Thursday, December 22, 2011

bah humbug? come on!




I've noticed a theme lately of friends and family talking a lot about the overwhelming to do lists that are inevitably involved in planning and orchestrating the perfect Christmas.  Complaining about how they want it over with and it's too much.  I get it.  I do.  It's a LOT of work, the thinking of presents, picking of the perfect tree, spending a small fortune on gifts that really most of our recipients don't need, finding the perfect wrapping paper and ribbons, preparing a menu or in our case three menus, buying all the aforementioned gifts and food for the celebrations and of course the beverages and cookies that need to carefully be prepared!  JEEZ I didn't even include in there the holiday cards that need to be ordered, addressed and mailed, then oh then we get the elf on a shelf and advent calendar fiasco's and hey you got your self a good ole, "calgon take me away"....for those born after 1985 you may miss that reference!  Anyway, it's a lot.  I agree, we as a society put a lot of expectations on ourselves to create and deliver the "perfect" Christmas!  The sad reality is in all of that hustle and bustle the real message and meaning is lost and not just the religious background that gave us Christmas in the first place, the meaning of what every holiday is supposed to give us.  A chance to breath, look around us and see all that we are blessed with.  Our family, healthy, together.  The big stuff.

I feel like so much of this little stuff gets in the way of the really big stuff and so many of us are missing the all important and ever true gift that is Christmas.  A day that everything, I mean EVERYTHING     ( I say that in reference to Starbucks specifically) is shut down.  I mean people, how many days does that happen anymore?  It's not open later or really early, its shutdown ALL.DAY.LONG.  This year in MN we are missing out on a blizzard filled 25th and honestly I am bummed.  There is something about feeling like we are trapped in our comfy, cozy houses together with no where to be, no where to go and no choice to do anything but be together.  That to me is the magic of Christmas.  There really isn't another time of year that a day stands so still just for family and friends and for the joy of each other.  I realize that standing still for our house means, waking up at the crack of dawn to pitter pattering feet whispering if they should wake us up or not to rush down stairs for the pinnacle of all parenting experiences when all of the snot wiping, puke cleaning comes to a head and you say, "YES these little leach like creatures are worth it all!" (OK don't shout that, just think it silently in your own head!)  Then we will clean up the war of our home left with impossible to open toys packages while battery searches are sure to ensue resulting in our remote most likely being pillaged for the little life it has left.  And then, clean ourselves up for round two, where we are hosting my mom's family and after that going to Jeremy's parents, yes all in one day!  Oh don't get me started on Christmas Eve, heck or even the 23rd, it begins early here and stays long and it is whirlwind of laughing, crying and stretching ourselves to soak up every inch of holiday spirit left....and trust me by the 26th we are all hungover and not from drinking, ok fine, a little from drinking too!

I say all this not to disparage the magic or jump on the freight train of acknowledging the over the topness of it all, but to say, I get it!  I live the insanity too, and still you won't find me moaning under my breath, or wishing the moments away, or cursing Santa, I love this.  Maybe it's the over achieving, type A personality, maybe, but Christmas has always been amazing to me.  I want my kids to relish in the memories we create and cherish it as much as I do when they get older.  The other day when I was wrapping 10,000 gifts with the special "santa" paper (I heard you can say the elves just use your paper so you don't have to hide and buy special stuff, love it!), I found myself exhausted and annoyed, for a moment, thinking and blaming the only person that I really take most things out on in this state of mind, my husband...why isn't he wrapping all of this crap...ooops, I mean lovely gifts....but then I just picture our kids on Christmas morning their eyes like silver dollars as they see the big stash that santa has left them and that's it.  Worth it.  Every ounce of energy, it always is so worth it.  It begins the same every year come December 1st, I can't wait to fill a bag full of fun things for the Advent house and burn the edges of the North Pole Paper and take the "ink pen" and write as only Santa can some amazing treasured note about the spirit of giving and then watch their eyes light up in amazement.  It's so awesome!  But come December 5th, Jeremy and I are out of ideas from the dollar bin crap to put in there, there is no place for Elfie to "hide" anymore, we'd like to stuff him back in the storage bin, and we are out of inspiring messages from Santa, but come on, we got 20 more days left, time to buck up!  So we do what most good couples do in these situations.  Rock paper scissors, on who has to come up with the message and hiding spot that night.  LOL.  I was on a winning streak for awhile and now well his paper is covering my dang rock a little too much!  But still when you get a winner like this one...


