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

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The Past Two Week…in Bullets!

I haven’t posted anything on my blog in the past two weeks because things have been rather hectic!  The fastest way to catch you (any myself) up to this whirlwind that has been my life, I figured I would do it the easiest way I know how…in bullet points!  Here goes nothing!

My Boys Turn 10 Month!

  • Levi is babbling so much and really using his words.  He calls all food Bananas (anana!) and screams MAMA and MOMMMMMMY at the top of his lungs most of the day.  He is standing unassisted and lets go of furniture for a few seconds and sits down again.  He still loves music, and is starting to dislike baby food, but will go to town on spaghetti (and slurps it up too, making the noises and everything!)  He has 2 bottom teeth, loves to sing, and at their 9 month visit (at 10 months!) he was weighing 20.2lbs, measuring 29″ and his head circumference was 49cm.  This little baby that wasn’t even on the curve at 1 month old is officially in the 50th or so percentile, although that head!  That head is in the 97th!Levi againlevimusciCaptain L
  • Noah is our active baby.  He is always on the go, and last night, he took 5 WHOLE STEPS!!! It was so awesome but I think he got a little overwhelmed with our excitement and refused to do it again. He would take 2 steps and sit!  He doesn’t have any actual words yet, but spends most of the day babbling and “talking” to his brother.  He is a bottomless pit that eats just about everything and anything (including the rug!) and won’t hesitate to let you know that he wants more.  He loves all his “wheels” and can sit on the carpet and roll his cars around for a good 40 minutes.  He is fast as lightning, loves chasing the car around, and has become the biggest cuddle bug ever.  It doesn’t matter what time he goes to bed (they can be up pretty late on the weekends when we are with family) he always wakes up at 7am, no question!  He like to beat up his brother, but also is the first to care for him when he is upset.  At his appointment yesterday he weighed in at 19.12lbs, height at 19.5″ and head circumference at 45cm.  This little guys is also just about in the 50th percentile give or take.  carNoahnenecaptain n

Mary’s TPR Hearing

  • 11/10 we had a hearing
  • The judge refused to hear Mary’s mom’s excuses
  • Mary’s lawyer stood up and said that he had spoken to Mary and that his “client loves her mother but is content with bi-weekly visits and would like to remain with the foster family.  She is thriving in school, her soccer team coached by her foster mother is undefeated, she begins basketball this Saturday, and is thriving academically.”
  • Mom wasn’t too pleased to hear that Mary wants to stay with us, and approached Mary’s lawyer claiming that Mary had said that she wanted to go back with mom, which we all know isn’t true.  Her lawyers response? ” I spoke with the child, and although I can’t and won’t tell you what she said, I can assure you, it wasn’t that!” SCORE!
  • The judge did not suspend judgement for another 6 months.  We were worried that she would, considering that mom has a new baby that she has access to 7 days a week from 9am-8pm (baby is with the paternal grandmother and so long as the grandmother or biological father are there to supervise the visit, Mary’s mom can see the baby and be the primary caregiver between those hours…yeah, ridiculous I know!).
  • When mom walked into the waiting area, I greeted her and she rolled her eyes at me!!! Why in the world would you act that way with someone who HAS YOUR DAMN KID!?!?! Let’s see how many emails she’ll get with pictures of Mary enjoying her pretty kick ass life.  I’ll give you a hint.  It starts with Z and ends with ERO!
  • Termination Hearings officially start May 9th, 2016.  The first person on the stand?  Our caseworker…so yeah…
  • Our only concern is that (Currently) mom is complying with all of the recommendations (drug treatment, individual therapy, and parenting classes) so when we have our hearing in 6 months, this could potentially lead to a suspended hearing.  We are pretty worried about that, but we are praying thinking that mom’s patterns will prove true and she will likely screw up in the next few months.

25 Weeks

  • Baby is a wiggly little thing. Callie can actually feel him on the outside now
  • I pee….a lot!
  • Noah loves to rub my belly and lay on my tummy.  Something tells me these two will be the best of buds
  • I haven’t had much of an appetite and despite how terrible it is for you in real life, let alone pregnancy, the craving for Coca-Cola is TOO DAMN REAL!
  • Baby weighs about a pound and a half and is measuring approximately 14 or so inches, so this guy is the size of an eggplant!
  • I have definitely decided on a name, and although we both agree that it is our FAVORITE NAME, Callie refuses to name our son this because she has a second cousin who we have seen all of TWICE (a wedding and  a funeral ) in the past 5 years, named her son our number one name.  The kid is 4 and we never see him!  I am still arguing this point fervidly, and I refuse to let it go!  Nothing else sounds as great or feels as right…25 weeks

