Time Flies When You’re Raising Kids

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You hear it all the time.  You might have even said it yourself a time or two, especially if you’re a mom.  But time really flies when you’re raising kids.  They grow up so fast, that you turn around from throwing the last diaper in the trash and they are wearing a cap and gown, graduating from eighth grade.

That’s where we are in my house.

Christening

Christening

 

Most of you know my Eilis story.  After trying for 10 years and experiencing four miscarriages, a psychic told me I was pregnant.  Yep, a New Orleans street psychic.  We had tried and tried again with fertility medication, and had failure and loss after failure and loss.  I think before we left for that cross country vacation, we had pretty much decided we were done trying.  Nothing good was coming from it.  And there I was, in New Orleans, sitting across from a pixie-like psychic, asking the question about whether we’d ever have another child.  The smile that came across her face was one you normally see on the face of someone in handcuffs as they are about to declare their innocence for a mass murder spree due to reasons of insanity, but I so wanted to believe her when she said, “It’s already taken care of.”

A little more than a year later, we celebrated Eilis’ first birthday with a Mardi Gras party.

Eilis' Mardi Gras Birthday

Eilis’ Mardi Gras Birthday

 

I love all of my children, and I believe I love them all equally, but Eilis is truly different.  The other two are huggy, kissy kind of kids.  Eilis makes you work for it.  She doesn’t just pass out hugs and kisses at whim – you know you deserved it if you get an Eilis hug.  Her laugh, which I always thought was contagious when she was a baby, is absolutely infectious now.  Maybe it’s because she’s a teenager and I don’t hear it as often, but my whole body feels happy when Eilis is laughing.

Eilis Smile

She has always stood up for what she believed – whether it was demanding a blue crayon when her preschool teacher told her she didn’t need it for a fall picture or when she was making dinner for families at the Ronald McDonald House.  She has and always will make a difference in this world, not just in my life, but in the lives of those around her.

Eilis is my miracle baby – the one I prayed for, longed for, and cried for.  She continues to amaze me, impress me, and astonish me simply by the fact that I gave birth to this incredible person.

Eili007 - What a dream

I’m so proud of her every day, but as I get ready to watch her get her certificate for graduating eighth grade, I am even more proud.  She has overcome bullying, survived middle child syndrome, and blossomed into the most amazing human being.  I can’t wait to see where she takes this incredible life.

8th Grade Danc

8th Grade Danc

G is for Granuaile – and the Reasons We Gave Our Kids Weird Names

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G (1)Naming a child is a very personal thing.  Regardless, you will find that this very personal choice is one of the few that you will make in life that is subject to so much comment and criticism.  Everyone has an opinion when it comes to babies, but when it comes to babies’ names, everyone thinks they are way better at picking than you are.

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None of our children has a typical name.  Brighid, so named because it means strength, and my 2 pound 10 ounce preemie seemed to need all she could get, could have been Bridget – which everyone would recognize.  But when you have a child so beautifully and uniquely yours, here to carry on your heritage and traditions, why not give her a name that reflects that?

Naming my children has given me an opportunity to show a love of my Irish heritage, and a love for some of the strongest women our family has seen.  Eilis, whose name I actually fell in love with while watching a documentary on conjoined twins, is named after my grandmothers, women who raised families, worked hard, and were in their own right strong and beautiful.  And Granuaile, whose middle name is Frances, bears the Gaelic name of Grace O’Malley, Ireland’s pirate queen, who changed the way women in Ireland were depicted.  Strength, courage, and devotion to her family were the traits of the original Granuaile, and traits of Granuaile’s other namesake, my sister Frances (Bean).

GraceOMalley

I’ve had to explain often through the years why my kids have the names they do.  I never mind.  It’s an explanation I’m proud to give.  Just be prepared for a wee history lesson.

 

It’s a Beautiful Day – Don’t Let it Get Away

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baby eilis 2The first words my daughter heard as she took her first breaths in this world were not mine.  They were not the doctor’s.  The words did not belong to her father or the nurses.

“The heart is a bloom.  Shoots up from the stony ground.”

After 10 years of heartache and heart break, my tiny, pink, screaming bundle of beautiful baby entered this world to the sounds of Bono and U2 singing this song.  “It’s a Beautiful Day”.  How ironic.

“You’re out of luck and the reason that you had to care.”

The song is about finding hope where there isn’t any anymore.  It’s about grasping at the straws of the best things in your life and not letting go of the grasp you have on them.  It’s about looking past all the bad and finding the good.  It’s about losing everything, but appreciating the fragments that are left.

“You thought you’d found a friend to take you out of this place; someone you could lend a hand, in return for grace.”

