Archive of ‘smiles’ category

2016, “yes please”

Well hello there.

Yes, I’m still alive. Barely kicking but alive. And well.

One day old baby girl and her mama

One day old baby girl and her mama

Seriously though, we did it. We had a second baby. A daughter. Boy do I love saying that.

No complications at birth, no digestive issues as of yet, no cardiologist visits, no red flags. Relief at every corner. We know that isn’t a permanent feeling but I’ll take it.

Melody has showed us from day one that she is HERE and she needs to be heard.

Evan and "Pipes"

Evan and “Pipes”

First time brother meets sister

First time brother meets sister

I keep saying, “She is going to give us a run for our money,” and Todd said so truthfully back to me, “I’m counting on it.”

Which is so incredibly true.  I would be lying if I said my truest, most real hopes and dreams for Melody include her being able to watch out for her big brother.  Being able to stick up for him, model skills and language that he can’t learn from us, and most of all, love him with a fierceness only she could.

I often feel guilt thinking those things because the last thing I want to do is put pressure on a little girl who isn’t even four months yet.  I want her to grow into her own person and figure out what and who it is that SHE wants to love, support, and be a part of.

But then I see her gazing at Evan.  Watching his every move. Smiling at his laugh.  Studying his actions.  And slowly Evan is returning that gaze.  Most of the time we have to prompt him to talk about her or acknowledge her presence.  Except for when she is hiccupping.

He LOVES that. He will imitate her and say “Silly!”

But the other day I was in the kitchen getting his dinner ready.  Melody was in the exersaucer and Evan was playing with the music on the front. (go figure).  They were in the living room, out of my direct sight.

All of a sudden I hear, “Hi Melody!”

My heart soared.  Just typing it brings tears to my eyes.  He wanted to connect with her, just because. And he did it with words. Such a small two words for most people but for us…

HUGE.

He has adopted the phrase “yes, please,” after everything he asks for these days.  I didn’t teach it to him in that exact way, but it has stuck.

Thus, I say, “2016……yes, please.”

We’re ready.

Siblings, a dream that became a reality

Siblings, a dream that became a reality

 

Release

So it has been a coon’s age since I wrote last. (husband likes that saying) Okay maybe not that long, but since mid December.  I thought I would be brimming with things to write about over the holiday break. The magic of Christmas morning, the quiet hope of Christmas Eve night. Evan’s day time hippotherapy session, family parties, etc.

All of those things did happen, but….I felt a little harried and tired when I did have the time to blog. So instead I chose to sit in the playroom with Evan or catch up on DVR with Todd. Or spend an hour in the kitchen cooking or baking. (more on that later-you can pick your chin off the ground now) And I am glad that is how I tried to spend the little bit of free time I did have while off from work.  But my fingers have been aching to write, and I’ve been spending a lot of time catching up on other blogs, thinking, “I really need to get back into the groove!”

Hence, here I sit while Todd is playing with Evan in the other room on his new Ipad.  Todd has been fighting a nasty chest cold for about three weeks now. Maybe longer. I asked him if he could monitor Evan on the Ipad for a little while so I could have some blogging time. Of course he complied, but I can’t kick the feeling like I shouldn’t have asked. Like I should have just gotten Evan up from his non-nap and put my alone time off for a little while longer. I often feel that way. That I should leave a gathering early to get home, because Todd is caring for Evan.  Or if I go to a workout class, I feel like I am being a little neglectful as a mother and wife because I am doing something completely for myself.

Ok.

So I know most of you are probably thinking, get off it, Erin. You know you deserve your own time- we all do. Happy Mama means a happy child, etc. etc. And I do know that. I know it like I know I shouldn’t speed while driving. I know that brussel sprouts are good for me.

