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Raising a Blended Family

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Revisiting Grace

I had a conversation with my mom yesterday.  We were just casually chatting about our Christmas plans, what types of pies to have (I voted for four different kinds… ahem), the babies’ presents, etc, when I casually asked about the guest count for Christmas dinner.  Last I’d heard, the only guest outside of the immediate family would be my grandmother. Perfect. Nice, small, intimate Christmas dinner- I would miss those family members who couldn’t be present but would be grateful for less dishes to wash.

I was, however, informed that besides just my grandmother, my aunt and uncle would be there too, after all.  I felt a small elation at this- I’ve always loved this particular aunt and uncle, and have been anxious for them to meet the babies.

The list of add-ons wasn’t over, however, and in the midst of me expressing my joy at seeing my aunt and uncle again, my mother casually mentioned my grandfather may come, too.  And that was like a huge bucket of ice water being thrown over me.

To say my grandfather and I have issues would be an understatement.  All throughout my childhood, we got along just fine. I came out as gay and nary a word was said, everyone was very supportive, and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have such a strong and supporting family…

…until the Christmas when I flew Shorty out to meet the family. And my grandfather was mysteriously ill and unable to make Christmas dinner that year (my grandmother came without him). And I later found out that the reason he hadn’t come (the first Christmas dinner he’d ever missed, in spite of a long history of illnesses), was that he had, in fact, disapproved of me being gay all along and had no interest in meeting my fiance or my new daughter (Thing One). And he felt so strongly about these beliefs that he couldn’t even make peace in the name of Christmas. And he never (and still hasn’t) bothered to say a word to me about this, just left the information to be filtered through the family phone tree until my mother was finally the one to tell me. Yeah.

Ouch.

To say that I felt betrayed would be a tiny bit of an understatement.  I had grown up with this man loving me, freely shared my stories, my successes, and introduced my girlfriends to him in a way that you just don’t do when you are gay and you know you are in the presence of someone who is deeply homophobic.  Had I known, I would never have been so open. Had I known, I would have not been so candid with stories of my girlfriends and relationships.  Had I known, I would have probably not felt as close to him growing up.

So, the boycotted Christmas came and went.  Life moved on… Shorty and I got engaged.  And we got news, shortly before the wedding, that my grandfather would, once again, not be attending. No surprise there but it definitely dug the wound a little deeper.

I haven’t spoken to my grandfather since before that Christmas. I haven’t purposely avoided him, but it has felt like he has avoided me.  I have always told my grandmother to pass along my love when I spoke with her, have always included his name on Christmas cards and baby email updates… I tried, in a word, to exhibit Grace when dealing with him. However, he has never reciprocated and it got to the point where I honestly believed I would go the rest of my life without ever talking to this man again- until the conversation I had with my mother yesterday.

Since that conversation, all kinds of feelings have set in.  I feel angry towards him- I never felt angry before.  I feel protective, of my new son and other children- do I really want them around someone who denies the validity of their parents’ love, marriage, feelings? What kind of psychic harm could he do to my children?

Shorty tells me I need to forgive him.  I need to move on, let bygones be bygones, accept that he has been a homophobic asshole in the past, but that he is coming to Christmas dinner this year and that means he’s trying and I should give him some credit.  The thing is… I am really good at holding grudges. I excel at being pissed off or wary or disliking of people for YEARS, even. And it’s not that I walk around with hate in my heart- mostly I don’t think of these people at all. But when I do, I tend to remember all the shit that’s gone down before, and I hold on to it and let it make me wary, let it inform my actions, let it color my relationships with these people. And I shouldn’t… I know I shouldn’t.  I need to have more forgiveness, to handle things with more grace, to let it go. To let his actions go.

But still. They hurt, and knowing that I am suddenly going to be confronted by this man who did this hurting after all these years and nary a word of explanation from him, is hard.  Being a mother and trying to teach my children in this situation is even harder, but also clarifying. A mother would show grace. A mother would teach her children to forgive, to forget, and to love. A mother would be the bigger person.

I guess I’ll have to work on that. I will try to be the best mother possible this Christmas, and to have Grace. Even if it means forgiving my homophobic grandfather.

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The coolest craft exchange present, EVER!!!

Ya’ll.  Oh em gee.

