Thursday, February 19, 2015

So, this is SEVEN...


I know, buddy. There are so many fingers in front of your face, even I am in complete and total shock at the hilarity of it all.

I mean...SEVEN?

I'm aware there have been a number of clues to prepare me for this. I couldn't stretch those pants below your mid-ankle even if I wanted to. (Psst. I want to.) Those giant chiclet teeth overtaking that itty-bitty, baby teeth spacing? Yeah. I see them. Those big boys just scream SEVEN. Your inquisitive nature on all things the world and it's people are so well beyond seven...

So, why the heck then do I still look at your face every day and see this?

Perhaps it is because this sweet little face, with the purest loving heart and a fearless honesty continues to stare back at me daily through the same beautiful, crystal, blue eyes. Only now, instead of the impish grin of a child that has just devoured the majority of a blue piece of chalk, it is the reflected at me in the inquisitive gaze of a mind in constant exploration of everything about the world around him. The planets, the sky, the U.S. Presidents, catastrophic weather patterns, cultural celebrations, flags and cooking are just mild examples of your insatiable hunger for learning. As you put it best... you prefer "the nonfiction parts of life."

You continue to be a terrible liar, the messiest eater, most opinionated dresser with one of quickest to fire hot buttons of anyone I know. I think that Lucy May might walk the planet with one finger hovering over that hot button at all times. Buddy, you just never see it coming. That consistency, Gabriel, while a challenge at just so beautifully and wonderfully you.

This year you have grown so much... in inches, in legos, in Minecraft expertise, in volume, in appetite, in tree climbing abilities. Your teeth to empty spaces ratio was alarmingly off for a good few weeks that it was a wonder you could eat at all. Luckily, you rarely chew your food anyway. Crisis averted. Way to plan ahead.

You continue to have the kindest of hearts, an empathetic ability to listen and an unbelievable magnetism for friendship. Those sisters of yours have hit gold and don't even have a clue. I can't wait to see their faces when they realize that not everyone's brother will sit and play barbies for hours on end (albeit with some crazy post-apocalyptic Gabe concocted themes) just to enjoy their company.

I wake up for the day and without a doubt am consistently inspired to see the world through a different view... all because of you... usually before I have even finished my morning coffee. All the "Did you know", "Can you believe...", "Isn't it neat...", "Well, actually..." that happens because of you is a gift that I will treasure for my always.

Happiest of birthdays, Gabriel. Here's to another beautiful trip around the sun.


Gabe's Seven! from Julie May on Vimeo.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Game of Life

I remember it so well. The fantastic billows of laughter that erupted from behind my childhood door as my sister and I played the abridged version of "Life" by basically driving up and down kid alley in efforts to see who could accumulate the most people in our car or train of vehicles should you land repeatedly on the highly coveted twins spot. All named for our future babes squished in to a blue plastic station wagon alongside my husband (representative of my current crush of the day) just careening up and down the same path, amongst the insane laughter of two girls collecting people.

There was hard in my childhood... in every childhood. Ours housed illness and divorce and the natural chaos of a large family. Ironically, though, in the game of life... it was so fantastically, joyously easy. I couldn't wait to share it with my children.

While the idea blossomed so very long ago... the actual ability to set aside some intentional time to hold family game night took several months. While a bit of a sad reflection of our busy life, I am choosing to focus on the fact that even if took some time, I never stopped wanting it to happen. Even better, celebrating that it finally did.

Let me tell you. The game of life is really long. And while bedtime stretched well in to the 10 o'clock hour for a certain group of Mays, for all the laughter and tears that lived in that precious window of time, I'd go and do it all over again.

The game was every bit as magical as I remembered it.

Gabriel became a veterinarian of penguins (naturally), father to two beautiful daughters and made the very best old man face when he learned he was a grandpa. He was really adamant that he loan me money for my first home and in the end fell just a little short of his life long dream to own a mansion. Through his tired tears, I was met with the best hug at the promise that he could live with me on my countryside estate...where I would build him a mansion equal sized if not slightly bigger than Molly's.

