled!"

Here is where I stand. I don't want to label my child as "disabled". I think she is perfectly able! She's able to do anything other people are able to do, she does adapts and does things differently. I also don't want her to view herself as disabled, which is GIANT in my eyes. I don't want anything to hold her back. Her hand is NO excuse for not doing something. If she can't figure it, we'll try. If we can't figure it out, we'll take it to our friends from the limb different community and from camp. I have LOTS of faith in the camp family we've created and I'm sure one of them will be able to help us through any issues we have to work through. What would we use the money for? Her limb difference doesn't cost us anything extra. If anything, it's taught us a lot of empathy and kindness. It's taught our children the same thing. We are lucky to know so many people with differences and it allows our children to all think before they speak. It's allowed us to make differences (physical, mental and emotional) a topic of conversation that is normal in our house. We've talked a LOT about staring and how it makes people feel. Bella has an autistic girl in her class and it has allowed Bella to embrace her classmate. She knows that she wants people to treat her with kindness and not stare so she does the same to her friend. We've also talked of helping people to feel welcome and not excluding people from playing or activities. 

I also agree to disagree. Much like politics or religion, the discussion could get heated or out of hand. I agree to let people state their opinions and respect their opinion even if their opinion varies greatly from mine. It's called respect. 

Where do you stand? What is your opinion? Can you agree to disagree with others who have a different opinion from yours?

Friday, December 4, 2015

"Seester you have one hand"

We were all sitting at the table talking about our day and Luca said while proudly holding up his hands "Seester you have one hand, me have two, daddy have two, brudder has two, mommy has two, you have one".


Grayson quickly jumped in "She was born like that, we are all born different, like some people have different eyes or some people have different hands or different hair".

Bella said in the sweetest voice "You are right! I only have one hand and you have two. That's like when we go to Camp, lots of people are different there".

I explained to them all that when Bella grew in my tummy that she only grew one hand. "Then we she got bigger and bigger, her eyes turned a green color! Grayson's eyes turned a brownish color and your eyes are blue Luca!" They all looked at me like I had just lost my mind.

"Mom that's funny that he just said that" Bella said to me.

"Why is that funny Boo?"

"Because I've only had one hand this whole time and he didn't know or what?"

"Who knows, maybe he just discovered that your hands are different from ours".

"Yeah well they've always been different" she said... and so dinner continued like nothing had happened. We talked about our "best part of our day", our dinner tradition. Each person talked about what was the best part of their day was and what they did. It's one of my favorite things that we do as a family. It really takes the focus on the positive things in life and what went well. It also makes us think back to how our day went overall.
(It's good to be two)

So did Luca just realize that his sister only had one hand? Or did he always know and just said it? It's hard to know or even figure that out. He's 2 1/2 and he's a little spit fire. In our family, it's something that I can say we don't really think twice about. All of us hold both of Bella's hands and do activities without making accommodations for her. It's the norm in this household. It's interesting to me that when he said it, Grayson got a bit defensive and Bella laughed it off while teaching him. I'm proud that each of our children are so unique and respond to life in a different manner. I'm glad Bella is able to use the moment to teach him about her and others without hesitation. I'm glad that Luca blurted it out and we were able to talk about differences as a family.

On being thankful...

Each November I try to write on Facebook some of the many reasons I am thankful. This November started out with a bang. So far it went like ...