We just received the COOLEST, most heartfelt present from the craft exchange. Seriously, so cool.  I have to give a huge shout out to the ladies over at Baby Mamas Drama… they are amazing, and they truly touched us with their gift.

What was this gift, you say?

Only the coolest painting ever:

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AND a holiday mix CD complete with some of my favorite songs ever:

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AND they fed us with chocolate dipped pretzels and salted carmel bark. I would post a picture of that, too, but it is long, long gone. 🙂

What a cool gift, right? Thank you, ladies- that was the best surprise mail present, ever!

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So many things to blog about, I don’t even know what to say.

So, the echoing silence around here could mean several things: I either have nothing to say or, I have stuff to say but no time to say it, or I have a lot of things to say and no time to say them all.  In this case, it’s the later. So much life has been happening around here lately! It’s impossible to keep you 100% updated, but here is the general gist:

  • We spent this past weekend visiting friends, taking Thing One to do all sorts of Thing One-related activities (indoor playplace, Children’s Museum), and enjoying the impending holidays. Fun and exhaustion.
  • We almost burnt the house down. Oh yes, we did.  There were (three) fire trucks called in the middle of the night (plus an ambulance), smoke billowing out of the house, and us, standing on our lawn in our PJs with one very confused seven year old and two babies wrapped up in blankets… all over a burnt batch of cookies.  Phew. Had you worried there for a second, right? Good, because so were we! Who knew cookies could catch fire?! And, like, BURN! Big flames! They were on fire in the oven and they would NOT go out… and every time we tried to open the oven door to put them out, flames came shooting out at us. Meanwhile, the house was filling with smoke and the oven was getting hotter, so we decided that “Hello, 911, our holidays cookies went terribly wrong could you please send help” was the best course of action.  They came out, kicked us out of the house, removed our wayward cookies (and presumably put out the flames), and did some magic with these big fan thingymcbobs that sucked all the smoke out of our house but still left it smelling, regrettably, like burnt cookies and epic failure.  Ah, well. So, by the way, you’re not getting any holiday cookies, ornament buddy! But the upside to all of this is that as we stood freezing on our lawn with all three kids, our neighbors all came boiling out of their houses (hello, embarrassing), each one offering to take us in and shelter us or asking if we needed anything (hello, warm fuzzy feeling). These were the same neighbors who are so homophobic they can usually barely stand to look at us.  So, at least we know that in case of disaster or, you know, that little ‘ole impending Mayan end-of-the-world thing, they are willing to overlook their homophobia long enough to be decent human beings. So there’s that.
  • We are busily preparing for our sure-to-be epic trip cross-country with the twinfants and Thing One. What? I hadn’t mentioned that? Welp, we’re flying out on Christmas day, we have a connecting flight in Houston with a whole HALF HOUR layover (thanks, airline), we’ll be on the plane with the twinfants for a cumulative 6 hours, and we’re heading to a house that is not set up for babies whatsoever. And no, I’m not stressed at all, why do you ask?  The good news is, we have finally secured bedding (in the form of borrowed pack n plays) for the house we’re going to (Grandma’s), and we’re bringing our playmat with us… so that makes three whole places in the house that we’ll be able to put the babies down!  Assuming, of course, that they ever get put down at all with all the baby-hungry relatives hanging around. We’re hoping to secure a swing, too, but we will have to see about that. (By the by, those of you who have traveled with infants… any tips? Anything you would absolutely recommend we don’t forget or leave behind [besides the babies]?).
  • Pax had his two month appointment and shots.  Poor baby. There were definitely tears- and the baby cried, too. We found out at that appointment that the boy now weighs in at a whopping 15 pounds!!!!! Yes, don’t mind me, that giant thing that just rolled over and crushed your toddler is my two month old. Ho hum.  He’s also 24 1/2 inches now though, which removes him from the short-and-squat category and just leaves him with the… squat.  Oh well. Since then, we’ve taken care to reassure him and his fat rolls that we still love them- lest they think otherwise.

That’s about it! I owe you guys pictures and I have a ton, but they’ll have to wait until after I get them uploaded off my camera. In the meantime… happy one week and two days until Christmas!

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Addie’s 4 month letter

December 9, 2012

Dear Sweet Baby Girl,

You are four whole months old and I still cannot quite believe it. Four months! You have resided with us for approximately 3 of those months, and time is flying.

