Happy Birthday to me!

On the coattails of the twins turning 18, I have had my own momentous birthday. I have officially turned 28, for the tenth time. Sigh. It is sure hard to believe that I am in my late twenties again.What? You don’t believe me? Alright, alright…I know that it is hard for you to believe this, but I am actually 38. There. Are you happy now? I am a truth teller, you know. And that, my friends is the truth. But, seriously, all kidding aside, I am good with 38. I really am. I feel better than I have in years. I feel healthier than I have in years, both physically and mentally. I am good with 38. 
This has been a really great birthday. I woke up to my slightly groggy, but smiling family and a big gift bag. The husband hooked me up! My favorite candy, beautiful new jammies, a new speaker for my ipod, resistance bands, new ear buds and a yummy smelling candle. It was so nice. I loved it all! After the bigs and middles left for school, I dropped the littles off with my mother-in-law for lunch and a craft at the library and I was able to go to the Y and exercise…ALONE! I didn’t have to fight any little ones to go to the daycare. It was a great workout. It was the first time that I was able to run in a couple of weeks and it felt wonderful. Ahhh. My mother-in-law gave me a birthday card and told me that she was sending me on a birthday mission. As my birthday gift, Joan and Patrick were giving me a new dishwasher! I was so excited! Our dishwasher has been broken for over a year, but with all of the more pressing home improvement things (a new bathroom and roof) that needed to be done, it kept getting put off. While it certainly isn’t fun to wash dishes 3 times a day for 11 people, it wasn’t as bad as you would think. In fact it was a nice threat to have in case certain middles were feeling cranky and disobedient. But, I’m not going to lie, I was pumped! I went to the store and picked that bad boy out. I then came home…(ALONE!) and set my timer for 10 minutes. I ran around the house like a crazy person and picked everything up. I plugged in all of my Christmas lights and just sat down to enjoy the peace and quiet. FYI peace and quiet to a stay at home mother of nine = priceless!! My big kids came home from school and presented me with what I can honestly say is one of the sweetest and most thoughtful birthday gifts ever. They are paying to have my engagement ring reset. I haven’t been able to wear my ring for a couple of months now and it has been driving me crazy. I feel naked without it. I had taken it to have a broken prong fixed and less than a week later, the prong broke again. I decided that I needed to just have it reset with 6 prongs, instead of 4. So my beautiful ring has been sitting in a ringbox on my dresser for months. I occasionally put it on just because I miss it so much. (I know, pathetic. I don’t care.) But just as the dishwasher has been put off for more necessary and pressing things, the ring repair was also put off. My kids are the best. I know that I sound obnoxious, but I don’t care. It’s my birthday and my kids are THE BEST! I can’t think of a better gift. Except maybe my husband’s second gift to me…he brought home dinner. No cooking for this girl! Woohoo! Ok, so my husband is the best too! Be jealous, it’s ok. 
So thank you to my husband, and kids. Thank you to all my family and friends for the sweet phone calls and facebook messages. I am, as I have known for a while, truly blessed! Here’s to another 28…ok 38 more years!!
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Wonder twins, ACTIVATE, Shape of…a birthday cake and candles…(Ok kind of a stretch…)

Today is one of those days that you know is coming. It’s inevitable. You can’t stop it, no matter how much you try. You can put it out of your mind for a little bit, but it just sneaks up on you. Today is the day that my babies turn…gulp…18. (Insert long drawn-out dramatic sigh now.) What the farkle?!?! 18?!?! Who in the world said that that would be ok? While I have only had the privilege of being their mother for the last 13 years, I can’t imagine them not being a part of my life. 
I mean, seriously, have you ever seen such cuties?
 They turned a single girl with two cats, into a mother. I never understood how strong a mother’s love was until these guys walked into my life. DJ was the first one to call me “mom.” My heart just about melted. I realized how important it was for me to be a mom, actually to be their mom. Coley was the first one to argue with me. (so shocking, right? lol) My heart got a little bit stronger then. I realized then that disagreements were only temporary, but love was permanent and unconditional. The first time that someone said something along the lines of “You aren’t their “real” mom.” I felt firsthand what they mean by the phrase, “Momma bear.” Don’t you ever question my motherhood to these kids…ever. Badness will happen. Trust me. I mean it…a lot. 
DJ, with his sweet nature and funny (but totally lame) sense of humor makes me smile. I have seen him grow from a little boy into an amazing young man. When he was only 5 years old, he faced the monster that has taken many lives, cancer. He stared it down bravely and slayed the beast. I learned so much from him at that time. Despite the chemo and the steroids, he never lost his smile. He was such an inspiration to me. To see him live through that and maintain his kind and thoughtful manner put so many things into perspective. He has grown into a young man that fills me with pride. He is smart and athletic and handsome. But more importantly he is a good kid. He is thoughtful and considerate and loves God.  And he is 18.  (WHAT?!?! I say again.) He has been applying to colleges and hopes to become an elementary school teacher. That’s a little bit different from his previous aspiration to become a zoo keeper (circa 1st grade). While he is a sweetheart and usually pretty mellow, he definitely has his moments of crankiness. When that happens watch out! Grumpiness and attitude from DJ are so infrequent that when it happens, nobody quite knows how to handle it or him. Thankfully it doesn’t happen very often. He will deny it, in fact they both will, but Jake is his best friend. As much as they fight and argue with each other, they really would be lost without one another. It’s kind of funny. 
Here she is, my girl, my right-hand man, my dot, Coley. She had the prettiest red curls and big brown eyes when we first met. She was a little bit wary of me at first. She seemed to be hesitant to allow another girl in the house. She had been taking care of her boys and she didn’t need me around. And then one morning, shortly before we got married, she looked at me and said, “My mom picked you.” As simple as that, “My mom picked you.” I looked at her questioningly and she said, “My mom talked to me last night in my dream and told me that she picked you for us. You are supposed to be our mom now. ” And that was that. My heart simultaneously broke and grew. It broke for my little girl who had been through so much loss. And it grew, to the point of practically exploding, with love and joy that she had accepted me as her mom. We have been through a lot, the good, the bad, and the ugly. But through it all I have been her mom and she has been my daughter. That is a bond that will never break. I marvel that she didn’t come out of me, she is so much like me in so many ways. That is probably part of the reason that we tend to bang heads every so often. That and a tremendous amount of hormones floating around, that will definitely do it too. She is so smart and driven that whatever she sets her mind to doing, she will accomplish it. Right now her sites are set on getting into college and medical school and becoming a pediatric heart surgeon. Well, ok then. If anyone can do it I know that my girl can. 
Oh yeah, who had not one, but two kids named as the student of the month???? Umm yes, this girl  right here! Yes, that’s what I said. The wonder twins are at it again. (I call them that because people often wonder if they are really twins. Haha!) So, one final time, 18. My babies are 18. They have so many amazing experiences waiting for them, I am blessed to have a front row seat.
Happy birthday DJ and Coley! We love you!!!