Everything about this baby was perfect.  What she did to my heart was nothing short of a miracle.  It was a healing, grace from God to bring peace to my entire being.  Because until the moment she was born, I didn’t count on this being the blessing it was.  So many times, this ended in nothing but agony.  But not this time.

baby Eilis

“Touch me; take me to that other place.  Teach me.  I know I’m not a hopeless case.”

My entire soul was lifted the day Eilis was born.  From the embers of crumbled dreams, from the despair and the desperation, she emerged with light.  And love.  And beauty.  She was renewed hope; happiness rejuvenated; life refreshed.

“And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth.  After the flood all the colors came out.”

She was the rainbow – a promise from God like the one sent to Noah.  There would never again be the flood of sadness into which I was so sure I might drown.  My beautiful, much loved, much wanted baby girl was my sign that the flood waters were receding, and I had been left with so much more than I ever dreamed I had.

And as my beautiful baby girl turns 13, she continues to light my way.  So different from her sister, she brings a new perspective to this world, one unique and utterly Eilis.  I am truly blessed each day I get to share with her and watch her turn into an incredible young woman.  I am so grateful to be her mom.

“It was a beautiful day.  Don’t let it get away.”

Happy birthday, Eilis.  I could not possibly love you any more.  Until tomorrow.

Maine 2

 

 

Two Days Until The Happy Day

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Eilis has been reminding us for days that “The Happy Day” is almost here!  Of course, to Eilis, that means her 10th birthday, which falls just 2 hours and 36 minutes after Valentine’s Day.

She has no real idea how much it hits me when she says “The Happy Day”.  I don’t believe a woman with an epidural headache, recovering from 36 hours of labor and a c-section, could have been more deliriously happy than I was on February 15th, 2001.

There had been tremendous heartache in my road to being a mom.  Brighid was a surprise pregnancy, after we had been told conceiving would be terribly difficult for me due to an issue known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  As overjoyed as we were to be having Brighid, the pregnancy was difficult, and ended at 31 weeks, when we were faced with the real possibility of a premature infant that would fail to thrive.  Not an easy baptism into the sisterhood.

For 9 years after Brighid, we struggled with infertility.  It was during this time that we lost three of the five babies I would eventually miscarry, and it seemed that there would be no more children for us.

So after a month long trek across the country, from Florida to New Jersey, and then on to Washington state, when it seemed I wasn’t going to ever be un-tired again, I took a pregnancy test.

Positive.  Not yet a happy day.

After the losses we suffered, a positive sign on a pregnancy test meant nothing more than another $10 down the drain on a home test.  But in working with the doctor who I credit with saving not only Eilis’s life, but my dreams to be a mother – Dr. Mark Denker from the Palm Beach Fertility Center – this time, we’d have our happy day.

The minute Eilis was born, 2:36 AM on Thursday, February 15th, 2001, U2 was playing on the CD player in the operating room.  “It’s a Beautiful Day”.  Forget that they lyrics sing about doom and gloom in some places.  The chorus could not have rung more true.  Not only was it a beautiful day, it was a happy day.

And Eilis, you have given me 10 years of happy days to celebrate.  So when you ask, “How many more days until the Happy Day?”, I’m already there.

Christmas – In Retrospect

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I took a lot of pictures this holiday season.  These and the blogs to follow highlight some of my favorites!

CHRISTMAS AT HOME – This actually was 12/18, the day before we left to spend the holidays in Florida – plus one bonus photo of lazy Granuaile being met at the car by her dad with a wagon so she didn’t have to walk up the driveway!

How To Get a Kid Dressed in Under 3 Minutes for School

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It’s all about the proper motivation.  On a normal day in my house, my kids are still being yelled at to get dressed 10 minutes after we should have already left for school.  No one leaps out of bed, gleefully puts on their school uniform, races down to the nutritious breakfast I spend hours creating (okay, so it’s toast or cereal, but still….).  They have to be poked and prodded like cattle to the slaughter.

Not today.  3 minutes, dear readers.  My little one had her uniform on 3 tiny minutes from the time I first poked my head into her bedroom.

How did I do it?  The credit actually goes to Eilis.  Because last night, while Granuaile was at her Daisy Scout meeting, Eilis took down the Playmobil sets that took over the Thomas the Tank Engine train table when Thomas became “for babies”.  In place of the Playmobil, Eilis put out all of our Little People Christmas sets!

Behind Granuaile, you will see a black plastic trash bag.  That bag now contains 92,741 pieces of Playmobil that Eilis wasn’t sure what to do with when she cleared them from the train table.

If you find the 3 minute motivation for putting that all back together after Christmas, let me know!