Mary, Our Best Girl

Sometimes I get really sad that I can’t legally post pictures showing Mary’s face, the joy that’s on it when she’s in her favorite place, sandwiched between her twin brothers and little tiny baby brother on her lap.  This kid LIVES for those brothers, and they absolutely adore her. They run up and down the apartment, sticking their head into her room, only to scream , “A-YA-YA” (their variation of Mary’s real name) and then run away so she will chase them.  When she gets home from school, she gives them all the kisses she has been saving for them throughout the day, and they love it.  Every second of it. And WE love it!  We love seeing her interactions with her family, her space, her things, because it reassures us that not only do WE feel that she is in the right place, but she feels it too…

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MY TIE IS ON POINT, BUT WTF WITH THE MUSCLES!!!! AND MARY ROCKING THE MID 90’S INSPIRED SIDE PONYTAIL!

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UGH, MY FREAKING HEART!

So where are we with Mary, you ask?!  NO-Fucking-WHERE, that’s where!!!  Our next court hearing is May 10th, and we officially begin the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) trial.  What does this mean for Mary and for our family?  It means that records from therapists, teachers, doctors, case workers have been subpoenaed.  It means that most if not all of Mary’s “providers”(including her caseworker) will be called to the stand.  It means that we have to sit on our hands while all of these people dictate the life of one of our kids, the kid that actually made us parents!  So it’s really, really hard.  From what we understand, this could take a while.  We’ve spoken to Mary’s lawyer (he strictly represents HER and what she WANTS, not necessarily what is in her best interest), and he will be out our place on May 2nd to “interview” her and see where she is at.  That little letter up there ^^^ is pretty telling.

But how is Mary?  Well, “all over the place” sort of sums it up.  Let’s go back about 2 months.  Mary was talking to her teacher and telling him that she didn’t feel very well and that she wanted to speak to Ms. Kelly, the school psychologist, because she “had a lot feelings”.  So he sent her to Ms. Kelly’s office so that they could have a chat. Mary expressed that she had so many feelings that she didn’t know how to feel (she told us all of this when she got home.  We are firm believers in the whole confidentiality thing and prefer she tells us things when she is ready, which she almost ALWAYS does).  Most of the time, she was telling us that she had a weird feeling in her belly that wouldn’t go away, like she was going down a roller coaster, and anyone who has experienced this sensation knows that that is EXACTLY what anxiety feels like, and how crazy and in tune with her feelings is she,  that she was able to vocalize what is going on inside.  She may not know what anxiety feels like, but she sure is having some.  As soon as we heard that, we gave her therapist a call and they have been sorting it out ever since.  CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is hard…so so hard!  Adults have a hard time with it, imagine being an 8 year old!  But this kid, she really is something else.

Her behavior has been less than stellar, and it’s been hard for us as parents to discipline her because we know that she is going through so, so much right now.  I can’t imagine having to “choose” between 2 families that I love and adore (she doesn’t have to choose, but no matter how much we reiterate that, she is still, in her mind, the one that makes the decision).  How do you “choose” between your birth family, who may not have necessarily always done the right thing, but that’s your REAL mom and your REAL sister.  Or your “real” family, where you feel the most loved, and wanted, and cared for?  As parents though, Callie and I have some serious behavior non-negotiables.  School work comes first.  ALWAYS.  There will be no playing or watching of the TV if homework is not done.  She stopped doing homework and stopped caring.  We saw it as a red flag because she absolutely LOVES school, but having recurring thoughts and anxiety makes it not easy to focus.  We don’t play with school though.  SO we are stuck between disciplining her the way we normally would but also taking into consideration that she has a hell of a lot going on.  Also, when mom is super consistent, and I’ll give her that, because she has been, Mary’s behavior goes all haywire! Then 3 weeks ago, Mary comes home with a yellow card from the after school program.  These yellow cards are warning cards.  2 yellow cards=a red card.  First red card=suspension.  Second red card is removal from the program.  We can’t have that!  Neither of us gets home until after 6, so the after school program is a necesity! What’s the yellow card for?  KICKING SOMEONE!  What in the fack!  That is our second non-negotiable!  We DO NOT under ANY circumstance, put our hand on someone.  We could preach the whole self defense thing which is cool for maybe an older kid, but for young kids, there really isn’t any reason for that, ESPECIALLY because there is no hitting at our house.  Callie and I may scream at each other once in a while, but never once have we disrespected each other like that.  She lost her privileges for a week.  3 days later, she comes home with another freaking yellow card!  SERIOUSLY!?!? Apparently, she was wandering around the school on her own, when she knows that it is the afterschool programs #1 rule. NO ma’am, so she felt that one, because it was Easter Sunday and she sat…the entire time…and the only reason we let her do the egg hunt was because my parents and siblings and aunts and uncles BEGGED us to let her.  So she had a whole 20 minutes for fun for 2 whole weeks.  One for the kicking, and one for the wandering off.  Not even 2 days after that, I get a call from the therapist telling me that Mary got into a fight at school.  For crying out freaking loud!  It’s all been handled and the past 2 weeks behavior has been incredible, which is great because with 2 very sick and whiny almost 16 month olds, our patience was very, very thin!

