Sleeves in Summer

Halfway through the summer, and to say that it’s been busy is an understatement.  There has been SO much going on! Between shuttling the kids around to different activities, house/apartment hunting, vacationing, boating, and SURGERY (that’s really what this post is about), we’ve barely had time to do laundry and grocery shopping! Here’s a few pics of summer so far, just to fill you in! Few bullet points while I’m at it too!

* Mariah is having the summer of her life! Vacationing with grandparents, sailing school, soccer camp, and a visit with her birth mom coming up (ugh for us, yay for her!), she’s exclaimed several times, “BEST. SUMMER. EVER!”

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Hiking the Adirondaks!

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Learning to sail on her own

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They were next!

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Tubing on the Delaware

* Noah has really had an explosion of language this summer.  He can often be heard around the house saying, “Ackkk-shully, I don’t want that! And ackkk-shully, it’s my turn!”  Yeah…”actually” is a real thing that my 2.5 year old says incessantly and in context.  Also, “oh shit!”  He says that quite a bit too.   ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  He has suddenly become this animal/bug lover and INSISTS on saying hello to every animal he sees on the street, even pigeons and squirrels and like, WHY?!?!  He is 98% potty trained with the exception of having had a handful of poop accidents, but even then it’s mostly our fault because we know his “times” and we still haven’t gotten it down to a science.  He’s working on recognizing the letters of his name, and can get through the N and the O before repeating them again for the A and H…sorta like, “my name is  NOAH and my letters is N..O…N…O”..  Yeah, that’s basically his name these past few weeks.  “NO, noah..no!”  Still as cute as ever though!

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“SHEEEESEEE MAMA!”

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Potty Time!

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Insisting on being a “sirena” like his sister!

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My little animal lover

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First time fishing (catch and release upon Noah’s insistence!)!

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He loves his mama

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Dapper young sir

*Levi has really been a terror these past few weeks.  There have been quite a few transitions at home with vacation, packing for moving, my surgery, a new teacher in his classroom, and if there is anything we have noticed, he does not do well with change.  Throw in A LOT of change, and well, he’s miserable.  He is absolutely our rough and tumble kid though.  There is nothing that scares this kid!  Not heights, not rocks, not the dark, not the threat of a pow-pow on his tiny hiny, NOTHING!  He jumps from the 3rd step, climbs the highest chair, and always has to run, “fast, fast fast, with my light shoes”!  He’s 2 seconds from riding a two wheeler and can almost always be found sitting on his blue balance bike, even while he sits in the living room watching Mickey Mouse Roadster Racers (if i hear, “mamaaaa, kiki mouse roader racies is alllllll done! AGAIN!” one more time, I may lose it!) eating blueberries with no clothes on.  Yes, that has happened.  Several times.  He’s still our super funny, super affectionate boy who has a sweet tooth for DAYS and the tiniest sweetest little voice when he respectfully asks, “mama….may i peeeeese havie my pacieeee-fiiiiiyah!?!” Also, math skills for days.  Can count to the mid 20’s in two languages and sorting for him is a joke! Cool kid for sure.

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Fisrt train ride was EVERYTHING!

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“MAMA, I swim!”

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He absolutely LOVES karate!

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Bubble time

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Handsome Buddy

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Loving rides on Mama’s back

*Austin, well, there is so much to say about this little guy.  Currently at 19 months he outweighs his brothers by close to 7lbs (who who think he was under 4lbs when he was born!?), and is still not really speaking.  We got him approved for speech services and have been working with the coordinators to find him a bilingual therapist. He’s our best sleeper, eater, and traveler.  Most of the times he can be found on a mound of pillows mushing and cuddling, all of his own doing.  He’s expert climbing and sliding without any assistance because of the 4 words he DOES have, 3 of them are “ME DO IT!” although no one else would understand it because it sounds like, “MEyoueeeee”.  He has this ability to just know when people are not well, physically, emotionally or mentally.  In fact, we were coming out of an elevator the other day, and a woman was waiting to walk in.  2 seconds before the door closes, Austin rips outta my hands, runs towards the elevator, into the woman’s legs and hugs her.  She immediately reached down and picked him up, he hugged her, and she cried.  “I just needed that and you knew”.  The most beautiful thing?  He let her hug him and he hugged her right back.  Normally, i wouldnt be cool with this sort of thing at all, but he is such a special boy.  Love, Joy, and a different kind of innocence exudes from this kid.  Also, everyone keeps INSISTING I get him a haircut. NOPE!  So glad he’s ours…

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Being all patriotic!

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Ice Pops are his absolutely FAVE!

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One of the handful of words he knows is “CHEESE”

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Scheming lakeside

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Rainbow Avenger

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Sleepy time cuddly boy

*The Wife is working hard, getting promoted every time we have some major life event happening (2 promotions in less than 4 months!), still interested in fostering/producing more babies now that we have a big HOUSE (more on that later!), momming on level EXPERT, and still being an amazing wife to me even though I have been a less than stellar wife to her (not excusable, but you’ll understand…read on!).  Also…still the hottest woman I know, and still the best thing that could have happened to me.

