"A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity,
it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path."
~ Agatha Christie

Alex, Cole and Braden - At 2 years, 2 months

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lazy, Hazy Days

I had so many pics, I thought a slideshow would be a better choice - enjoy!

Summer's here! The weather has been so changeable this year, I thought I might just clarify that this is, in fact, summer.

The kids received a pool from Aunt Erin for their birthday and we finally had a chance to use it. One of those crazy hot days when you want to do nothing but lay there and let the heat go by. No energy, sweating, hot, miserable...unless!...you have a pool. Then, unbearably hot weather is a chance for some quintessential summer fun!

They loved it, but of course, we were a nervous wreck. I kept wondering what a toddler's natural, instinctual reaction to being dunked underwater was. Do they know to hold their breath? Or are they going to be shocked and gasp, letting all that water in? I was a little scared. Plus, Mike set up the pool while I was changing and slathering the kids with sunscreen, so I didn't see how he was doing. When we all finally got outside, he had made a common rookie mistake - he filled the pool up way too much. When I say way too much, I mean, about a foot of water! He said we couldn't really empty it without a lot of trouble, so let's just try it and see. Next time, we can fill it less.

That was actually what made it so hard! The water came up to their chests. Luckily, we had Grandma Ertel over to hold the third baby, because in the pool, covered in sunscreen, they became like wriggling, slippery octopus. They were all arms and legs, slipping and sliding, falling over, face almost in the water, oh!, we caught you, splashing and sliding all over the slick pool floor. No fun for a kid who "just wants to go"! We were holding onto all three with death grips to rival a vise. Everyone was wet. Even if we weren't all in the pool!

Cole, who has a sensory "thing", didn't really like the wetness of the water; he just wanted to get out. Braden kept falling over suddenly, so we had to watch him like a hawk...and Alex wanted to stand, surprise surprise! The wet plastic pool with it's floppy inflatable slides wasn't exactly an easy environment to stand up in without help. After a while, the kids got the hang of the new slippery surroundings and were moving around somewhat deftly. Pretty soon they were all nicely wet, happy and cool, splashing and squealing with glee.

Cole forgot that he hated the water and started to splash around. Alex had mastered standing and was moving on to balancing herself on the sides, also splashing happily! And poor Braden (or should I say poor Mommy and Daddy), he got a face full of water, so he was a little stuffy. He did one of his little back dives, so quick no one had time to catch him, and he went down under the water. Here it was, my fear realized, what is he going to do? He never closed his eyes, his mouth stayed open, writhing underwater, he looked so scared. We pulled him up right away, but it was all in slow motion for me. He looked like he was drowning and I couldn't get to him fast enough. He came up, spluttering and coughing and rubbing his eyes...but otherwise fine. He whined a little, but never even really cried! After a minute, he was happily splashing with grandma again, you would never know that he had a traumatic experience just 60 seconds before. What a resilient little guy! We were so scared, and I think he was too - but he got over it right away. Obviously, it spooked both Mike and I.

Mom and Dad Ertel got them these really cool sunglasses that have a velcro strap to hold them in place, and it was our first run with them on. B-man was the only one who tolerated them for long - he looked so adorably cute. A baby Tom Cruise...well, a baby Tom with blonde hair. I just about melted when I saw them on him. You might too, so be careful!

We had a nice day, letting the kids get their fill of the pool, cool down some and play together on a blanket in the grass afterward. Their first experience was a big hit! Thanks for the pool, Aunt Erin! It's something we will get a lot of use out of this summer...if it stays summer, that is! And, of course, my darling rookie husband will remember to fill it much less.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

To Cut or Not To Cut?

The dreaded haircut is fast approaching and the gloom is setting in. To be entirely truthful, it is only dreaded for me, but a welcome event for Mikey. He cannot wait for the kids to "look more tidy". We are both at odds with one another, semi-maturely realizing each other's points so that it doesn't evolve into a full-blown fight (thankfully). His stance: ...well, have you seen his hair? 'Nuff said. My POV: with the short cropped style he will want for our boys, I know this will be the last time in their childhood they will have luxurious curls. *sigh*

I am aware that most mothers get weepy eyed at the prospect of the first haircut, and I have been wondering why I am so attached to these locks... Thinking about it made me realize that this is yet another phase we will be leaving...the beautifully wild and delicate first hair that symbolizes everything baby - the complete essence of all that is the pure and innocent infant - defined by a simple curl. Once that goes away, they will be all boy - all boy that will be screaming and walking and wrestling and sticky. Eating bugs and throwing stones, offering boo-boos and tantrums in stores. The sweet cooing baby that slept in my arms will be gone, in one seemingly harmless snip.

