Thank you all for sharing in the lives of our three amazing children- Mairead, Jack, and Ben. We hope you visit often!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Busy, busy!

I know I haven't been updating the blog as much as I usually do, but we have been so busy lately!  Last week, there were 7 children here, ages four months through four and a half years.  With the exceptions of Jack and Ben, this was an all girls' playdate, so most of the time was spent doing crafts.  I wish I had been able to snap pictures of everyone, but I only got a few!  Thanks to our friends Kacey, Maeve, Maddie, and Audrey (and their moms!) for a fun morning!

All three kids had their first appointments at the dentist in the last two weeks.  Thanks to our friends, the Descheneauxs, who recommended this dentist's office.  They were so incredibly patient with the kids and it really was a positive experience for everyone.  I never thought Ben would let them even look in his mouth, but he hopped up into the chair first and was seriously a model patient.  The hygenist kept praising him and said to me several times, "Really, he is just awesome.  I can't believe it!"  While she was cleaning Ben's teeth, Jack was sitting nearby and kept saying, 'Not me.  Not my turn!" so he was not as enthusiastic.  But, he sat on my lap in the chair and let her do the entire cleaning from there (which is why I don't have a picture of him).  I was SO proud of both boys!  I wrote in a separate post that Mairead was a rock star, too.  I really could not believe how good they all were!  Huge thanks to Jen who babysit twice so that I could take the boys one day and Mairead another.  The kids LOVE hanging out with her (and with Bean), so they loved it.

We went to a party to celebrate the 80th birthday of a wonderful family friend, Theresa.  Theresa has been part of our lives since before I was born, and we were happy to spend the afternoon with her and her family.  The kids were great and looked very cute!

All three kids are in school now, which means a lot of time in the car for me.  Mariead and I take the boys to school on Mondays and Wednesdays at 12:30.  She helps me walk them in, get their bags hung up in the cubbies, and get them settled.  Then, she and I head to her school for 1:00.  Sometimes, we even stop for an iced coffee and an apple juice at Dunkin' Donuts.
I pick the boys up at 3pm and Mairead gets off the bus at about 3:45.  These days are a little hectic, but we are settling into a routine.  This does mean that twice a week, I have about 90 kid free minutes.  It's strange when the house is so quiet!  This works out since I am still teaching my University of Phoenix courses, in addition to the online tutoring I do for Pearson Education.  Dave is involved with several committees at the high school, so everyone in the family is spending a lot of time in a school or working for one!

I mentioned that Mairead is getting so much more independent lately.  While we are very proud of this, there are some drawbacks.  For example, for months, Mairead's OT and her teachers have been working hard to get Mairead to be able to use scissors successfully. Well, it looks like she has accomplished that goal since she cut several sections off of her hair the other day while I was in the shower. She was quite proud of herself.

She wants to help with everything lately, especially with housecleaning.  This would be useful to me if she were about 10, but right now, it's a little dangerous since she likes to spray the cleaning chemicals!  She goes back to the stroke clinic at CHB in February, just a few days after seeing her cardiologist for an echo in Waltham.  We hope that both appointments go well!

Preschool. Can you believe it?

The boys started preschool (at the same school where Mairead first started) at the beginning of January and it is going really well!  I still can't believe they are old enough for this.  Nor can I believe that we have three children in preschool.  I was filling out forms for the dentist recently and one question is 'Grade in school?' It just sort of struck me as I wrote, "Grade: PreK.  Grade:  PreK.  Grade:  PreK" three times.  Sometimes they seem so far apart in age, probably because Mairead is so tall, but times like that it really just jumps out at me how close together they really are!  We just hope that means that they will be BFFs as they grow up.

I am really glad that we enrolled the boys. We went back and forth on it because they are so young (2.10) and because of the expense, but I am SO glad that we did it. Jack, in particular, LOVES it. He does not shut up from the time he walks out the door until he gets up to his bed to take a rest. He talks about the teacher, the snack, the other boys (all boy class), the toys, whatever he can think of.

Ben is still a little unsure of the whole thing- he gets a sad puppy look when it is time for me to leave, but he doesn't usually cry or anything. There was one day that he was pretty much hysterical and I had to just walk out and let the teachers take over.  I HATE those moments.  Walking away from your crying chidl is awful, even when you know it is the right thing to do.  At pick up, I can see through the windows as they get ready, line up, etc, and one day, Jack was at the front of the line and Ben ended up near the back. He started to get upset and one of the other moms said, "Oh, does he not want to leave?" I told her I was guessing that it was because he was separated from his brother. When they came out, Ben said, "I a little sad. I want to hold hands with Jackie." So stinkin cute.