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Me and my Love

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❤ ❤ ❤

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Always feeling lucky with this lady

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A “whaley” great time on family vacation 7/17

 

So about 1000 words in (you are seriously long winded Sammie, sheesh!), the real reason for this post.  “Sleeves in Summer”  is alllllll about the surgery that I had a month ago.  On 7/6/2017 at 6am, I went in to have weight loss surgery.  A month and 3 days later I am down 31 lbs and under 200lbs, which hasn’t been a thing for me in 17 years.  Since 2000, which happens to be my junior year which is why I remember it so vividly and accurately.  I remember declining going to the senior prom with a friend because I couldn’t fathom trying to find a “fat dress” since I was over 200lbs and all of my friends were all wered double 0 and shopping at Aber.Crombie which, I couldnt fit in my luscious size THIRTEEN jeans!  Seriously! a freaking 13!!! Like, Marilyn Monroe wore a 13 and I wouldn’t go to Macy’s and get a dress from the “Plus size” section! So this has been a thing for as long as I can remember.

Weight loss surgery was something that came up before with my PCP, but we always sorta said, “You’re young.  You have time.  You can always lose weight later”, but all things said and done, weight loss never happened.  I have tried EVERYTHING with the exception of Weight Watchers (mainly because I’m cheap but also because I freaking hate routine on my free time).  Curves, Insulin Resistance Diet, diet pills, dieting, exercise, food restrictions, boot camp, you name it!  It would work for a few weeks, and then i would just plateau or gain it all back.  We discussed a little more after seeing the endocrinologist how my hormones and PCOS plays a huge role in my weight loss plan, but ultimately, it was the MAIN reason I could now lose weight and KEEP it off.  I could go into very exact and medical reasons for not losing weight due to PCOS, but generally speaking, hormonal imbalance due to PCOS makes it difficult to lose weight, and losing weight is the only tried and true way to “cure” PCOS.  SO since i was about 16, it’s been this vicious cycle of +/- 50lbs every few months, which you can imagine is NOT GOOD for a human body.   So after I gave birth to Austin, Callie and I decided to look into this as a solution for a lot of my medical issues (also tied in with PCOS {and because of PCOS} is HBP, High Cholesterol, High Glucose, Sleep Apnea, and ulcers in my stomach.  Throw all of those health issues into the mix with 4 beautiful children and a hopefully LONG ASS LIFE, and nothing was jiving, so we decided that this was the best option.

I’ll say, there were two times when I thought it was the WORST possible thing I could have done.  I cried my face off saying, “WHAT HAVE I DONE!? I’ve ruined my life!”  But a month and 3 days out, 31lbs down, BP normal averaging at 127/65 (my average was usually 160/100), sleeping ALL NIGHT, and all the size 38 and 40 and XXL and XL stuff out of my closet, I have to say, best decision I could have ever made!  I may not have loads of energy now (portions are literally less than a quarter of what I used to eat so still adjusting to getting in the correct amount of protein a day which BTW is TOTALLY a process and entirely time consuming) but it feels like I’m getting back to my old self every day, and I wouldn’t change anything about this decision. Heartburn is the WORST thing i have ever experienced (never had heartburn EVER prior to surgery), but all in all, feeling good, and doing good.

I originally didn’t want to tell people that I was having this surgery.  I just didnt want people talking shit or making assumptions about me being lazy, or about me not “wanting to lose weight enough to do it naturally” (yes, someone actually said that!!! I KNOW!), but then I reminded myself, “MY life, my story, how I want it!”  And i did it.  And i couldn’t be happier.  Well, I’d be happier if I could have chocolate ice cream with chocoloate fudge, topped with Oreas and chocolate sauce!  MMMMMM! Chocolate!

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BEfore in MAY 2016 when I started the process

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July 22, 2 weeks after my procedure, same jacket

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On vacation one month PostOP 8/6

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1 month Post Op

The Gall!

(This was written a month ago, but as you can imagine once you read this, things got a little hectic, AND I was very medicated!)


In case anyone was wondering, here is a list of things that have happened in my life that have caused LESS pain than the gall stones I was dealing with:

  • Getting hit by a school bus at 13 years old
  • Having both big toenails removed practically at the same time
  • Getting kicked square in the face, full force at a karate tournament
  • Jumping off a swing but getting my shirt caught and falling on my face busting my lip open
  • Slamming my finger in a car door at 7
  • Finishing a soccer game with an ankle sprain so bad my doctor didn’t understand how it wasn’t broken
  • Giving unmedicated, vaginal childbirth

And I’d do it 100 x’s over before I feel gall bladder pain again! And good thing is, I won’t have to because they took it out and GOOD RIDDANCE! The pain of these gallstones was unlike anything I have ever felt before.

So this is sorta how it went down. Last Saturday I went in to the ER at 4am (so really Sunday early morning) in excruciating pain.  I’ve never had heartburn before (I KNOW!) and when I told Callie what my symptoms were, she said it might be that and to take some tums. About 3 hours later (and half a bottle of Tums -is that even safe?!?!) I was keeled over the arm of the couch, DEMANDING that whatever the hell had crawled ALL UP INSIDE of me to get the hell out while simultaneously thrusting my abdomen into the same armrest doing a quasi Heimlich/dry jump maneuver.  Super sexy, y’all!  All of this while I cried and vomited profusely.  When I literally couldn’t stand anymore, I woke Callie up and told her that I would be taking a cab to the hospital and that I would give her a call and let her know what was going on.

