Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Day Merryn Saved Josie's Life

Something happened last week that I was initially reluctant to blog about.  However, after some reflection, I realized that this blog is, in many ways, like a scrapbook - a place for me to document memories.  And as upsetting as this story is for me to recall, I will always remember the beautiful display of love, loyalty, and heroism.
I know I owe you a detailed update on our big move and such, but just to get you up to speed, my husband recently accepted another position within his company which required us to relocate to a different state.  We traveled to the new state for a weekend of speed house hunting only to come up dry.  So we found ourselves living in a two-bedroom condo until we can find/build a house here.
This new dwelling is lovely, albeit tiny, and it an really start to close in on a family of five.  So most days, as the weather permits, I try to take the children outside for a change of scenery and some fresh air and exercise. 
It's not easy to shuffle all 3 kids out the door by myself.  We don't keep the stroller in the condo because it takes up too much valuable space, so I have to count on my two oldest to walk independently while I lug Lydia in this heavy car seat.  We walk down the hall to the elevator where there is always an intense negotiation over who gets to push the button. 
I hold Josie's hand and help her over all the thresholds and down the front steps and she follows me down this sidewalk to the grassy area on the side of the building where we dance, blow bubbles, or kick the ball.
Last Wednesday, we left for our outdoor excursion.  Merryn was riding her new scooter and she took it down the ramp while I helped Josie down the front steps.  Then, I headed towards the grassy area lugging Lydia's carseat in one hand and a bucket of bubbles in the other and I took for granted that the girls were following.  I didn't make it but a few steps when I heard Merryn yell "Josie NO!!!!" and I whirled around to see Merryn lurch off her scooter, grab Josie, and yank her backwards right before she stepped off the sidewalk into the parking lot where the FedEx truck was barreling right at her! 
I was overcome with emotion: shock, mom guilt for letting go of Josie's hand, and sheer awe that my little girl, who just turned 3 last month, would have the judgment, instincts, and courage to react in that manner!  Merryn literally saved her sister's life!
 And while Merryn's "Mother Hen" tendencies are well documented (click HERE and HERE), I never expected this young child to demonstrate such heroism.  So I did the only thing I could think to do: I hugged her, thanked her, and praised her profusely.  Then I took her to Starbucks and bought her a cake pop!

In Merryn's world, cake pops are the epitome of happiness.  In fact, she'll tell you her dad goes to work "to earn money to buy cake pops". 
 It took me a little while to calm down after that incident.  When I could finally set aside the panic, upset, and guilt, I was left with profound admiration for this little girl.  I already knew Merryn was special.  She's smart, funny, and kind down to her core.  She has an inherently maternal spirit that is far beyond anything I could ever aspire to.  She is a blessing to everyone in our family - especially her sisters.  And now, she is a hero as well.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Josie's Social Story

As previously mentioned, Travis has a job that has allowed us the opportunity to live all over the country.  We always saw it as a fun adventure - finding a new dwelling, exploring a new city, and making new friends.  However, now that we're parents, moving is a bit more complicated.  It's not just about a new house to decorate or new restaurants to dine in; it's about finding new physicians, therapists, childcare, playgroups, and preschools. 
Then there's the concern over the adjustment and how moving will emotionally impact the kids.  This weighed heavily on my mind especially with Josie, as her cognition is more limited than Merryn's an I'm not sure exactly how much she understands. 
Her speech therapist recommended I draft a social story.  The goal of a Social Story  is to share accurate social information in a patient and reassuring manner that is easily understood by it's audience.  Josie loves books so it seemed like a great approach!  I got out my laptop and typed up a simple booklet, printed the pages, stapled them together, and read it to the girls.  

So far, the adjustment has been going well.  I'm not sure how much the Social Story has to do with Josie's comfort level, but it can't hurt.  More on our big move coming soon!  


