Saturday, May 30, 2015

Eighteen Months of Hope!...

You are 18 months old today!!
I've been looking forward to writing this post to celebrate your 18 month "birthday" because you've changed in subtle, but HUGE ways since last month.

The only problem is, I'm not sure how to describe the changes. I can say you've calmed down some, but that implies that you were wild - which you weren't.
I can say that you're engaging more and interacting more and reciprocating with your play more - but that implies that you didn't do that last month, which you did!
I can say that you're communicating more - even with nonsense talk - and you're definitely getting your needs known to anyone and everyone who will listen... but that implies you weren't doing that before.
I just don't know how to explain it.
You're just....different.
More mature.
You give me longer hugs and sit longer on my lap for a book or a "chat" or a song. You even hold my hand sometimes! (Which is one of the quickest ways to my heart) And you have more patience to sit for a short game or a picnic with me!
You follow when you climb on the back of the couch and are about to go from the top of the couch over the half wall onto the kitchen table and rappel down to the ground but I say, "Hopi...get back down, please" and you slowly (with a smirk, of course) back your way down the couch to the ground. That's a fun game, isn't it? We play that, what, about 23 times a day?
Yep, you still love to climb. That much hasn't changed. But what has changed is how much more confident you are with your climbing. We watch you, obviously, but it's much less scary because you are so sure of your self and very coordinated, I must say. You love to be independent.
You love to take things apart to put them back together...or make a mess so you can clean it up. 
And you're very, very curious about everything!
Nothing - and nobody - gets past you. Not even you!
You still love to read...
...and you still love to take Mommy's phone
swipe your fingers on the screen like you know what you're doing
 and then hold it to your face and say 'Oooo?'
And the greatest love of all - your favorite person on Earth, I think, is Brian. You still adore... idolize... follow... imitate... and just love your big brother.
Hope, I know how very lucky I am that I get to spend my days with you. It has been so much fun getting to know who you are over the last 18 months. You're slowly becoming you - your own person - and I can tell that you have a confidence and a sureness about you that will take you far.
We never expected a life with you!
But boy, we can't even TRY to imagine life without you.
You are so, so special. And you are so, so loved.

Happy 18 Months!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mommy, My Eyes Are A Little Wet...

This past weekend we had friends over for a cookout, we spent time at a neighbor's who hosted a Memorial Day Barbecue, we did some furniture shopping and we spent time outside. 
I remember many times looking over at Brian and thinking... Wow. He is looking and acting and behaving like such a big kid these days.
Brian has always been mild mannered and well behaved - he was just born with that personality! We are really very fortunate to have such a sweet little guy. He was a great little brother to Gavin and he's a tremendous big brother to Hope. Hope absolutely adores him.
Last night at dinner we were playing the "Question Game." It started out easy with "What's your favorite ice cream flavor?" "What do you like better: brownies or brussel sprouts?" And then I asked this: "Brian, what do you think you'll miss the most about Kindergarten?"

It seems like just yesterday that I snapped these "First day of Kindergarten" photos.
He has changed so much since then - not just physically, but emotionally and developmentally. He's learned so much and showed us that he's quite a math whiz! He's made friends and we've always received positive praise from his teacher. In just eight days, he will graduate and we will spend the summer preparing for First Grade.
It was still quiet at the dinner table so as I took another bite of my cheeseburger and assumed Brian was thinking of a good answer. I gave him a little prompt with, "Is there more than one thing you'll miss?" to which he replied...

"Mommy? My eyes are a little wet. Can we stop talking about this?"

I looked up - our eyes locked - and he quickly burst into tears. My big kid reverted right back to being my baby boy as he climbed into my lap and buried his face in my neck. 

Later on we talked about it. We talked about how many times the anticipation is worse than the the fear of the unknown can rob us of joy...and how listening to rumors and gossip (about how HARD first grade is and how they NEVER get to play and how much WORK they have to do) is a waste of time unless you KNOW it's true for a fact. I got a lot of nodding and nodding and nodding and sniffing... baby steps. And this morning I emailed the first grade teacher and asked if she ever pops into the Kindergarten class to give the kids a pep talk to calm their fears about First Grade before summer begins. And in doing so, I gave her a glimpse of what it will be like to get emails from Brian's Mom throughout the year! Ha ha!

