I had a feeling this little one was a girl, turns out I was correct. We had a LONG wait to find out her gender because here in Italy (our military medical insurance) doesn’t cover the early gender tests via blood sample. I did have an anxious month as some blood work for genetic abnormalities came back as being at risk for Down Syndrome. Thankfully, her scan showed no soft markers, though in circumstances such ask this, the only way to know for sure she doesn’t have Down Syndrome, would be to have an amniocentesis. I decided against having an amnio preformed because regardless of what that test would reveal I wouldn’t abort this pregnancy….
Three weeks ago I shared this photograph on Instagram and Facebook, and earlier this week I thought I should make it “blog official”. My husband and I decided our pregnancy announcement should focus on a favorite pastime of our two sons which is playing video games. For our gamer pregnancy announcement I ordered the shirts off of Amazon and designed the graphic myself. I used iron-on transfers which worked great, but after a few washes they’re pretty much done, I honestly wish I had one of those vinyl machines like a Cricut instead… but the shirts served they’re purpose and I think the announcement turned out super cute!…
Being a military family, my children have had to move a lot, and say good-bye to more friends than most people do in their entire lives. As an adult, saying good-bye to friends is difficult as it is, and though my children are resilient; it’s always been important to me to help them cope with saying good bye to friends who often times feel like extended family. One of the tools I use is books. What follows is a list of books I keep in my “moving to a new place” or “when friends move away” arsenal to help my children through a new transition or deal with a friend’s departure. These books are great children’s books about moving and are geared for the younger child, and were enjoyed quite a few times by my boys during various stages of the moving or saying good-bye to friends process.
When Moving to a new place these books are great:…
I wrote this to remind myself, years from now, what they were like, when they were little.
I fear I’ll forget.
Whispers under cover
just after sunrise
clamoring to play.
Tiptoe down the stair,
One whispers, “Want some breakfast?”
“I don’t care.”
“Will you play with me?”
Tiptoe up the stair.
Until one yells,
“I’m telling MOM!”
Pre-pubescent boys can be major butt-heads, who can make you feel like your failing as a parent. They are also full of surprises because suddenly the emotional roller coaster their on breezes through the loop-the-loop, and they can see through the haze of all their newfound feelings and the realization of his epic douche-baggery dawns on him. At which point he’ll turn to you with eyes full of salty tears and give you a hug so tight your ribs ache while he cries and apology into your chest, and thereby restoring faith in yourself as a parent.
The fact that this emotional moment happened for your son while you were standing in line to order your “lunch” of wine and friend cheese is neither here nor there.
I’m fairly certain, the pre-teens are the “Spring Training” of parenthood during the teenage years.
12:30 a.m: Family arrived home from lovely evening with friends.
12:45 a.m: Evan half-asleep attempts to make it to the bathroom, but gets nowhere. Vomits all over his bedroom floor. His father and mother clean things up. Mother has concerns the dreaded 24-hour bug that has plagued so many friends has struck. But Evan gave her hope when he said, “I feel good.” With a worrying heart, the parental units put him back to bed.
1:30 a.m: Commence “Operation Santa”. Wrapping of gifts and general Christmas things occur in a less than Christmasy spirit.
3:00 a.m: The proverbial “Witching Hour”. Mother posts a very Christmasy photo to social media of tree with all Santa work complete. Parental units expect to be dreaming of sugar plums within a short period.
3:05 a.m: Hopes are dashed when mother hears what can only be described as a coughing-gurgle-gag, coming from the children’s place of slumber.
Mother dashes in, turns on the light, and discovers a horrible sight! Poor sweet Evan, in his brand new Batman pajamas is covered in puke from brow to belly, as are his bed coverings. It’s a view that would make even the most harrowing of Santa’s toss his cookies.
She called to her husband who was not so quietly snoring on the couch to arise and come see what was the matter!
3:10 a.m: Evan is bathed and fresh smelling once more. He’s dressed in his pajamas from three-Christmases past and snuggled up between his parental units and a bucket.
3:25: a.m. Vomiting child.
3:30 am: Child sleeps.
3:35 a.m: Parents pretend to sleep.
3:45 a.m: Vomiting semi-conscious child.
Parents all but conscious lost grip on bucket.
Sheets removed from bed.
3:48 a.m. Parents actually fall asleep. One still wearing her spectacles.
4:20 a.m: Vomiting child.