Callie Interviews for a Job

  • And NAILS it!
  • The position is an Instructional Coordinator for 4 daycare centers in Brooklyn and the Bronx.  She will be traveling between the 4 schools and making sure that the educational curriculum is being implemented properly in all of the classrooms
  • It’s basically her ideal position, except now the boys and the new little one will have to be in daycare and no one is happy
  • My pockets on the other hand, are very very happy!
  • We toured some schools yesterday and actually really like the program and the staff, so it’s going to help make the transition a little easier when we have to drop out babies off with complete strangers for the first few weeks
  • The pay is just FANTASTIC, and we will be a 6 figure family again, which means we can take “real” vacations, pay off all of our debt in the next few months, and very likely be able to buy a home before the end of 2016 rolls around.  I’m shooting for September-ish.  Callie is thinking I’m crazy.  We’ll see who wins THIS battle (because obviously the baby name battle will be mmiiinnnneee! Mwahahaha!)
  • Callie is pretty bent out of shape about returning to work, but I keep doing my best to gently remind her that she is so lucky that she was able to practically spend the whole first year of the boys lives with them.  And I keep reiterating, “money for us all to go to Aruba/Bahamas/Puerto Rico/Jamaica…for a week…and stay in a house on the beach…and create lots of new memories that we wouldn’t have otherwise”…it’s kinda sorta almost working….kinda
  • Did I mention that my pockets are very happy about this?

Planning the ULTIMATE Pirate Party Bash

  • Venue Booked for 1/16/16 from 2-6pm.  We get one hour set up and one hour take down
  • Decorations are being ordered weekly in order to have everything that we need
  • Can we say “DIY at its finest”?  Why yes, yes we can! Thank you Pinterest, for being pretty much, AMAZING!
  • Magician?  YUP!  We got that!
  • 125 people (36 kids)?  YUP!  We got that too!
  • My boys in matching pirate costumes is gonna be TO DIE FOR, especially when Callie, Mary, and I wheel them out in their Radio Flyer wagon turned Pirate Ship!  EXACTLY!!!
  • We are so lucky and blessed that our village is INCREDIBLE!  Everyone is helping to contribute to make the boys birthday party just the best thing ever, and we couldn’t be more grateful.  It’s hard keeping tabs of who volunteered to pay for what, or who is making what dish, or who is picking things up and coming over to help make center pieces, and who is coming early to help decorate.  This is turning out to be just as involved as a wedding!
  • So glad we are taking the day of their actual birthday off.  January 11 will be a day spent with out two little ones, probably somewhere baby friendly like Gymboree and letting them eat all the cake they want!

and finally, 26 Weeks!

  • Had an appointment with my OB yesterday, and my blood pressure is the lowest it’s been since 2002!  It’s at 127/72.  And that’s GREAT considering it’s been at about 145/100 the past few visits.  I guess having no real appetite kinda helped that.
  • Doc just called me to let me know my 1 hour glucose test was borderline and he would feel better if I took the 3 hour considering that my sugar was a little high at the beginning of pregnancy. It was at 138 and they wanna see it no higher than 135, so back to the lab I go on Monday.
  • I have only gained just under 11 lbs during this pregnancy, which is great considering that they really don’t want me to gain much more than 15lbs.
  • I have another growth scan on 12/4, and I cannot WAIT to see this little guy!
  • Pregnancy has been really good to me, except for the oily skin, but my hair looks awesome, and I seem to be losing body weight but gaining baby weight if that makes sense.
  • Biscuit is weighing close to 2 lbs and is measuring about the same length as last week, anywhere between 14-16 inches head to toe.
  • Little Biscuits testes are descending this week and that is hella important IF he is in fact, well, a HE!  Can you tell I’m still not convinced?
  • I soak my shirt daily when I wash my hands and occasionally turn the corner too closely or turn the knobs on the stove.  Still not used to a protruding belly.
  • Still not waving a white flag on this baby’s name…soon friends, I will announce the name we both love that Callie is currently refusing considering to name this little person.

So those are the goings on around these here parts!

We’ve Got Ourselves A 7 Year Old!

Today, our little Mary turned 7!!! Our little CooCoo is a whole year older. When you’re a foster parent (or really, just a parent) these milestones get you
thinking about “day one”.

It was early afternoon on a Wednesday morning in late March. I got a phone call from our resource worker to let us know that they had an emergency placement and she needed a home right away. Usually when they call, they give you a brief description of the child, a snippet of their history both medical and family, and an estimated date for their placement. Callie and I never really care too much about any of that stuff. When we get called to foster, we always say yes without listening to any of those things. They’re irrelevant, but Mary was a little different. She was 6 (we are signed up for 0-5), which meant school-aged, and that was a lot more complicated for us (scheduling and child care wise) than we were really ready/willing to deal with, but we took a leap of faith, crossed our fingers, opened our hearts, and hoped for the best. And we’re so glad that we did!