Leaving what you know and stepping into something new is always a little nerve wracking. Even as an adult! I can only imagine how his little heart feels to leave behind his rest mat and toy corner and Kindergarten teachers forever. I know how it makes ME feel to see him grow up.
Hmmm. Suddenly my eyes are a little wet...

Friday, May 22, 2015

What a Whirlwind...

Well, it has been a long and busy week. The last few weeks have been, actually! Our home is officially "on the market." We worked very hard to get it "ready to show" and I have come to one important conclusion: we should all live in a constant state of being "ready to show." Our house has never been this organized, simplified and clean!! We filled up a storage unit with large items (like the big playground we had in the living room) and extra clutter and I came to another important conclusion: it's nice to have less stuff. 

The storage unit was KEY to making this process easier. We called "PODS" which is the more well known name, but I was shocked by their high prices and received rude customer service and a quote that differed greatly from the initial one for no reason. So I called a company called "Zippy Shell" and it has been a wonderful experience so far. They are MUCH cheaper, have WONDERFUL customer service, are EASY to work with and they're FRIENDLY people. This is a completely unsolicited review - I highly recommend Zippy Shell!! 

It was fun for Brian to play around in the empty locker before we filled it.

Actually, the kids were the first things we stored!  Just kidding.

The first thing we stored was the dresser that we use to hold all the cards, extra programs, mementos, fundraising letters...all the things that have come in since Gavin's death. Don't worry - we still have all that stuff in boxes under a bed and we'll move it all in our car. The dresser was stored empty.

Before we knew it - thanks to our friend, Paul, who came over to help Ed with the heavy stuff - it was packed solid!! Once we move, we'll give Zippy Shell a call and they'll deliver the truck with our storage locker to our new driveway so we can unload it into our new home. We have Paul on speed dial for that. (ha ha!)

Oh, I'm sorry - did you miss the memo? We're moving! Want to buy a house? We have been in our current home for the last 13 years and we love it here. We love our home and we adore our neighborhood. But it's time for a fresh start and new surroundings - and that's the main reason we're moving. 

If you or someone you know is looking to move to Chester County, PA and need a 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath...
with a big yard...
 on a beautiful tree lined street...
call the number on the sign below...
or contact me and I'll get you the information you need or put you in touch with our realtor!! I won't be posting the link with our address here. 

I would love it if one of my readers bought our house!

So many other things have been going on... where to begin!

Today is our eleventh wedding anniversary! 
I'm so happy to be married to Ed Leong. 
Most couples (if you believe statistics that float out there) would have broken up over just ONE of the challenges we've faced. We've made it through my alcoholism and recovery (He might tell you that the recovery was worse than my actual drinking. It takes a while to get back to normal-ish!),
 We've made it through multiple miscarriages, infertility and fertility treatments, having a special needs child, losing a daughter, losing a son and my medical issues.
At this point, we feel invincible! Eleven feels like a special number to me. I'm so excited to go into this next year of marriage in a new home with a fresh start with this wonderful man. I chose well. I  mean, he didn't marry a slouch or anything - but I think I chose really, really well.

A big growth spurt snuck up on us recently! Ed recently measured Brian in the doorway and he grew an inch in three months!! We had to buy new pants because it's not really time for "capri pants" yet. We want him to be on point, fashion wise and keep with the season's trends and all. It's not capri time, yet. Or something like that. Basically - we bought him longer pants is what I'm trying to say. I should have known his body was hard at work because he was always "starving, Mom. I'm starrrrvvviiinnnggggg." And he would lose half of his snacks to his sister, the other starving child in the house.

