Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A life long process

Once upon a time, the holidays were my favorite time of the year.  I love everything about them.  Being together with family, the warmth of sharing stories, laughter and memories, the look of amazement of a child's face when they see Santa, the twinkling lights everywhere you go, the smell of cinnamon scented pine cones, finding the perfect gift and then watching, with excitement as it gets opened.  I love it all. 

Kaitlyn's first Christmas, she was a little over a month old.  There are so many pictures of her opening her presents, asleep, me piling open gifts on top of her.  Her second Christmas was awesome.  She woke up and ran down the stairs, super excited by all of her gifts and just the magic of the holidays.  Her third Christmas, she was sick with the rotovirus, lethargic and ended up spending the following day in the hospital for dehydration.  Kaitlyn's third Christmas was nothing like I thought it would be.

When we prepared for Kaitlyn's third Christmas, I was so excited.  It was going to be the first year she not only "got" it enough to ask for anything, but she was going to share it with her baby brother. 

When Matthew died, we already had Christmas presents hiding in the closet (Kaitlyn actually found her gift from Santa, a giant Dora), stockings for all of us and plans on how to keep him safe and isolated from all the germs cold and flu season brings.

While I do think that Christmas was still magical for Kaitlyn, it was really, really hard.  And really, in a lot of ways, I still find them hard.  It's so conflicting, loving and enjoying so much of the holiday and so badly wanting to share it with your children and knowing that one will never be in your arms again.  I will never see one of their reactions Christmas morning.  I will never see his little handwriting making a Christmas list, or embracing Santa.  Or having a complete melt-down at the site of him.  I'll never hear that little voice ask for hot coco.

I do think, Samantha and Charlotte both have brought back a lot of joy into the house.  There are so, so many laughs and so, so much happiness.  They gave Kaitlyn a living sibling, though there are times she is super annoyed by little sisters, she is so proud and in love with them.  But, there are unanswered wishes, that I think will always be there.

I find myself getting really emotional during the holidays.  Probably more so than any other time of year.  I think it's why Samantha was given to us in November and Charlotte in December.  It certainly keeps our minds busy and our hands occupied.

Grieving the loss of your child isn't something you just get over, conquer and move away from.  It's something that becomes a part of you, a part of your daily life, a part of who you are.  Not a day goes by that I don't think of Matthew, or long to hold him, kiss him or see him.  It is something that just becomes you.  You work to get through the hard days and find blessings in the good ones. 

I believe that the most important thing in life is family.  Family shapes you, it supports you, it builds you and it's forever.  I am so incredibly blessed to have such an amazing family.  One that remains strong through thick and thin.  And, for those that have been toxic in the past, I have an amazing husband that helps protect us and our family.

I know that time shapes things and people.  Both change and grow.  People mature and realize the true importance of life, and I am always open to second, third, fourth chances...  Especially during the holiday season. 

I think part of the changes in a person, after losing someone close, is the realization of just how short life is.  It is so much more than a cliche.  It is life changing to realize that in just one breath, everything can change.  It can be overwhelming at times to realize just how true that is.  It can make the entire world stop spinning sometimes. 

This holiday season, hug easily and judge less.  We are so quick to make assumptions about a person's behavior or demeanor, but often, we do not know if someone is hurting or just really needs a kind word or a friendly touch.  Do something kind in memory of someone you love.  One kind act will not change the world, but it can change the world for one person.

Tomorrow is never promised.  Live each day to the fullest, find joy everywhere you can and embrace life.  Forgive easily, celebrate often and share your love with the world.

Friday, November 22, 2013

There's a three year old in the house. And a 9 year old. And an 11 month old.

And they are cute, snuggly and oh so much fun!

Obviously, I'm behind.  Things have been pretty intense lately.

Saturday, November 9th, Samantha turned 3.  When she finally woke up (after I went in there at 9:30!, with fresh donuts!), she told me her birthday was already over and she slept through it.  I had to convince her it was her birthday and presents were waiting for her.  That barely got her out of bed.  This kid has the sleep patterns of a teenager.  It's insane.

Once she opened her presents (a few LaLaLoopsy dolls, a "lamby" and Doc McStuffin's blanky), and ate the sprinkles and frosting off of her donut, we all got around and ready to go. She decided that she wanted to go to the zoo to celebrate her birthday.

I've learned that the Sacramento zoo is perfect for kids aged 2-8.  It's small enough for a kid to be able to walk around the entire zoo without being overwhelming.  And you can usually see everything in about 2 hours without rushing.  Which, is what we did.  Followed up by a trip on the Merry-Go-Round with daddy. 

Of course, part of the fun with the zoo is Fairytale Town.  Which, we wanted to avoid since her arm is still broken and Fairytale Town is all about climbing, playing, swinging and exploring.  The exact opposite of what she should be doing.

So, there was a fit to be thrown.  Which was heartbreaking.  Who wants to tell a 3 year old that they cannot play on their birthday?!?! 

She chose Denny's for lunch and then we headed to Nana and Papa's to say hello.  We stopped by Sam's Club where she got yet another LaLaLoopsy doll, refusing any other toys or books in addition or instead of.  Our plans to go to dinner and have cupcakes after were dashed when she fell asleep in the car at 6:30 and didn't wake up until the next morning!  Lucikly, the next day was Sunday dinner and it was her turn, Uncle Scotty's turn (his birthday is November 5th) and Auntie Jamie's turn (her birthday is November 7th!) to celebrate their birthdays, so she still got to blow out the candles!

Most of the week was spent convincing her that she was three, needed to get rid of her diapers and working on birthday party stuff!  Her favorite part of the week was asking to put candy in the pinata.  Putting in the candy and then begging every 5 minutes to "smash the pinata all up and eat all the candy."


