Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy 15th Birthday Julien!

Oh my....
Here we are again, with zero complaints from me.
Another year of blessings, another year of enjoying being Mom to an amazingly handsome, smart, funny and incredibly frustrating teenage boy.
I am so very, very blessed and not a day passes that I am not keenly aware of how very fortunate I am.

Another year to remind me to cherish - every second of every day.
I am so honored to be Julien's Mom and I am so proud of his ability to love with his whole heart and to be proud of his little sister, even when society makes it hard on him.
He has a beautiful gift of being able to love and protect without fear and judgement.

15 years has passed.
Yet it truly seems like just yesterday that I held him for the very first time.

Don't judge.
We are a rare breed of refinement.

Julien didn't ask for much.
He just wanted dinner and cake at home with just family.
He was very specific on his choice of cakes, and I was more than happy to oblige - YUM!

That deterred...no one.

Before opening the card, Julien asked me if I was making fat jokes on his birthday.
As.  If.

I have a very whacked out sense of humor, and couldn't pass up the card.

I thank God for the gift of Motherhood and for my precious Baby Boy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


When the AAP considers the epitome of perfect parenting and prompt attention to routine well child visits, they think of me.

Four days before my child turns 15, I manage to get him in for his 14 year old visit.

It's not like he doesn't see the doctor for any non-routine issues and he technically did have a well visit for his sports physical, so I'm not a complete and total failure, AND, it's been a very busy year.

I personally think I get points for even remembering to follow through with the well child visits with a teenager who doesn't sit around and wish for such things to occur.

Today, I managed to take my still 14 year old son to see - our very favorite pediatrician - ever.

Dr. Dudgeon is simply amazing  and I can't imagine the last 12 years of Julien's medical care being handled by anyone else.

Unfortunately, I don't have any office pictures to commemorate the event.
Julien refused
in an effort not to exacerbate his already nervous state, I didn't push the issue.

My precious baby boy hasn't quite made it to six feet tall just yet.

He got one dose of flu mist, one blood draw, one camouflage band aide, but no stickers.
How anyone could have overlooked the sticker giving, I have not a clue.

I am so very thankful for the one on one time I get to spend with Julien, and I am so thankful for this beautiful afternoon of cherished memories.

Monday, November 18, 2013


The day was so busy that I failed to get pictures with lots of people, including my brother.
Many of the pictures I did get were blurry photos taken by my outdated cell phone


of course, the selfies, because everybody else was super busy too.  
I seriously think this is the only photo I have of just Chris and me.

This photo I love because Julien was so happy and willing to smile for the camera.

My very favorite oldest brother.
The 800+ miles between us is brutal and we miss him on a daily basis!

I love Addie's sweet little face
that we were all looking at the same camera.

I don't ask for much.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Flower Girl 101

Not perfectly successful. 

The Little Monkey was very much overwhelmed by all of the unknown activity taking place.
She didn't understand why she got to see the cakes and then was ushered off to a noisy hallway full of girls, and she didn't understand when all the girls walked off and started "leaving us behind".
She certainly didn't have any idea why I insisted she hold a basket full of flowers and when it came time for her to sweetly put the flowers on the sand, she outright - refused.

In fact, a meltdown occurred.

I tried gently asking Addie to put the flowers on the sand, then I tried telling her to put the flowers on the sand, and then I finally resorted to bribery.

I told Addie, "if you want cake, you have to put the flowers on the sand for Ms. Detra",
that is when,
she reached into the basket,
grabbed a handful of rose petals 
slammed them onto the sand.
She looked up at me in order to determine if that satisfied the requirements for cake
it did.

She followed the instructions I gave to her.

Although the moment was less than perfect, there were no outrageous expectations for Addie.
My brother and soon to be sister in law just wanted Addie to be a part of the wedding and a less than perfect performance was not going to ruin their day.

Once I managed to get Addie all the way down the aisle and to our places, she was so sweet.
She stood next to me and was very, very good for the rest of the ceremony.

By that time of day, Addie was hungry, tired and very overwhelmed, but she still managed to enjoy the party.
Her potential - once in a lifetime opportunity - was truly memorable - and to us, absolutely perfect. 