We hope that preschool will help with sharing and with letters.  When I hold up a letter and ask, "what's this?' They just yell out random letters. "J!  P!"  No, it's a T.  T is for?  "Jackie!"  No.  They just do not care-- so different from their sister!

I went to the school's Open House one night for conferences. They have only been there two weeks but their teacher said that they are doing really great! Ben does have a hard time at drop off but he calms down a few minutes after I leave. She said that their verbal skills are exemplary and that she can't believe how well they communicate, and that they are just so cute. She said, "Oh, I could just cry thinking about how incredibly cute they are." It was so nice to go to one of these and hear how great my kids are doing. With Mairead, teacher meetings are always so stressful and emotional. This was just so positive, it was such a relief- to the point that I almost cried. Guess I am destined to tear up at parent/teacher night whether my kids are struggling or doing great!

One thing she did already notice is that Ben tends to follow Jack around and want to be near Jack a lot. I'm ok with this for now, I mean, they are so young. I just need to keep an eye on it and make sure Ben's dependance on Jack doesn't limit either of them. I'll cross that 'separate or not' bridge when I come to it!

This is not a great picture since the boys pretty much never stop moving, but this is the first day of school.  Ben said he was 'a little sad right now' and I asked Jack if he could make Ben feel better, so big brother went over to give Ben a big hug.  How sweet are these kids?

They love to be together and to 'snuggle wit my brudda.'  The other morning, Ben woke up early so when Jack awoke to find that Ben was gone, he started yelling, "Where'd my brudda go?  Where's my brudda, Benjamin?" 

They are still small enough to take baths together and they have a great time in there.  They just never want to get out! 
We love watching them interact.  They play trains all. day. long.  They enact these elaborate scenarios in which some train always needs rescuing.  They hug and kiss good night and are always aware of where the other one is.  It's pretty adorable, actually.

They just come up with the funniest thing to say.  At playgroup the other day, Jack ran to me and said, "Mommy, I can make Thomas go on the table and it's like a Sodor Suspension Bridge to play trains."  Another mom asked, "Um, what did he say?  Something about a suspension bridge?"  I tried to explain the Thomas obsession, but I did agree that most almost three year olds probably don't discuss suspension bridges that often.

Right now, Ben is furiously pressing buttons on a large calculator and mumbling that he has to check his email.   Mairead and Jack are dancing around the kitchen to The Monkees.  We may have created a monster with this.  We had to get them to stop listening to the Glee Christmas album that we have been listening to every day since November.  Now they are serious Monkees fans, so we have heard their greatest hits about 25 times in the past four days!

They are so much fun right now.  We still have some sharing issues and subsequent whining issues, but I hope that they tone down those habits.  I hope they keep being so cute, though!

What a difference a year makes

Last February, the world was covered in white stuff.  The kids could barely get outside because they just sank into the snow.  Dave did get Mairead out sledding a few times, but there was so much snow that it was tough to even walk!

This winter, we have barely had enough to play in!  Mairead and Jack did get out in our last 'storm,' which brought about 3 inches, if that!  Mairead is so much more independent this year in terms of sledding.  She carried her sled to the top of our hill, sat on it alone, and slid (sledded? slided?) to the bottom where I caught her before she hit the fence.  She giggled the entire time.  She is fearless about things like this and she just loves it.

Ben has zero interest in the snow.  He doesn't want anything to do with it, and even wants me to carry him to the car instead of stepping in it.  Jack, on the other hand, thinks it's great and loves to stomp and make footprints with his boots.  He tried sledding but it was a little too scary for him.  He did love making snow balls and shoveling.  I hope he keeps that love of shoveling- he will need it when he gets older!

I have to brag about my daughter

I just have to brag about Mairead.  She has just been so 'on' lately!  She has just been awesome. So much fun, so happy, and, as her teacher put it last week, "so effervescent." How great is that? The other day, I was driving her to school and told her I wanted to get gas first. She said, "No thanks, Mom, I just want to go to my school." This from a child I literally had to drag kicking and screaming last Spring.

I have really been remiss about taking pictures, lately.  I did get this one of her drawing of Thomas.

And this one of her playing dress up.  She's a fashionista.

Recently, she had her first dentist appointment and was amazing. A little nervous, but awesome. When Dave and then my parents came home, she immediately told them, "I go to the dentist and I get a prize." I didn't prompt her to initiate conversation or anything.

