Courage.

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Jackson

This post is about Jackson.  My amazing, happy, sweet, caring and beautiful little boy.

I haven’t written on here in months.  Months.  Not because I haven’t thought about it – I have – in fact, I’ve almost craved the ability to write what I am about to say – but then I would get nervous.  Anxious.  Timid.  Shy.  And I’ve come so far from being any of those adjectives…. So I’m being brave.

Tonight, I got a push, so I have decided to share what’s been going on in our lives since last October when I posted.  If you read that post, it means that you read that we had been seeing a neurologist in our area and that he ruled out autism for our buddy, Jackson.  He wanted us to do some follow-up stuff, including a neuropsych eval, which we had completed at the end of October.

During that eval, we were told that Jackson has autism.

This was very difficult for me.  Not for the normal reasons.  At times, a parent may hear that their child has autism and be thrilled.  They have an answer.  They know what treatment plans are available.  They know expectancies.  They join support groups, get therapies, and know that there isn’t a cure for autism and continue living their lives.

I’m not like most parents, I suppose.  This news was devastating to me.  As a special educator, I know what it’s like to receive paperwork with the words “Autistic” written on it.  Not that I cringe, but there is the fear of the unknown.  How severe is it?  Is the child verbal?  What kind of behavior issues, if any, does the child have?  What social abilities does this child need?  And then, the worst – when I tell the teacher that’s going to have the student and they sigh.

I don’t want that for my child.

My child doesn’t deserve that.

Let’s say Jackson DOES have autism.  (Which, by the way, I don’t think he does.  I am a professional in the field, so I am entitled to my own opinion.  He has social cues.  He makes eye contact.  He communicates.  He is actually talking up a storm.  A year ago, he was still using sign language and he had 20-25 single word utterances.  Today, he told me that “Mommy, Daddy, Gracie and Jackson at the beach.  We see the truck and the airplane and the water.”  (Which is true, because we saw a truck, airplane and water at the beach when we went in December for a weekend)  (and he was looking at a picture of us on the beach, so it wasn’t like it was a random thought.))

Back to the point.

Let’s say Jackson has autism.  The last thing I am interested in is for ANYONE to pass judgements or make assumptions about my son.  And I know that may happen.  I know that someone may assume that he has behavior issues or meltdowns that are screaming fits, that he may be violent.  He is none of those things.  Sure, he has a tantrum once in a while.  Sure, he has a hard time sharing.  HE’S THREE.  What three year old DOESN’T have a hard time sharing?  I don’t want that for him.  I want people to see him as this amazing and sweet little boy who has made me so incredibly happy.

I’ve gotten better.

In the past 3 months since the diagnosis, I have become much more accepting of it.  The progress he has made is simply unmatched and unreal.  He continues to have his sensory issues, but has gotten so much better at self-regulating.  His anxiety has gotten better.  His receptive language has made tremendous gains.  He is more tolerant to touch new foods, even if he won’t eat them.  He asks for hugs and kisses.

The other positive is the neuropsychologist wants to re-evaluated him in a year to determine if that diagnosis is still appropriate for Jackson.  Until then, we are working our ass off for him.

He also started a preschool program in my town.  In NJ, Early Intervention only goes until they are 3 and then they go to a 3 hour program at their neighborhood school.  He takes the bus.  He LOVES it.  They want to potty train him.  They send me Emails with messages like “his nickname here is Mr. Smiles”.  He’s progressing.

And I am so proud.

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So. Sure.  Maybe he has autism, maybe he doesn’t.  Maybe we just need to give him a minute for him to catch up.  Maybe no one will make assumptions about him.  But, trust me – I can assure you all of this – Jackson will be held to the same standard as I would give to a neurotypical child, such as my Grace.  He will be expected to do what anyone would expect a 3, 4, 5, 12, 16 year old to do.  And he will be loved, nurtured, comforted, thought of, cared for, and protected just the same.

Okay, fine.  Maybe a little more.

Jackson gettin' on the bus on his first day at preschool.

Jackson gettin’ on the bus on his first day at preschool.

It’s good to be back.

Promise the next post will include my Gracie, that sweet little sassy thang.  ❤

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Long time coming.

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It has been a long time.

I apologize.

I’ve reread so many of my previous posts and I have constantly wanted to write more and more and more. It’s not something that I’ve been meaning to neglect, obviously, but here I am. Back. Better than ever? Let’s see!

There have been many changes that have been going on since my last post. Firstly, I must say that my children are still the amazing and wonderful children that they are. There have been some amazing journeys that we have gone on and we are continuing to grow, every single day.

