Wednesday, March 15, 2017

At the Edge of Our Seats!

When I was little, about 7 or 8 years old, my dad built little wooden cradles for my sister, Jessie, and me to put our baby dolls in.

I loved playing baby dolls. I loved pretending and dressing them and feeding them "food." My favorite was the bottles that gave the illusion that the milk or juice was draining out... oh, those were the coolest.

I was one of those imaginative children who thought my toys came to life when I wasn't looking, so I would try to care for them equally so none of them would feel left out. I kind of felt bad for all my other toys because I really didn't care as much for them as I did my big, stuffed gorilla, George, and my baby with open and shut eyes named Karen. They got the most attention and care. Hence, the reason I sobbed like a baby when I saw the first ever Disney's Toy Story movie.

After getting married I couldn't hold on to all the dolls (again, the Toy Story movie number 2-cried again) I had collected over the years and gave almost all of them away (enter Toy Story 3). Except for three. I kept 3 baby dolls.

When Sister was a toddler she played with baby dolls fairly often so I took these three dolls out of storage and was quite meticulous about helping her care for them and putting them away in the original boxes when she was done.

Then, one day, she just didn't like baby dolls... or any dolls for that matter and that was it. She became a Tomboy. 

I was excited when Baby came along and I pulled my 3 baby dolls out of storage and just had them in her room, hoping she would play with them one day. I had abandoned the thought of keeping the dolls in collectible condition—I had learned by then that things are just things.

Baby would get the babies out every so often and would lay them (all 3 sometimes) in the cradle.

Then, they collected dust sitting in her closet for four-ish years and the old, wooden cradle built by her grandpa was now just a holding station for certain toys of the week/month.

Then, one week ago, after a long run of steady interest in all things "boy" and all things "not pink" or "girly," Sister ran to me with a proud smile on her face and showed me my old baby dolls and was excited to show how cute they looked in their clothes she had changed them into.

My heart took a sudden jump for joy as I held onto hope that maybe Sister was starting to enjoy something that was girlie.

It's been over a week now and she plays with them everyday. Baby has now joined her in her scheduled routine of pretend play. I even had the utmost motherly privilege of shopping for a baby doll of her own when Sister and Baby started fighting over one of the dolls in particular. Sister was so happy picking out her boy baby doll. I almost cried while we walked to the check-out counter as she kissed it's head over and over again. When we got home Marc asked if he had a name.

"Phillip."

I'm in heaven watching our girls enjoy these dolls as much as I did at their age. Not to mention the age of the dolls! They are at least 28-30 years old! Their antiques! Oh my! I am old!


Baby getting ready to fee her baby doll.


Sister really did NOT want me to take a picture of her with her doll so I tried to, at least, fit them both in the frame...


After another wardrobe change she grudgingly allowed me to take their picture.

But don't let her face fool you. Seconds after this shot she was bouncing with excitement that she was playing with mommy's dolls from when she was little too.

All those years ago, playing "mommy" with my sister in our bedroom with our babydoll and handmade cradles I never, not ever, played like any of those "babies" had any special needs. I just knew I would have babies of my own one day, but they would be perfect and I'd be happily married to my handsome prince.

Oh yes, there were the occasional soap opera moments where my "husband" had left me and I became a single mom, or realizing I actually had twins and there were two babies and not one, or pretending that my sister was a kidnapper and had taken my baby... oh, goodness, I guess I was meant to be in drama... 

Anyway, I never dreamed of a moment 30 years from then when I would be watching my own children play with those same dolls.

More than that, I never dreamed that watching one of my daughters be so loving to her dolls by changing them for bedtime, play time or outings; feeding them specifically; cuddling and cradling them; talking to them and reading them stories would ever give me a sad/empty/confused/proud/nostalgic/happy/worried/hopeful feeling.

Which is the same feeling that swept over me when I hear Sister tell me for the hundredth time, "Mom, I want to adopt two black babies! And a white one! I want like, 4 kids!"

My mom watched us play dolls planning on the fact that we were preparing for our futures as mothers and she was able to blissfully walk by our bedroom as we pretended their cries or babble.

I never would have dreamed when I was 19 years-old that 21 years from that point I would be staring in the faces of three children with special needs. I never thought that the man I sat across the altar from 21 years ago to say "yes" to would be the father of three children who would forever need special care, extra  attention, self-sacrifice and unlimited dedication.

When you are 11 years old you, typically, think life will be perfect when you grow up... either that, or it will end.

I watch Sister.

Eleven years-old.

Dreaming.

Planning.

Imagining.

Pretending.

How do I tell her that this might not happen for her?