You are still a tiny thing, though not quite so tiny as when we first got you- all 6 pounds of you!  Now, you are weighing in at approximately 13 pounds, though we have no idea how much you weigh because your 4 month appointment and shots (ouch, I’m sorry!) aren’t until next week. You feel like such a little lightweight though, especially when compared to your brozin! (brother + cousin= brozin). You also have less hair than Mr. Monster, and yours tends to lie flat against your head, making you look, well… bald, from a distance, child. Sorry about that.

Developmentally, you are taking leaps and bounds and strides and I simultaneously love it and can’t keep up (not the last time, I suspect, that that will be the case).  Somewhere between the three and four month mark you finally decided that it was okay if we put you down after all, which is quite the relief. You will now bounce happily in your jumperoo (though your feet barely graze the floor on the lowest setting) for at least an hour, will do floor time on the mat for quite a length of time, and will also nap in you swing thank God.  We do hold you still, I promise, and when we do you are a wiggly, squirmy creature of delight! You love to be standing up, looking around, and one of your favorite games is when we hold you high above our heads and fly you through the air, all the while singing the trapeze girl song to you. You will stare down at us and grin, and grin, and giggle and grin… and occasionally drool into the mouth of an unsuspecting auntie-mama. Yep. But it’s okay- we forgive you.  You will also giggle and laugh with delight when you are tickled, or recently when your Deda om-nom-noms the side of your neck.

You have started anticipating things, so when we are playing I can say “I’m gonna GET you” and you will shriek in anticipation of being gotten. So cute.  Not so cute is when you are anticipating being fed a bottle, and I make you wait one minute too long while I mix your formula, or get your brozin situated, or take a mommy minute to use the restroom.  Those times, when your anticipation is not met immediately with reward, your face will crumple and you will cry a heartbreaking cry that sounds like your entire world just fell apart. Which, at four months, if I was starving and somebody took too long to feed me, might feel exactly that way to me. No blame here, love.

You have started sucking your thumb, although I can’t remember if that started this month or has merely continued and gotten more habitual within in. Regardless, it is adorable, and slightly heartbreaking when you are screaming for a bottle or to be picked up or for any other reason and, in the midst of your tears, you attempt to comfort yourself by shoving your tiny little thumb in your wide-open mouth, mid-cry, tears pouring down.  Other times though, it’s just plain adorable with no heartbreaking about it- like the mornings I go in to get you from your crib, only to find you with your arms forced up underneath your swaddle just enough so that you can tuck your chin to your chest and just barely manage to reach your thumb to suck on. So cute! A lot of times, late at night, we will hear “slurp slurp slurp” over the monitor and go into your room, only to discover you happily at work on your thumb.  You’re very attached- it’s gonna suck when we have to break you of this habit! But for now, it’s 100% pure cuteness and I will enjoy it while it lasts.

Another thing we have noticed over the past month is that you are FASCINATED by television. Not that we purposely let you watch it, mind you, but if the television is on in your vicinity, no matter what show is on, chances are you will be staring at it intently, watching.  There was even one time when you were in your jumperoo (which is positioned directly UNDER the TV) and we put on Polar Express to watch as a family… and I happened to glance at you, and there you were, little neck craning upwards, trying to catch a glimpse of the magic pictures going on right above your head. Hopefully this TV watching doesn’t permanently impair your brain or slow your growth or whatever it is they say happens to kids who watch TV- we honestly don’t watch that much of it so there’s that.

Addie-girl, you are generally a delight to be around. You are so happy all the time, and you dole out smiles and laughter and shrieks often and willingly.  You will generally smile at anyone who catches your eye, and when you do it’s infectious- whoever you’re smiling at has no choice but to smile back!

The last note I want to make is that you are fascinated by your brozin. I don’t think you have any clue who he is or that he’s another living baby just like you- but you’re fascinated nevertheless. You like to put your hands on his face to “explore,” which has resulted in more than a few scratches (sharp nails, kid!).  You also like to just stare at him, whenever you are both being held on the same lap or occupying the same play space. It’s really cute and I look forward to the day when you two can interact more. (He, by the way, seems mostly oblivious to you, though he did give you the biggest grins the other day- which you pointedly ignored as you gave him the cold shoulder. How’s that for sibcuzling love?).

I love you Addiekins. You are an amazing, happy, wonderful little creature and I’m so glad you are in my life. I can’t wait to see what this next month of developments brings!