My last post was all about comparisons. I wrote about friendship and thighs and progress and anxiety. But, what I ultimately started this blog about was to give women, men, families, siblings… I just want to relieve your nerves. I want you to know how wonderful it is to be a mom, but it is absolutely incredible to be a Mom of Irish Twins. It’s awesome telling people that my babies are 11 months apart and them looking at me like I am either a superwoman or just insane. It’s amazing to watch them push each other to new limits. It’s incredible to enjoy this amazing experience and to know that my children feel love and hope and happiness.

Over the past few months, Jackson’s progress has been unbelievable. He is talking up a storm and adding more words to his growing vocabulary every single day. His sensory issues are also changing, for the better. He is definitely learning to self regulate and to help himself out when he needs more. He even told me today after he pooped! “I go poopy!” SO cute. I am incredibly proud of him and the amazing boy he is turning into. We have some more testing that we need to do – we are seeing a neurologist in our area (who took autism OFF the table, which we are thrilled about!) so we are ruling a few other things out, but we are extremely happy of all of his accomplishments. Jackson loves to read, play with matchbox cars, take walks and “brown” dum dum lollipops.

Grace has turned into a little princess. She has this amazing Shirley Temple hair and loves to wear my bracelets and get her nails painted. She talks a lot and sleeps a lot better than every before and she loves to eat everything she can get her paws on. She has a hell of a personality as she is stubborn and cuddly and very giggly. She loves to take baths, color, and is really into Hello Kitty.

As a family, we have grown tremendously. We go to the park, we take walks, and we make sure we laugh every day. We watch TV and sing songs and color and go to Target and do silly things and bicker and go in time outs and all kinds of fun stuff. I am so proud of the family we have become.

More to come, soon. I promise.

Comparisons

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I know.  It’s been over a month.

It actually was funny, because last night, John asked me if I had written on here in a while.  I, shamefully, said no.  😦

So here I am!

And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently regarding comparisons.

Comparing children.  Comparing days.  Comparing siblings.  Comparisons are around us all the time – to the point that babycenter.com sends us Emails, weekly, to let us know what our children are supposed to be doing.  

But, sometimes they aren’t.

And then people panic.

Constantly and consistently, people are always wondering what milestones your child has met.  When I explain Jackson’s needs, I’m sure that some people feel that I overreacted – but obviously, I didn’t.  Jackson has done more in the past 6-8 months (but mostly the past 2 months!) than I would have ever imagined.  His language has completely exploded.  He points out every airplane (or, pah-pane, to him!) that flies over our house (which, by the way, is every 5-20 minutes.  aaaah), bus, car, tree, cat, dog.. you name it, it points at it.  And screams what it is.  With a huge smile on his face.

He knows so many words and is talking so much that I can barely contain myself.  This morning, he said “I don’t know” in his own little special way. 

But, society is so obsessed with comparing our children.  And, sometimes – sure, it’s a good thing.  But other times, it completely sucks.

There are so many interactions between him and Grace.  Grace has a name for him and calls herself “Gigi” because that’s what he calls her.  Sure, when I compare, I see how much more advanced she is than he was at her age – which just makes me feel better about the decisions that John and I have made for him.  Jackson says “shhh, Gigi” when I put him to bed because she’s asleep in the crib next to his.  They bathe together and blow raspberries at each other and play meal time games to see who they can get to pick up their water sippy cup more.  (Not such a fun game for us!)

The bottom line, is – I am so thrilled with all the progress they have both made – Jackson and Grace, individually – and as a pair.

I am feeling incredibly grateful today.

 

Friendships.

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In the past month or so, I have been so impressed with the progress my two little mini-people have made.

In the past month, we have survived many snow days, 3 eye infections, 2 ear infections, and one weekend away.  And, in doing so, we have bonded as a family, we have created memories, and we have showed progress in more ways than I could ever have imagined.

Jackson has his 6-month review for his early intervention services next week.  In doing so, we have had to write down all the words he has learned in the past 6 months.  When we began this process, he said 2 words, but not for meaning nor consistency.

Now, he says almost 50.

Jackson and Grace have gone from two individuals to a pair.  They communicate, in their own way – even if it’s through bitterness and pulling and tears.  They also share toys, games, food and laughter.

I am so grateful, because I want them to be friends.

Finding out that I was going to be having one boy, and one girl – so close together – was a little difficult to progress.  With two girls, they would be playing princesses, and with boys, they could be playing sports.  However, it’s been fine.  They are both into the same things right now (it may help that Jackson is a little delayed) and they love each other very much.  Jackson is so cute, because when he sees her, he says “GIGI!”  – it is beyond adorable.

