Saturday, June 24, 2017

Four Amazing Years

When I originally thought about making Mallory's birthday blog, I thought I'd start with a bunch of old pictures.  NICU photos.  Surgery photos.  All of those past hardships that have taken us to where we are today.  However, I've changed my mind.  Don't get me wrong, all of those things matter.  They matter so very much.  She wouldn't be the strong little girl she is with out all of those experiences and those memories.  They definitely make up who she is... a completely amazing little girl.

For this blog,  I just want to talk about her day.  I want to talk about who she is right now, without thinking about all of those past things.  Just for today.  The night before her birthday, I was so antsy for her special day to get here.  I actually hopped back on the emotional ride of re-reading my old blogs about her hospital stay and looking at many, many, many old photos.  This girl is so amazing.  She really is.  I wouldn't wish what she has to endure on anyone, but I don't think I could imagine her any other way.  Her purpose for being here has always been clear to me.  She brings so much to my life.  I don't even think there are words for it.  When I actually try to find words, my eyes well up with tears and all I want to do is hug her and hold her forever.

Her birthday started with her birthday girl photo shoot.  I do a birthday shoot for all of my kids.  I guess that's a perk of being a photographer... he he.. Photos whenever I want them!  I actually did them before bedtime the night before her birthday.  I dressed her up in this new dress we had picked out for her using a gift card she got as a birthday present from a party we had a week earlier.  I swear, this girl... Sometimes I think she was really made to be in front of the camera.

She wanted to jump and twirl.  She loves being outside so much.  She would seriously drop just about anything she's doing to go outside and play.  My little outdoorsy ladybug.

The morning of her birthday we had to get up on the earlier side, early for summer break anyway, and head to an orthopedic appointment I made for her.  I wasn't thrilled it was on her birthday, but you get what you get with these appointments.

It actually went well.  I had concerns about the way she was walking.  In the past couple of months I observed her right foot pointing outward when walking and I wanted to make sure there wasn't something going on that needed more attention.  She had a couple of x-rays done.  This was quite entertaining.  The outfit they put her in was seriously hilarious!  The shorts she was wearing were probably too big for me!  She was a great sport about it though!

We met with the doctor after the x-rays and he told us that her hips look normal and her skeleton looks normal.  She has a mild leg length difference, by barely a centimeter, and she has flexible flat feet.  But there was nothing concerning that he felt needed any surgery or correction.  He thinks she may just be compensating in her walk because of the leg length difference.  He wants to see her again, but not for about 2 years unless we notice any significant changes.  So yay to that!

About ten people wished her a happy birthday and she snubbed them.  She even received a new dolly from one of the nurses, but no thank yous.  I tell you, this girl is becoming quite a diva!

Not long after we got home (and a quick detour to the grocery store) we decided to let her open presents.  Normally we do presents after dinner, but I really wanted her to be able to enjoy her new toys for as long as possible on her actual birthday.  I think part of it was guilt because what I really wanted was to have a family zoo day today, but darn that rain!!

We have a tradition in our house when it comes to birthday presents.  The kids can choose to have their gifts wrapped for a mass opening, or they can choose to have a treasure hunt for their unwrapped gifts.  I'd say 99.9% of the time, the kids choose the treasure hunt.  Honestly, the treasure hunt is fun for my husband and me too.  We really love the creative places they look that give us ideas for the next time!  For Mallory, I ended up wrapping her gifts in the pink wrapping paper my husband had bought the day before.  I still wanted to do a treasure hunt for her though.  She loves watching her brothers look for their gifts.  Why not let her give it a go?

We made it a little easier for her, but we explained that she had to find 5 pink boxes and she went on the hunt!

Then it was time to open!

She got a new necklace with an 'M' on it, 2 Batman Duplo sets, a Moana Lego set and a Batgirl costume!

That Batgirl costume was friggin' awesome!  She wore the shirt and cape for most of the afternoon!

She looks so serious in all these photos, but I promise she was having fun!  She was just focused!

Mallory played with her new toys for hours.  She let her brothers play a little too.  But what was she most excited about?  Her macaroni & cheese dinner, of course!  She'll tell you it's her favorite!  She enjoyed macaroni & cheese along with dinner rolls and some applesauce.  I got a few hugs and thank yous from Mallory and Quentin for the awesome dinner!

Then, it was dessert time.  There's only one dessert Mallory will eat.  Any time I offer her something else, she declines it.  No cake.  No popsicles.  No cupcakes.  No cookies.  No way.  The only thing she will eat is vanilla ice cream in a container.  She won't even eat vanilla ice cream out of a bowl.  It has to be in one of those little containers.  So, what did we do?  We stuck a candle in a vanilla ice cream container.

We sang 'Happy Birthday' and when we were done she just kind of sat there.  We all told her to blow out her candle and she did it super fast!

I think Mallory had a wonderful 4th birthday!  At least, that's what she said when I asked her.  I can't even believe she's 4.  I say that with all of my kids though...  They grow so fast and I can't believe these years just keep flying by the way they are!  I'm very happy that Mallory had a nice, normal birthday this year.  She had fun.  She got to do the gift treasure hunt.  She got to pick her birthday dinner!  She's such a big girl now, and I can't wait to see what year 4 brings for her!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Andrew's 12th Birthday

Andrew's birthday was yesterday.  I can't even believe he is twelve now.  Where the heck does twelve years go?  I mean really, when they say these years fly, they really do.  From the time Andrew was born to today we've welcomed three more children to our brood.  He's lived in four different house and attended four different schools.  He's of course done all the instrumental things that come with growing up too, like losing teeth, learning to read, going to his first dance, getting his first injury that required a hospital trip and so much more (obviously!).  I cannot believe how fast it really does zip right by.