I know these things but I don’t necessarily live them or believe them deep down. I love this new Jazzercise class I am taking. LOVE it. The teacher is a friend of mine that I met through an early intervention program where our sons both attended. She is spunky, energetic, and a very good instructor. I leave that class sweaty and feeling lighter in my orthopedic sneakers. I’m kind of not exaggerating with that one. The first class I took she said something like, “this is your hour, right ladies??” and I thought, you know what, yes, this is my hour. If I want to jazzercise with it, I can.  If I want to reorganize Evan’s closet, I will. If I want to read endless recipe blogs, I will.

And this is why I decided that I need to Release.

My 2014 word is “Release.”

I’ve never done a theme word before. Too hokey maybe. Resolutions only last about ten days. But I thought, I want to try. I want to give myself a focus.  So I thought on it for a few days.  What would be a good word to keep in the back of my mind as I face new experiences this year, both good and bad.  I kept coming back to the idea of letting go.  Letting go of guilt. Letting go of worry. Letting go of doubt…. of insecurities, of pain, of comparison.

Release.

Like when you take a deep breath in with your nose and fill your stomach with air and then release it slowly, for at least five seconds.

That is what I want to think about this year. Releasing. So that there will be room in my heart and mind for better things.

Like this:

Happy mower

and this:

family shot

and all of these:

20130914_174033 charlene and me gran and erin singing T AND Z1836_10200589273470204_255729630_n

I know there will be plenty more of these moments in 2014, and I plan to hold them in my heart and mind and try my darndest to RELEASE the rest. Will you join me?

 

Not Rocket Science

toddler singing

budding rock star

It’s no secret that I over-think things. You don’t have to be my oldest and closest confidante to know that I over-analyze until I’m blue. Just read a few blog posts.

I try my darndest to err on the positive side of things, looking at the glass as half full.  But that glass can tip dangerously to the side sometimes, and the water falls out drop by drop. And with it, my positive attitude.

I set my alarm 20 min ahead, I lay out my outfit, empty the dishwasher the night before. I line up the many bags I take to to work and to drop off Evan at school. Evan is sleeping soundly, and I close my eyes for a peaceful night’s rest.

The glass is half full, looking plentiful and teeming with water.

Overnight I lie awake listening to the sounds of my dog absentmindedly licking her paws, my husband snoring, and Evan talking in his sleep. My alarm goes off and I realize I have only slept about 3 hours total. I realize Evan’s best cup is in the backseat of the van, and I forgot it was my brother in law’s birthday, and shoot, I didn’t get more Walmart brand generic Pediasure on the way home from work the day before. I run around trying to get ready but I get distracted about six different times because my energy level is so depleted from no sleep. The glass starts to tip to the side.

Drip. Drip.

I drop Evan off at school, and I realize it was “Wear Brown” day and he is in orange. I write a hastily scrawled note to Evan’s teacher to let her know that he has physical therapy that day at school. “Should have told them that earlier in the week so they could have prepared….” I think to myself. I run out the door to get in the car because I have a meeting at work that I am already 5 minutes late for and I haven’t even left Evan’s school.

Drip. Drip.

After fumbling through my 43 different keys on my key chain to find he one that opens the school door, I run to the meeting. My administrator is already speaking and there are no chairs. I kneel on the floor to avoid looking conspicuous which ends up making me stick out all the more.

IMG_9369

Head, Shoulders…knees and…

Drip. Drip.

I try to save face by blaming my lateness on traffic, and a wardrobe malfunction with my son. Which is partially true but ends up sounding very pathetic and false when I spit it out.

Three of my students come in from morning recess complaining of someone “butting in front of them” in line. One will not let this go, interrupting me repeatedly to say how unfair it is that he would lose his place in line because of someone else making a poor choice.  My cell phone rings entirely too loudly on my desk, it is one of Evan’s therapists asking about a schedule change or the insurance company seeking missing paperwork I needed for possible reimbursement. I think about answering, but decide not to because the pledge of allegiance begins on the loudspeaker. I feel guilty for not answering. I would have felt guilty FOR answering.

Drip. Drip.