You just have to pat yourself on the back, the kids couldn't stop giggling when I said "Elfie stinks!" and started yelling at him for poopin in our kitchen!  Later I realized the clever spot would have been the doll toilet on top of the actual toilet, ahh well there's always next year.  And yes, I realize when my hubby and I are impressed with our coolest "elf" spot, we are officially old and highly uncool.


So, on these last few days where you may be rushing to buy the one forgotten gift or scrambling to think of the impossible person on your list....STOP and realize in a few days when you are finally in the moment, you can breath and know it's worth it.  So put a dang smile on your face and go tell someone Merry Christmas! :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

the magic of christmas

Well look what a little last minute shopping found for us....A glorious perfect shot of the magic of Christmas.....ahhhh heaven.  Ok well just for a moment.  Moments before involved lots of UGH my legs are tired, hey can I get this, when are we going home?, can we go see Santa?  Jeremy and I have determined that 5 is the age for never ending, "are we there yet?" questions.  Well, that also include, I am hungry, I am thirsty, I am tired, ooooh I want a treat....the list of I wants seem to never end at this age.  Luckily my well is filled with "not this time" "maybe some other time" "in a little bit" "you need to be patient" "santa's listening".  The truth is the biggest job in parenting seems to boil down to two little things.  Threats and treats.  Kind of sad really, but totally true.  And there is no sweeter treat than Santa and a lil sunshine.  But, to all of those loving this warm MN weather, which by the way means over 30 degrees!  I need a WHITE CHRISTMAS!!!! I mean one of the main reasons I suffer through winter after winter is to tell myself, well at least we always have a white Christmas.  Well folks, I don't think this year that is going to happen and that just isn't right!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

firsts

video
So you ever hear people talk about their kids and as a kid yourself think that your parents had a favorite?  That they really loved your brother or sister maybe a little bit more than you?  I personally haven't wondered this in my own life.  I felt that my favorite child title fluctuated, when I was younger and quiet and sweet, (I know hard to imagine!) my mom and I did most everything together and suppose you could have guessed I was her favorite.  Now, my dad and I have a bond that is indescribable and real and deep, you could say that I am his favorite.  I heard somewhere that when you ask a child, "who do you think mommy's favorite is?" They should answer themselves.  Graham did, Audrey said Nolan...hmmmm better work on that.

I have been thinking about this because Graham read his FIRST book last night.  I don't mean every other word, or stumbling to pronounce things so long that you dose off or you might rip your eyeballs out waiting, LOL!  I mean, read it.  Every word and every page start to finish and it was glorious.  Jeremy walked in on him reading and paused looked at me and was like, "seriously is that kid reading that just like that?"  I was shaking my head furiously up and down and not wanting to interrupt surely the most important moment of his life!  He was beaming with pride as he turned each page giving me a high five and so happy that HE was doing it.  Graham has always been a bright kid, curious and uber imaginative.  He was born this way, along with a few stressful quirky personality traits as well, (read other posts!).  But, it was one of those things that we could have pushed, taught him ourselves, worked with him on more, you know the type.  The teach your baby to read type.  I purposely didn't with Graham, one because we butt heads naturally and I didn't want him to grow frustrated from learning because of ME!  And also because that is what school is for right?  To teach our kids.  We forget this sometimes in our society that kids can learn at a kid pace and that's just fine.  I don't want him to read at a 4th grade level in Kindergarten he'd be bored silly and I like him to be challenged and given the appropriate pushing and when it all unfolds so nicely, like three months in to school and voila, my 5 year old can read!  Just proud of him and excited, so fun those moments that come along once in a lifetime.  Watching your child turn their gears just so in their little minds and end up with the answers.  It's magic and makes all the hours of time outs and tantrum filled days worth it.

