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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

We're celebrating today.

A year ago today, my nephew, Ryan, was born.  I was praying for a woman at church not too long ago.  Her daughter is experiencing infertility, and the mother was heartbroken and helpless.  I told her after we prayed that babies born after a war with infertility are that much more fun to celebrate.  Each birthday is a moment to remember the longing and prayers that were answered.

My sister called me in March 2014.  Stephen and I had taken our older kids to Washington, D.C..  Connie was actually watching a couple of our kids for the weekend.  She called mid morning and she said, "Melissa, are the kids around you?"  I knew then that something was up because she didn't want me to have a reaction that the kids would question me about.  

She had taken a pregnancy test that morning.  They were about to start their third fresh IVF cycle, and she was required to verify that she wasn't pregnant before she begin taking medicine.  

She has an older son, Gabriel, who was born in 2004, but then she just didn't get pregnant again.  By the fall of 2009, they had decided that IVF would be the only way to have more kids.  IVF has brought them expense and heartbreak and ultimately, two heathy twins.  Connie had always wanted a big family and so they were going to go through it again. She begrudgingly took this formality of a test, and to her great surprise, it was positive. 

She called me and we sat there shocked, and she told me she couldn't believe it until he was here.  But he is here, and he has big cheeks and white blond hair and he waves and he is an expert crawler.  
When I think about Ryan turning one, I remember the day my sister called me to tell me that two of the triplets she became pregnant with on their first round of IVF had twin to twin syndrome.  I remember how devastated Connie was and how I tried to convince her it wasn't hopeless.  I remember the moment she called me to tell me she had delivered all of them and they hadn't survived.  I fell to the floor in my bedroom.  I cried all day long.  I also remember the day in August just five months later when I delivered my healthy daughter, my fourth child.  Connie showed up that morning and gave Maggie her first bath on the bathroom floor.  

I remember her being on bed rest with her twins and only being able to go upstairs once a week to shower.  I remember Connie wishing she could just have kept Eowyn and Tessa in utero just a few more weeks because each day benefits their brain and organ developement.  I remember so many conversations with her wrestling with whether she should do it again, the money and the timing and the implications for her and the baby's  health.  

I'm remembering and it makes the celebration just a little bit sweeter.  Happy birthday Ryan Padraic.  May you continue to surprise your mother in only the best ways.  

Julian is nine!

Julian turned nine two months ago.  I love him as an elementary aged kid.

In a strange twist, he has the same teacher for a third year in a row.  This is the same teacher who made me angry because she expected more from me and Julian than mediocrity.  She is the same teacher who I happily dunked in the dunk tank at the end of that first year at the school social. Julian loves her.  I think it's lovely that this strong woman who expects excellence from him as a writer and mathematician has been such a presence in his life.   

She is teaching him cursive.  I don't have a strong opinion about whether cursive continues to be taught in school.  But, oh,  those pages of nine year old boy cursive make me really joyous.  I want to frame them.  

Julian has this hair.  It's not all that long, but sometimes he gets mistaken for a girl.  He still isn't tempted to cut it, though.  It was originally my choice, but  he has decided that this is his hair and his style.  He likes his hair a lot. 

He also likes sweat pants.

He's been reading. He read the Phantom Tollbooth and the second Harry Potter this year.  His cousin suggested he read The Lorien Legacies series.  We've been reserving them through the library online system.  He'll arrive home and ask, "Have you gotten an email from the library?"

He's been facing his fears this year. He went on his first roller coaster in Las Vegas.  He is swimming in deep water.  His fears won't always be coasters and slides and water, but I hope he continues to choose bravery.  Be brave Julian.  

He holds my hand when we walk...on vacation, on field trips at school.  He'll run next to me and grab my hand.  He's affectionate.  

He loves Penelope a lot.  He comes home from school and asks to run up and wake her from her nap.  She was wearing a shirt yesterday that said I la la love you.  He told her, "Penelope, I la la love you."  She said, "I don't la la love you."  He laughed really hard because she's two and everything she says is funny.

"Whatever" and "I don't care" are his favorite phrases when he feels out of control and has to do something he doesn't like.   It's been our challenge to help him translate that into something help him understand, manage, and communicate his feelings.  We are battling this view of life that he is tempted to have that he begrudgingly does what he is told even if he doesn't see value in it.  We are helping him build values beyond the things that bring him immediate joy.  

Julian surprised me one day when he asked his friend to be more reverent to God.  I can't remember exactly what his friend was saying, but, this child of mine who doesn't drink the Kool-aid, suggested he be more respectful.  Julian has a clear sense that he comes for a family that values faith.  His faith is coming softly.