But then there is this:

IMG_9374

Our light. Our heart. The boy who can sing the same refrain to a song for an hour straight, putting different spins on the tune and intonation.

The boy who could barely pull himself up when lying in your lap a year ago, and now can do 20 sit ups on the exercise ball.

The boy who will say “I love you” (a very cute approximation anyway) if you just lean over him in his crib for an extra 15 seconds without saying a word. Letting him take his time to respond.

It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to know why this guy was born.

To know why Evan is in our lives.

The glass never empties all the way.

Drops fall out but they find their way back in.

IMG_8905

 

October-Fest

Reading in the book nook he created.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables  
 
Future Riders like their Pop Pop
Riding with Mama

Cousins

Funny Faces!

The ultimate in sensory play
Framer, pun intended
Choo Choo!

Getting signed up for hippotherapy!

Evan loves his Pappy

And his Mimi

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He’s walking…yes indeed, We’re talking about little E……

Hopefully you sang along to the post title to the tune of this song. When I sing that with him, he gets so excited that he fills in the word me before I even get to it. So adorable and so Evan.

Sooooooooo…..the big news is, Mr. Man took more than just two wobbly steps this week. He walked across the living room during a physical therapy session. AND, the following day in music class he toddled all over the place, walking from person to person. 
 
He is not a “walker” yet, he still falls or sits down in between little bursts but this is huge for him.  We just got back from seeing Dr. Mervis, the research geneticist down in Kentucky, and she and another highly regarded geneticist Dr. Morris both felt that Evan would benefit from shoe inserts to help his balance and pronation.  So the minute we got home, he measured him and ordered them and they arrived yesterday. So you are probably thinking, wow, that is great, you put the inserts in and they helped him right away! Funny thing is, we hadn’t even tried them yet. I just took him today to get new sneakers bc his old ones were far too small to accommodate the orthotics. Excuse the fuzzy phone picture below, but there he is showing off his new kicks. Now Mommy and Evan can wear New Balance shoes. His are FAR cooler than mine. (and that is not a joke-my sneakers often resemble those of individuals far older than me because of my elderly ankles and feet) The best part is that they fit the orthotics great, and they were cheaper than the Stride Rite pair he was wearing. 
The most amazing part of all of this, is the feedback I received from his little video. I, of course, rushed to the phone after PT was over and called Todd to tell him the good news and I sent him the video. Then I sent it to all the grandparents and close family members. I posted it on the Williams Syndrome Support group and sent it to a bunch of friends. The responses I received were so heartwarming and touching. Lots of “Yays!” and “I’m so proud of him, and of you!” and my favorite, “Happy tears!” I started tearing up several times just reading the responses. It just reminded me of how precious this little guy is. He is so loved and cared for, and that is really all a parent wants for their child, right? That he would be loved and cared for by the people in his life. And Evan has that a million times over.   I’ll keep saying it, thank you so much. We are some lucky folks.

Look mom, new sneaks!

Finding Happiness in New Places

I find myself delighting in some things I would have not have found so delightful a few short years ago.  Now, they light up my day.

-The smell Evan gives off after a good play session outside, like a sweaty, sticky, messy little guy

-The disappearing of a whole sandwich- Evan ate about 95% of a PBJ today!

-An empty laundry basket

-An empty day on the schedule

-A full Brita pitcher

-My hair after actually drying and styling it

-The clarity when Evan  says “You” at the end of “I love you!”

-Turning on the box AC units again, even if just for the fan, because the sound is fantastic white noise for good sleeping.

This:

and this:

Flowers blooming on Pop-Pop’s tree

– Sleeping longer than 5 hours.

– The way one glass of wine or beer tastes when sitting with a friend at the bar after laughing so hard your cheeks hurt

– Making Todd laugh really hard

Alleluia

I have been singing as a part of the worship band at church and because I am not an expert musician, I practice a lot at home singing the harmonies. Evan has been picking up on a lot of what I have been singing without me even realizing it. Todd taught Evan to “kiss” during a song too, and I was trying to get him to do it on camera, but if you listen closely, I didn’t get the kiss- but I did hear him say “kiss from me to you” all as one word. That is what I am going to believe anyway…. 😉

Alleluia means to praise God, and in some translations it represents joy.