4:30 a.m: Vomiting child.
Parents fall asleep.
4:45 am: Vomiting child.
4:50 am: Child sleeps
5:00 am: Parents sleep (sort-of).
8:09 am: Elder child awakes. “Merry Christmas!”
Mother explained preceding events of the night. Elder child tears up and generally freaks out over baby brother. Mother says, “Go see the presents, then go back to bed.”
10:45 a.m: Sleeping, previously puking child awakes, seemingly “normal”, asks about, “Santa”.
11:00 a.m: Family opens gifts.
11:45 a.m: Previously puking child is given broth and crackers.
Noon: Previously pretending to sleep mother prepares “French toast casserole” from recipe she scored on Pinterest.
1:30 p.m: Three family members eat.
1:45 p.m: Previously puking child now has other excremental issues.
2:00 p.m: Mother & father sipping mimosas. Children are happy.
Life is messy, but good.
My son asked.
At ten years old, I had to look into his sweet big brown eyes and tell him the truth.
Except I got all teary eyed, and the words I’d planned to say when this moment finally came floated from my mind on gossamer wings. Then his brother needed a moment, he somehow managed to get himself tangled up in his soccer socks… I told my son as he sat, expectant, we had to “pause our conversation.” I rushed upstairs to untangle his brother and my mind. Once he and his socks were sorted-could they possibly be any longer? My mind was still a muddled emotional mess, so I did the only thing I can do in these situations… I wrote.
When we spoke earlier, you wondered why I started to cry, and it’s because I knew this day would come one day… I knew there would come a time when you’d ask about Santa, and I knew I would have to be absolutely honest with you.
I was pretty sure it would happen last Christmas, and somehow it didn’t. When you asked today, it took me off guard because Christmas is still a few months off and I thought I’d have some time to prepare the perfect answer. You see, that’s the thing with being a parent, your kids often surprise you, and sometimes we need a few moments to gather our wits in order to really explain things. I know we talked, but then Evan interrupted us, and I feel I didn’t really get to explain it to you, and since I can always express my thoughts better when I write them down, I thought I should write you and explain…
Here is the absolute whole truth about Santa Claus…
No, Santa isn’t real, like you and me are real, but that’s because Santa doesn’t need to be real because Santa is the symbol for something great. Santa is all that Christmas is made up of, Santa is the spirit of Christmas.
Over all the Christmases you’ve had, there have been many Santas in your life. Your father and I have lovingly picked out your presents, wrapped them on Christmas Eve, and filled your stockings. We’ve rang bells outside your window and made loud sounding footsteps outside your door. We’ve munched on cookies, and carrots leaving bits and crumbs on Santa’s plate; so that come Christmas morning, when you’d wake, we’d get to see the wonder and excitement in your eyes and our hearts would burst with joy.
We weren’t the only keepers of Christmas magic in your life; we had elves helping us too. Your aunts and uncles, grandparents, and other people who love you have all helped create Christmas magic for you. We wanted you to understand the real gift of Christmas. The magic that is Christmas, which is love, and giving from the heart. Simple moments like decorating our Christmas tree or writing Christmas letters to Santa.
Michael, Santa doesn’t need to be real. He doesn’t need to be something tangible you can see. I know you’re inquisitive mind has probably wondered about some of the logistics with Santa, but your imaginative side, the side that can create these awesome stories will see the importance of this secret. More importantly, I know in your heart you’ll get this. It may be hard to accept, I know it was for me when I learned the truth, but don’t let go of your belief in Santa. Keep him alive in your heart.
We, your father and I, and everyone who has ever given you a gift with “From Santa” written on it believes in Santa. We believe in the love and magic Santa is made up of and we want you to continue to believe. We want you to keep Christmas in your heart too. We gave you the gift of Santa, because we knew one day you’d also get the important job of keeping the spirit of Christmas and Santa alive in the hearts of younger kids (and even some bah-hum-bug grown ups) by helping create the magic of Christmas too.
Now that you know the truth, it is your job to help us keep that magic alive for your little brother and every other kid out there who isn’t yet old enough to handle this important responsibility. One day, you’ll be doing it for your own kids, and have Elves too, like we did to help keep Christmas magic alive.
You are now a keeper of Christmas magic.