Love muchly,

Auntiemama Ayslinn

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We have a Two Month Old- Pax’s Letter

December 10th, 2012

Dear Baby Boy,

As I suspect will be the case with all of your month letters, I have to start this one by saying… I cannot BELIEVE how old you are now!  Where time has gone, I can honestly say that I have no idea. You are TWO WHOLE MONTHS old!  Weren’t we just in the hospital yesterday? Weren’t you just 8.5 lbs? Now, child, you are a whopping 13 lbs 10oz, outweighing Addilynn by over half a pound! You haven’t lengthened much (22 inches at birth, 22 ¾ inch now) which means you are short-but-stubby.  You wear 3-6 month clothing (and have bee since about 3 weeks) and we affectionately call you Chunkers. J You’re also growing in some hair on the top of your bald little head (because sometime between your birth and now, you saw fit to lose all the hair you were born with on top) and the fuzz that is replacing your lost hair is RED?! We aren’t sure if it will stay this way but if it does, your Great Grandma Kitty (the only family member on either side with red hair) will be pleased as punch, I’m sure.

Little one, as fast as the time is going, I can honestly say I am LOVING watching you grow. You are gaining more head control and quickly barreling towards becoming a BABY and not just a newborn. I’d say you’re about 75% of the way towards real-baby-land. In the past month, you have become far more interactive.  You love to chew your fist, and will now smile readily at us… okay, not always READILY- sometimes we have to work at it and talk in really excited voices while you stare at us like we’re crazy before giving us a shy, tentative smile, but there are other times, lik when we go to pick you up from your cosleeper in the morning and you recognize a mom face peering down at you, and you will grin and grin and grin your big wide-opened smile.  Your smiles make my heart melt and I can’t get enough of them.

Another part of you being interactive is your “cooing-” which sounds a lot more like “ooo ooo ooo,” complete with round pursed lips and wide eyes.  Your mama, in particular, has a lot of fun having “conversations” with you- speaking to you or making noises and then waiting for you to coo back, and then talking to you some more. You two are adorable to watch and I love how you seem to talk back.  I would give all the money in the world to be able to know what you’re really saying, because the intent look on your face as you stare into your mama’s eyes and speak clearly shows that you are trying to say something- and we, great big dolts that we are, just don’t understand you (how dare we).  It is pretty cute though because along with your talking, you also jerk your arms and legs and wiggle your entire body as you get more and more excited when we talk to you- so the combination of smiling/cooing/wigglewiggle is more cuteness than I can stand sometimes!

You are also starting to show signs of being ticklish- tickling your belly or armpits during a diaper change results in a wiggly, squirmy grinning baby, which is simultaneously adorable and also considerably terrifying given the fact that you’re throwing yourself from side to side four feet off the floor. But it’s so FUN!

Speaking of fun, you will now lie on the playmat and bat at the toys with jerky arm movements. You’re trying, kid, you’re trying. You’re mesmerized by the mirror and all the colors of the toys and I can just SEE the learning happening as you take in your world. You like to be held up in front of the full length mirror in our bedroom, too. Oftentimes, when I hold you in front of it, you will happily spend a good fifteen minutes staring at yourself or me or both. A few times, you’ve grinned or cooed at yourself- so cute!

So those are the fun things about you right now. In the not-so-fun category, you’re still not anywhere close to sleeping through the night. We thought we were getting somewhere for a few nights- You slept from about 10-11 to 4 or 5am, but then you quickly regressed to waking at your normal times- 2am, 5am, 630am, and then waking up when Mommy has to get up to go get Sister ready for school.  It would be great if you would sleep for a little longer stretches, kid. Just consider it?

Also in the not-so-fun category: that trip to the hospital we took.  You were in your swing and you stopped breathing. A few minutes later, on mama’s lap, you did it again. Scared the CRAP out of us, so we rushed you to the hospital, who transferred us to the CHILDREN’S hospital, who had us stay overnight and did a million tests and basically said they can’t find anything wrong with you except reflux, which they gave you stronger meds for, which seem to be helping, thank goodness. Phew. Hell of a way to get a doc to give you meds, kid. Let’s NEVER do that again, shall we?

Overall, besides the hospital trip, life with you is amazing.  I love watching you grow and love cuddling your tiny little body next to mine.  You are amazing and each day with you truly is a gift.