 Well. this video is my definition of joy- my son singing along with me.

Reflections in Green

Oh shashashasha…
That is why Todd says when he is imitating a leprechaun. Which is far more often than you would expect.
 St. Patrick’s Day 2013.  
The “Boyz” as my Dad used to call them, Blackthorn.
This day has me feeling a little different than in past years.  With a name like Erin, I have tended to celebrate this day in a pretty big way since I was a little girl. My Dad would bring home a box of Irish potatoes, (with one or two missing already of course), my mom and I would be adorned in shamrock earrings, bouncy headbands, and green from head to toe. My dad would put on his best Irish accent and shashasha his way around the house. As I grew older and my love for Irish music grew, I started to follow the band Blackthorn with my dad and my now stepmom, Debbie. My oldest and dearest friend Charlene and I would drive to see them all over southeastern PA, NJ Shore, and everywhere in between.  One year when St. Patty’s fell on a Tuesday or Wednesday, we met at a local hole in the wall bar/restaurant for dinner and had free corned beef and cabbage and some cheap green beer. We were clearly the youngest people in there but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.  My true heritage is a mixed bag, I am split between German and Irish pretty equally.  But again, with a name like Erin, and a father who was determined to get his Irish accent down pat, we spent a little more time celebrating that part of my background than the other.
Today went a little more like this, I struggled to find a good green shirt for Evan to wear to church, and ended up going with a too-small long sleeved white onesie under a green polo. Todd wore an orange shirt layered with a green shirt, he said he felt the orange always got the short end of the stick. I did wear a green sweater, but forgot about my shamrock socks and earrings. Instead of being out listening to some Irish music, we are home, Todd is working on this big computer project and I am trying to keep my eyes open and blog a little while Evan naps after fighting it for about 2 hours. I found myself wistful earlier, I looked at a picture of my father with that big radiant smile of his. I tried to imagine what it felt like to be hugged by him. I don’t know if this is something typical of people following a loss, but I do that sometimes. I try to imagine what it was like to hear his voice, or hug him. I am afraid to lose that sensation and forget what it was like. My Dad just represents such peace and home to me. To this day, I still think for a split second about calling him from my car when I am driving home from somewhere because that is what I used to do.
Grief is such an odd thing. When I was in the thick of it, I wanted so badly for it to pass. I wanted to be relieved of that heavy, suffocating feeling that I had 24 hours a day, especially when I woke up in the morning. That was always the worst, waking up and for a split second thinking that things were as they were before that tough day in June of 2010. And then it would hit me. Like an iron to the throat. I would remember. He was really gone. I would lament to Todd that I just wanted it to stop feeling so heavy. Family and friends who had been through it before would tell us that it would. It would stop feeling so awful, and it would get easier.

At my HS graduation party with my friends Denise and Charlene

Again, like I have said before, things did not get easier, but they did get different. Now that the immense shock and heaviness has lifted, it is more of a surreal acceptance and the sadness the comes from it. I find myself concerned that I am going to forget. I will forget the goofy smile he would always give when getting his picture taken where his eyebrows would raise and he would smile super wide and cock his head slightly to the side.
I’m concerned I will forget his voice. The booming, beautiful voice that would carry across the room and enter your heart. The voice that loved to sing “Sea of Love” every time he could get his hands on a microphone. The voice that sang with gusto in several community theater productions, no matter if he was in the back line of the chorus or in the front singing a solo.

Singing 16 Candles to me on my birthday

The first time Todd met my father and stepmother

I fret I will forget the night he first met the man I would marry. When we went to see Blackthorn at World Cafe Live and Todd bought us a round of beer in plastic cups and my Dad was so impressed by him. How nervous I felt at the start, and then how relieved and happy I was at the end of the night when my dad shook Todd’s hand with vigor, looked him right in the eye and said,
 
“Precious cargo,remember Todd, she’s precious cargo.”
 