Of course that's not how it is...our children don't magically transform themselves from vulnerable babes to raging toddlers up on that barber's chair...but the memory certainly does! At that moment, we have to accept that things have changed, and that they will continue to change. The mothers being the only ones affected, clearly sentimental about the growing up of our babies that has to be done, this rite of passage is held off until we are ready.

I am ready for them to be toddlers, in fact - despite the dread sounding in that last paragraph - I am really looking forward to it, in a way, because I get to be home with them. But this makes me hold them back for a second in my memory, full of nostalgia and yearning for that special baby stage, saying..."ohhh, remember when...?"

I do realize that they all need a haircut soon...taking them to church has been difficult to keep them presentable. They are lucky they are so cute, so that no one will notice the "Alfalfa" sprout at the crown of their heads! ;) The hour is full of me licking my hand to smooth down the cowlicks of the boys...which bounce right back the moment it dries. Boing! So hard to control, we have stopped really trying to. Do you think they need a haircut? I know Alex does...but she will be the only one to escape the shears! I think I have Mike held down for a few more weeks at least, but it won't be long! Luckily, I have a few people in my corner cheering me along, keeping him at bay. When we are ready, Mike's barber, actually named "Joe the Barber" (wonderfully exuberant and hilarious guy!) has offered a special day for the boys to get their first cut. He will open the shop for us on his day off, and he says, "bring the grandparents, the video camera and some pastries. We'll make it special!" It's a date! But only when I'm ready. ;)

Alex, who desperately needs a barrette...


Mr. B, not so bad yet, just a trim over the ears and on the top...


and "Crazy-Hair" Cole...


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Oops! Comments were off...

So, for the last few months, I have been wondering if we have any readers out there! Since starting up this site to journal, I haven't really gotten any feedback about the posts on here, so I was becoming a little worried, wondering if we had left everyone back in MySpace... ;)

Today, like a smack in the forehead, I have realized that I had our blog set up incorrectly...so, the ability to leave comments was restricted only to readers who had their own blog. A big oops, since I was longing to hear from somebody...anybody!! I am my own worst enemy sometimes. So, if you are out there...and you want to leave us a comment on any of the posts...please do so! I would love to hear from you. And now, you actually can! *giggle*

Thank you Kristie and Christine for leaving us a little line this week - you were our first and the reason why I started to look into all of this! ;) Thankfully, the "problem" is fixed.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Coming Home; One Year Later

Here's yet another "backwards" post... I will be posting some current ones in the next few days, I promise!

The kids were in the NICU for 19 days after birth, so they came home on May 9th, 2007. This year, on that day, both Mike and I remembered (almost too late) that this was a very important day for us! The day our training wheels came off... the day we were solely responsible for these little lives... the day it all hit us that it was time to step up.

We arrived home to see Mom and Dad Ertel patiently (and most endearingly) waiting for us in the driveway...waiting to document this monumental day - and perhaps more importantly, to be there for us. Emotionally as well as physically! They knew we were scared out of our minds...this was the first night we were alone in charge of all their needs, and it was going to be a tough ride. No more nurses to hand them to if something got dicey...if a monitor started to sound, if they looked like they were choking...Yikes! Sometimes I wonder how we were able to get through those days without having a breakdown of some kind.

We drove up, getting out of the car full of excitement and trepidation and Grandma and Papa took this picture for us; the first image of our new family at our own house:


This year, at the last minute, we decided to have another one taken, to show just how much has changed. (This explains my lack of makeup or presentable clothing/hair, ugh!)


It is amazing to see the difference in the kids in this first year - it's just awesome:







All three


What a difference a year makes! I vividly remember sitting on our front deck, quietly rocking in the swing, enjoying strawberry shortcake in the sublime glow of a warm spring sunset. A gentle and mild breeze caressing our nerves. We never imagined their first night home could ever feel this good! Relaxed, we were listening to Mom and Dad who were reassuring us that we would be okay that night, that if we needed any help to call, no matter what time it was. But we actually felt good; lulled into complacency by the unseasonably warm evening and the comforting sugar rush. We had put the kids down easily after their first feeding, all was quiet, all was calm, all felt right. For the first time since their birth, we felt confident we could do this on our own! We were home. But that is how shortcake and sunsets and cheerleaders can make you feel - warm and fuzzy...bolstering your confidence, however fleeting it may be.

Not surprisingly (well, maybe to us), that night was one of the most difficult nights we have ever endured...yet bottom was still nowhere to be felt...we had a way to go before we shared the worst of it! But it was an eye opener...and I will never forget that last relaxing, dessert sharing memory - the calm before the storm..."How bad could this be?"