Friday, August 8, 2014

Another BIG Announcement

Hello Strangers!  Long time, no blog posts.  I know, I know.  But I have a good explanation as to why you haven't heard much from us this summer.  You see, it all started when we had a third baby.  Everyone was THRILLED by Baby Lydia's arrival - especially her sisters:
 Another classic photo shoot brought to you by my super cooperative children.  Yes, I went to the trouble of selecting coordinating outfits and arranging to have the girls come visit me in the hospital so that we could have the hospital photographer take our first "Family of Five" photo, only to end up with this gem.  Sensational!
But I digress...Lydia came via C Section which meant the journey to recovery was quite lengthy.  It's a good thing Mama Hop and Aunt Leanne came up to the tundra and spent 5 weeks caring for the older girls so I could get back on my feet.
 After that, YaYa and Papa visited and we had a great time...except for the day that Papa flew in and we were supposed to get him from the airport but we never showed up.  Why?  Because we were in the Emergency Room with Miss Josie whose Mic-Key button came out.  After a long ER wait, the hole had closed so much that the doctor could not get it back in.  The only option was to have a surgery to replace it.  No thanks!  We are now G-tube free.  What does that mean?  It means the dear child had better eat and drink orally because the only other way to avoid dehydration is to get an IV.
So yes, that was a scary, unanticipated summer adventure that I would have blogged about but we were too busy having adventures of the more fun variety this summer like outdoor festivals, the splash pad, and little weekend road trips...
Miss Merryn even traded her tricycle for a big girl bike and she's been taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather to practice.
 Speaking of Merryn, our little girl is growing up.  She recently celebrated her third birthday at Chuck E Cheese!  As you can tell, she had a blast:
 Ha!  She really did have fun, although she was a little unsure about those life size singing animals as well as that big ol' mouse.  He brought back memories of the Easter Bunny and she just wasn't ready to turn on the charm.  Josie, however, was delighted to make a new friend! 
Three going on 30!
 Speaking of growing, check out Baby Lydia:
 She is a delightful baby; she charms everyone with her smiles and coos.  Mama Hop and Aunt Leanne are absolutely enamored with one more little girl to love on.  It's just a shame we have to live so far away from one another...
...until now!  That's right, Folks.  There is another move in our near future.  We will be leaving the Tundra and returning to the Midwest where we will be much closer to Mama Hop, Aunt Leanne, YaYa, Papa, and so many of our friends and loved ones.  In case you're keeping track, that's our seventh move together since going off to college...Life just never slows down for us crazy nomads!
Anyhoo, if you don't hear from us for awhile, we're probably packing up a house and a condo and moving into another condo in another state while we attempt to find another house.  Just typing that makes me tired!  We hope to be able to update you on our next big moving adventure soon.  If you miss us in the meantime, check us out on Instagram @CatfishWithKetchup or you can find our Instagram photos on the right hand margin of the blog.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Black & White Photo Shoot

Since becoming parents of three, the "divide and conquer" approach has been the only way Travis and I can survive.  Take, for example, errands:  Travis was sent on an errand to Old Navy to purchase some knit shorts for the girls.  He had been carefully coached on what to look for and armed with a photo of the shirts he was supposed to be finding coordinates for.  Upon arrival, he became a little confused so he Facetimes me (a relatively common occurrence when he's out of his element and needs guidance).  These adorable black and white outfits catch my eye, and even though it wasn't what he was sent to purchase, I tell him to pick those up, too. 
Yesterday was an unseasonably hot day here in the Tundra so I figured these black and white outfits would be the perfect choice to keep the girls cool and comfortable.  Oddly enough, we didn't have any appointments until the afternoon so I decided to throw up a white sheet and photograph my sweet girls in their matching ensembles. 
Now I know what you're thinking - the little voice in the back of my head that was telling me the same thing: I should know better by now.  I should learn to manage my expectations.  This is never going to work.
Yes, you're absolutely correct.  But when I see my babies looking so adorable in their coordinating outfits, I tend to ignore my voice of reason and cling to the hope that today just may be the day that a miracle occurs...
 Merryn immediately launched into "Mother Hen" mode and began bossing and posing her sisters.
 For a split second, there was a glimmer of hope that I may have had a chance at a successful photo shoot when Josie and Merryn both leaned in to kiss Baby Lydia at the same time...but Baby Lydia wasn't having it.  No siree, she was NOT amused. 
 Oh well, if Baby Lydia doesn't want a kiss, Josie will go ahead and kiss her own feet.  Meanwhile, Merryn appears to be losing steam and I suspect what happened next involved her leaning back and...
Disclaimer: No children were injured in the taking of this photo
 Yes, I pressed the button on the camera one more time before rushing to help them.  I'm a good mother like that. 
 And that's about when we decided to call it a day.
But we got a few good photos out of it.  Like this one:
Guess how I got her to smile: I asked her about her "boyfriend".  Oh yes - it worked like a charm!
Look at those faces! 
Totally worth it! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Aunt Leanne and the Food Service Etiquette Violation