He said this again as he gave me away to Todd on our wedding day.

Dancing to “Jersey Girl”

I should know I won’t forget.
 Some memories may fade a little more than others.  But as my eyes sting just thinking about the dance in that picture-I know there are some moments that will remain just as vivid as the day they first occurred. Thank goodness for that.
O’Thank Goodness. shashashashashasha

Proud Mama

Grilled “Cheese”

Signing “more”

Quick note to share that E is currently chowing down on a grilled “cheese” sandwich.  He has tried this once before over a friend’s house and had trouble with the stringy cheese. Since then we had the geneticist appointment with the dietician input about being even more careful with his calcium.  Enter the world of vegan cheese.  Not gonna lie, it’s not pretty, it smells a bit funny, and grills even funnier. BUT, the bug likes it, and is excitedly signing “more” for it over and over. It only has 2% calcium which is WAY better than regular cheese or the enriched vegan ones I kept finding.

Big Day in our house. Slow and steady wins the race. (Yup, keep reminding me of that, k? K.)

Big Ol’ Wheel of Perspective

A example of my need to keep perspective.
I met a friend today at the Please Touch Museum. We have a blossoming friendship that began because we each have a child diagnosed with WS. Her little girl is a beautiful, sweet soul, who smiles immediately when you greet her. Evan has much to learn just from watching her, as she is walking and talking quite well. I love meeting at places like this because there is so much for the kids to enjoy and we do not have to clean up after them. 🙂  However, with Evan being a 21 month old who does not walk yet- this can pose a few problems when little Stride Rites are stomping around at his face level.  I made the mistake of bringing the scarf that his physical therapist has been using with him to add him in keeping his own balance while walking. Tried using that for about two minutes before realizing I was frustrating the bejeebus out of Evan. He just wanted to crawl and cruise and do his own thing. “His own thing,” includes checking out each and every stroller wheel he can get his little hands on. 
This is hard for me. 
And I hate that it is.
I try to play it off, saying he loves cars and trucks. He loves to push tractors and trains around the house.
That’s the truth, he does. 
But he also LOVES wheels. Especially stroller wheels.
To the point of not wanting to check out all the other super cool things that all the other children playing with.
I swallow, and tell myself that it’s cool, he can like wheels, what is the big deal? My dear friend says something reassuring, probably sensing my discomfort. 
I pull him away from a few different strollers, and I keep placing him at exhibits I think he should be playing with. I feel sweaty from picking him up and moving him away time and time again. Then he starts crawling towards an open door. My friend and her daughter are playing together in the “House” section, with pretend bowls and teddy bears. I notice what Evan sees beyond the open door.
This exact carousel is INSIDE the museum.
I pick him up and try to lure him over to these awesome musical exhibits with a rainforest theme. I shake every bell, bang every drum, jump up and down with excitement to keep his interest.
No dice.
I pick him up and he thrashes around like I am taking him to the blood work lab at CHOP. So I ask my friend if it is expensive. She laughs and says it’s only a dollar. So I figure why not, maybe he really does want to take a ride.
As we get in line, he continues to thrash about so I put him on the ground and all of a sudden it hits me.
It is a BIG, HUGE WHEEL. With fun animals on it.
And that was all it took. Putting him down, and watching every part of his face and body light up like the Fourth of July. He hung onto the fencing around the carousel and jumped, laughed, and shrieked with delight. This was not the face of a child who was fixated in an worrisome way. 
This was the face of a happy little boy.

Wonder.
Joy. (If you can’t tell, his mouth is open wide because he was shouting with happiness)

And we rode together on a tiger of some type. Thank goodness for that carousel. For that big ol’ wheel with fun animals on it. Slow your roll, Erin, slow your roll.

And let your son roll those wheels sometimes…….

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