Saturday, May 26, 2012

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today I was in a North Carolina hospital room waiting anxiously as my daughter labored to deliver my first grandchild.  I will never forget the miracle of her birth.  I was right there, watching her crown and then come into the world and change our lives forever more.  I cried, I trembled, I smiled through my tears.  The magnitude of the feelings was intense.  She was much smaller than we had expected, but full of spunk and thankfully, very healthy.  I remember it like it was yesterday, watching them lay her on the warming pad and clean her up.  She had a little cone head, but she was gorgeous, with dark hair and good color.  I remember going out into the hall to get my husband, a new grandfather! and my son, a new uncle!  They were walking down the hall as I rounded the corner and they were able to come in and see her within minutes of her birth.  My six year old son stood on his toes and gazed at her and fell in love, right then.  The look on his face was so soft and there was so much love there.  When he got to hold her a few hours later he settled right in like a pro, claiming her as his own.

Since that day we have been blessed to have our Natalie in our lives almost every day.  She is a chubby, happy little girl with a great personality and a beautiful smile.  She has her Nana and her Poppy wrapped right around her little finger and her Uncle Dakota.....he's still helplessly, hopelessly in love.  They share a bond as tight as any siblings.  She will always be his baby and I am looking forward to watching the two of them as they grow together over the years.

Happy Birthday, Natalie Ann!  You have made this world a brighter place and we all love you so much!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

This little boy...

This little boy was born weighing less than a sack of sugar.  His skin was see through and his head was the size of a very small orange.  He was only as long as a ruler.

This little boy couldn't suckle on his own; couldn't breathe on his own; couldn't keep his body temperature at a safe point.  He "popped a lung" at three days old and had a tube inserted.  He needed three blood transfusions.  He needed tests, x-rays, MRI's.  This little boy was a fighter.  He didn't know that babies born so small weren't supposed to survive.  He didn't hear when they said that his first 72 hours were critical.  He didn't see them shake their heads and look at him with fear in their eyes.

This little boy thrived.  He was strong and he had a zest for life.  He heard his Daddy's voice and he felt the stroke of his mommy's hand. They were always by his side.  He saw the pictures his sisters had drawn for him.  He felt the love surrounding him.  He knew, somewhere deep down inside, that he needed to fight because his family needed him so very desperately.

This little boy spent 69 days in the NICU.  He learned to breathe on his own, to feed from a bottle and to regulate his temperature.  He was finally able to nestle in his mommy's arms, look for his daddy when he heard his voice and see his family members... sisters, grandmoms, poppops, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends... and he drew from their strength and their love.  He was strong enough to come home.

This little boy graduates from high school today.  He is healthy, strong, smart, athletic and incredibly handsome.  This little boy has basked in the love of his family and given back all that love and then some. He has achieved things no one would have ever dreamed he could.  Today this little boy becomes a man. all of us.  Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Turning One

Sunday our friends and family gathered here at my house to celebrate the first birthday of my little granddaughter, Natalie Ann.  It was a glorious day, sunny skies, a breeze and perfect temperatures.  My daughters arrived to help around noon and we put the baby down for a nap so she would be fresh for her company.  She woke right on schedule as the guests were arriving and my daughter dressed her in an adorable print dress that was perfect for her sweet baby rolls and bright blue eyes.  She had grandmoms and grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends to give her attention and she was the perfect little angel.  She played nicely in the bounce house and in the little play yard Kris and I created out of our two individual ones.  There was lots of good food and about 4:30 we got her settled in her high chair and brought out the single large cupcake cake with buttercream icing and sang Happy Birthday to my littlest love.  My daughter placed the cupcake in front of her and at first she wasn't sure what to do, poking at it and licking her fingers.  Soon enough, she discovered that she could bury her whole face in it and priceless memories were made as she hugged the whole cake close to herself and licked away at the icing, getting it all over her face and up her little nose.  We let her go at it for quite awhile and I was very surprised that when we took it away, she didn't even cry.  My daughter, my mother and I got napkins and wash clothes and in 10 seconds she was squeaky clean and I'm not sure she even knew what hit her!

The rest of the afternoon was spent opening presents and playing with friends.  She was getting tired, but she hung in there, giving everyone love and attention and not crying at all.  When everyone had gone home except for her mom and dad and cousins Chris and Nicole, the adults decided to order crabs and keep a nice night going.  Poor little birthday girl was overdone by that point, however, and the slow melt down began. She couldn't fall asleep in our crib and she went from my arms to her momma to cousin Nicole's over and over until she finally gave up, laying on my chest, giggling softly at my silliness and letting me cherish the moment with her, this sweet little angel who has made my world so much brighter.  She is a blessing and a wonder, that's for sure, and I am a thankful Nana that she is mine to love.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Busy Saturday

Today was busy from start to finish.  I got up and got some laundry and chores done and then headed out to Dakota's baseball game.  It was a beautiful morning for it, but my frustration level was high today.  The kids weren't really into the game, dragging about everything, and Dakota, of course, was being...well...Dakota.   I tried to stay out of things as much as possible and just keep score.  On the way home, however, Dakota wanted to know if he was ready for metro ball next year.  I could blow smoke up the kids bottom if I wanted, but I was honest, telling him that metro kids give 110% all the time during games and practice and they don't sass and talk back to their coaches.  He seemed a bit wounded, but the fact is, he's a lazy ball player and I can't really relate to that.  He's got the skills and the body for it, but he feels that he can just drag around, halfheartedly making attempts and still play metro caliber ball.  That isn't happening.  It just isn't.