Arrived to hospital at 4am, was seen by  a few nurses to take vitals and take care of pain management stuff, waited until about 8:00am for the ultrasound tech to tell me that what the doctors suspected was correct and that I had a pretty crappy case of gallstone.  Luckily, from what the ultrasound showed, my bile duct look good, there was no inflammation to the gallbladder, and my liver looked good.  So, they gave me some pain meds (IBUPROFEN!), and Zofran for the pretty intense nausea and sent me to a follow up with my PCP the next day.

That whole following week (4/4-4/8) I had a constant dull ache right underneath my right breast.  I would classify it as a 7 on the pain scale.  Painful enough that it was noticeable and definitely uncomfortable, but not enough to keep me from working.  So I carried on as usual, although something didn’t feel right.  Because I was petrified to feel that same pain, like, EVER again, I basically refused to eat anything besides bread and water all week, so on Saturday (4/8/17), when I started to feel the pain creeping up again around 3pm, I knew it wouldn’t be good.  We were visiting Callie’s grandmother about an hour upstate, and as we were driving back close to 7pm, the pain became intolerable and I had to pull over on the highway to switch and let Callie drive so that I could lie down and just breathe through the pain.  By 9pm I had taken three 800mg ibuprofen, a Zofran (the nausea ramped up big time!), and two scalding hot bathes that seemed to be the only things that would satiate the pain.   At 4am, I was back in a cab to the hospital.

It seemed like maybe they didn’t believe that I was in as much pain as I claimed to be in, but honestly, with the Opiod epidemic in our country currently, I get it!  Same lady, two Saturday nights in a row, on the floor, literally screaming, “GIVE ME DRUGSSSSSS!!!!!!!”  My blood pressure should have been enough to show them the pain I was feeling (177/117, yeah, I KNOW!) , but nope!  I had go all out!


Phone ringing….

Mom: “HELLO?!?!  Todo esta bien?!? (Is everything ok?!?!)

Me – “MOM!!! I’m in a lot of pain, and they wont give me drugs, and you need to come here, because I’m gonna punch someone in the face, and they don’t believe me that I’m hurting, mom , and this is some ole bullshit with these damn nurses that don…..” (all in one breathe)

Mom – “SAMMIE!!!  Jew nee to calming down becoz, de lady, chee not gonna give you nossin! NOSSIN if jew gonna be a meanie to dem.  So, jew know, taken it easy!

Me: “MOMMY!  You need to just come!”

Mom: “Ay Dios Mio!  Ok, Mami is coming…”


Mami got to the hospital in about 20 minutes, came in to check on me.  They had given me 4ml of morphine at this point, and NOTHING.  When my mom walked in, I was standing in front of the bed, rocking back and forth as if in labor pain.  I was crying, and in lots of pain.  My mom stepped out into the hallway, yelled at a handful of nurses, “My dotah es in a lotta pain!  Please!  Jew don hearing her!?  Chee’s berry estrong, and if chee is crying, jew job es to heling her!  GO HELPING HER!!!!”

So, thanks mom, because that Dilotin was EVERYTHING!  Same gig as the week before.  Waiting till after 8 for the ultrasound tech who basically said the same thing as the last week.  This time though, she thought it would be best to speak to the surgeon since I was clearly in a lot of pain, and it wasn’t going away even with pain medication.  So around 10am, the surgical team came in, told me they would admit me and monitor me, pump me up with antibiotics (since my white blood cell count came back pretty elevated) and re-hydrate me.   So I was admitted, sent up to a private room, and loaded up with meds, both painkillers, antibiotics, and fluids.  Next morning, head surgeon came in and basically said, “Ultrasound doesn’t look terrible, but you’re clearly in a lot of pain.  White blood cell count hasn’t changed much so you’re clearly fighting something, so we’re gonna go in this afternoon and see what’s going on.”

I was taken back to surgery at 3:30pm, and I’ll be honest, don’t remember much for the rest of that day.  On Tuesday morning after surgery, the surgeon came in and filled me in. Turns out my surgery took about an hour and 15 minutes longer than it should have because my gallbladder was so incredibly inflamed that it was starting fuse with my liver.  The way he described it was sort of like my gallbladder was chronically sick.  So, he’s glad they went in and took it out because he made it seem like that pain would be pretty consistent. And also, the 7 he said I felt all week was likely a 10 for a normal person and that he has no idea how I was able to work like that all week, and that when I was saying that my pain was at a 13, he knows it was well off the chart!surgery

Sooooo, all of that to say, my gallbladder is out, thank the sweet LAWD! It was quite the experience, and lest we forget the “no lifting for 6 weeks” rule, so you know it’s been pretty interesting and also innovative ( and sometimes ingenious!) trying to figure out how to move around 3 babies without lifting.  CALVES BE ON POINT, YO!!!

About a month later, I’m feeling pretty good, down 58lbs in 6 months (thanks to the additional 8.5lbs I lost in the one week from barely eating), getting ready for surgery again at the end of July (that one was planned and it’s for another post), spending more time outside with my family (the new flexibility with my schedule is INCREDIBLE), volunteering at my church more (finding God has been another adventure that I wasn’t expecting and has been BEAUTIFUL but more on that in another post as well) and really, just being the best mom, wife, and worker (in that order!) that I can be. All is well on this end, friends.  All is well….for the most part…

~S

Our First (Official) Family Photo Shoot!

