Our Cindy Lou Who

Okay, we are crafty and goofy and very holiday fanatical but….pulling off the Cindy Lou Who look is not easy! So…here is what we did…

We all want to say that all of our children and grandchildren drink 100% fruit juice, milk, and water all day long. But let’s face it….those little Hugs drinks are a better win than bug juice or Koolaid jammers when it comes to the grocery budget and the happy children! I mean, let’s face it…we are trying to wean FOUR children off of those sippy cups that ALWAYS end up lost and ALWAYS leak despite the claims. We have even bought those 360-degree cups that are “approved by dentists everywhere” in order to move them to big kid status but there is something satisfying about those little straws and conquering that apocalypse ready tin foil!

So, anyway…we LOVE hugs and, when the day came to go see “Santa” ( a feat that Clarabelle said that she only had to ‘just get through’) our love became the perfect support for the perfect look.

So, Cindy Lou Who…the most loved character of the Christmas spirit….has the most infamous hairstyle that we just HAD to recreate. Mommy (aka ..A) had just given the children a drink and was about to dispose of the containers when…

EPIPHANY!

 

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Yep..that is a Hugs jug in her hair!!!.

Clarabelle was delighted with her look and also understood that a “look” is just what you make it! Her hair was designed to represent the Christmas spirit but her smile was enough!

Bottom line…if you want to create the “look” then find something shorter than the length of the hair and use rubber bands to hold it in place. Find the biggest bow you can find and top it off. Then, tell YOUR Cindy Lou Who how beautiful she looks!

 

Just go with it!

Gigi

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Happy Birthday, Elliott!

Elliott is TWO!!!

cake

I swear it seems like just a short moment ago that Ashley came through the house asking for a pimento cheese sandwich. “Ashley,” I asked blatantly, “are you pregnant?”

“No way!” she responded and continued to add that she always eats pimento cheese sandwiches.

My response was simple. “Ashley, no you do not. A) You always said it tasted weird on bread and only ate a few crackers with pimento cheese. B) I am your mother and know these things. C) You are pregnant!”

Days later, with the father pacing in front of my door, my daughter told me that I was going to be a grandmother again!

A few scares in the beginning of the pregnancy gave way to a relatively easy and seemingly quick pregnancy. Before I knew it, I was holding this beautiful baby in my arms for the first time!

EJ birth

I could not imagine a more perfect way to start out the new year in 2016!

Then, things got hard. Then, they got harder. It seemed that this perfect little man was going to have a rough way to go starting soon after his birth. But he just kept smiling through it!

Now, all healed up and home with his mommy by his side, he smiles:

mommy

He smiled and he overcame and he developed into the strongest person that I know! Nothing, and I mean NOTHING stops him. I don’t believe that anything ever will! In two short years, he has faced things that would shatter most but yet, here he is, a happy, healthy, loving two-year-old who is ready to take on the world (as long as the world has candy, trains, and his big sister!)

big sister

Whatever the world has in store for him, I have no doubt that he will smile his way through it and come out stronger, kinder, and unstoppable!

Happy Birthday, Elliott James!

“Gigi”

All I want for Christmas, I won back from CPS

Do not give up! If you are facing this holiday season without your children, know that our hearts are with you and that the view on the other side is not only beautiful but also reachable!

We thought we were in a never-ending nightmare. We felt the depth of the gorge and saw the height of the mountains that we were determined to climb. We questioned the view from the top and wondered about what would come on the other side if we were to ever make it out of the valley.

I know many of you feel this now. The holidays are overwhelming for your children or grandchildren, for any number of reasons either real or false reports, are dreaming of sugar plums in a bed that is not their own. For those of you who have not experienced this, imagine the emptiness of a stocking on Christmas morning because there is no child to shriek with excitement. Imagine seeing other parents urge their children to sit on Santa’s lap and wondering if your own is scared or excited. The magnitude of this cannot easily be portrayed but I am here to tell you that the view from atop that mountain, what lies beyond the valley, is beautiful!

I mean, look at this smile!

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We just saw Chase and Marshall from Paw Patrol!

They tried to tell me, in the valley, that this smile would not be over that ridge! But on a Friday night at a local Christmas tree lighting, Chase and Marshall from Paw Patrol told them that they were wrong. She smiles and I smile!