After ball my husband had to leave to go into work until tomorrow so we had a quick lunch and then I got started on the yard and deck chores while the boys did their thing.  I squirted, cleaned up and rearranged.  Kris and Natalie came over about 4 and then my niece and great niece and nephew came over around 6:30.  We ordered dinner, made ourselves comfy on the deck and had a wonderful night chatting under my very cool deck lights :-) and enjoying the gorgeous weather while the kids jumped and bounced and ran and played.  I love talking to my daughter and niece together.  They are such intelligent women and the topic is almost always education and children, which is what I like to talk about most.  It's hard to believe sometimes that this beautiful woman, mother of two and special education teacher, is my sweet little niece whom I used to carry around and babysit when she was little.  It's amazing how time allows them to catch up and we can enjoy an adult relationship together.  It's also very unusual that all all three of us, my niece, my oldest daughter and I, are raising young children together.  Dakota was such a blessing in that way (among others).  He gave me a connection with so many people that I wouldn't have had otherwise, being a mom to three adult children.

Tomorrow is the big day.  Forty people are coming to the house to celebrate the first birthday of my sweet little granddaughter.  Lots accomplished, but so much more to do.  I guess it will be an early start tomorrow.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cabin Fever

I have decided that staying home for days at a time because you want to is wonderful, but staying home for days at a time because you have to, not so much!  I have been in this house exclusively for four straight days now and I have a bit of cabin fever.  I desperately am in need of adult conversation and the kids are going a bit crazy, as well.  I thought we'd go outside for awhile today, but the wind is going pretty strong.  We can't take a walk because of my ankle.  We can't drive anywhere because my car is in the shop.  UGH!!  I am hoping that my daughter is willing to drive me to BJ's this afternoon so I can do a little of my grocery shopping and get out of this house for a bit!  I'm done!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Slowing Down the Pace

Sunday morning dawned chilly, foggy and with a misty rain, but I had a livingroom full of yard sale goods, had posted 30 signs in the neighborhood and had three friends coming at 6am to set up with me, so this was a "go".  I woke my older son, who promised to help me, and together we got what we could out into the yard.  My friends showed up and they too set up.  By 8:30 things were a little brighter and I got the last of my things out of the house and onto blankets and tables in the yard.  We didn't have a good turn out in the early morning, mostly due to the weather, so I thought I would put 10 more signs out quickly before people headed to church a few streets over for the morning service. I posted three or four and then pulled into the 7-11 parking lot, grabbed a flier and my tape and jumped out of the truck.  As I rounded the back of the truck I stepped into a hole in the parking lot and went down hard, my left ankle making awful noises and red hot pain shooting through my leg.  I saw stars, but knew I had to get home.  I went back to the truck, hauled myself in and drove the three blocks back to my house, hoping I wouldn't pass out the entire time.  I pulled up, put the car in park, opened the door and called for one of my friends to get my husband.  I had a very hard time getting into the house and the pain was intense.  I was sure I broke my ankle and I was terrified of the repercussions!  My husband got dressed and took me to the hospital while my friends held down the fort.  Luckily, there were few people there and, after xrays, the doctor came in and wrapped me up, declaring my ankle sprained.  I was back at the yard sale in less than 90 minutes, but so incredibly incapable!  I could barely get around, not able to put any weight on my good foot and dealing with crutches that hurt my arms more than they helped my foot!  With alot of help from my husband and my sons, I got through the day, but it was a struggle.  I am not one who takes limitations very well!