The excitement of Adoption Day still has our family buzzing and feeling electric!  WOW!  It’s interesting, because nothing has changed, but EVERYTHING has changed!  Now, we’re busy planning sleepovers (since for 3 years she wasn’t allowed to sleep any where that wasn’t a certified foster home), getting passports for family vacations, (my parents are wanting to take us all on a Disney Cruise, and they want to take Mariah and my niece away for a week to Niagara Falls this summer), booking sleep away camp, and transferring all of Mariah’s documentation at all of her respective places.  You know, getting adopted seems like it means a lot less time with Mamas and lots more time with everyone else! Hmph!

Just a few more things to square away to transition Mariah out of Foster Care and into her Adoptive home.  And clearly, since you already know we do Milestone Parties pretty huge, Mariah will be having an “Oh-FISH-ially Forever Family” party which already has preparations under way and has an invite list of approximately 150 people!  You know, something light! LOL!   A colorful underwater extravaganza  with fish and octopi and mermaids GALORE!  Should be pretty amazing.

I hired a friend of mine to take some photos for us.  Jesse Rinka, you have outdone yourself again, friend!

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The judge was asking Mariah how she felt about her adoption. “EXCITED!!!”

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Papo paying close attention to the judge AND his bottle.

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Does this even need a caption!?!

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If anyone wants to know what my life is like? THIS! In a nutshell!

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OFFICIALLY A FAMILY!!!

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Mama being silly (as usual) to get some laughs and giggles from everyone.

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Annnnnndddd, they’re off!

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Whenever we go out, I can almost guarantee that this is the scene you will likely see. I’m sure you can tell, she’s the princess!

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Hugs for everyone!

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With her beloved grandparents. Her relationships with them individualy is so beautiful to watch. It reminds me of the special times I shared with my grandpartents and the special memories I always treasure in my heart.

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Our girl!

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“For those determined to fly, having no wings is just a little detail.” Jane Lee Logan

A Letter to My Daughter…

…on the night before her adoption…

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My favorite CooCoo,

Before you came to join our family, mommy and I wanted to be moms really badly, but Mommy was having a really hard time getting her body to grow one, and Mama wasn’t sure her body would be ready for it either. We decided that maybe being foster parents would be pretty awesome, and we would get to spend some time with some really fun (and cute!) tiny people and do our best to give them a good life and a place where they could feel safe.  We didn’t  EVER think that we would be so lucky to have God help us find each other.  Mary, since you joined our family everything has changed! Actually, we weren’t even a family until you showed up! It was just “Sammie and Callie”.

I remember everything about that day.  Mommy and I were sitting on the couch, all day, drinking hot chocolate, waiting for Ms, A. to call us and let us know that you were on your way.  When she finally called,  mommy and I started to get nervous.  We didn’t know what to expect!  We walked back and forth to your room several times to straighten the toys on the shelf, open and close the curtains, fluff the pillows and pull the comforter taut, adjusting the lampshade on your night table to make sure it lit up all the books that were our favorites growing up that we hoped you would love as much as we did.

The next 3 hours passed very quickly, but also REALLY slowly!  We watched TV, I chewed on my nails, mommy fixed her hair A LOT, and we sat thinking about what it would be like to have a daughter, even if it was just for a little while!  As we imagined our lives with a beautiful little girl in it, we were startled out of our seats when the door buzzer sounded.  I went downstairs to be greeted by a woman that told me that you were asleep in the car and that it had been a pretty exciting and scary day for you because you were taken away from your birth mom (super scary and really sad) but you got to go on your first plane ride EVER (which she says was super exciting for you).

I walked over to a small white car and noticed a little pink ball of fluff in the back seat and a white cardboard box sitting next to it.  Suddenly, the fluff moved, and that’s when I realized, that fluff was YOU!  I opened the door to these big, gorgeous green eyes, and I picked you up in my arms and carried you back to our apartment.  You had just turned 6 years old, but in my arms you felt much smaller that.  You put your head on my shoulder, and my heart knew I would always be your Mama.

It was just after midnight but we gave you a yummy snack, we watched some TV, and we showed you your new room.  You weren’t happy about any of the changes at first (we know how hard it was on you), but after a few weeks, it was like we had always been together.  Like we had always been a family.  Since then, a lot of things have changed (some good, some bad, some happy, some sad), but through all of those things, we have been a family and we have always gotten through those times with love.

In the 3 years since we’ve been a together we have seen you grow so much.  We have seen you not really know your entire alphabet and the sounds the letters make, to reading Harry Potter with me at night.  I’ve seen you go from coloring outside the lines to making fantastically colorful creations that our friends and family are so proud to display on their fridges.  You are the best big sister EVER, and whenever people take care of the 4 of you they always say, “We don’t know WHAT we would have done without Mary!  She is so helpful and really loves her brothers!”  That makes me and mommy feel really proud of you!  You have gone from a quiet, reserved, shy kindergartener, to a fierce, strong, soccer loving, friend making machine, with a smile that lights up the whole room!  CooCoo, you are the best kid that could have ever come to our family!  We are so, so lucky!!!

We know that you have a lot of feelings about finally being adopted.  You’ve told us about your excitement and your fears and concerns, and I promise you that Mommy and I will always listen to you and we will always try our best to give you honest, open, and loving answers to your questions. Sometimes, you may not like the things that we have to say, and sometimes those things will make you feel pretty sad, but it’s important to remember that we would never do anything to hurt you, and we want to always tell the truth, because remember what we always say at Casa Mendez, “This family doesn’t lie to each other because if we lie we won’t trust and if we don’t have trust, we don’t have anything.”