On the way home from getting her new doll I listened to her going on and on about her plans to adopt, to marry, to take her kids to Disneyland, to change their diapers and take them to school. I nonchalantly asked her if she understands that maybe her having Fragile X Syndrome might make it tough for her to be married and have kids.

I was so nervous for her reaction and, frankly, couldn't believe I even blurted it out. We've always taught our kids that Fragile X doesn't define them or hold them back from doing what they love. I realized in that moment, that I broke my commitment to her to never let her think she can't or won't.

Her response to my deep and penetrating question was, "Oh, well, I'll wait a year before I marry [boys name] so it will be OK."

Tee hee! I was able to relax and laugh a little bit realizing that she is just 11 and she is just having fun living life and pretending. And with her special needs and anxieties she has no concept, really, of time or circumstance.

Eight years ago when Brother was diagnosed with Fragile X our whole world came crashing down.

All my dreams had been shattered.

Nothing was going to be as I had pretended or hoped at age 11.

I had never even heard of Fragile X Syndrome.

I had never done physical therapy or occupational therapy for my dolls when I played as a kid. I didn't even know what that was.

Something else I didn't pretend when I was a kid was how my future children would push their limits, try as hard as they can despite their genetics, and strive so hard to accomplish what they are being taught. I also never pretended that my "dolls" had a father who cared so much for them and would stay beside me through the thickest and the thinnest.

I see Our Life through a different set of eyes, dreams and hopes.

Joy when Marc captured a moment of Baby doing the "side plank" alongside him while he did his own yoga.

Learning that Yoga is fun and relaxing.

How exciting it would be when your almost 8-year-old decides that
she will wear a hat and scarf and make sure to put them on herself.
(notice her yoga pose... she loves yoga.. and yoga pose and picture pose are no synonymous)
Trying to make a good selfie picture and then notice your youngest is mocking you

Just being happy that Baby figured out her own way to get warm without crying and waiting for me to come decipher what she needed.

Thankful that Brother can get dressed on his own and even dress up for church on his own
(except the for the tie—Marc still helps with that)


Smiling because Baby is posing, waiting for me to take her picture.
Getting pictures from Brother's iPod from his photo scavenger hunt with the local youth at church

Taking in stride the fact that Sister hates to have her picture taken. 
Enjoying the times that our kids actually interact with each other.

Celebrating that Brother finally asked someone on a date, even if it was arranged as a field trip during school.

Chuckling that your kids have a great sense of humor.

Triumph in simple writing skills

Happily rolling your eyes that she's learning how to work your phone utilizing Siri.

Helping around the house.


What I am so amazed at, had never pretended, and am so grateful for is the 21 years of I-don't-know-what-will-happen-next's with this man.

A date at the gym.
On a "date" at the school district future planning fair for special needs after high school. 
On our way to see Marc's cameo appearance in the local movie, "Tim Timmerman."


One thing I surely did not realize at the age of 11 was that pretending is pretending and it brings dreams, hopes, and ideas. Real life is never as magical as you pretend it to be.

Unless the kind of magic you're thinking of is the element of surprise!

Marc and I have had 21 years packed full of surprises. I love him more after all those surprises than I ever dreamed I could have the capacity to love. I guess there's just something to be said about the one that sits with you at the edge of your seat while going through the ride of your life... it bonds you together pretty tight.




Celebrated our anniversary early with a great date out to dinner at Outback Steakhouse, a night at the local Dry Bar Comedy Club and a quick stop-in at the LDS Film Festival

Then on our actual anniversary we went to dinner at Olive Garden and then hung out at the Orem University Place Mall.




Here's to more surprises!!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What Have I Learned?

So... I'm 40 years old now!

What?

4 - 0 

Ya. So.

What have I learned in forty years?

Do you want to know?

Well, guess what, you are in luck because I am going to write it all right here in this post...

...wait

...wait

...

I can't tell you all that I've learned, that's just too much.

Since, I'm 40, I'll give you 40 of the top things I've learned in 40 years.

1)  Find joy!
      If you can't find it right away, search it out, hunt for it, take it and hold on to it.

2)  Don't let yourself be offended.
     Try to understand that not everyone understands your situation or others' situations and because of their lack of knowledge they may say or do the wrong thing. Let it go.

3)  Don't judge.
     You don't understand everyone's situations. Give them the benefit of the doubt and just love them anyway.

4)  Give compliments.
     Everyone, no matter who they are, the status they are in, the abilities they have or the confidence they exude deserve the chance to hear great things about themselves.

5)  Sing out loud more!
     There's a reason why singing in the shower is something everyone understands.

