May 23rd, 2013

Time flies and other sayings

There’s been so many things happening in our lives…it’s actually pretty amazing to think about all that’s happening!

It feels like yesterday that CJK started preschool, and yesterday was his last official day of class. He was a bit sad about it, compounded with the awful carpet that did a number on his knee when he tripped…well, to say the least, it wasn’t an easy day for him.

His field trip to the farm is tomorrow, and I plan on getting lots of photos to remember it. I might even be able to share a few…how about that?

AGK is officially 20 months, as of yesterday. I swear – this “time flies” thing really is true. One of the things I plan on doing this summer is documenting them in real life, not posed, if they’ll let me! One downfall of being a photographer’s child – you see a camera and want to pose!

AGKnhas been diagnosed with an expressive language delay; in other words, he comprehends almost everything but is not saying any words. I hope with therapy that will change. He gets so frustrated because he doesn’t talk. And sometimes, I do too.

NBK has less than two weeks of school left. I can’t believe it. Next year, he will be in all day kindergarten. How did my baby get to be so big? Now I know why my mom always calls me the baby. I always will be to her.

Speaking of my mom…we are having family photos taken this weekend. For the first time since I was 4!! We have had unofficial portraits done at my wedding, but never everyone! All 4 siblings, our families, and our parents! Should be fun! A huge thank you to my studio partner, Lorie, of LB Photography for taking the photos for us!

Which brings me to my big news! I now have a studio outside my home! Last fall, I realized that as the boys get older, it was becoming more tough on us to have the studio in our home. In February, I connected with Lorie, and we talked about sharing a space. We found the perfect space in Howell, and moved in at the end of March. Our grand opening was in April, and I absolutely LOVE having the space! I will be sure to share photos soon!

February 26th, 2013

Christina becomes Francesca…

You know that moment in your life, when you finally realize, “Oh my gosh!  I’ve become my mother!”   Well folks, it’s officially happened.  There were previous moments that have happened (mostly parenting related) where I thought to myself…”I sound a lot like my Mom right now” but I didn’t have my “Oprah a-ha moment” until today, when I was at Costco with Andrew and Christopher.

We were trying to ‘kill time’ while Nicholas was at his OT appointment, and I knew that I needed to get a few things that we prefer to get from Costco.   It happened to be ‘sample day’ and so the boys were in their glory.  Raspberries, blackberries, kefir smoothies, and even cookies (too bad I didn’t allow those).  From the looks of how they were seeking out the sample tables, you would think we hadn’t eaten lunch just 15 minutes prior to our arrival.

Fast forward to 5 minutes before checkout…Christopher is ‘advising’ me on what to get, where to go, etc.  You know the type of personality I’m talking about “persuasive”, “determined”, “strong-willed”.  As I’m trying to load the items onto the checkout lane, I tell him, “Christopher, can you be quiet?  If you be quiet for 3 minutes, I’ll give you another applesauce.”  And that’s when it hit me.

I have fond memories of my parents and I playing a game in the car, during road trips.  My dad would bet with me that I couldn’t be quiet for 3 minutes, or 5 minutes…and it never failed.  Just before the time was up, I’d talk, and lose the wager.  Of course, my dad (or mom) would coincidentally ask me a question at the T minus 30 seconds mark.

My mom always told me that “you just wait – you’ll be paid back” and you know…I’m being paid back.  Of course, only NOW do I regret those snotty witty comments that I would come back with when my mom asked me a question.  I didn’t realize that those would be held against me 25+ years later.

Parenting has been a journey that you think you can prepare yourself for…but it’s one of those roads that you have to learn how to drive while on it.  Often times, what works with one child won’t work with your 2nd or 3rd…or maybe it works with all 3.

Right now…I’m just glad that I have an amazing mom who just *might* have some advice for me…


February 15th, 2013

Day 3 of 40 days of reflection.

Somehow, my life has taken a different turn.  It’s rather like an amusement park ride full of twists and turns, than the peaceful, winding road that I had envisioned I’d be on.

Of course, that roller coaster ride began back in 2006.  The beginning of our pregnancy with the girls wasn’t an easy one.  Our emotions went from being ecstatic about being pregnant, to being completely frightened that I might lose my life and our baby, to learning that there it wasn’t ectopic; no rather, it was TWO babies…to the unthinkable…losing them at 21 weeks.