Conversations with My 14 Year Old Son - Part Four

While at my Mother's house tonight:

Me:  "Julien, why don't you tell GaGa what you want for your birthday and Christmas.  Now is the time to speak up if there is something special you would like."

Julien:  "A loving family."

He had his chance, so when he opens a bag full of coal from my Mother, he shouldn't be surprised
I wouldn't put it past her.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Spider Boy

Several superheroes had proper representation at the wedding...including Spider Boy Man.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beautiful Girls!

My niece, Gabi, with my Little Princess.

Gabi is always such a tremendous help with Addie and Addie absolutely adores Gabi.
Addie loves having Gabi around to read with her, color with her or to just sit and snuggle.
It was an extra special treat to have a room full of girls, all getting ready for the big party.
Addie was - so happy.

She Gets Away with Nothing!

I left Addie and Alley alone on my bed only long enough for me to walk to the laundry room and back.
The laundry room is in the West Wing and if the servants aren't milling about, I can typically make it there and back within a few minutes.

When I made it back to my room, the following conversation took place:

Addie:  "Alley, ear, hurt"

Me:  "Your ear still hurts?"  (because we had just finished putting drops in the Little Fungus Monkus's ear...yay)

Addie:  "Alley, no touching!"

Me:  "Oh...did you touch Alley's ear?"

Addie:  "Ma'am"

Me:  "Addie, Mommy told you that you pet Alley's head softly and you don't touch her ears." ....because Addie feels the need to examine our poor geriatric cat's ears....

Addie:  "Alley, No Ma'am!"

Me:  "Alley told you no Ma'am?"

Addie:  "Ma'am"

Me:  "Did Alley say, No, or did Alley say, Meow?"

Addie:  "Meow."

Addie totally tells on herself and it is absolutely hysterical. I truly hope it is one of the many benefits nestled in her sweet spirit.

Update on My Brother

My brother is at home tonight, recovering nicely and one gall bladder lighter than he was just 24 hours ago.

Hopefully this will put him on the road to a full and complete recovery.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Full Speed Ahead!

I'm trying to go through all the wedding pictures, but the process is slow going because life has been full of chaos since we arrived back at the Manor.

However, on the stunningly beautiful morning of the wedding, while the majority of the kids were heading to the water (accompanied by a responsible adult),

my Little Sleepy Monkey sat at the table enjoying her bowl of Multi-Grain Cheerios with her leftover Chick fil a cup from the day before (filled with "fresh" water).
Don't be jealous.
Only the very best for my family. 

It was somewhere around this time that we got the telephone call that my brother was on the way to the emergency room due to severe abdominal pain.
Apparently, he was in the midst of dealing with an incredibly angry gall bladder while his entire family was lounging around enjoying the sunshine.

The doctor patched him up by offering to medicate him to a point where he would be able to return in time for the wedding.
Everything went very well for the rest of the day and I'm pretty sure he remembers getting married, although I won't swear to the sharpness of his mental state.

He returned home from his honeymoon Thursday evening and will be spending time at UAB's penthouse suite for surgery bright and early tomorrow.
This is all on top of the knee surgery that he still hasn't recovered from.


In Honor of Those I Love

It is Veteran's Day
No words can express the honor or pain and no words can express the selflessness involved in their actions.

Thank you to all of the men and women, past and present who serve and protect this great country we live in.

My Dad 

My oldest brother

and my youngest older brother.

My oldest brother was able to spend time with us after the wedding.
It was a rare opportunity for us to catch up and one story blended into another until we found ourselves talking about our family and the role each served in the military.

My dad was 48 when I was born and 28 years separate my oldest brother and me.
There is a lot of family history that I was never privy to.
From WWII to Vietnam to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, my family was there.

One of the most fascinating details I learned is that my dad's brother and my aunt's boyfriend was on the 
U.S.A.T. Dorchester, widely known by the story of the Four Chaplains.
My uncle made it back home, my aunt's boyfriend, did not.

I have always known that the men in my family were tough, with iron perseverance, but that story just reaffirmed what I already knew.

Thank a veteran today.
Your kind words are more powerful than you know.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

My Little Flower Girl

It  truly was an honor for our family to be a part of my brother's wedding.
Despite the relaxed atmosphere of the wedding venue, I still very much worried about trying to make everything perfect.