We love watching you grow.  We love watching you laugh.  We love watching you play.  We love watching you learn.  We love watching your relationship with your brothers. We love YOU.  You, You, YOU!

You’ll always be my best girl,
Mama

(PS – be prepared for the BARRAGE of pictures that will flood my next post!!!)

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Parenting With All My Might

Some days are hard.  Some days are harder than that! But every day I put one foot in front of the other, go through the motions because my kids deserve the best I have to offer them.  

Some days I wanna throw in the towels (yes, plural, because I have so much shit going on, one towel wouldn’t be enough!), grab a pack and some snacks, and hike the Appalachian trail and not come back home until my head is clear, my feet are blistered, and I’m forced to stay in one place or risk losing my feet for good!

Some days, relationship and wife-ing stuff gets so loaded and so crazy, that I wonder what the eff I was thinking ever WANTING, let alone thinking about doing this “adulting, married wth kids” thing.

Sometimes, there isn’t enough money, enough food, too many poopy diapers, and mountains of laundry I’ve conquered that would have made Everest look like a kids old school wooden climbing structure.

Some days, the darkness of my bedroom and the closed in feeling of the walls against my thoughts is all I long for.  A silent retreat inside myself, where I know a lot of the answers dwell, but who in the damn hell has any time for that!?!?

But today, is not “some days”, but today makes me recognize that “some days” are all I need to see the beauty in my life.  Today, I complained about having to get up super early because I had to drop the kids off to daycare despite having a day off.  “I take days off so I can spend time by my freaking self! GRRRRRR,” I yell at my sick wife, who just so happens to get sick EVERY FREAKING TIME it’s my day off (not that I don’t love my wife and want to spend time with her but also like, self care and whatnot!) . I was pissy, sure.  I was annoyed even…Irate? Perhaps…but then walking outside, after I begrudgingly get them all dressed for school, I see the joy and the wonder in their eyes at seeing the snow fall for the second time ever! 

Noah’s eyes darted across the sidewalk as he yelled, “WOAHHHHH! Mamaaaa! It’s! ‘no! It’s ‘no!”  Levi squealed as he skipped down the street, trying to catch the flakes as they moved in time and cadence with their laughter and giggles.  Austin opened his mouth wide, and it was then that I noticed the little nubbins of the two new teeth that are coming in.  

These simple little joys.  These constant reminders that there is so much to surrender to, including the nuisances of every day parenting. A reminder that every situation, no matter how bleak, has a silver lining.  That even when we are our most annoyed, upset, frustrated, desolate, angry, there is something that will always bring a little shine, a little sparkle to your life.  

And despite parenting with all my might, I fall into the trap of “I wish things could be different.  I shouldn’t have had so many kids.  I should have went to college.  Why do I even clean? Why do I…? Why did I…?! How could I…?!?”.  But today, for the first time, I really recognized my ability to change the outcome of my day.  I had to wake up early on my day off?! Worst thing that happened today! 

And I’ll keep thinking that…because some days are really shitty, but mostly, they’re pretty damn good…

Almost 3 Years…

On March 28th, it’ll be 3 years since Mary has joined our family and stolen our hearts.  It’s been just over two years that Mary has been the greatest big sister anyone could ask for.  It’s been just under 10 months since Mary’s mom signed over her parental rights.  It’s been 2 weeks since we told Mary why. And now, FINALLY, two weeks from today, this long, drawn out nightmare will be over, and we can start writing this new part of our journey as Mary’s forever family.  And I can’t even describe what this family feels like right now…

When we told her that we finally got a date, the excitement that she displayed was incredible! Her cheeks got flush, she started sweating, her eyes aglow, and if you know my kid, you know there is nothing better than that smile of hers, but this one?! WOW!  I  wish there were some type of device that could bottle up the joy in children’s squeals when they recognize that they are getting the things they’ve always wanted.  I’d take it with me everywhere and listen as a reminder of unadulterated joy!  It was such a beautiful moment for Callie and I to share with her, and we relived it again several times after Mary was sound asleep.

We’re just as excited as she is for it!  She’s REALLY gonna be ours!  And not that she hasn’t always been, because she has, but now, no one can ever SAY it! Not unless they want a damn paper cut from how freaking fast I will whip out that damn adoption certificate! Don’t play wit me! But this just rounds out a pretty amazing week of awesome news; great times with great people, celebrating my sisters pregnancy and the coming arrival of the new baby (boy is my guess!), promotion, and now adoption finalization date! Friends, life is pretty freaking good….

Nailed it!

A few weeks ago, I saw an open management position as an Administrative Assistant in the Diversity/EEO department with my current employer and I felt pulled to apply for it.  I didn’t know much information about the position, so I confided in my current supervisor that I was interested in learning more about it.  She is one of those supervisors that is ALL OVER helping her “good people” succeed and excel, and she sat with me for a little bit to talk to me about what the responsibilities are and what the position entailed.  So, after hearing some good stuff, I decided it would be the best more for me.

I applied, and about 2 weeks later, I got a call to schedule an interview.  Last week Thursday, I was scheduled for an interview at 9am.  I let my boss know, and she was beyond excited for me.  In fact, she coached me a little on some of the stuff that I didn’t know in regards to payroll and working our payroll system.  I handle a lot of job responsibilities, but payroll is not one of them, and I have NEVER done payroll before. Like, EVER!