No book I had read or movie I had seen up until that point could prepare for me the waves of emotions that come over a person.  6 years, 6 months later…I still remember details of that fateful day like it was yesterday.  It never fails to amaze me that people will say to me “You still remember that?”  Or they’ll say “Do you still think about the girls?”  I guess…until someone is faced with a loss like ours, you really can’t explain to the person what it feels like to have your dreams ripped out from inside you.

Of course, now we have our three beautiful boys.  And it never ceases to amaze me how people will ask us “aren’t you disappointed you don’t have a girl?” or  “Don’t you want to try for a girl?”  I think sometimes, when this happens, I must look like an animated character.  Jaw dropped to the floor, tongue rolling out… of course we would have loved to have a living daughter.  We think about that every single day.  Would we trade one of our boys for a girl?  Never.  Not in a million years.

My boys saved me.  Nicholas doesn’t realize it, but he was my ticket out of the hell I was living in.   It was so much to put on an innocent soul, but as the book “Someone came before me” says, he healed our hearts.  Nick and I weren’t complete.  Until we had our rainbow baby.

Things have happened so fast for us.  Nicholas was just 9 months old when we found out we were expecting Christopher.  You can say he wasn’t necessarily planned, but we are SO blessed to have him.  He’s such an amazing child.  He’s so smart.  So sensitive.  He’s empathetic, and he’s not even 4.  It’s hard to remember, sometimes, that he’s so young, yet, since he’s like an old soul

And of course you can’t forget our beautiful finale…our Andrew.  Words can’t explain the joy he brings to our lives.  Everyone always comments on how happy he is…and I really believe it’s because he knows how much we all love him.

This Lent, I’ve decided to try something different.  I’ve decided to try to look at my family like I look at other things.  Come up with plans…goals… and we’re slowly going to work on things that have been ‘bothering’ me…like will implementing more of a ‘schedule’ help Nicholas with his Aspie’s?  Will having a schedule be the key to me finally getting more sleep?

There are many things happening with our family, my business, and one thing we are working towards is looking at how our actions will affect other family members, and others around us.  To be more cognizant of all people.  And the best way to do that is to be cognizant of ourselves.

November 6th, 2012

5, 3.5, and 1 year old…someone freeze time, please!

Somewhere between preparing for the start of school, having an extremely busy summer with my photography business, and celebrating birthdays, I’ve forgotten to give updates!

This fall has been full of so many surprises!

NBK started school and he loves it.  He’s in junior kindergarten through BAS, since he has an early birthday (people my age may remember something called early 5s).  He’s a bit more advanced than the other kids when it comes to things like colors, and the fact that he can read, but he’s learning so many social skills and we feel that it’s a good fit for him right now.  Besides, I can’t imagine having him start college young!  Then again, maybe he’s a genius and will do that anyway.  Time will tell.  He certainly is gifted, in so many ways.

CJK started preschool this year and he has the same teacher that NBK had when he was 3.  It’s amazing to see the difference between the two of them.  CJK never waits for me; never hesitant, he grabs his name off the check-in table and off he goes.  Some days – no most days – he forgets to tell me goodbye.  I’m always sad for a second, then realize what a gift he’s been given to be that social and have no troubles making friends.

AGK – where do I begin?  We celebrated his first birthday with a joint party for him and NBK in September.  It was so much fun to watch him and see how much he loves to observe people.  I guess that’s the bonus to having two older brothers.  He’s such a social guy – he’s already trying to talk!  Some of the words that I can make out are: “dis” – this, “dat” – that, “bruh” – brothers, “bih” – binky, “buh” – bottle, “wahwah” – water, and he says Mama and Dada.  We are so in love.

For the month of November, I decided to do a “30 Days of Thankful” so I am posting status updates to Facebook with something I am thankful for every day.  Here are my first 6:

  1. Each day, during the month of November, I will be sharing something that I’m thankful for. 30 days of thankful. On this first morning of the month, I’m thankful for my wonderful husband, who brought me a chai tea this morning. I ♥ you.
  2. I’m thankful for my girls. While I never thought we’d walk this road, I’m thankful for them, the people we’ve met because of them, and my determination that was brought to the surface because of them. They will be forever missed.
  3. I’m going a bit out of order because today I’m thankful that I get to have a much needed (and in my opinion, deserved) night out with my husband!
  4. Thankful for “my sunshine”, my “Rainbow Baby”, NBK. He helped to heal my heart, and the last 5 years have been amazing to watch him grow.
  5. It was on this day seven years ago that my dream came true. I married Nick and so it began our marital journey. Still love him like I did when we first started dating when I was 19.
  6. …eternally grateful for the first man in my life…my Dad. I’m a Daddy’s girl…and love him so much! Happy Birthday, Dad!