Angels fly with us!

I am thankful for many things…my husband and kids, (obviously!), my extended family, my friends, my church family, the ability to provide my children with full bellies and a cozy house. I am blessed beyond blessed. I was, as I am sure that most of you were, reminded of all of this over the last few days as we celebrated Thanksgiving. (We celebrated 4 times, so I was REALLY reminded!) I can honestly say that this Thanksgiving was one of the best ones that I have had in a while. I really enjoyed visiting with my cousins. It was so nice to just sit and catch up. My parents are both one of 6, so I have a ton of cousins. As I was growing up they were such an important part of  my life. They were my first friends! To have the chance to share old stories and laugh over a glass of wine, was such a blessing. To see our children playing together or “hanging out” made my heart happy.

I am also very thankful for safe cars, as well as car seats and seat belts. I was reminded of this today on the way to church. I had Jonathan and Aiden with me. We were heading to mass to meet Brian and the crew who were already there for Faith Formation. My front tire hit some slushy icy stuff and I went off of the road. When I tried to get back onto the road we spun around and shot across the road and hit the guard rail and flipped over it and rolled down the hill. It happened so fast, but it seemed like slow motion. All that I remember thinking was “My Babies!” I yelled, “God, be with us PLEASE!” He certainly was. We were able to walk away from it with nothing but a little stiffness. Thank You God! The boys were safe and sound strapped into their car seats. In fact Aiden told one of the EMS people that it was fun!  Fun is definitely not a word that I would use to describe it, but I am glad that he wasn’t freaked out.

There were several kind people that stopped to check on us and one of them called 911. Within minutes there was an ambulance, fire truck, police car and numerous first responders on site. Everyone single one of them were amazing. They were all so kind and concerned. Which was good, because I was freaking out. I couldn’t stop shaking. I just kept thinking about how differently it all could have turned out. But they continued to remind me that the boys were safe and sound. It was just about the best ending that could have happened. I had to try to get a hold of Brian. I knew that he was at church, but everyone would have their phones turned off. I took a chance and called my good friend Missy who lives right beside our church. Thankfully (?) she had an upset stomach so she didn’t go to mass. She ran over to the church to get Brian and her husband, Steve, followed Brian over in case we needed anything.  Another friend of mine, Amy, sat with our kids while Brian came to be with me and the little ones. I was so relieved to see him. Once I felt his arms around me, I started to calm down. The paramedics checked the boys and I out and I signed a million papers and then we left. Brian was actually, somewhat miraculously, able to drive the car a couple of miles down the road to an auto body shop. That little subaru started right up, even after landing on her head a few times! I would recommend one to anyone.

We went to church to pick up the rest of the kids. Missy and Jonah came to the van and waited with us while Brian went into the church to get the crew. As mass let out, my friends came over to check on me. They hugged me and I even allowed them to. (I am not a hugger. They make fun of me constantly for it.) The hugs were actually comforting. (There might be hope for me yet girls!) And then more of our church family came up to the van to make sure that we were ok. I was so touched. They had tears in their eyes and concern in their voices. Our sweet Bubba Lady kept squeezing my hand telling me that cars can be replaced.  People can’t. She is right. We can replace our little car, but my boys are one of a kind. Thank you God for keeping them safe.

Me and my little boys, Aiden and Jonathan
Our Angels were with us today!