I got a good nights sleep, didn’t have any breakfast for fear of vomiting, got dressed pretty snazzy with my lucky bow tie (the one I wore when I interviewed to secure this position, and the very one I wore when Callie said YES!), and was off to work to wait for my interview.  The hour wait was pretty nerve wracking, and I did my best to keep from sweating (so I wouldn’t look like I decided to take a dip FULLY CLOTHED on my way to work), and calm my voice (because my diaphragm was hanging out at a bouncy castle!), and review some of my possible answers to their possible questions (I’ve had a few internal interviews to move around  within the company already, and the questions are usually the same with one or two position specific questions).

My answers were LEGIT people!  I mean, I have honestly never had an interview where I just felt that all of my answers were on point. In fact, Callie has been the main hiring manager for over 15 years, and when I told her the questions and gave her my answers, she said, “Half way through that second img_6925answer I would have had you as my number 1 choice.  Woulda been hard to beat that!”  When I was done with my interview, I just new it!

Ladies and gents and everyone in between, meet the newest Administrative Assistant of Diversity and EEO (moi!), while I say hello to 6 weeks paid vacation, an increase in pay, and the sweetest deal of all time, FREE LIFETIME MEDICAL!  Yup…Hello all of that goodness!

 

8 things on Friday

I figured the “10 things on a…” would be the easiest way to get a lot of info in pretty quickly!  It has been quite crazy at Casa Mendez the past month or so.  Lots has happened! 

  1.  Noah and Levi celebrated year TWO of life!  They are weighing roughly 27lbs, 37 inches or so height wise, and lets just say those heads are the first things I look for on a playground when I’m trying to find my children.  Levi has almost all of his teeth…just waiting on that last set of molars to grow in and Noah as all but his 2nd set of molars and all 4 canines.  They are talking up a storm (like telling me about their day at school talking up a storm), gliding all over our neighborhood on their gliders, learning to go pees and poops on the potty (ugh!!!), singing up a storm (currently always singing “The Kindness Song” by Tori Kelly on Sesame Street, Shape of you – Ed Sheeran, and Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake), and really just being some kick ass kids.  They hardly ever give us a hard time, although Noah is very strong willed and independent (which, yeah great, but also, like WALK then!  I have to get where I need to go and you are moving at the speed of Sloth and refuse to let my pick you up!), and Levi is so, so mushy all the time ( which is amazing, but also makes it super hard for him to get to bed because he wants to be cuddled all the time!).  If I’m being honest, I think we hit the toddler lottery.  They are both so affectionate and so aware of what others around them are feeling.  When I walk through the door, and I’ve had a bad day, they can sense it right away, grab me by my hand, walk me to the coat rack and say, “mama, jacket off, please? I sit.  Mama and ____ sit.  We read a book!”  And just like that, all the worries of the day have melted away.  Those boys…I swear!!!
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2 YEARS OLD!

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SESAME STREET OR MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE??? BOTH!!!

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“MAMA! I RIDE A BIKE!”

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LEARNING TO NAVIGATE THE ROPES

2)  Mary turned 9!  Yeah, that totally happened, and sure enough, just like that, she is one year closer to being a teenager! She had a little party with some family and friends to celebrate, and then had a sleep over with our niece (her favorite cousin!) and her best friend.  They were up until past 2am!  It was really cute to see her having such a great time with her friends.  There has been a shift in her too.  More honest about her feelings, more in tune with people’s emotions and needs (which is VERY new!), and also, managing her own emotions a little bit better.  This is a pretty huge transitional time for her, and we’ve seen a ton of growth in her since we actually started getting more honest and stopped treating her like this fragile little flower, and started treating her and talking to her like the maturing young lady that she is.  I know that sounds crazy because she just turned 9, but when you meet Mary, you would assume she was easily 11 or 12 because of her demeanor and the way she expresses herself.  So, yeah…9! Should  be an interesting and pivotal year in Mary’s life and development…hopefully, with all the stuff coming up, we won’t fuck it up!

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SPECIAL BIRTHDAY BEAR AT SCHOOL FOR THE BIRTHDAY GIRL!

3)  Speaking of upcoming transitions for Mary, all paperwork has been turned in, and currently we are just in limbo waiting for the adoption attorney to call us and let us know what the possible dates are that we can select for finalization.  We were wondering what the heck the hold up was since we had submitted all of our paperwork before the end of December and we were told it normally takes about 2-3 weeks to receive a date.  Good for us for calling to see what the heck was going on, and our attorney tells us that she has been going back and forth with the court because our marriage license doesn’t have Mendez as Callie’s last name, and like, WHY THE HELL WOULD IT!?!?! Sammie Mendez wasn’t marrying Callie Mendez, was she?  NO! She wasn’t!  And instead of the lawyer having called me to tell me that, her assistant thought she would sort it out on her own.  So I just emailed her a copy of Callie’s new SS Card, her new license, as well as copies of the old ones and the receipts from the name changes at both the SS Office and the DMV.  All was squared away, and now, we are two weeks into this 2-3 week wait.  So, looks like, we’ll likely have our finalization late March – early April, which is actually pretty awesome because it is more likely that we would be able to host Mary’s “You’ve Always Been Our Daughter in our Hearts, But now the World knows it too!” party outside, so we can house more people without paying an arm and a leg!  Believe me!  The boys 1st birthday party’s ran us about $2k, and $800+.  And since technically this would be Mary’s baby shower, christening, and 1st birthday (all of which we missed) wrapped in one, we’re ok with going all out for her. (*Mary was given a choice between a big birthday party at some bouncy castle place or wherever with friends, or a huge adoption party, she chose the adoption party).