I love you, Paxton!

                     Love,

                                       Mommy

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Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town

So, to take a break from all the scary stuff goin’ on around here, I thought it would be fun to post what our kids are getting for Christmas.  We’re basically done shopping for them, although I find small things every now and then to add to their piles.

For the babies: Obviously, they have no idea it’s Christmas.  Just as obviously, it’s still fun to shop for them! So, they are getting:

  • They’re each getting a Taggies Blanket, courtesy of a BOGO free sale at our local target. These weren’t originally on the list but I paid $10 for both of them… I’ll take it!

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  • Bright Starts Rattle–  We’ve been looking everywhere for a good rattle for the babies. I searched high and low on store shelves, but it seemed like a good old-fashioned play rattle was too much to ask for.  Finally, one day I read a review on a blog about these rattles being awesome and that same day, coincidentally enough, Shorty brought home one from a lot of garage sale toys she had purchased just randomly.  It’s been a hit so far, but there’s only one of them and two babies! So we ordered another one asked Santa if he could bring a second rattle. 🙂

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  • Fis.her Pr.ice Laugh and Learn Puppy-  I’ve read good reviews about this silly-lookin thing everywhere! We figure the babes are still too young for it but will grow into and with it… and in the meantime, it’s cute and it plays music (we’ll see how long that particular feature remains in the “bonus” category instead of the “I’m-gonna-kill-that-toy” category).  🙂

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  • Baby Einstein Bendy Ball- Addie is getting good at reaching for, grabbing, and manipulating objects.  We figured this is the perfect toy to help further that kind of development.

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  • Hand and Foot Rattles (by la.maze)- okay, let’s be honest- I’m not sure if the babies actually need help finding their hands and feet or if that would eventually happen on its own, even if- gasp!- we opted out of purchasing these adorable little rattles.  But, the fact remains: these are too cute NOT to buy. Can’t wait to see them trying to figure out how to get these darn things off shaking their little hands and feet around with them on!

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  • Warm Winter Hats by Zu.tano- at $20 a pop, some could call these a splurge. I call them a necessity. We have NOT been able to find infant-sized warm hats anywhere in our area (weird since we live somewhere where it, you know, gets cold?!) but when I popped online to Amazon these were sitting there waiting for me AND they had good reviews AND they’re adorable. SOLD! We bought a blue one and a green one. 🙂

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  • As an early Christmas present/craigsteal, we also went ahead and got them the Fish.er Pri.ce Rainforest Jumperoo.  This was not originally on the list, but we were over at a friend’s house for Thanksgiving and they had their jumperoo out that they used with their son.  I decided to test Addie out in it, as she’s just starting to get to the age where she’s old enough for it… and she loved it. Went to town.  We decided right then and there that we needed one, and lo and behold craigslist was very accomodating with this over-half-off-the-original-price steal.  It’s meant to be a Christmas present but they don’t know any better (and Pax isn’t big enough for it anyways) so Addie has been happily jumping around in it all day.

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As for Thing One, she’s being spoiled rotten this year and getting the Kindle Fire she’s been asking for.  Disclaimer here: I never EVER thought I would be One Of Those Parents buying my seven year old expensive technology, but the truth is she plays with technology a LOT and I’d rather buy her her own cheaper technology than let her further destroy my expensive technology.  Case in point? The Ipad we share as a family.  The last two times she’s played with it,  it first acquired a shattered screen, and then latter acquired splattered ravioli, the sauce of which got into all the cracks in the screen when she decided to try to eat ravioli AND play on the iPad at the same time. And I would just ban her from the iPad until she’s older and have her go chase butterflies, or something, except that then we would never get any peace and quiet ever the iPad has a lot of features for kids that I love, like interactive learning apps and books and Netflix. But, so does a KFire, and it comes at a lower price point and with parental controls that let us set a time limit on how many hours per day she can be on apps or watch movies.  Plus, in some circles it is said to be more kidproof than the glass-enclosed iPad.  One can hope.  🙂  Thing One is also getting some wii and nintendo games, clothes, books, and a pair of sparkly boots that I just couldn’t resist will be great for winter wear.

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What are your kids getting? Any more fun baby toy suggestions? How about baby books? That’s the one thing I haven’t gotten them that I still want to- some baby books.  So if you have any suggestions, lay ’em on me!

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