So, as I was going to bed last night filled with pride, I paused a moment and thought, geez this is what kind of sucks for the middle kid.  I've been noticing it more as Audrey gets older, this whole middle thing kind of blows!  I mean, Graham goes to preschool and we can't wait a NEW adventure for us too, the first time on the bus, the first tooth, the first steps, the first bike ride, he kind of steals the dang show!  I think that is natural, I mean he's our first.  I always thought sweet Audrey would hold her own special place as my first girl and only girl for that matter and I loved that, I wished Nolan was a boy, so Audrey would have a special place despite being a middle child.  It's funny thought, because inevitably she falls into the middle.  I rush her to school, don't chat with the moms as long, don't volunteer as much, don't bring everything perfect, don't think about what to pack in her lunch, or how to practice her alphabet sounds, I mean, she just kind of gets shuffled between Nolan's therapies and needs and Graham's firsts and goes along with the ride.  Is this all bad?  I hope not.  I don't think so.  I mean, Jeremy is a middle and he is awesome.  He learned how to get along with pretty much anybody, make due in any situation, be flexible, positive and happy.  I would say Ms. Audrey is all of those things.  I do try to carve out special "girl time" and do only "girly" things with her.  Letting her know we have a bond like no other. A phrase we say to the boys in the house..."boys drool and girls rule!"  I know, I know not the most polite thing in the world, but it's ours.  Just us girls.

So, I don't know, I don't think I have a favorite.  I think I have a favorite big boy, who is learning like a sponge and impresses me every day with something new.  I have a favorite sweet girl who shares and considers others like no one else.  I have a favorite little baby that warms and melts my soul.  And let's be honest those favorites fall from grace as quickly as they rise.  You won't find me to be a mom that doesn't sell them out.  I mean Graham can scream and fight over NOTHING better than anyone I have EVER met, no I am not kidding, that kid can be nuts!  Audrey can pout and whine and you swear some alien has possessed her little body, but believe it, she can turn on you.  And well, Nolan, I got nothin on him, he's too dang sweet and little to do anything wrong as of yet.  Give it time, his new favorite behavior is biting and pulling out electrical cords...umm yeah, not good.  I haven't mustered up the anger or fear or irritation yet to say NOOOOOO like I would to my others, because come on, the kid can crawl and that is so dang cool, I can't get mad!!!!!  So how about you?  What do you think about this favorite kid thing?  Do you have one?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

choices

I've wanted to discuss this for some time.  It's tough bringing up topics that ruffle feathers, that get people going and think badly of you for your thoughts or opinions, but sometimes, it's necessary.  To say what we need to say.  For our children, for ourselves, sometimes our truth needs a voice.  So, you may not see or understand what I am about to write, it may rub you the wrong way or your perception of me may change.  I'm ok with that.  I've got to do it.

It's funny all that changes in a year.  Our lives have forever been changed by the birth of our third child and his extra chromosome.  He changes how we see the world, the people we pass daily that we used to not see, we stop and look a little longer.  We stop and acknowledge all people now.  Finding value you in all lives around us.  I wish I could say I did that before but I didn't.  My life was so much more shallow and had a lot less meaning.  But, now, now my boy has inspired me to think harder and dig deeper to a place inside all of us that sometimes we don't want to visit.  A place where the value of life is in question.