Otherwise, she is still doing exceptionally well in school,  had even better grades on her report card then last time!  She’s really been opening up at therapy and working through her stuff, and also, she has been an incredible, loving and kind big sister and daughter.  Honestly, I hope the outcome of this whole trial is that she will be freed for adoption, because if she’s not, I might just break one of our #1 house rules, and just hit something!  We love this kid so deeply, that thinking of her not being a part of our family is heartbreaking.  Let’s pray that May 10th is the beginning of bringing Mary fully into our family, legally into our family, forever into our family…it just has to be that way….

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A BEAUTIFUL SATURDAY AS A FAMILY OF 6

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MY GIRL IN HER FAVORITE TREE

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MARY AND OUR NIECE IZZY

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LOOK HOW LEVI LOOKS AT HIS SISTER…THEY LOVE THAT GIRL.

 

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HER FAVORITE PLACE

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Noah

jerseyMy little Noah.  These past 2 months have been really rough for my little guy.  There has been a lot of adjusting and acclimating to new environments and lots and lots of sickness.  In the past 4 months he has had 3 ear infections, but the last 2 (in the past month) have both been horrible double ear infections, that have my baby tossing and turning and whining all night.  We were feeling like it had started to affect his hearing, and in turn his speech and that he probably isn’t as verbal as Levi is because of it.  Well, he had to prove us wrong, because last week, the kid’s language EXPLODED and suddenly he went from a very raspy grunt to saying Mama, ma (for whatever reason this is how he calls Callie), cat, gato, Nene (his nickname), Nah-no (Macho, levi’s nickname) Moh (more), ah-ma (grandma), Ya-ya (Mary’s real name), uh-oh, wa-wa (Agua). 11 words y’all!!!  11 whole words in one week!  The same week that he had this awful, 103.7 fever inducing ear infection.  SO wild!  But we are so so proud! In fact, this morning, my parents came over to pick up Levi since he was diagnosed with RSV/Bronchiolitis and needs nebulizer treatments that his daycare won’t/can’t administer, and Noah spoke his first full sentence, while screaming and crying at the top of his lungs and pointing at my parents car, “Nene bah-bye a Nah-no! Nene bah-bye a Nah-no!” Nene goes bye bye with Macho…damn near broke my heart!

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MY SICKY BABY

Because of the total number of ear infections he has had in such a short period of time (6 in 6 months, 4 in 3 months, and 2 in one month) and the increasing frequency, we though, “It may be time to speak to a specialist,” so our pediatrician recommended a really great Pediatric ENT around our area.  We have yet to make an appointment, but I think it’s really just because I’m afraid that my tiny baby is gonna need tubes in his ears.  Despite all the amazing things and all the success that I hear about, it still scares me to know that my baby is gonna be put under and that he’s going to be in pain, and I hate it! I worry about an allergy to anesthesia, about how scared he will be, about not being able to hold his hand through it, and that maybe, after all that drama, they just won’t work. We’ll see how it will all play out.  We also hear that they outgrow it around 2ish, but do I really wanna sit and watch my little guy in pain for another 8-10 months?! NOPE!  So we’re exploring this tube thing, doing our research, and hoping that for now, this is the end of the ear infections.

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103.7 FEVER BUT STILL ADORABLE!