But wait, they also said that my daughter would never smile again and that she would no longer get “mommy moments” but they were wrong.

mommy smiles
Banana Pudding: Just Because!

Of course, they did not count on me snapping a quick photo while the children made banana pudding with their mommy! They did not know that, on the other side of that seemingly insurmountable mountain, my daughter would smile again!

In fact, they did not count on library craft mornings or ice cream afternoons!

But the smiles are real and so is the view! Do not give up! If you are facing this holiday season without your children, know that our hearts are with you and that the view on the other side is not only beautiful but also reachable!

Many blessings and prayers to all of you!

“Gigi”

Books and Family: Does it get any better?

Look at these four! How blessed am I!?!? I was in the kitchen getting lunch ready and the four children were being very quiet. Scary, huh?! But they were not fighting. They were not destroying the house. They were not into any type of mischief. Nope, they were sitting together doing the one thing that their English major Gigi has prayed that they would love to do….Reading!

All four of them were huddled around a book and taking turns pointing to the pictures to give their own rendition of the story either through words or sounds. It was 101 Dalmations so there was a lot of barking followed by a few “oh no’s” from Elliott who has recently been explosive with his imagination and everything that looks a little scary is met with this expression.  (He brought me a toy spider this morning saying “oh no!” and then chased me with it. Remember, I HATE spiders!!!)

Anyway, the words and sounds were not nearly as important as was the fact that they were all together (something we once thought would never happen again) and they were enjoying a book together by taking turns and sharing. It is amazing what togetherness does for cousins. It helps them to grow, learn, and form true emotional bonds. It brings them comfort and joy in a way that no other relationships can. It strengthens their sense of self and forms their sense of citizenry.

Every day, I get to sneak a little peek into their world. Truly, how blessed am I?!

“Gigi”

Wait! She can do that too?!? Daily Discoveries with a grandchild with Down’s Syndrome

When we were told that they were testing Gloria for Down’s Syndrome, we faced the possibilities as a family but we were all aware of all of the obstacles that she would face should the test come back positive. We knew all of the things that they said that she “couldn’t” or “wouldn’t” do and we knew the extensive timeline they gave her for the things that she would “eventually” do. We were okay with all of this so long as she was healthy and able to get the most out of life as possible.

Well, the test, as you all know, came back positive and we immediately began screening therapists and preparing ourselves for other health issues that are associated with Down’s Syndrome. However, to date, we have had no major issues! None! One heart doctor watched a hole for a few months. Let me rephrase….one heart doctor watched a hole in her heart close over the course of a few months! She has flown through every physical and medical obstacle that they said we would have already encountered!

This Girl is Unstoppable!

Now, of course, there are some delays but we no longer accept the “couldn’t” or “wouldn’t” because obviously, they don’t know her. Yet, despite the entire family refusing to see anything but a small delay, we are all still overcome with amazement when she conquers even the smallest task.

For instance, mom, Chelsea, and I took the kids to the park the other day. (Yes, Chelsea is my son’s ex but she is also a part of the family so we still do family things together). The kids are all playing and we look up to see this:

playground

She didn’t need help. She didn’t need a hand up. She just climbed right on and played. Just like any other child! Do you see how proud she is? Magnify that by a million and you can imagine the faces behind the camera!

I spoke earlier about celebrating every first. With Gloria, this is easy. Every step she takes, she was told that she couldn’t but yet, here she is, doing her thing!

Interpret the word “can’t” as “haven’t yet!”

“Gigi”

Celebrate Every First! Homecoming Parade!

For most parents and grandparents, you anticipate celebrating certain firsts. In fact, you buy a neat little baby book to document each and every first for the first year of their life. For those of us who have battled with CPS, firsts are different. Firsts happen every day. We may have lost a lot of the typical firsts, but we are blessed to spend the rest of our lives celebrating every single one after that horrific year! I mean, we have celebrated haircuts and holidays so why not the very first parade that one of the children have participated in!?!

So….today, Clarabelle and her mommy climbed aboard the float for her dance classes and cheered in their red attire alongside the other girls and mothers!

parade

Elliott, my mother, and I stood waiting for her to appear to catch a glimpse of that perfect smile!

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Sissy’s Biggest Fan!

We are so blessed every day! All of us! There is always something to celebrate. There is always something worth shouting from the rooftops! These may seem so small to so many, but to us, these moments are what we fought so hard to get.