Molly went to college, took forever to get through it and ultimately took a profession as a performer, living in a mobile home with her adopted twins from Africa. At one point she might have cried out through the most dramatically bleary-eyes that this "LIFE is just too hard and bordering horrible". Nevertheless, she sued Gabe for 100,000 dollars, maintained the safe, gambling free, path and walked away a very happy millionaire.

Lucy, allowed for Kelly to ride in the backseat of her car... zoomed through college, went on a ski trip where Daddy fell out of the car and she ultimately left him for dead. She rushed in to marriage, had a bunch of kids and basically broke the spinner 15 times before we planted her in front of Netflix. She was just as much of a tornado in the game as in reality. We have both decided when aging... we may not want to live with Lucy lest we be left behind at a really great party. She'll have every intention to come back for us... but might forget.

It was all such a funny game. The fact that it was just as fun for them as it was for the 8-yr-old version of myself is just so very heartwarming.

While it would be so interesting, I do not have a crystal ball to read the future, peer in to my grandchildren's eyes, relish in my children's success or prepare them for their hardships. There is no plastic colored car that will give me a glimpse in to their life to come. I'm okay with this. They'll get there one day... and when they do... what great joy I will have in knowing that whatever this real game of life unfolds for them...

They will never, ever, ever have to go through it alone.

Who needs a mansion... I already feel like a millionaire.

Monday, February 9, 2015

We made it a week!

Here's to celebrating the milestones. 

We have officially made it through one week post surgery with Annie in her Spica cast. While we are definitely starting to get a little groove going, I would be lying if I told you it hasn't been a challenging, long week. It sure feels nice to have a whole week behind us.

We have been almost completely glued to home minus a quick escape here and there to our neighborhood park. My kids are really struggling with it... can't you tell? It would seem that Mr. homebody is quite the man of leisure.

Our biggest initial hurtles surrounded Annie's pain management. One day post surgery seems like the perfect time to cut a tooth, no? Teething, coupled with some minor muscle spasms and overall frustration with limited mobility made for a lot of night waking. It was pretty much in line with a having a newborn again...only I couldn't really fix it with food this go around.

One plus... 

I did get a lot of snuggles. While bulkier and often with a foot in my face, we can still have a great cuddle fest. I am so thankful. . 

Annie also started sleeping in her new room right from the hospital because we had more space to change her cast, better lighting, bigger bed for her wide stance, etc. She currently sleeps with a little pillow under her upper body and each foot resting on an individual little beanie pillow that we can move to best alleviate cast pressure. While she adjusted to it instantly, I might have stared at our video monitor the entire first night. 

Annie has gained about 15-20 lbs in her plaster cast. That's taken some adjusting. Luckily, each cast should get a little lighter, I'm told. My back might have missed the memo to prepare a little more this go around and I definitely strained some muscles lifting her wrong at the hospital. Have I mentioned how steroids are magical? 'Cause... they are. It has been the only thing to help with the inflammation and allow me to bend and tie my shoes. It was pretty anxiety inducing for a bit but, I am so thankful Mr. Muscles was home a good chunk of this week. I have a pretty awesome co-parent, just saying.

We struggled a bit with the not pooing for a couple days due to surgery pain meds... which of course I tried to fix with some prunes... which ultimately greeted us with a 4am wake up to a poop filled body cast. 


Let's be honest... it probably still is. There was absolutely no possible way we got it all out of there. After cleaning it for an hour and a half in the middle of the night, a little heated, rated R whispering between a pair of groggy, four-eyed monsters---we decided our cleaning would just have to suffice. 

Annie's going to be smelling really pretty in about 5 weeks, no? 

In terms of diapering...we sort of have no system yet. We are trying all different methods to see which seems to work best. Right now we are pretty settled with a poise pad tucked in the opening of the cast, size 1 or 2 diaper --depending on swelling--- (tabs cut off) tucked behind that in the cast and then a size 5 on the outside of the cast. We have yet to have another blow out and we are beyond due for one as we are currently three days sans poo again. BUT. I feel confident this might be the right diapering for this cast. 

Aside from our hairdryer with a cool setting and pillow pet on the changing table... our best ever item for diapering has been our trusty spatulas...