Today this kid is amazing.  We just moved into a new house and he's already jumped into the school's Spring play.  He makes friends quickly.  He is so kind to everyone.  He's writing a friggin' book.  What middle school kid tries to do that?  I hope he knows that I expect him to be a published author now!  He also loves photography.  He has asked me to teach him and he really learns quickly.  I love that he keeps his mind so open to everything.  I, however, will still always remember the little guy that wore blue plastic glasses while playing with his toy school bus at the little table we had for them in the living room.

This year for Drew's birthday, his dad is on the road.  We know how hard it can be when their dad is traveling, especially for a birthday, so we decided to do have a little fun over the weekend so we could all spend some time together before he left for his trip.  We went and saw the Lego Batman movie and we let Andrew pick a pre-birthday dinner.  He chose one of his favorite dinners, pasta salad, and root beer floats for dessert.  Who doesn't love root beer floats?  I love that the boys choose out of the box desserts!  It was a really nice day and I was happy Andrew could have a little celebration with his dad here.

The night before his birthday I felt like I needed to do a little extra something for Andrew.  I'm kinda psychotic about making sure my kids feel super important on their birthdays.  I never feel like I'm doing enough.  So at about 11pm I decided to make him some muffins for breakfast.  I knew I had some leftover strawberries in the fridge, so I looked up a recipe for strawberry banana muffins.  I turned on some Grey's Anatomy on my little white counter TV and got to baking.  After all was said and done, I finished up at about 1 in the morning.  I was so excited for Andrew to see his 12 muffins on his 12th birthday.  Apparently one of our cats got hungry though and managed to get into the wrap to nibble on one of them before we all got up.  The snot.  But when Andrew got up, he was super happy and said they were really good!

I also bought him a card.  One of those cards with the weird dog on it, sporting oversized googly eyes that said something along the lines of "it's your birthday and I'm so excited...." on the outside and "that I could poop!" on the inside.  He told me it was the best card he's ever gotten.  No better gift than to see him laugh so hard at something so silly!

The only thing he really wanted for his birthday was a new bike.  We ended up ordering it online and the delivery date was on his birthday.  We were going to wait until the end of the week so his dad could help put it together but I really wanted him to be able to ride it right away.  It was so nice outside too, it would have been a shame for him to just see a box full of bike parts.  I'm going to go on record and say that I'm definitely not great at bike building.  I did not spend much time reading the cryptic directions, but I did look at many an angle from the Amazon page to make sure I was constructing it properly.  I managed to get it together though and also did a little fun decorating for him to see when he got home from school!

No big surprise, when Andrew got home, he immediately took his brand new bike outside.  Everyone else wanted to be outside too, and why the heck not... it was GORGEOUS out!  So we all spent a little time riding bikes and hanging out outside, really for the first time since we've been in our new house.

Quentin's racetrack (our driveway is a big U, maybe even an O shape) was finally open for business too!

Mallory got on her tricycle and big brother Jeremiah helped her peddle around.

It was lots of fun getting outside and getting the kids outside to have some fun!

After all of that it was time to prepare Andrew's birthday dinner.  He wanted to have breakfast foods. I had decided to do waffles, eggs and omelets, sausage, bacon and hash browns.  If I could give out a handy piece of advice, I do not recommend attempting this kind of meal on your own.  Unless maybe you are a chef or someone who can manage like 3 different pans, an oven and a waffle maker on your own with ease.  I hopped from the egg pan, to the hash brown pan, to checking the bacon in the oven to the sausage pan, to mixing and pouring waffle batter, back to the egg pan, mixing up more egg yolks for another omelet, to checking the bacon in the oven again and so on.  It was so insane that I even managed to crack an egg outside of the mixing cup!

In addition to that sad little egg, the hash browns also did not make it.  Apparently I am entirely clueless as to how to make them.  I gave up after I managed to burn them to the bottom of two different pans.  Despite all of that craziness, the kids loved the meal and pretty much devoured everything!

This is what I felt like afterwards though!

My favorite part of the entire day was dessert.  It made all of the hard work and insanity so worth it.  Andrew's big brother, Jeremiah, told me that he wanted to say a little something after Andrew blew out his candles.  I said, "ok" to him and proceeded to get the apple pie ready with out thinking too much about it.

We sang 'Happy Birthday' and Andrew blew out his candles.

Then, Jeremiah stood up, reached in his pocket and pulled out a little piece of paper.  This is what he said to his little brother:

"Happy 12th Birthday!  I would like to say some things.  I think you are an amazing brother, though sometimes a pain in the rear.  But the truth is, you are one of the nicest people I've ever met.  It's the small things that can make a big difference (not that there's a problem with big things).  For example, last night you gave me the rest of your soda.  You asked for my opinion on the dinner for YOUR special day.  You make sure there is not a day that goes by where you haven't tried to brighten someone else's day, instead of your own.  It is these acts that make you who you are, and that is a very good person.  Stay the way you are, don't change. There is a need for people like you in this world."

I was stunned.  In a good way.  It was so special to see Jeremiah acknowledge his brother in such a positive way.  I see them being brothers, sometimes arguing, sometimes laughing, sometimes really in hate with each other but at the end of the day they really do see each other for who they are.  I know it probably took a lot for Jeremiah to do that and I was very proud!  It was an amazing letter, an amazing experience and an amazing day!

I sure hope Andrew had a great birthday!  It's bittersweet for me.  I miss the days when they were younger and more innocent but I'm also excited to continue watching them all in their life journeys and to see who they become!