A lot of people have asked us if we knew about Nolan and DS prior to his birth and if we did any testing, had any markers, I think most people ask this question for the same reason I would if I were in their position.  I would want to know how I could "figure" it out if that were my situation.  We didn't do testing with any of our children.  I am not the most religious person in the world and I am not a fan of "God's children are all blessings."  I am more of the line that yes, all children are blessings and yes, I believe we all have a path and a plan in life and there are lessons to be learned at every turn, but I am not sure if this is "God" related, I don't necessarily use that label if you will.  But, I did believe that with all of our children, they are gifts, miracles and what happens happens and that is our life path.  Now is this a harder pill to swallow when you are faced with it?  Of course.  All that you believe gets tested.  You start wondering, should I have tested what would I have done?  Would that have been better? Would I have been what 9 out of 10 people in this country do and kill my boy?  The answer in my case is no.  I just couldn't.  I know that now.  I know that knowing wouldn't have helped me, I truly believe it would have been harder, I think the best thing was having him to breathe in to hold him to get through the crying and pain of it all.  It made having him easier.  I also never. NOT ONCE have thought life would be better, easier, if he weren't here.  It isn't true.  Now I do say it would be better without Down Syndrome, but not without Nolan and yes they are two different things.  When I first had him I had to learn the lingo, that you say, child with down syndrome not a down's kid or down syndrome kid, because, he Nolan, isn't just down syndrome.  His life isn't defined by an extra chromosome any more than yours is defined by your dad drinking or your mom being a yeller.  It affects you, molds you, but to let it define you, that's a choice.  And I think you'd be rather annoyed if someone went around calling you by something that is viewed less than favorably by the general public, like the "cancer lady" or "fat man"or the "drunk chick" it just isn't flattering and well isn't true.  So no my son isn't the 'downs kid".  He's Nolan first and then he's cute and then he has good hair and then he's got sweet tiny feet and then he's got chunky cheeks and then he's silly and then he's crawling and laughing and smells good and super sweet and loving and well then, maybe then after 24 more things he also has down syndrome.  So you see, it's pretty low on our list of priorities and do I wish the world got this like we do? Of course.  Did I get this a year ago when I saw someone of disability.  HELL NO.  So, I don't judge you, I don't blame you.  I was you.  I just ask you to see differently now. I ask you to see him how his brother and sister see him, with pure love and joy and they think they've never seen a sweeter baby in their life.  They love him with their whole heart.  Maybe someday they'll think differently, they'll be embarrassed or not want to have someone know that their brother has Down Syndrome.  I cringe for these days.  Not for Nolan, but for them, because it's a learning process to become a healthy, well-rounded adult.  And in doing that we all will have different tests and struggles and for my kids, I can only hope that they will pass that one with flying colors and they will come out on top, realizing it is the world that needs change of perspective not our Nolan that needs to change who he is.

So, where does all of this chat bring me?  Well.  To testing.  You see there is an early test now a Down Syndrome test that basically can be taken with a simple blood test and let you sleep a little easier that your new baby doesn't have it.  It's easy, can be done early and cheap.  What does that mean to a population that when people find out they are pregnant with a baby with down syndrome, 90% abort them, well it means just that, more abortions, less people like my Nolan.  I started thinking what does that mean for him?  Will he be alone in the world and completely eradicated?  Furthermore I thought, how is this whole, who's worth living and who's not, come to happen.  Is there some boardroom somewhere that insurance companies say, "OK well you can abort these babies at our hospital if ..." How do they determine this?  I just can't wrap my brain around it.  If you are too short, too tall, have 6 fingers, never talk, blind, deaf, autistic?  Anything but perfection?  I just don't get it.  I look at my Mr. Nolan and I think.  What's so wrong with him?  What's so bad? That he can't live alone one day?  That we all have to balance checkbooks?  I mean, seriously?  How many people live into their 40's with their parents by choice?  How many drug addicts steal and ruin their lives financially forever?  I just think if there were a gene for that, would you kill those babies too?  What about if we had a magic ball and you knew your child would die at 10 from cancer? Is that life not worthy because it's not long enough?  Costs too much to treat?  I don't get how or why someone can say all of this is OK?  I just really can't.  People say, well not everyone is financially able to take on Down Syndrome or help those kids?  Well, then people, none of you should have kids.  Because we as parents have no idea, where, how or when our children may die, get injured, change the course of their lives forever.  That is the role of being a parent.  We aren't here to simply have children that please us, that do what we want and make choices that we agree with.  That is the truth.  So, I see these tests, I hear of people getting amnio's on HEALTHY babies with NO RISKS and think for WHAT?  Because YOU can't handle the "risk" of having a less than perfect baby.  Then the sad truth is, you shouldn't be parents.  That risk, is with you at every moment of every day and all you are doing is eliminating a tiny tiny tiny percentage of issues or problems that your child may encounter and to me that is just ignorant and sad.

See this is where it gets dicey.  Because I know many of you that have had amnio's, testing, thought about or perhaps have had abortions, but I can't help but feel this way.  You don't have to agree with me, you can have your own opinions and make your choices that is your right.  I have always felt this way.  My son just really solidified my belief in faith. That whatever comes your way, you can handle it, you can choose to rise above it and embrace it around you.  Or you can let it define you and ruin your life.  That is a choice that I think is worth making.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