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SHE SURE DOES LOVE THOSE BROTHERS!

4)We had a discussion with Mary last Tuesday night about why she isn’t with her birth mother, L, anymore.  Her adoption worker was over the apartment, and we were talking about some stuff pertaining to the case, and some of the issues that have been arising regarding our conditional surrender. Whenever one of the workers is over, Mary gets all nervous giddy, and she starts doing little things to sort of show off in front of them.  Which, I mean, sure!  Whatever.  We’re used to it!  But after the worker left, Mary came over to us and started asking us questions about L, and for the first, first, first time ever, when we responded to the questions of why her sister got to live with L with “She doesn’t honey.  She lives with her grandmother because L still isn’t making good and healthy and safe choices”, she asked, “But WHAT choices?  You always say, ‘not good choices’ but like, like what?”  And so we told her…  We told her that her mom was a drug addict that had a hard time making good choices because when people use drugs, their brains aren’t usually working very well or processing things very well either.  She took the news surprisingly well, but there were a lot of questions about L using drugs, and why people sell them, and why she chose them instead of her, and if she is still using drugs and how can we keep her sister safe if L is still using drugs.  We told her we didn’t know if she was, because now that she is in THIS phase of the adoption process, we don’t really know too much else about her besides what she tells us, and that honestly, we only talk about how Mary is doing.  Ironically, Callie was flipping through channels, and got distracted with the boys and an episode of Intervention was on. Normally, this would NOT be age appropriate or content appropriate TV for a 9 year old, but the episode was about a mother who was addicted to PCP, Meth, and Vicodin and was in the process of losing her children.  We put the boys down to bed, and spent the next hour with Mary watching the show.  During the episode, we would pause the TV to explain things to her, and to answer any questions that she may have, which believe me, were a ton!  We did the best we could, and I  have to say, since that day, something has changed.  Something has shifted in Mary, and it almost seems like she is even more sure about who she is and why she is here.  I know that’s probably a super far-fetched concept for more 9 year olds, but Mary’s like was very different from the average pre-teen.  We talked to her therapist (who saw her the next day) and said that Mary had even more questions for her, but that she was surprised and impressed how much information we gave Mary and how easy we made it for her to understand.  I have to say though, there was one moment after the fact, where Mary and Callie were having a conversation ( I heard about it later)  in the car on the way home from school 2 days later.  She asked Callie about L doing drugs again, and she had to reiterate that Mary being taken away wasn’t Mary’s fault, and for the first time, Mary said, “It’s not?  Not even a little bit Mommy?  Like not even 1%? Nothing?  Even if she didn’t listen?  Even if I told her don’t take me to Florida and she did anyway?”  And we have confirmed this many, many times, basically since day 1, and for the FIRST TIME, the very first freaking time, Callie said she believed it.  And what gave it away?!  The incessant agonizing cries that came from the way back seat of our minivan.  When Callie told me, I lost it.  I couldn’t believe that finally, after more than 3 years, Mary is starting to believe that NONE OF THIS is her fault…and that moment made the really, really hurtful and difficult conversation of the 2 nights before so absolutely worth it.

5)Potty Training…this needed a bullet on it’s own!  Soooooo, I have trained so many kids while I did 10 years of childcare work.  A full week of having them run around in their underwear, a few messes here and there, but normally, by the end of the week, about 90% of my 2 year old classrooms were toilet trained.  We’ve been at this every weekend for the past month (that’s probably the main issue but like, who has time?!?!) and STILL no success.  Levi is much better about this than Noah, and has been more consistent, but good grief!  Why can’t these things come toilet trained already!?

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POTTY TRAINING BUTTS ARE TOO DARN CUTE!

6)  The sicknesses have run amuck in our home.  Callie had (and I quote her doctor) one of the worst cases of strep throat he has ever seen.  He had her on TWO antibiotics and even pain killers!  YES!  Pain killers for strep throat!  And also, all of my children looked like this for the better part of a week…so, yeah….img_6893

7)  Snow made it’s way up the east coast and I never thought I would have so much fun playing in it.  Having little kids makes the world so interesting again.  Really examining, really looking, really enjoying.  Seeing snow and playing in snow through the eyes of my kids made it such a beautiful experience, and I can’t wait for there to be more so I can take them sledding!

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ALL THOSE ROSY CHEEKS!

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“OH NO MAMA! HACE FRIO! (IT’S COLD!)”

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“MAMA, IT’S SNOW! NIEVE! BLANCA!”

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AUSTIN, SNOW…SNOW, AUSTIN…

 

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8)  The older the kids get, the more and more we miss all those late night wake ups, the shit ton of dirty diapers, the exhaustion, the bottles (oh god, the bottles!), the car seats and the amount of money that we used to have in our bank account, but mostly a tiny tiny baby in the house and in our arms.  So, we’ve decided that maybe Baby Mendez #5 is actually a thing that could and maybe SHOULD happen.  We’re talking about it….a lot….and have decided that when Austin turns 2 (but knowing us we won’t wait that long), we’ll get started on this baby thing…so…yeah…..