Yesterday I was able to go in to Brian's classroom as a "special visitor" and it was quite an experience. I had planned to go in earlier in the year, but I had to cancel because we were constantly sick this winter. All year I have unloaded elaborate crafts from Brian's backpack or heard about the "awesome" experiences that he had with the other parents that went in for their special visits. I am far from a "Pinterest Mom," so I was a little nervous. I settled on bringing in a movie (Veggie Tales: "Celery Night Fever") for the kids to watch in the classroom and treated them to popcorn and bottles of water. There was a misunderstanding between Brian's teacher and me - no fault of hers. I was so foggy this week. She told me to come in at 2 for the movie day (which I sent in ahead of time). Since dismissal is 2:45 - and the movie was 45 minutes long - I figured there was no time to do anything "extra" like a craft or a book. So I showed up a little bit early (thank God) to discover that she had already started the movie and it was almost over. Cue the panic. I had NOTHING planned and 45 minutes to fill. I thought about doing some stand up, but I always screw up the punch lines or combine two different jokes and, come to think of it - most of my jokes aren't for the Kindergarten crowd. So there I was - standing in the office staring at the secretary with wide eyes - what in the world was I going to do?!?!? Brian was going to be so disappointed that his Mom showed up with nothing fun! I was about to cry. The secretary quickly said, "Nope - no crying! We'll fix this!" She quickly looked up coloring pages to match the movie and printed out two for each child. Just like that. When I went up to Brian's classroom, the kids were fully engrossed in the movie and didn't even see me sneak in. When it was over I improvised with questions about the movie, handed out the coloring pages and then walked around talking to the kids about their coloring, summer plans and starting First Grade. As I left the building I stopped to thank the secretary who really saved me - BIG TIME!! On the way home, I took Brian to Dunkin Donuts for a surprise treat. When we got home, Brian and I collapsed on the couch with a book and he said, "Mom? Your special visit was my favorite one of the whole year." This kid knows just what to say.

It was very emotional for me to see him in his classroom. Anytime I see my children in their own element, I get emotional. I felt that way when I would see Gavin in his classroom, too. Watching Brian sit at his little table with his friends (including the girl named Marie he sits next to and wants to marry some day because "she's so nice, Mom, and she's really fun and she is a great colorer") just melts my heart. And I love hearing that he's a nice boy and well behaved when he's out in the world and not being watched by his parents. Brian is such a special kid. I feel so lucky!!

Last weekend we went away overnight to a hotel. We thought we would get in some fun and relaxation before the madness of "house showings" began.

 The kids LOVE going to hotels. This hotel has an amazing buffet with lots of fun things to try and a huge selection of desserts... we get to stay up late and rent a movie... I got to fit in a massage and a haircut... and we spent time in the indoor pool, which was a lot of fun.
Hope always has a blast exploring and people watching. 
By the end of the day she is happy to go to sleep!

This week has also been pretty dreadful for me. I am going through a bad flare of my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia - all at once. Every single joint - even joints I didn't know existed - are painful and swollen. My brain is foggy, my skin feels sunburned and painful to the touch and my back is killing me. Other than that, I'm doing great! I haven't gone on any arthritis medications yet and I've been doing well avoiding them since my diagnosis in 2009. This is the longest and worst flare I've had since the first when it began - it's lasted all week and has made it very difficult to function. You never realize how hard it is to pull out the tape on a disposable diaper until you have R.A. - trust me. I'm headed to our acupuncturist this afternoon in the hopes she can offer some relief, even temporary. In the past, I've been able to go into remission seeing our Dr. Trish regularly. But with Hope, that's pretty impossible. Now that summer is approaching I think I'll rely more on babysitters and mother's helpers since school is out for them. I really don't like feeling this way - it's a very out of control feeling. There's nothing I can do but continue to stay positive and function and do my best to be present in every way for the kids. Brian is very sensitive and aware of my difficulties during times like this and becomes extra helpful and sweet. If he asks me to do something and I really can't - like play on the floor, for example - we come up with an alternative activity. He's very understanding. And all this week he has asked me how I'm feeling each morning at breakfast. When I answer with "Oh, buddy - I'm still feeling pretty achy." he instructs me to sit down and he starts rubbing my back!!  "You can tell me when you want me to stop," he says. Brian's backrubs can't cure my RA or autoimmune issues, but they sure do boost my mood!!

I'll be back to myself soon. And even if my body doesn't get better - my mind and spirit will adjust so it doesn't consume my life! Ain't nobody got time for that.

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