In my almost 31 years, I have had experiences with friends.  Some good, some bad.  Some happy, some ridiculous, and some down-right mean.  But, I have learned from all of them in some sort of way.  I have learned that I am grateful for the help that they have given me, the time that we’ve spent, the drinks we have shared and the amount of time we can be together – especially now.

I’m thankful for the friends that understand that I can be a little bit f*cked up sometimes, and when I get upset, I hide.  But I’m also kind and gentle and funny and nice.

I’m thankful for new friends.

I’m thankful for work friends.  Considering that I am at work for 40 hrs + a week, they have become a sisterhood (with one, really cool bro) of group texts, support, hugs when we need them and high fives.

I’m thankful for HS friends, college friends, elementary school friends, online friends, facebook friends, instagram followers, and pinterest people.

I’m thankful for my family, who have turned into my closest friends.  They are creative and kind and funny and supportive.  And the cream always rises to the top, after all.

I’m thankful for John, who is by far – my best friend, my soul mate, my other half, and my inspiration.

But – when it comes to friends.  Who could ever, EVER, beat my mother – who buys my kids diapers, sends me text messages filled with emoji’s, and loves me unconditionally.

As a new parent – whether it be of Irish Twins, one child, a set of triplets, or whatever — friendships are tested.  Some people you were expecting to be in your life forever…aren’t.  Some of the friendships that you thought would last forever — don’t.  Sometimes people aren’t who you wanted them to be or who they wanted to be for you.  And that’s okay.  You will become closest with unexpected people.  The strangest people may come up to you and surprise you, when you didn’t think they could ever care that much.  Some people will ask about your babies, some won’t.  Some won’t care.  And that sucks.

And it hurts, sometimes.

But, if I have learned anything, it is that the people who are meant to be in your life are.  Sometimes, they are in it for a short while.  Sometimes, they are in it forever.

It is my hope, my dream, my wish to be able to explain this to Jackson and Gracie in an understanding and supportive manner.

Because, it took me – geez… almost 31 years to learn it.

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Two.

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My little boy turned two today.

I have been a Mom for two years.  It’s unbelievable to me.

I am so proud of him…

I am proud of how he plays alone.  Independent, but always handing things to people when he needs help.

I am proud of how he laughs with his sister.  Especially in the morning, when he is waiting for us to come in to their room.

I am proud of how much he has improved with his sensory, communication and affection.  He is an inspiration.

I am proud of the way he hugs me before I put him in his crib at night.

I am proud of how he fights to get into the tub, but then cries when it’s time to get out.

I am proud of how he smiles when I walk in a room.

I am proud of how he is territorial, frustrating, whiney and stubborn.

I’m also proud of how he is kind-hearted, funny, and goofy.

I am proud of his guilt face.

I am proud of the way he stands up for himself, even though he barely talks.

I am proud of how he identifies letters and smiles when he does it.

I am even proud of when he called another country on my cell phone – because that meant he figured out to “slide to unlock”.

I am proud of his energy.

I am so proud of when he recognizes things.  Thomas the Tank Engine.  My mom.  My office at work.  “His” door in the car.

I am proud of his smile.  And that I see it, every single day.

I am proud of his courage. 

I am proud of his strength.

I am proud of the way he rough-houses with John, and comes to me when he falls down.

I am proud of how he asks for a banana.

I’m proud of how he looks at me after he does something – like “Mommy, *I* did that.  ME!”

And how he reminds ME to brush his teeth at night.

But, mostly, I am proud that it was him that made me a Mom.  This sweet, precious little boy has stolen my heart and is a reminder of why I get out of bed – even if it’s at midnight, 4 AM, or 7:30 AM.  He has helped me to see who my true friends are, he has given me a hug when I need it, and he has allowed me to nap when I am feeling ill.   He has shared a cookie, he has smiled at me when I needed it, and he (almost) always blows me a kiss when I drop him off at daycare. 

My children, as cliche as it sounds, are my life.  These two little humans – yes, the ones that have been so attached to me for the past 2 weeks (winter break) so badly that I walked around the old lady pajama section of Kohls for 15 minutes today just because I was alone….. Yes, them.  They have shown me love.  Loyalty.  Trust.  Honesty.  Friendship.  Kindness.  Happiness.  Togetherness.  Family.  They have shown me all of these things – and so much more – in the two years that I have been a Mom… I can’t even put it in words.

And this is just TWO years.  Ugh. 