July 30th, 2012

35 days until school. What? What happened to summer?

So I was looking at my calendar the other night, and I realized that we’re less than 6 weeks from school starting.  This is going to be a BIG year for us.  NBK is going to be starting JK at Hilton and CJK is going to have Mrs. V. (the same teacher Nicholas had) for his first year of preschool.

I’ve been buzzing around like a little bee, trying to get everything in order.  I have SO much to do and not much time to do it!  I’ll share photos of my accomplishments once I am done.

July 29th, 2012

The purple nightgown.

It’s hot tonight.  So hot that even though we’ve got our thermostat turned way DOWN, the temp in our house is way UP.  Especially in our gorgeous master bedroom, complete with cathedral ceiling and accent window that creates a sort of ‘terrarium’ effect, if you will.  So, in order to sleep, I dig through my pajama drawer for something lightweight.  My hand pulls out a familiar, somewhat faded nightgown.  I hesitate for a moment.  I always do.  You see, this is the nightgown I was wearing on August 16, 2006.

I had gotten home from a wonderful dinner and was excited about the prospect of a new job, despite being halfway through my pregnancy with twins.  I changed into my pajamas, sought out to send an email, and it happened.

It’s amazing how just that one little thing can bring the emotions back.  The purple nightgown.  The trigger.

After we lost the girls, I read stories about soldiers that had experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD for short) and I realized that it sounded like something that I had.  Unfortunately, it’s not something that ever goes away.  I’m sure many people can relate, even if they didn’t experience something like ours.  For example, most people remember where they were, that fateful November day, when Kennedy was shot.  Or perhaps you’re my age, and the event you can recall so quickly is when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded.  I was in 4th grade.  Mrs. O’Donnell’s class, on the first floor of Holy Redeemer School…south end of the building.

Every year, as the calendar brings July to a close, it happens.  The little things.  The triggers.

It’s a healing process.  It always will be.  I’m never going to forget what happened.  I’m never going to put it behind me.  It is part of me.  It has shaped me.  I am better because of it.

July 11th, 2012

*Stepping on my soapbox* Warning – may be TMI for some!

K, stepping onto my soapbox for a minute.

This post will talk about breastfeeding. If you don’t like to hear about that…stop reading now.

Breastfeeding is a commitment. In the first few weeks, it’s very difficult on the mom, sometimes the baby, and you may have to avoid certain foods (like me – no more peanut butter or eggs) while nursing your baby.

Please – I don’t criticize that chose to bottle feed with formula – don’t criticize MY choice to breastfeed.

Here’s some things to remember:

  1. I will nurse DISCREETLY in public. If you don’t like it, don’t look.
  2. I will nurse DISCREETLY in front of your kids. It’s not MY fault if they don’t know breasts are for feeding babies.
  3. I love to breastfeed. There’s nothing more special than seeing your baby grow and realize those long lashes are all from nutrition that YOU provided them
  4. I do what’s referred to in the media as “extended breastfeeding” That means that I nurse my babies until they self-wean. In Nicholas’ case, he was done at a year, and for Christopher, it was 15 months. I may breastfeed Andrew until he’s 2. So PLEASE – don’t ask how long I’m going to breastfeed him. It will be as long as I feel like it.
  5. As much as I LOVE to breastfeed my babies…it can be difficult at times, especially during growth spurts and as your body adjusts to baby’s needs.

July 7th, 2012

I miss writing.

The house is silent.  Andrew’s napping, the dogs are passed out on the floor since it’s SO hot, even with the A/C on, and Nick and the boys went to go ‘play golf’, which is code for putt-putt.  I rarely get moments like this, and it’s a good thing, because I become very pensive.

After I lost the girls, I read so many things.  Being online, sharing my experience with others, and reading about other’s (unfortunate) experiences helped to heal me.  Sitting here sipping my coffee, I realized that I ENJOYED sharing my life.  Blogging was cathartic for me.  It was part of what helped mend my empty heart.  I need to get back to that.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m EXTREMELY thankful for all that I have, but being a wife, a mom to three boys under 5 (one of which has Asperger’s) and running a business, and having two dogs can get a bit hectic.  Somewhere in the last few years I feel like I’ve lost myself along the way.