What moment are you celebrating today?

“Gigi”

To the Parents of Pregnant Teenager Daughters

Sometime in the last day, or weeks, or months, your daughter has been faced with many decisions. The moment those two little lines appeared on the stick that she purchased with her allowance, she had to decide whether to run or stay. She had to decide whether to tell the world or keep her “condition” a secret. She had to decide whether or not to stay in school or look for a job. She had to decide if she would become a mother, terminate the pregnancy, or choose adoption. She had to decide how to tell the father and her best friend. She had to think about college and her future. She has had her entire world shaken and now, after all of this uncertainty, she has come to you.

Of all the decisions she is facing, you only have one to make. Will you stand by her or turn her away. That is it. You do not have to choose whether or not she will keep the baby or choose another option. You do not have to decide what her future holds. You only have to decide if you will hold onto your role as her mother or walk away. This choice is yours and yours alone. Release yourself from all concerns of stigmatization and fears. Realize that this is your only choice to make regarding your teenage daughter. The rest is hers to decide.

Do not make this decision quickly or without serious consideration. You are hurt. You are scared. You may even be ashamed. But, ask yourself why are you feeling this way? Do you believe that your daughter intentionally harmed you? Do you believe that you have some reasons to be afraid? Your only role in this is to decide what relationship you want with your child. That is it. That is not hurtful or scary. As a mother or father, you have been making this decision every day. Ashamed? Did you encourage your daughter to become pregnant? Did you announce the pregnancy standing in your pajamas at a formal dinner? This is not your “shame” so you do not get to carry it. The pregnancy belongs to your daughter. Whether or not it is viewed as a shame or a blessing will be based on her way of presenting her pregnancy.

Now, do not get me wrong, I felt all of these emotions on the morning that not one but two of my teenagers told me that I would be a grandmother. Both my son’s girlfriend (18) and my daughter (17) took pregnancy tests and informed me at the same time! Immediately I became scared for them. How would their lives be now that they would have to focus on raising children? What would others say about them or about our family? How could they possibly handle children when they were but children themselves? How could they put us in this position? Oh, I was hurt, scared, ashamed, and maybe even a little bit angry.

Our waitress came to the table as all of these emotions flooded through my mind. My heart was aching and my hands were shaking. When she asked what I wanted, all I could say was “two virgins and two negative pregnancy tests. But since I am not getting that, two eggs over medium will do.”

Everyone at the table laughed and the waitress stepped away from what was obviously a family moment. The laughter has never stopped. I made a decision right then that I would stand by my children.

However, I have not been perfect in my plight to stand by them without standing in their way and there are things I wish someone would have told me. I mean, I was a teenage mother and I guess I should have known a few things about it, but if I could have heard these words, a few things may have gone a bit smoother:

  1. Your child still needs you: I know you feel displaced right now but they are trying to figure out what it means for them to become a parent. Give them time and be there.
  2. Your child needs you differently: They no longer need you to tell them things but rather to show them without appearing to be parenting! This is tricky but it is important.
  3. You do not have to stop your life: If you stop living at any stage of parenting, your child will believe that they have to do the same. If your fear was that they would be limited in their life by this pregnancy, then stopping your own life will only realize this fear.
  4. Forgive: I mean forgive everyone. Forgive your child for whatever you feel they have done wrong. Forgive your child for whatever decisions they make. Forgive yourself for believing that it was wrong. Forgive others for having an opinion. Forgive because, if not, you will never move forward.
  5. Be involved: Yes, this is your child’s child but, this is YOUR grandchild! I mean seriously! You are young enough to enjoy everything! Buy the loud toys! Feed them late night chocolate! Do everything!

I know this is not how you planned your story. This is not how you planned your child’s life. This is not how you envisioned being told that you are becoming a grandparent. But our stories are written as we go. In an interview with author Nabila Fairuz, blogger  TooFulltoWrite reports the author as stating that the middle part is the hardest because you have to “eradicate the loopholes.” Life also does not come with an outline, as Fairuz stated in the interview, how it began and how it ends is easy. It is the middle that is so difficult to figure out and when life throws us curveballs, it is our task to determine how we will allow these to affect the other moments in our life.

You have a decision to make. When your child becomes a parent, where do you want to stand?

Whatever you decide, remember, you are only accountable for your own decisions!

“Gigi”