Aunt Leanne is no stranger to hard work.  She's held jobs in various environments including an office, daycare, and in a sheltered workshop.  Along the way, she's learned a thing or two about professionalism.  If you'd like to read her tips, click HERE.  And just like the rest of us, Leanne continues to conquer new challenges, acquire new skills, and make a few mistakes that serve as valuable learning opportunities.
She recently began a job at a cafĂ© within a corporate office building where she gets to work on a variety of tasks including food preparation, wiping tables, sweeping floors, and working the cash register. She loves the opportunity to get out in the community and mingle with customers.  No doubt her charm and charisma make her a favorite among those customers.  And it's a good thing she's got that winning smile to fall back on when she oversteps professional shaking the tip jar in the air and telling customers "Don't forget to tip!"
Another valuable learning experience for Leanne - yes, the tip jar is there are customers are welcome to tip, but we mustn't verbally mandate that each customer do so.  Another valuable pointer to add to "Leanne's Guide to Professionalism in the Workforce".
Which calls to mind another time Leanne shamelessly solicited a tip...well, you can't blame a girl for trying. 
Oh but what she lacks in food service etiquette she compensates for in sheer likeability and cuteness.  Come on - have you ever seen anyone look this good in a hair net?! 
Mind your manners and keep up the good work, Leanne!  You make us proud!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

One of Those Days

It had just been one of those days.  You know, one of THOSE days...the kind of day that follows a sleepless night - status quo for the mom of a 6 week old who was an insomniac even before the baby-induced sleep deprivation...the kind of day that includes, but is not limited to:
  • bed wetting
  • toddler 'tude
  • an allergy-ridden tot with her hair plastered to her cheeks by snot which requires a bath
  • an epic blowout in the bouncy seat that mandates a bath and an additional load of laundry on top of the remaining...
  • 3 loads of laundry
  • speech therapy
  • physical therapy
  • technical problems that prevent access to the spreadsheet that holds the contact information for intended birth announcement recipients
  • more toddler 'tude that really makes you think that Aunt Leanne had a point when she asked why we bother letting Thelma out of time out when she will inevitably need to go back in there.  Just leave her in there.  Duh! 
  • a chorus of three children crying at once
  • plate/cup throwing during meals
  • an attempt to write a grant during nap time (don't ask)
  • an incredibly stressful albeit appreciated Skype session with Josie's behavioral psychologist to help us work through the aforementioned oppositional behavior at mealtime
  • the discovery of dry erase marker all over the walls of the playroom thanks to a naughty almost-three-year-old graffiti artist. 

It was the kind of day that made me miss my mom.  For five weeks my mom put her life on hold and temporarily relocated more than 700 miles away to help me recover from my C-section while easing into life as a mother of three.  For five weeks my mom dealt with days filled with the aforementioned challenges and she still woke up eager to do it again the next day.  For five weeks my mom did my job and I never once saw her dissolve into a hormonal, blubbering mess.  In fact, she managed to extract the humor from scenarios involving the unruly graffiti artist and the wake of destruction she left behind.  She saws the therapists' visits as an opportunity to help Josie acquire new skills while celebrating small victories; not as one more obligation on top of an already hectic schedule. 
She even commented that it's too bad that my dad didn't live to experience this because this is truly her favorite season of life.  And I love that about her.  When I'm having an impossibly overwhelming day, I share my struggles with her and she helps me filter them through the heart of a mother who has survived all of this and more, and who is left with wisdom, a sense of humor, and an appreciation for how valuable and fleeting these years are.
Who knows?  Maybe part of her infallibly positive outlook comes from the intense satisfaction she gets from seeing me earn my gray hairs in the same manner that I made her earn hers.  Goodness knows I will have a hard time wiping the Cheshire cat grin off my face the day Merryn gives birth to a "Thelma" of her own. 
All joking aside, I hope Mama Hop will accept this meager blog post as a small token of my enormous appreciation for all that she did to help me this summer.  My appreciation grows each time I experience a day that makes me feel like I'm failing miserably in my pursuit of maternal bliss.  And even though I don't always stop and say it, her help is appreciated, her talents are admired, and her absence is felt. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Kind of Photos That Come With the Frame vs. Reality

As soon as we found out that baby #3 would be a girl, my mind started racing with all of the adorable photo opportunities.  Just imagine: three beautiful sisters, perfectly coiffed hair and coordinating ensembles, holding one another in embraces so loving that your heart just melts into a big puddle of sugar and spice and everything nice...
Photos like these would adorn the walls of my home and everyone who saw them would wish that they had grown up with sisters because really, what could be sweeter?
I really thought I had the ultimate formula for photographic perfection:
three adorable girls  +  a closet that makes you wonder if there's anything left on the shelves at Gymboree  =  the kind of photos that come with the picture frame
Then reality hit...

If you were looking for a dream world with glowy photos of beautifully behaved little angels dancing around with smiles so bright it makes you wonder what the heck that mama knows that you don't, well, you've found the wrong blog.  But reality is fun, too!