Today I didn't have my granddaughter because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to handle her.  I did my very best to spend the entire day in my recliner with my feet up, relaxing.  That's not easy!  I am so high energy and I feel like I am completely useless to everyone when I do nothing.  Koda and I homeschooled from the recliners, reading, doing our math, spelling, reading and language arts together and by lunch time I was actually doing much better and was able to get around a bit, sit outside for a little while and function without much pain.  Thank you, God, for making me a quick healer.  I am still moving much more slowly than normal, but I am getting there.  I am very thankful it wasn't a break and very thankful for an empty schedule so I didn't have to rearrange or juggle.  I know this week is going to be a work in progress, but I am hoping to be at least 80% by the weekend.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The First Day to the Last

Today is my older son's last day of high school.  I have been reminded this morning, as I sit here and reminisce about his school years, of many firsts and lasts along the way.  I remember when he was first in preschool, so tiny with blond curls and a fiery spirit.  He wasn't ready for any kind of school yet, but he was three so off he went, two mornings a week.  I know now that I should have waited.  The teachers would have appreciated it!  He had trouble with potty training, trouble with getting along with others, trouble with conforming to the rules.  In every picture all the kids would be smiling in the group and Brian would be on the floor, throwing a fit.  Yep, that's my boy!  He went through two years that way and when Ms. Brenda told us he wasn't ready for kindergarten yet and we needed to give him one more year in preschool, my husband and I struggled with the decision.  Was she right?  We knew she was, but it's hard to make any decision that may be the wrong one and could affect your child for years to come.  We did decide to give him another year and that last year of preschool was the best ever.  He was a leader in the class now, the circus ringmaster, the one who had it all together.  He just needed a little more time.

I remember the first day I left him in elementary school.  I wasn't sure it was the right choice, but I did it.  His first grade teacher was fantastic and he did well.  I remember his first day of second grade...well, the first day he met his new teacher.  He was a tiny, tiny little boy of eight years and he heard that he had a "new" teacher, new to the school.  In his mind, though, he associated new with not know what to do and he rationalized that if she didn't know what to do and he didn't know what to do, things just might be a little scary.  So for three nights before we met the teacher he didn't sleep.  He stressed and he worried, not able to put his thoughts into words.  When he went into the school to meet her, Ms. P was pretty and dark skinned and had a deep, soothing voice.  He was wary, though, hanging back.  I explained that he was anxious because she was "new" and she reassured me that she had been teaching for several years.  She gave Brian some time to scan the room and look around and then she went up and sat down near him and engaged him in conversation, telling him about her last school where she taught and the boys and girls she taught there.  You could see him visibly relax. They were going to be okay.  Actually they were more than okay.  She was a wonderful, fun, loving teacher and I worked there with her through the year.  We had a Ravens pep rally, taught the kids silly songs, loved them, laughed with them and held them close to our hearts.  Ms. P, now Ms. T, remains a friend today.  It was a wonderful year.

The next year was our first year of homeschooling.  It was 2001 and on one of our first days of school Brian was sitting at the table doing some morning work and I was outside putting out the trash.  When I came in I saw on the news that a plane had gone into a building in New York.  And then another...and the rest is history.  9/11.  The most horrific day in the history of this country.  I had to find my girls at school and get them home with me, but I was thankful that he was here with me, safe and sound.

I could go on for hours about our homeschooling experience.  Maybe one day I will.  It was the best of times and he and I learned so much and had more fun than you can imagine.  Spending every day with him was a precious gift.  Fast forward eight years and it was the end.  I don't remember a last day, but I was painfully aware during that last year of the time that was slipping away so quickly.

I do, however, vividly remember his first day of high school.  He got dressed in his uniform and we got in the car and made the short ride to Cardinal Gibbons.  He was so nervous and I could see the tears brimming in his eyes that he was trying to hold back.  I was nervous too, and the tears were threatening, but I knew that I had to be positive and strong for him.  I put on my happy face, told him how wonderful this experience was going to be for him, and put him out of the car.  He walked away, up those outside stairs, and into the next phase of his life. I sobbed all the way home and for two more hours. When he came home that day he said "Mom, it's like I have always been there.  I feel like it's where I belong".  And so, it began.

And today, it ends.  We have so many happy memories to hold onto, so many pictures, so many friends.  We had our heartaches along the way too, but I think the good outweighed the bad.  I have had countless teachers come up to me in the last four years to tell me what a fantastic young man my son is.  They tell me of his confidence, his honesty, his poise, how he always chooses to do what's right over what may be "cool" or popular.  The road he has taken hasn't always been the easy one.  Sometimes it has left him alone and feeling lonely.  However, the choices he has made and the road he has taken have always led him closer to God and to a successful future. Sometimes I have wondered if homeschooling was the best choice.  Today, looking back, I know it was.

He leaves high school today with a MIAA B Conference Championship football ring on his finger, a transcript with almost straight A's over four years, two more solid years of time spent under his dad's coaching wing and  friends who don't have a bad word to say about him.  Today is the end of an era and the start of something new and wonderful.  Today my son closes one door and steps toward another.  He is no longer a tiny blond haired imp who is fearful and unsure.  He is now a handsome, athletic, intelligent, kind and compassionate man who has the world at his fingertips.  Thank you, Brian David, for the wonderful times and beautiful memories you have given all of us, especially me, over the last nineteen years.  You have been a pleasure to raise and a pleasure to teach, a treasure to love.  Step forward knowing that you are loved and cherished and that we are all still here, cheering you on from the bleachers, waiting for your next big moment.  We love you!