Oh sure, my boys are happy and healthy, and my biz has been a success, but I have golfed only one time in the last 4 years.  I’ve gone bowling a couple of times, if that.  These are things that I love to do and I haven’t done them.  Why?   I’ve been LIVING for my family.  Putting myself last.  Not the place that the mom should be.  Not the place the wife should be.  Not the place the I should be.

I miss these quiet moments.  They’re so few and far between now, that I don’t know what to do with myself when they happen.  So today, I decided to write.


July 4th, 2012

Summer 2012!

Just a day or two ago, we received a letter in the mail telling us that Nicholas has been accepted into the Brighton Area Schools as our School of Choice district.  Due to some issues I had with our home district, I chose to go with BAS.  I also chose to go with BAS since most of the schools are geographically closer to us, including the middle schools, and high school.

If all goes well, Nicholas will enter into BAS at Hilton Elementary in their Junior Kindergarten class, with Andrea Spaanstra as his teacher.  When we visited Hilton during Kindergarten Roundup earlier this year, I fell in love with the school.  They have lockers, and on the door to the JK room, there was a poster of “How we greet each other”.  This kind of thing is EXACTLY what we’ve been working on with Nicholas.

We chose Junior Kindergarten since we suspect his ASD diagnosis will become an Asperger’s diagnosis when he turns 5 this fall.  They won’t classify kids as Aspie’s until they reach their 5th birthday.  It’s pretty evident to us, and most people that are close to us, that Nicholas fits this ‘description’.  In addition, he has something called hyperlexia, which means he can read, and he’s been reading for close to 2 years.

Here’s a video of him reading at 3:

Here’s a video of him reading “The Cat in the Hat” at 3.5 years old:

And here he is singing “Amazing Grace”:

While he may be ahead of other kids his age in an academic sense, we’re still working with him on social skills.  He’s definitely come a LONG way, but we’re still seeing some things that we need to work with him on, so that later on in life, they won’t become hangups and hinder him.  It’s so strange to me that I’m discussing sending my son to JK or Kindergarten, since it seems like just yesterday we were praying that he’d arrive safely.  Nicholas is wearing 5T clothes and is about 4olbs now.

Here’s a recent picture of all three of our beautiful boys:

Christopher just recently potty trained, as in, within the last two weeks.  We started with gummy bears as bribes for him, but the real decision came down to him.  He has decided that he doesn’t want to take naps, so he is wearing underwear.  We’ve had only 3 accidents in about 2 weeks or so, and he’s doing fabulous!  He’s still napping, since we are dealing with his 3-year old attitude when it comes to bed time.

He will attend BAS’ Tot Spot in the fall, having the same teacher Nicholas had when he was in the 3 year old class.  Mrs. V. is now the Bird Room teacher, and we’re looking forward to hearing all kinds of stories about our social butterfly.  Christopher couldn’t be more opposite to Nicholas when it comes to social interactions.  Whenever we’re out and about, he’s always saying “Hi!” to people and waving.  He’s got such a cute sense of humor and firecracker personality!  He’s about 28 or 29lbs now, and is only a bit shorter than Nicholas!

Andrew is now 9 months old.  We can hardly believe it.  I know that this time has FLOWN by for me.  He’s eating real food now, though we’re still waiting on teeth.  His first word was “Hi!” and he’s working on other words.  He’s been sitting up since April, and started standing up last month, all before he was 9 months old.  Far ahead of his brothers.  He’s cruising around everywhere, and we’ve recently had to reconfigure the playroom so that the other boys’ toys aren’t within his reach.  He’s about 22lbs and is almost as tall as Christopher.

That’s all I have for now…it’s been a long time since I sat down to write, and I wanted to make sure I got these thoughts down in text, before too much time went by and I forgot them.


June 27th, 2012

Thank you, Mommy, for the beautiful heart…

Nicholas, out of the blue tonight, told me tonight that he sees a beautiful heart in his dreams.  I asked him if he sees it all the time, and he said, “No, I didn’t see it, I can’t see it in my dreams.  I’m asleep.”

I asked him to describe what it looks like and he said that God showed him “a heart, with pokey things.”  I asked what else it looked like, and he said “it had glitter, and two lines in the top.”

If you’re Catholic, you’re likely thinking what I thought.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus.  And if you’re not Catholic, here’s a bit of education for you.  This is what it looks like: 
The previous link is an amazing article about it. Here’s a great article for non-Catholics, from Wiki:

To say that I’m humbled is an understatement.