intervention







I kinda need one right now.  No not like in the way of hey you have been doing way too many drugs or that glass of wine needs to be your last.  I need an intervention of the mommy kind.  You know it, when your house is clean for like 30 seconds and then destroyed?! How is that? How does that happen?  My house CAN NOT stay clean.  And for me, it drives me insane.  Don't get me wrong, I am not Martha Stewart, but just a little picked up I would appreciate...instead, this is what it looks like, AFTER I cleaned it this morning!  Yes it is just noon now!  So frustrating!  I decided as mothers we need an Elf, you know the Elf on the shelf, our is Elfie, well I want one....one that cleans whatever room is left and when you re-enter TA DA! It's clean!  Is it winter? Maybe, maybe since the kids are in here more and we are not at parks or running around as much stuff is getting nasty!  Yes, notice Nolan, ripping apart toxic magazine pages and trying to eat them? Oh and you also noticed that he is in a short sleeve onesie and it is 13 degrees out?  YEP I am that mom right now, see what I mean, intervention time.  I went to go change him for the third time since he has gotten up, no I a not exaggerating, and what do you think I found in his closest, NOTHING...not one long sleeved onesie, well that isn't true, there was a Halloween one that doesn't fit him anymore so it was between that and the summer one, and there you have it...a mom who is overwhelmed, overworked and well let's be honest, highly under paid at her wits end.  So, in my filthy house right now you'll hear the hum of the washing machine, because nothing says laundry time like when you don't have any clean clothes to put on your child!

 So, I notice all of this because I get to go out tonight, yep, a glorious night out on the town with an old friend, Barrio in St. Paul, so YUMMY, if you haven't been be jealous, it's trendy, delicious and awesome!    But do you know what that means....that means I have to have a sitter as Jeremy is working late, so what does a sitter mean to a control freak like me?  I HAVE TO CLEAN UP THIS MESS!  I can't have a 16 year old come in here and wonder who is raising these poor kids, how do they live and why is the baby in a summer outfit...the horror of it all!  Now, bare in mind that this 16 year old is my cousin, so it isn't as if I need to really pretend I have it all together, but come one, a little bit right?  Maybe it's a delusion only held for me, and everyone really knows my secret.  Like my lovely neighbor who will randomly stop by and chat throughout the year nd I keep telling her, "OH MY this is the ONE night I didn't pick up the kitchen?"  Do you think after 5 years she buys that?  Probably not.  I think that's why today is my intervention, I am coming clean...HAHAHA....and letting my "dirty" secret out.  I don't have it all together.  My house isn't spotless, my kids aren't dressed appropriately even a little today.  And Graham doesn't have hat hair, his hair was that bad when he left and I through a hat on it, I mean that's a blessing this time of year that really needs to be cherished.  We all can just have hat hair and have no reason to bother even doing our children's hair because Audrey looks like she went down a slide one to many times and Graham looks like no one has washed or combed his hair in 2 weeks, and it's only been 2 days, that I am not kidding about!  I do keep their bodies clean, their rooms and laundry, that's on a bi-weekly basis!

So, in all that dirty mess and after seeing a Facebook post yesterday that someone suggested putting their kids photos from the photo shoot that they are sassy and screaming on their Christmas card, I was inspired to let it all hang out and let you know, this mama, ain't perfect!  But a girl can dream and pretend and well, my Christmas card is dang close.  I love it.  It's so beautiful and for so many reasons.  One of the most shallow things I thought when we found out Nolan had Down Syndrome was about our Christmas card.  I mean this is serious business in the Robbins House, Jeremy has to give me a budget, no joke, I am obsessed with good cards, and we won a contest on an amazing stationery site, so we get a large credit for our cards, well they could be free if I went with the cheaper ones, but who can do that?  So, we won the contest and I got to order the "mini-book" yes, crazy, over the top, obnoxious even, but I am in love with it.  So, when he was born I thought to myself, 'what's the point of amazing Christmas cards now?'.  It's awful to admit and disgusting really and now after a year, laughable.  What a joke? Are you kidding me?  Nolan was the cutest and most amazing thing about our cards, last year and this year when we won AGAIN...yes with Nolan on our card we were selected again and we are hoping for three years in a row, I can be greedy right?  So, here is our perfect card to make up for all of the imperfections previously mentioned!  We are a blend really right, waxing and waning between put together and a frazzled mess.  I like to believe that all of us moms out there have days that we rock it, we look good, feel good and all is right and then, well days like today....it's part of the journey!