Noah’s gross motor skills are developing so well, and his fine motor skills seemed pretty advance for a kid his age.  He can make his stacking boxes in to a small tower and then of course knock them down.  He can throw and even kick a ball!  You have no idea how excited I am to have babies that actually GET soccer!  Like, get excited when they make a goal, and will run away with the ball when I chase them.  He’s also gotten pretty good at feeding himself with a fork, not so much a spoon yet (which I wish he would hurry up and learn, because he LOVES soup and it takes forever to feed him since he’s that kid that won’t eat until he swallows what’s in his mouth after chewing for a whole minute!!).  He points and says, “Ah Nene” (para Nene/for Nene) when he wants something.  He also ROCKS at using a shape sorter.  He’s an awesome climber that is already giving Mama heart attacks, but mostly, above all, he is our sweet affectionate boy, who kisses you when you fake cry, loves to hold hands and hug his brothers, and sister and will almost always share his food with you.  Except for string cheese.  This boy LOVES his string cheese!

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BLUEBERRY PANCAKES ANYONE!

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EASTER FANCY!

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OH SNAPCHAT FILTERS! YOU CRACK ME UP!

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ALL READY FOR SCHOOL

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BREAKFAST ON OUR FIRST FAMILY WEEKEND GETAWAY

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FRESH HAIRCUT FOR PICTURE DAY

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HAHAHA! MY SON IS GONNA BE HELLA HANDSOME WHEN HE GROWS UP!

Where Have We Been?!?!

Friends!  Friends!  WHAT…THE HELL!  It has been since, basically a thousand years ago that I have written, and really, I have no excuse except, well, a million kids who have been alternating sicknesses (ear infection, flu, stomach bug, colds, etc.), a wife who has gone back to work full time, and a baby who has acid reflux and nurses round the clock despite me having a HORRIBLE milk supply (that’s for a WHOLE other post!) and who refuses to let us put him down for more than 30 minute intervals.  Add all of that to a water damaged phone (thanks Noah for mouthing it and filling the damn thing with your drool!), and Ipad that won’t let you press certain buttons, updating my blog and my friends has been damn near impossible.  I barely go on social media anymore.  I think some of you may know about that ever illusive “draft” post.  I have had one in my drafts for months, and just couldn’t get around to finishing it.

Nonetheless, I’m back (also back at work after a 4 month leave!), and each day for the next few days I will fill you guys in on something that has been either life changing, mundane and every day, baby or kid related, mommy or mama related, or just plain old “I felt like writing this shit so I will” post.

  • Austin
  • Mary
  • Noah
  • Levi
  • Callie and her new job
  • Being back at work
  • Breastfeeding and Milk Supply (for fucks sake!)
  • Friends
  • Feelings
  • My relationship with my biological father
  • Foster Care and Mary’s TPR/Adoption
  • Sickness (loads and loads of sickness)
  • Relationship/marriage loaded crap
  • Outgrowing our space
  • Politics!!! (didn’t think we would escape that one did you?)

And a ton of other stuff!  For now, lets handle bullet point one….

LITTLE AUSTIN RYAN aka Papo (Pop-oh) aka Papadapolous aka Gordo McGordoson aka Mr. Littlest aka Baby Brother

Austin Ryan (and we almost always call him Austin Ryan) came home on January 31st, 2016 (Mary’s 8th Birthday) to a house filled with so much love.  He met his 2 brothers and sister, Wita and Wito, 2 Aunts, 2 of his 5 uncles, and his cousins Yza (EEsa) and Jezenia.  He left the hospital at 6 weeks old weighing 6lbs 4oz and measuring 19 1/2″.  He was eating 2oz every 4 hours, and my body was just not producing what he needed (still isn’t but we’re getting there!).  When Papo came home I was making about 50% of what he needed and now we are at about 80%, so we’re getting there, or maybe we aren’t, but we are doing great and our nursing relationship, despite the low milk supply, is what I’ve always envisioned it to be.

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ALL READY TO LEAVE THE HOSPITAL…”GOING HOME DAY” 1/31/2016

The first 2 weeks that Austin Ryan was home were pretty awesome.  He slept in 4 hour intervals and none of the kids were sick, so everyone was happy, and rejoicing in finally not having to spend our weekends locked in a small 10×10 room, while Mommy and Mama took turns going in to see the baby.  He slept all day, hardly cried, and was creating a pattern similar to his brothers.  But then, at 2 months old, all hell broke loose and most of the time he looked like this…img_0083-1

He always seemed so uncomfortable, and was spitting up so often that at times it would even come out of his nose.  We started noticing that the milk he was spiting up was curdled, and that if you lay him down flat on his back, he would wail and wail and wail.  So after about 2 weeks of the non-stop crying, needing to be help, back arching and plain old discomfort, we took poor Little Brother to the pediatrician, and my suspicions were right.  Out little guy has acid reflux.  They gave him a prescription for Zantac and THANK THE HEAVENS!  We get 5 hour stretches at night from our 15week old, and sometimes, if we are lucky, we get 6!  He’s still eating about every 3 hours (close to 3 ounces) and still vomits a little, but it’s loads better than it was a month ago.