Then, she went in the bathroom, peed, flushed, washed her hands, brushed her teeth, and put her pants back on-- all with ZERO assistance or prompting. I was listening from the hall but she didn't even know I was there. This may not seem like a big deal for a 4.5 year old, but a year ago, I really didn't know how she would get to this point. She then asked me to carry her special bears because "I want to go in my room and play with my squinkies and go to bed." This was at 6:50, and she usually goes at 7:30, so she must have been exhausted!

She has just been doing SO many things lately that just blow me away. Recalling things, making great eye contact, talking to adults, answering questions, doing more in terms of self care, etc. I tell her about 20 times a day that I am so proud of her.

At a playdate the other day, she said to a  little girl, "We can go play in my room, Kacey." Meaningful, socially age-appropriate, pointed conversation/interaction. I could not have been happier.

This all means SO much to me- I just can't even tell you. I think about how dark things were for us a year ago when we were fighting with the schools, she was struggling through the day, *I* was struggling through the day, and now she is just making such great strides. I well up with tears about 5 times a day thinking about what a miracle she is.

And, if all of this isn't enough, the other day she told me, "And when I grow up into a mom, I can have a baby in my belly like Katie (my sister)." I cried. I mean, here is a kid who, at the time of her stroke, we didn't know if she would talk, walk, etc. When things were at their worst in terms of her anxiety, social skills, etc, I would think about how all I wanted for her was that she be able to grow up, find someone to love, have a family, and just be happy. I used to fear that these things would be out of reach for her. She just proves me wrong and continues to amaze us. She has a tougher road than most kids and we know that she has a long way to go, but I no longer believe that there is anything she can't do.

Thanks for reading all of this-- and thanks for always being so supportive of her and of us!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fakesmas 2011

With so much to do on Christmas Day, we needed to extend the holiday and have Fakesmas on the 26th.  This day allowed us to exchange gifts without chaos, to relax, and to just be together.  It also gave us time to watch John Denver and the Muppets, and to eat my dad's famous Beef Wellington!

Christmas 2011

Pictures can be hard to come by when there is so much going on!  Jen got some great ones but I can't figure out how to get them from the shutterfly site to the blog, so I have limited pictures to share.  We had such a great day- probably the best Christmas we have had with the kids!  They are all old enough to 'get' it, and they had so much fun.  All of our family was there, the tree and decorations were beautiful, the food was great, and we really could not have asked for anything more.

The kids were ridiculously cute.  Mairead and Lily had matching dresses, and the boys were in ties and vests to match.

 The boys loved all of their Thomas gifts and even read this Thomas book together.
My mom gave Lily this Elefun game and the kids had a blast catching butterflies in their nets.

Unfortunately, Nana had to miss the day because she was still recuperating from Legionnaire's disease.  We did get the kids dressed up and over to visit her so that she could give them their gifts.  She did some wonderful oil paintings for the kids, but they really just wanted to press the buttons to make her bed go up and down.

There is a long story behind this... don't ask...

We are so lucky to have everything we do.  Thank you to everyone who made Christmas so wonderful this year!

Christmas Eve 2011

My sister, Katie, pointed out the other day that I have not yet blogged in 2012!  I can't believe I let that happen.  We have just been having too much fun!  Really- we are so busy and have been doing so many fun things that sitting at the computer to type them all out has just not happened.

We had a fantastic holiday season, the highlights of which included Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We are so lucky to celebrate with so many family and friends.  The best part about living in Lowell is that my kids are able to grow up with many of the same experiences that were so important to me.  Holidays are some of my best memories.  I remember being surrounded by family, the wonder of the lights, the presents, the decorations, and everything that goes with the day.  I love that my kids are surrounded by their relatives and that they will grow up knowing that they are so loved. 

We had a great time at Dan and Katie's Christmas Eve party.  The kids love playing with their older cousins, and they discovered several Rudolph stuffed animals.  They were really in to the movie this year so they were excited to play with the toys.

The commotion is always a little much for Ben- I think that we will have a picture of him just like this every year. 

Santa was good enough to take a break from his busy night to stop by and see the kids.  Mairead was beyond thrilled.  She went back to sit on his lap three or four times, in fact.

 Every time we asked Jack what Santa was going to bring him, he said, "Gordon!"  And what do you know?  Santa DID bring Gordon!  Jack was mystified and so happy.  Prior to the visit, Jack had been saying that he was scared of Santa, so the arrival of Gordon went a LONG way with Jack!

Jen and Mike were good enough to stay at our house on Christmas Eve so that they could share in the excitement of Christmas morning.  Even Bean slept over, which just added to the fun!