6)  Dress up.
     Who says you have to have somewhere to go just to get dressed up, do your hair and even do your make-up (if that's what you do)? Your spouse deserves to see you at your best, your kids do, the random door-to-door salesperson would love to see you look fantastic, and, trust me, the grocery store run in your sweats and no make-up is just destiny to run into your high school flame.

7)  Throw parties!
     It doesn't have to be your birthday, a holiday or even Fragile X Awareness month, you should have parties! Everyone needs them and they don't have to be big! Have a simple game night with friends and neighbors and call it a party and it will be!

8)  Smile!
     It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile—that means you have to work harder to look sad. Why work so hard for something that doesn't help anyone feel better? Save yourself the work and smile more.

9)  Give hugs.
     It makes both the giver and the receiver happier to see each other!

10)  Develop your talents!
       This gives you the ability to love life, serve others, have pride in yourself and be humbled with what you have been blessed with.

11)  Buy second-hand!
       It's like a treasure hunt overtime, it's an environmentally friendly thing to do, and it benefits others.

12)  Be kind and talk with your parents.
       You'd be surprised how fast time goes by and you don't want to regret not having enough time.

13)  Say, "I love you."
       People you love need to know you love them by word and deed. This applies especially to your spouse and children.

14)  Play in the snow!
       Build a sculpture, make an igloo, make footprints, catch snowflakes on your tongue, tromp in it, make snow angels.

15)  Don't drive distracted!
       Just don't.

16)  Pray often.
       Whether it is a prayer in your heart, out load, in song, or on a mountain top, take the time to pray.

17)  Keep learning.
       There is always something to be learned, someone who is teaching it, somewhere to learn and so many ways to learn it.

18)  Don't plan your life.
       You might be disappointed when it doesn't go as planned or you may blame yourself.

19)  Enjoy the ride.
       It's a long one, you might as well have a good attitude about it.
       
20)  Stay calm.
       If you can stay calm, maybe others around you will follow suit.

21) Do something that scares you.
      You'd be thrilled to know the doors this can open for you.

22)  Write in a journal.
       This is for your benefit and those who love you. 

23)  Eat good food.
       For me, this means healthy food, but I don't forget to enjoy great food that might not be so healthy too. Taste is a sense for a reason.

24)  Pick flowers and put them in a vase in your house.
       Having a little bit of outside lets the sunshine in too.

25)  Wear sensible shoes.
       The back pain, knee issues and sprained ankles just aint worth it ladies!

26)  Give things away.
       If you don't need it, it takes too much room, or it is not loved—give it away to someone who will enjoy it or need it. 

27)  Hold the door for someone with their hands full.
       Literally or figuratively.

28)  Learn how to roller-skate!
       Trust me, there's just something about roller-skating.

29)  Have faith.
       In yourself, others, and God.

30)  Buy those clip-on toilet bowl cleaners.
       Take advantage of the things that can make your life easier, especially when it comes to cleaning a toilet.

31)  Stay in touch with your siblings!
       Life gets busy. Keep your relationship strong with your siblings even if it's only text to let them know you are thinking of them.

32)  Love your kids unconditionally!
       Because they deserve it.

33)  Praise more than you criticize.
       Each person is hard enough on themselves without your critique. If you have to give a critique make sure you give double the praise.

34)  Don't spit in the wind!
       Trust me,  just don't. Ew.

36)  If the kids are too quiet, there is something wrong.
       Always.

37)  Pick up the Legos.
       It doesn't matter if you are teaching children that you will clean up for them, it is worth it if you have to go into their room in the middle of the night or, heck, if you have to walk into their room at all. *#@&!! It's better that they learn you'll clean up legos for them than to learn the words that will fly out of your mouth if you step on them.

38)  Swim with children.
       Yep, I said "children" not "dolphins. (I would think that would be fantastic too) Don't just sit on the side of the pool getting a tan with your designer suit, stylish hat and sunglasses flashing dirty looks at the kids splashing water on you. Get in there and swim with them. They'll love you more for it and they'll have fabulous memories with you.

39)  Be mostly honest.
       Honesty is always the best policy, unless the honesty damages someone's self-esteem or self-worth, then kindness is a better policy.

40)  Throw your own 40th Birthday Bash!
       Don't wait around waiting for someone to celebrate you. You celebrate you! You're not too bad!


I hope you were able to chuckle and were even enlightened by some things I've learned, but now I just have to share the highlight of my 40th birthday!

Rachael's 40 and Fabulous Masquerade Ball!



I made all the decorations, the signs, the photo props and the icicle light chandeliers and then friends helped me get it all up to make the room look fantastic. Our friend did music and his brother even brought his live band for a part of the night. It was epic!






































Me and the "DJ"

Life is good so I just had to celebrate it big! So happy I did. It made so many people smile!