No wonder Mom’s cry at graduations. 

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Beginnings.

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Happy New Years Eve!

 

The holidays were a stressful, crazy, and magical time for myself and my family – and I certainly didn’t intend on neglecting the blog whatsoever – but – I’m back!

New Years Eve has always had a special place in my heart.  I remember staying up with sparkling cider as a child, I remember setting off fireworks at midnight, I remember going to parties, wishing for a kiss at midnight – and now, it is 9:45 PM, and I am sitting on my couch next to my husband, watching the Flyers game, and hoping we don’t hear a baby cry.  We probably won’t make it to midnight.  We probably won’t even make it until 11.

The last few years, John and I have done the same thing every NYE – we order chinese food, make ice cream sundaes, and watch TV.  We kiss at midnight, though – or whenever one of us wakes up after midnight 😉

Over the past few days, I have been able to think a lot. 

About life before kids, and life since.

And with the new year coming up, I have decided to make some changes.

In 2011 and 2012, I was all about the babies, growing in my belly.

In 2013, I was all about my insides.  I have overcome a lot of relationship issues with people in my life, I have overcome anxiety, I stand up for myself more, and I am doing better about “walking the walk” when it comes to my beliefs, my opinions, and my feelings.

In 2013, I also started Weight Watchers and lost almost 35 lbs – but then I kind of took a break and got lazy.

So, I am planning on making 2014 about me.  My outside.  John bought me a Vitamix blender (oh-mah-gaaaaahd is it amazing!) for Christmas and I have been attempting the “green smoothie” stuff.  Delicious.  I am joining weight watchers again (let me just finish this spring roll…).  I am going to try SOME sort of exercise. 

I am going to continue to be the best mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, in-law, teacher and person I can.  I am going to change diapers too often, give in to chocolate chip requests and I bet I will “forget” if they had an applesauce earlier in the day.  I will buy them too many pajamas and hug them too much.  I will continue to love when they climb on my lap, and be sad when I am away from them for a few hours (but love it at the same time). 

I’m going to try to take John’s jokes as jokes – not personally.  I’m also going to try to be more understanding that he has never not completed anything he said he was going to – maybe I need to be more patient.  I also want to cook more for him.  And be more organized for him, and for us.

I want to be there for my friends more.  I want to see them more, even if it’s just going and sitting with them after a rough week or day.  I want to be the first person to text someone and ask how they are.  I will listen.

I will work better at work. 

I don’t want to talk shit anymore.  I am too old for that crap.

I want people to be thankful for me.  And if they’re not, I want them to f@ck off.

I want to be more thoughtful towards my Mom.  She does amazing things for me and I want to do amazing things for her.

I want to stop blaming myself for things that aren’t my fault, forgive myself for things that are, and realize that I am a stronger person than I ever thought I could be. 

Here’s to an amazing #twenty14 for you!  🙂  ❤

 

One.

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This week, my baby girl turned one.  Now, both of my babies are ones year old, from December 10 – January 3.  Weird. 

After a cupcake for my cupcake after dinner, and both kids were asleep, John turned to me and said “hey, we did it.” – I knew exactly what he was talking about.

When I first found out that I was pregnant, it was a total shock.  I was horrified, scared, and overwhelmed.  This lasted, basically, the entire pregnancy until finally John turned to me and said “Listen.  2013 is probably going to be the hardest year of our lives.  We make it to December 10, 2013, and we are good.”

John was so right.  It was hard.  In so many ways.  Between Jackson’s needs and Gracie’s sleep patterns and transitioning as a couple to being parents of two and weddings and family drama and post-partum anxiety and working full-time and feeling sleepy all.the.time – it was so hard.  I sometimes feel like I am drowning in bills.  I occasionally leave laundry unfolded for.. um. months.  My kids have gotten diaper rashes and boo-boos when they didn’t need to.  They’ve been smelly from going 3 days without a bath.  They have had to cry-it-out and eat too-brown bananas and have watched more television than I would ever want them to.  But, we got through it.

2013 was also amazing.  I held both babies at once.  I hear colleagues and friends say “Wow.  How do you work full time and have two babies under 2 – I don’t know how you do it” – those words keep me motivated.  I have made new friends.  I’ve accepted flaws.  I’ve come to terms with some issues.  I’ve graduated therapy (Yay!).  I’ve started a blog.  I’ve lost 30 lbs.  I have laughed a lot.  I got to go away for a weekend with John.  I’ve eaten a lot of cake.  I’ve had alcoholic beverages.  I’ve shopped at Target alone. 

2013 – what an amazing year.