 

Conditions…

Another Christmas has come and gone, and I couldn’t be happier that all the holiday madness is over (for the most part!). The kids had a blast!  They opened up all their presents (AT 6:30 AM!), had our new favorite holiday tradition of Christmas Pancakes (just some green and red sprinkles in the batter)IMG_6440.PNG, went to my sisters, and spent time with family.  They haven’t stopped playing with their toys since Christmas morning.  You have no idea how fun it is to pry a toddler off of a balance bike while he grips the handle bars and wraps his legs around it, to the point that you just carry him AND the bike to the changing table and figure out how to NOT get poop on everything.  That LITERALLY happened!  Levi!  And my house is impeccable now that Noah got a mini vacuum that REALLY works. “Come on Nene, follow mama, and you clean, ok!?”  We haven’t had a scrap on the floor, what with the toy “real” vacuum, and our real human vacuum (Austin)!  Mary has been dying to ride her bike, but NY has had less than perfect Holiday weather filled with unseasonably warm weather with loads of rain, and the one day that was beautiful, we were just so busy, but she has flown her remote control hummingbird all over the house, and into ever single wall, sooooo…

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And since we are speaking of Mary, part of her adoption “contract”, if you will, is that her mom would sign over her rights under very specific conditions that have been agreed upon.  The two main conditions (which also have conditions!) are a monthly email with 2-3 pictures of Mary and a brief snippet of what her month has has been like, i.e. “she is doing well in school.  She scored two goals at soccer 2 weeks ago.  We’ll be on vacation next week and she’s looking forward to it”.  Simple as that.  Not über crazy and not too involved.  I get it.  She just wants to know OF her biological daughter, and I can’t say I wouldn’t be the same considering the circumstances.  She also gets a quarterly visit.  One visit every 3 months, 4 times a year.

Initially we thought everyone on our end would be ok with this, but we didn’t consider Mary’s behavior/emotional well being with the continuation of visits, and ALSO knowing that her birth mom has her baby sister and not her has been a real source of the constant PAIN IN MY ASS that I’m dealing with as far as Mary’s conflicting emotions are concerned.  We’ve noticed that this is a continuous cycle with Mary every time she does/doesn’t have visits, or whenever she does/doesn’t see her mom.  The behaviors, the anger, the sadness is the same regardless of whether these visits happen or not.  In August, mom missed her first visit, which led it be a little over 6 months since Mary had any contact with her birth mom.  She was great all summer, up until the week before she knew her visit was coming.  Then mom missed the visit, and all hell broke loose for about 6 weeks, behavior-wise. 3 more months pass.  Mom shows up in November, with a trove of gifts, which of course sends a whole slew of different messages.  And then the ” I really love my mom.  She’s a good mom because she buys me cool and pretty things” conversation happened, which was really hard to reign in because…ego…

I guess the whole reason I’m bringing this up is because her birth mom emailed me back this time, the day after Christmas (even though I send the monthly email on the first of each month, and she never writes back!) to ask for us to please consider inviting her to Mary’s birthday party.  That it would make her year, and that she would want nothing more than to share Mary’s special day.  Uh, EXCUSE ME!?!  Now?!  After 3 birthday invites?  So of course, despite trying my hardest, my alter Petty LaBelle showed up, and the response was so protective and almost guttural, verbatim, “Hi there.  Unfortunately, Mary is have a huge “Adoption Day Party” (her choice) and we’ve decided to forgo a 9th birthday party and will instead be spending a weekend at an indoor water park with her best friend and her favorite cousin.  Hope you have a Happy New Year.  Stay blessed! ~Petty Labelle” .

And now I feel HORRIBLE about it!  I mean, there was other stuff in the email that she wanted addressed (Mary’s current size, her favorite show/activity, what she’s into now [Descendants!], how her holiday was, what she got, etc.) which I had absolutely no issue with, but I was so caught up in the BS of kind of proving she’s OUR daughter now, that I forgot to be kind to her.  I can’t imagine the struggle.  I can ABSOLUTELY imagine what it’s like to not have my children, and it is the WORST feeling I have ever felt just THINKING about it!  And I should have been kinder, but also, the freaking audacity!  The times that we have invited her, she hasn’t shown up.  In fact, she promised Mary a cake, and fell of the face of the earth, so my “guarded” feelings about Mary’s day were totally warranted, but maybe my delivery was a little too much.

I’ll be kinder next time, placing myself in her shoes, but also, by being honest and beginning to address some of the issues we have with her, will communicate what OUR needs are to keep Mary’s heart safe and happy.  My gut tells me that Mary’s mom will be around, and despite everything, so long as the relationship improves and the honesty and trust us there, I’m pretty ok with that. In what capacity she’ll be around is still unclear, but I know their hearts are very connected, and I can’t see myself not honoring what my daughters heart is telling her, but I also know that sometimes we don’t make the best choices when we ONLY let our hearts lead the way.  Life experience is huge, and Mary has had tons but her loyalty is blinding…also, 8 years old!  Mary will learn things in her own time, as she should.  She will develop a relationship with her birth mom at some point, but for right now, we are in charge of those interactions, and reiterating who we are to Mary and to her birth mom, the gentle reminders of “you lost your opportunity to be in charge here” for birth mom, and also trying our damnedest to give love and hope and opportunity to the woman who gave us one of our most precious gifts…

We’ll always be somewhat indebted to her, and we should start reminding ourselves of that a little…img_6441