With 2 moms back at work, Papadopolous had to go to daycare.  We were having issues at the center that Levi and Noah were going to (too many teacher transitions, my kids were always filthy when I picked them up, their daily sheets were not completed correctly [I have a serious issue with this!  You are caring for my children all day!  I have no idea what they did, ate, if they pooped, anything, unless you communicate that to me.  Those day sheets are how we communicate.  You don’t do them, then how the hell am I supposed to know what is going on!?!? I digress], and there were 4 biting incidents in 10 days.  Both boys got bitten in the face.  Having worked as a preschool and infant/toddler teacher for 10 years, when 1 year olds bite, there is a lack of supervision, overstimulation or understimulation.  So we pulled them out!  And the new center is AMAZING!  Our kids are so happy there that they run out of our arms and into the arms of their teachers the second that they walk into the school.  And Austin, well, he’s the Mayor of the school.  He is the tiniest, youngest, and obviously cutest kid there (well one of the 3 cutest kids in the school, clearly!)  They absolutely adore him, and we know that they are well taken care of and very loved.  Doesn’t hurt that they have 2 super cool moms!

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“BYE MAMA! LATER!” – AUSTIN RYAN’S LOOKING WHALEY CUTE ON HIS 1ST DAY OF DAYCARE 3/31/16

Since Austin was born 2.5 months premature, we have been in touch with our states Early Intervention (EI) program.  They come to your home and evaluate your children to make sure that they are hitting all of their developmental milestones for his adjusted age (the age that he should be had he been born on his due date).  So far, for the adjusted age of 6 weeks, he is doing just what he should be doing!  Eating, sleeping, pooping.  He is also smiling socially (about a week now) and does this lip smacking thing that I absolutely LOVE when he wants to nurse.  The nurse/therapist that came to see him says that at this age, all babies basically do the same thing, and that there really is no way to know if and when he may need services until he is not meeting the milestones for his adjusted age.  In other words, if at 5 months he still isn’t holding his head up, or at 6 months isn’t bringing things to his mouth and clutching objects or reaching or rolling over belly to back, then we need to call her and get him evaluated.  The sooner the better!  I’ll never be that parent that pretends that my child doesn’t have some issue or another to “save face”. Those parents make me really sad for their kids.  But so far, developmentally, this little guy is on target, and that makes me happy.

At his last check up on 3/18 he weighed in at a whopping 9lbs!  He has basically tripled his body weight in 3 months!  I almost cried right then and there at the dr’s office.  He is gaining weight, and most of that weight gain is because of me, and i didn’t think I would feel any type of way about that, but I feel so great and amazing for what I am able to do for our baby despite not being able to give 100% or more.

Before I became a parent, I wondered if what parents said was true. “You don’t have any favorites. You love all of your kids, just differently!”  I just never believed that.  As a person who ALWAYS has a favorite something, I didn’t think it was possible to not have a favorite child, especially when you have more than one.  But ya know, it’s so true.  My relationship with Austin is no different than my relationship with Levi and Noah and Mary.  My love for all of them borders on insanity, and it’s unbelievable the way it feels to be a mom to so many babies.  So many voices.  So many faces.  So many different personalities and characters.  And I love them all the same amount, but differently.  Austin, he’s Mama’s baby, my boy with the beautiful lips, and the red hair, and the big bright hazel eyes.  The baby that puts his hand on my chest so gently and looks me in the eyes and sees me…like really sees me somehow.  My relationship with him is very special, very different.  He’s a special boy who brought us all back together when our worlds were drifting apart and spinning crazily… Mama’s special boy….

AUSTIN RYAN SPAM! You have been warned…

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3 MONTHS OLD ON ST. PATTY’S DAY

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THIS BOY LOVES TO NURSE

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ALMOST CAPTURED HIS FIRST SMILE

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PAPO AND “PAL”

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JUST LOOKING DAPPER

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HAPPY EASTER!

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MILK WASTED!

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THOSE CHEEKS!

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VALENTINES DAY? FUGGETABOUTIT!

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HE’S REALLY BEARY CUTE!

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