Though this Christmas will be a little bit different for you, because you’ll be an elf too, helping keep the magic of Christmas alive for your little brother, you’ll see it won’t be any less magical, so please don’t stop believing in the magic of Christmas my darling sweet boy. Keep it alive in your heart, hold the true spirit and meaning of Christmas which above all else is love and giving alive in your heart for all the Christmases to come, and Santa will forever be real.
All my love,
P.S. You’re probably wondering about Peppermint our Elf too…It’s been tough coming up with all those mischievous things for him to get into, this Christmas I’m putting you in charge of making Elf mischief!
He was totally cool. He did get teary eyed, he said it was because, I’d never spoken to him that way… As though he “were grown up”. We spoke of Jesus and how God gave us the gift of his son on Christmas. We spoke of St. Nicholas, and how the spirit of Santa was born. He’s an amazing kid, and though I am a bit sad to see this part of his childhood come to an end, I know there will be more childhood lasts, and many new firsts. What an honor it will be it share them with him.
I’m off to cry a little.
Follow this link to read my post the year before… On Last Firsts & Believing in Santa
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my boys and I had a “fancy” tea, honestly it wasn’t all that fancy, I brewed a pot of tea, and served them in proper tea cups, but they considered it fancy business and I took the opportunity enjoy a cup of tea with my boys.
Earlier in the week I’d mentioned going to Tea when we make it to the UK they thought me crazy…
However…I think they’re coming ’round.
Now I really want to throw a tea party.
This morning I heard my boys whispering intently in their playroom. I waited a while until I went to inquire as to the topic of such debate and found them playing amicably. I inquired as to what they’d been whispering about and was told, by my five year old Evan, “We were working out our differences.” I smiled and said, “Oh. Okay.” Then went about my business. There are some days when you feel like you’re failing as a mother and other times when you feel like you’re doing it right. This morning I felt like I was doing it right.
Love & Hope
December 1st has arrived. Our last, first of the year. I’m sitting at my desk in relative quite admiring the dappled sun filter through my curtains, the click-tick song of my son’s typing on the computer next to me reminds me that he is growing up. It’s his first school report he’s actually doing (mostly) by himself. I’m guiding him, but he’s got the task of putting it all together. It’s going very slow as he’s easily distracted, but for the moment he’s on task and I’m enjoying watching him. The way his hair is sticking out every which way, his knee bouncing up and down, I imagine is what is helping keep him in his seat, and the soft way he whispers the words as he types reminds me of years gone by, of nap times hidden under covers, and stories told by flashlight.
Most of the time we don’t know when our last ‘firsts’ occur, or when the last of our ‘lasts’ happen, so when we do it’s important to be cognizant of them. To take notice and appreciate these mundane simple times that will all too quickly be relegated to memory.
I’m trying really hard to be cognizant.
For instance, I think this may be Micheal’s last Christmas where he believes in Santa. He questioned me earlier about Santa, saying that in his class some kids didn’t believe. I knew this conversation was coming, at nine years old, I knew there were few Christmases-if any, left where he blindly believed. He didn’t come outright and ask me weather or not Santa was real, so I didn’t volunteer any information; I only asked if he believed.
He said he did. I’m not sure if he was humoring me, or perhaps afraid, not quite ready for the truth,not quite ready for the magic to end.
I know I’m not ready for it to be over for him just yet, so I told him Santa was real for him, as long as he believed. In my response, I know a hint of the truth can be gleamed and he’s a smart boy. When the time finally comes for me to “come clean” on Santa, I’ll be honest. I’ll tell him that Santa lives in all of us, that each Christmas people who loved him, not just his Mommy and Daddy purchased gifts for him, and gave them to him in Santa’s name because that’s what Christmas is about. To share love and to give from your heart. I want the excitement for the magic of Christmas to remain, for the spirit of love and giving to fill his heart and not disappointment in learning the truth about St. Nick. I may go a bit overboard in the magic department this Christmas, my baby boy is nine years old and I suspect these memories will remain with him well into adult hood. If I have one Christmas wish (aside from having my husband home) it’s for him to be able to look back at his childhood Christmases and remember them as being magical times filled with wonder and joy. If this is to be his last one where the magic was real, then you better believe it will be. No matter how many times I’ve got to wiggle my nose, or wave my proverbial magic wand, it will be!
Bring on the magic!
It happened. He asked. The very next year. Another milestone in our children’s lives. Not my favorite, but I manged to turn it into a positive. You can read that post here: Telling Kids the Truth about Santa