It’s been just the kids and I for about three weeks. The first couple of weeks were kind of rough. The kid felt the absence of their father and I certainly missed my husband. I don’t really know anyone here yet, so not having anyone to talk to has been hard. This next year is gonna drag, but we’re getting into our routines and thanking the Lord for FaceTime. My son Michael took these photos of Ellena and I. Aren’t they great? He’s got a great eye. I felt so proud. …
A lot of this last month feels like a blur. I can’t believe my daughter is a month old already. It feels like she’s always been a part of our family and we’re all so happy she’s here. She is such an incredible blessing. I still can’t stop staring. …
We brought baby Ellena home from the hospital the day after she was born. It was a bright sunny April afternoon when we left the hospital and placed her into our rental car. We were still waiting on our car which was being shipped from Italy. It was a tiny car and her Graco 4Ever Convertible Car Seat basically took up the whole backseat. …
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