Samantha is incredibly bright, stubborn and absolutely hilarious.

She loves to be video tapped and constantly asks to have her picture taken.  But, she refuses to look at the camera.

She loves Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Minnie Mouse and Adventure Time.  She sings so many songs and makes up her own versions constantly.  For example, on "You are my Sunshine" she likes to replace sunshine with anything else and gray clouds for purple, or rainbow, or green.

She knows her ABCs and recognizes a few words.  She loves to be read to.  Her favorite books are "There was an old woman who swallowed a" and she's great at playing make-believe.  We spend a lot of time with me as Mommy Pirate and her as Baby Pirate.  She has so much personality and is such a dare devil.  She's just amazing.  She brings so much joy and so much laughter.

She tells everyone her best friends are her big cousins Camaryn and Lisa.  And is pretty decent about sharing.  Unless it's with Charlotte, then she prefers she get her own toys.  She is a good eater, once a day.  But, she just picks and chooses the rest of the day.

Samantha is 40 inches tall (98%) and 30 pounds heavy (30%).  She wears a 3T pretty much for length and still has tiny little feet.


On Saturday, we threw a totally, awesome, 80s Karaoke party.  It was so much fun to throw.  I only wish I would have gotten more pictures.  I wish I would have gotten one of me with the girls.  Samantha before she took off her bandage cover.  More of the decorations.  More of the guests, who dressed up awesomely.  More of Kaitlyn and her friends.  More video.  Any video.  You get the drift. 

Karaoke was a HUGE success.  Once Kaitlyn got it started, there was always a line.  A double sided list.  Originally, we were only going to "offer" songs from the 80s.  But, how many 9 year olds know Madonna...  So, we opened it up to everything.  They had a blast.  We used an app I found for streaming karaoke on the iPad and it worked great.

We did pac man tables, arranged like the game, tons of 80s posters, decorated water bottles, had neon balloons, a table of board games, the pinata, 80s dress-up stuff for everyone (lace gloves, slap bracelets, friendship bracelets, glasses), a photo booth section and it was just a good time.

On Sunday, Kaitlyn woke up saying "I can't believe I'm 9." Our plans for the days changed a lot, but she ended up picking going shopping.  To Target.  I couldn't even talk her into the mall!  But, she had gift cards and money burning a large hole in her pockets.  After some lunch at Chili's her and Samantha did a little shopping before heading to my parents for Sunday dinner.  Since it was Kaitlyn's birthday she got to pick what we had.  And she chose spaghetti tacos.  Again.  Lol.

Kaitlyn and Samantha both have physicals coming up in 2 weeks, then I'll update with their stats. 


Kaitlyn did have her parent teacher conference.  We've had some serious issues with her school recently.  She was switched into another class about 2 weeks into the year.  It was a disaster.  The school wasn't prepared.  A teacher hadn't been hired yet, they didn't have enough students and after a period of time it appeared that there simply wasn't an ability to make promises become realities.

Kaitlyn found out they were getting a new student from Africa and was super excited.  She wanted to learn all about the country and asked that they be seated next to each other.  After a week, it was horrible.  Kaitlyn thought the girl was rude and asked to be moved.  She said she broke an entire box of her crayons, one at a time.  She would take her work away.  She was disruptive.  Then, she started hitting Kaitlyn.  Then, kicking.  Then pushing, pulling and just being violent. 

I went to the teacher, who was finally hired and obviously overwhelmed.  There wasn't any communication, I felt ignored.  I went to the principal, who was new and there were still constant problems.  Kaitlyn has never had a problem making friends or getting along with kids, so to be constantly harassed and physically attacked daily was obviously something new. 

After we went two weeks of complaining about being attacked daily, and her not wanting to go to school, and the teacher brushing it off, and her bruised and swollen and me feeling like I was being given the run around, I went to anyone in the district and school board would listen and she was transferred back to her original class.

This made her happy and now the girls are almost friends (crazy how resilient kids are?!?).  The attacks have stopped and both girls are being given a chance to succeed. 

But, it made it hard for Kaitlyn to get accurate grades on her report card.  Her class was several lessons behind the one she transferred in the day before they did the big test that accounted for their grade.  Even after not being introduced to the material yet, she pulled out a 96% on the test, only missing 2!  She got an A in just about everything and the two sub-subjects that she got a B in, her teacher is confident she'll have A's by next report card.  He commented that she was one of those rare students that are strong in many subjects. 

She also recently got two medals at school for doing so well on her STAR testing.  She was only 3 wrong answers away from a perfect score in Language Arts!  Way to go!

Kaitlyn has found her 9 year old attitude and I think she hates it as much as I do.  We battle a lot over her room and her attitude.  But, she does try to correct it.  And I don't look forward to puberty.  At all. 


And Charlotte is 11 months!!

We only have one more month sticker to do.  I cannot believe it.

She will walk all over holding one of our hands.  She'll take 5-6 steps on her own.  She loves to dance and looks hysterical doing it.  She is climbing on everything and getting down just fine.  She is our most loving baby.  She loves to hug, give cuddles and kisses.  She acts shy, but goes to anyone.  She hates clothes.  She hates the car.  She loves food.  She easily out eats Samantha each and every day of the week.

She is in 12 month clothes and is pretty petite.  She's long at 31 inches (98%), but thin at 19 lbs 6 oz pounds (36%).  She has little feet and wears a size 2 in shoes still.

Her hair is growing like crazy.  She is up to 5 teeth, and spent the last week sick with Roseola.  Some days, I think she'll potty train before Samantha. 

Charlotte's invitations are made, I am picking them up today and then we are going to work on the guestlist.  We are going to celebrate her birthday on a smaller scale this year.  On the Saturday before Christmas.  Gifts are not at all expected and really we just want to celebrate our little miracle with friends and family.  :)