Just when we think there is no possible way we could clean out more poop... or better fit a diaper in a cast... this little rainbow striped magic just proves us wrong.

Seriously, fellow Spica families... get you one.

We have had some awesome love surrounding us this past week and are beyond grateful. Our parents helped with maintaining home life for our other Mays, kept our fridge stocked and our bellies full at the hospital. Neighbors and friends have all pitched in with meals, play dates and big kid transport. Every time I think about it, I tear up. We couldn't be blessed with a more amazing community. If there is anything I hope to teach my children as they grow is to be the type of person that seeks to serve others. It is absolutely the most beautiful way to show love.

Our beloved Whitehead family gifted us with an Amazon gift card which allowed for us to purchase this fantastic umbrella stroller for Annie.

It is perfect for her cast... and will be a great umbrella stroller for life after cast too. For those researching all things Spica... it is THIS stroller. Any fear I had about it's comfort was completely erased on our first escape to the park...

She sure looked pretty comfy to me..

I've really been able to flex my crafty brain this week, and if you know me at all...that is probably the best way I calm my nervous, mama heart. I love projects that force me to think outside the box. And while I still feel overwhelmed and nervous at times, looking through the pictures, I am reminded that we are going to be just fine.

This little miss (sporting some AWESOME sibling graffiti) is nothing short of amazing.

Week 16... we're coming for you.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

6 Months!

After making it through the muck of today, it is crazy to think of all that has occurred in the past month. 
23.25 inches - 1%
12 lb 14 oz - 4%
41.2 (head) - 25%

For so long it seems... this 6-month milestone was a date that I was dreading. It's sad, really, because there is so much that I have loved in this past month.

Annie. You had such an incredible month and it has been such a joy to witness your little personality grow in to such a happy, tiny person. It doesn't matter our stresses or which sibling is having a meltdown... one little look at your happy smile and the entire mood of the home shifts. You are such a light, kid.

Don't you know Rosie George totally cashed in on all that warm, glowy goodness of you...

Annie, this month you had so much to say!

You mastered the awesomeness of prop sitting for a couple minutes at a time...

While you didn't get to eat Girl Scout cookies... you did get to try all sorts of great solids. We have yet to find one you won't eat. 

Aside from rolling everywhere... you were quick to discover the awesomeness of backwards crawling.

And much to our joy, you discovered how to put that pacifier back in all by yourself. 

Probably one the of the biggest blessings though, was meeting your new tiny buddy, Charley. She, too, is a fellow hipster and will travel this same journey of Spica right along with you. I am constantly in awe the strength that comes with community. I am so grateful to have Charley's sweet family in ours. And although you kept awkwardly sticking your entire hand in her mouth to say hello... I think she too decided to be your friend. Hooray for baby besties. 

You have been building friendships in all sorts of people this month.

Any friend that will let you suck on their nose must be quality... no???

This month was quite the reverse nesting for your Mom. I was scared and overwhelmed. When like this... I do what other sane  nobody else does and decided to redecorate two major living spaces. 

You were so patient through this process. Thank you.

All this DIY resulted in a shared big sister space...

 And your very own room. Woot. Woot.

We even threw a little ole' baptism in to the mix. You hated every second of it... less because of the religious ideology and more because you really wanted a nap. I hear you... I mean, I love a good nap too.

... And then I ended this month with the day I had been dreading for about the past 4.5 months. While it wasn't great by any means...

It also wasn't the worst of days either...

 Annabel Jane, I hope that you never lose this beautiful gift of resiliency and strength.

You have taught my heart more about life in the past few days then you will ever know. I am so incredibly thankful for you.

 Today has been harder. There's been muscle spasms, frustration with decreased movement, you're tired, I'm tired and quite frankly... you really need to poop. Not to mention your two bottom teeth are busting to break through any moment now... lots of not so great...

But you still continue to rally. 

 We will grow together in the newness of all this in the month to come. I'm sure of it.

And while there is quite the learning curve...

One day soon... it will be all behind us.

You are the bravest 6-month-old I know.