I will admit, on some days, it has been a struggle. There are days when we’re exhausted, but there’s homework to be done. There are days when Mary is rebellious and sassy and tries our patience like no other, but on those same days, she throws her head on my shoulder and holds my hand while I read her a bedtime story. Sometimes I feel like she’ll eat us out of our apartment, but she always saves the last piece/sip for us.

There have been huge accomplishments. When Mary first came here, she barely knew any of her letters. 10 1/2 months later, she reads the boys bedtime stories and is obsessed with “The Magic Treehouse” series. She knew 0/33 sight words and now she gets a perfect score and 100’s on her spelling tests every week. She refused to do chores when she first came to us, and now the first thing she does every morning is make her bed, and she’s proud of herself. And last night, for the first time since she’s been with us, Mary called me Máma and Callie mommy!!! “Mama, thank you for my special day. Mommy, I really love you.” Last night, Callie and I couldn’t stop smiling. Last night, we felt love from Mary in a way that we hadn’t experienced before. It was incredible!

We wanted to make sure that we gave Mary as special a birthday as we could. Last night we blew up about 2 dozen balloons and threw them on the floor of her bedroom. She loves my chalkboard announcements so I wrote a special birthday message for her and set it on her art desk so it was the first thing she saw when she got up. At 7:25am, a tiny knock on the door. I told her to come in, ” MOMMY! MAMÁ!!! OH MY GOSH!!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!” Thats just the reaction we were hoping to get.

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Then it was time to get ready and head to her Ice Skating Party! For a kid that’s never been skating before, I was blown away by how quickly she picked it up. She never slowed down, she fell maybe 3 times, and that fantastic gap toothed smile was permanently plastered to her face for the 4 hours we were there (and a few more when we got home). She got a ton of really cool gifts ( a Lite Brite!!!!) from friends and family, and we gave her an Easy Bake Ultimate Oven where she made pretzels for everyone (which were actually pretty good!), and I made one of her favorite meals for dinner. While she was helping me cook dinner, we sang every song from Frozen at the top of our lungs and danced together as we waited for our pork chops to cook.

I’m glad we were able to give Mary a great birthday that she won’t forget any time soon. It makes me sad to realize that next year we won’t be sharing her birthday with her (that’s for another post). But for today and while she’s with us, we’ll love her, grow with her, encourage her, teach her, and pray that she continues on the positive path that we have begun to help her pave.

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Week 10

There is nothing more awesome to me than watching my beautiful Callie get excited about our weekly “chalkboard update”. Every Thursday for the past month I have been documenting the stages of fetal development via a $5.99 chalkboard I bought at the Home Depot. I then add everyone to a MASSIVE mass text (about 20 of our closest friends and both of our families which include my 5 brothers and sister, mom, dad, Callie’s parents, brother, and her 2 aunts) and watch the craziness ensue. Our phones go off about 100 times in 10 minutes with a ton of “awww’s”, “how cute!”, “she’s glowing!” and “love the weekly lessons”. It’s nice to have everyone in on our joy, being that they have all been on this long, trying, and exhausting journey with us and are just as invested in these kiddos as we are. They’ve helped us through the really dark times when we thought there would never be any light to alleviate the sadness. They’ve been amazing and we’re extremely lucky. Everyone calls them “our babies”. One of my best friends Nikki texts us all the time, “How are our babies doing?” It’s actually really cute, comforting, and nice to know that we have such an amazing support system and so many people on our side.

This week was no different. Callie got home from work, kicked off her shoes, pet the kitty, gave hugs and kisses to Mary and asked about her day at summer camp, and was ready for her weekly snapshot. Let me not forget to mention that she peed about 3 times while all of this was happening. We set up the board and took our picture. The whole time, as usual, I’m thinking to myself, “Look at her smiling! She’s so happy! She is so damn beautiful! How did I get so lucky?” My best girl, in all her pregnant, baby carrying splendor. All mine! I hope our twinfants look like her. Freckles, beautiful green eyes, red hair (this week they are actually developing peach-fuzz on their bodies). I hope they are musically inclined like I am (thanks to our months of pouring over Latino donor profiles and waiting for the perfect one with a musical background, and not having webbed fingers anymore this week helps that too!). 2 healthy babies is all we can ask for. Until they’re here, I’ll keep marveling at what Callie is doing to her body for us. I’ll continue to assure her that as her belly grows and grows so does my heart and love for her, and that I have never been happier in my life. 10 weeks of babies, but a lifetime of love already…

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