I had to force myself not to worry about how Addie would act and I tried not to focus on how confusing it may all seem to Addie.
I made myself focus on the moment - the joy of knowing that we were never supposed to have this opportunity for Addie.

Because, after all, if she could never walk, never talk or never function like a "normal" child, then she would never have the opportunity to be a beautiful princess at such a big event in our lives.

I spent the morning trying to relax and took the opportunity to show Addie several videos of flower girls.
She seemed extremely disinterested in the whole process.
Then, when I spent an obnoxious amount of time trying to get her straighter than straight hair to hold one single curl, she completely lost her patience with me.
When I finally put her dress on her, she became rather anxious.
I suppose it was all the unknown activity taking place, and being in a new place sure didn't help at all.

I finally had to tell her that we were going to a big party and she would get to have cake.
It is hysterical to see the transformation on her little face at the mere mention of one single word.

When she saw the cakes, she was one very happy little girl.

Over the last few months, Addie has shown a great deal of interest in wearing my earrings.
I pondered getting her ears pierced.
I polled every parent that I could think of and when it came down to making a decision, I couldn't decide, so I did nothing.
I figured this would be yet one more time where I would have to wait for complete clarity to find me.
When the time is right, I will know.

For now, I chose little magnetic earrings that worked just fine for pictures.

Speaking of absolute clarity...
I spent months trying to decide what I would buy for Addie to wear in her hair.
I think I browsed every shop over and around "the mountain" and I spent way too many hours searching every Etsy shop that remotely seemed interesting.

One week before the wedding, my moment of clarity hit me like a ton of bricks.

There would be nothing more special than for Addie to wear the headband that I wore at my wedding.
There was no more perfect opportunity and despite the difficulty in keeping it in her hair, it was worth it.

She looked absolutely beautiful
I was able to fulfill one of my many "different dreams" of being able to pass down something from my wedding to my daughter.

It was very emotional.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Wedding

was perfect.
We are all beyond exhausted and are in the midst of playing catch up.
Despite my desire to return home with thousands of amazing pictures, it didn't happen.
I am in the midst of going through the pictures I did take and I plan to play show and tell within the next few days.

Happy Halloween 2013

Halloween Costume Number One had been hanging in the Little Monkey's closet, waiting for her Halloween party at school.
The theme was "Fall on the Farm" and the children were asked to dress up as either a farmer, farmers wife or a farm animal.

Although I'm certain ladybugs live on farms, I thought a chicken was a little more fitting for the occasion.

This Little Chicken loved her costume and I was told that she got rather tired of doing the "Chicken Dance" all day long at school.

This expression had something to do with the fact that I was taking pictures instead of loading her into the car to go to school.

Practicing her chicken dance on the way out the door.

She was absolutely worn out by the time she got home from school!

She was so done with all the picture taking, but 

Alley wanted to take a picture with the Little Chicken too.

This totally made Addie's night!


In all of my wonderful planning, I forgot to buy Addie a matching treat bag (for the entire two houses we visited), so I had to resort to her treat bag from last year.

While I was retrieving the treat bag, she spotted the pig feet and proceeded to try to put them on.
Although I told her the pig feet didn't match, she continued to try to put them on.
There was no point in pushing the issue
and besides, 
she was so proud of how she looked.

When we arrived back home, Addie waited anxiously at the door for the trick or treaters.
I had told her that we would give out candy and I really think she may have remembered being my helper last year.
Handing out candy was by far her favorite part of the evening.
Every time the doorbell would ring, she would go running to the front door and wave at me to hurry up.
Then she would take great pride in picking out the candy to put into the bags.
It was so sweet.
I truly love her lack of selfishness! 

Julien is 14.
His costume that we had to go and buy with the utmost urgency remained in the living room the entire night.
It was never put on for his Halloween party the week prior and it wasn't put on that night.
He still enjoyed the evening and was even temporarily released from the requirement of taking pictures with Addie.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Costume Number Two

The Little Monkey got to dress up for dance class last week.
After looking through magazines and online for over two full months, I still couldn't get any type of feedback from Addie on what she wanted to be for Halloween.
It wasn't until just recently, we were looking through a magazine when she spotted the ladybug costume.
She pointed at the picture, said "Ladybug" and patted her chest and said, "Me?".
I don't think I have ever placed an online order so quickly in my entire life.