Daughters


A Third Birthday

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 08/14/14 12:22 PM
CATEGORIES: Blog, Daughters, gratitude, perspective, Surrogacy, thankful, The Babies!

Three years.

It’s hard to imagine that three years has passed since Reagan and Isabella joined our family.  Jennifer, our friend and their gestational carrier, joined our family for a celebration last night and she asked me if I though time was passing quickly.

They just seem so grown up.

And they are.

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No longer babies, these two little ladies are really starting to show us who they are.  To me that’s one of the greatest gifts of parenthood.  Our children are not ours to mold and shape.  They certainly aren’t extensions of ourselves.   As parents, Sean and I can’t decide whether Reagan will be a ballerina or a basketball player or whether Isabella will be a tomboy or the most feminine girly-girl on the block.  Of course, we have influence on what our children are introduced to but once the introduction is made, it truly is our job to observe and let the child show us who they are.

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Their big third birthday present was a bounce house.  Ryan gave it a life span of five months.  We tend to be hard on our play gear.

Their big third birthday present was a bounce house. Ryan gave it a life span of five months. We tend to be hard on our play gear.

It’s a privelege to watch them unfold.

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At three, Reagan is feisty.  She knows what she wants and she protests when we don’t follow her path.  It appears that she enjoys performing.  Yesterday I took all three girls school supply shopping.  As we neared the cash registers she spotted an end cap with ballet gear.  I haven’t the slightest clue how she knew what the pink shoes and leotard were for, but she scrambled out of the cart and snagged a pair for herself and refused to put them back.

She’s telling me something.

I think we are going to try an age appropriate dance class for her.

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Isabella is extremely verbal.  Her ability to articulate at such a young age surprised Sean and I.  At birth, in spite of her full-term status, Isabella was intubated and hospitalized for ten days due to breathing difficulties.  Both of us worried about the oxygen deprivation she experienced and wondered whether there would be long lasting impacts.  She was a late walker and her feeding and eating habits could be characterized as challenging, but other than that it appears she is developing normally.  She is very friendly, one of our more outgoing children, with a happy, easy-going demeanor.  And the girl can talk even the chattiest person right under the table.

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The two of them together are a trip.  They play with one another like most siblings;  one minute they’re “best friends”;  the next they are mortal enemies.  They take turns being the alpha, and for every like they share, there are two they don’t.  Reagan’s a screamer.  Isabella’s a crier.  Reagan’s shy at first.  Isabella is quick to warm.  They both like walking around in click-clack shoes and playing with their hot wheels cars.

They are individuals.  It’s my job to respect them.

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So, instead of molding them into my vision of what I think they should be, I’m enjoying the reveal. I’m certainly not passive in my parenting approach.  I’m more of a coach.  I cheer for them but I’m not a blind fan.  I provide support, guidance and boundaries that will–hopefully–teach them to be kind, confident and responsible.  Some moments it seems like it’s all working.  Other moments it doesn’t.    None of it’s perfect.  But in a way, I think that’s good.

Our imperfect world is full of imperfect people.  That’s an important lesson to learn.

We had a small family party with their god parents and Grandma Kate.

We had a small family party with their god parents, Jennifer and Grandma Kate.

Last night, after everyone else was in bed, Jennifer and I stayed up talking.  We both decided time is, indeed, passing quickly.  We reminisced about her pregnancy with Reagan and Isabella.  How big she was.  How much she sacrificed for our family.   We also talked about gratitude.  For Sean and I, it’s an undying gratitude to her for the gift of our daughters.  We are both convinced they wouldn’t be with us if it wasn’t for her.

Jennifer with the girls in 2013.

Jennifer with the girls in 2013.

Jennifer and girls circa 2014.

Jennifer and girls circa 2014.

 

For Jennifer it was about how thankful she is that she gets to visit with them.  “It’s nice to see what I did.”

I get that–at very profound level.

Blowing out their candles.

Blowing out their candles.

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Sean and I are so lucky.  We have five–going on six–amazing kids to shepherd.  They challenge us.  They push us.  They teach us.  And in return, we love them for it.  For all of it.

 

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*****

I know.  This post is an about face from Monday afternoon’s post.  Sean and I talked about the spirit of Monday’s post and we laughed.  We figure anyone who advises an expectant mother to “enjoy every single second of parenthood” probably doesn’t have a child at home under the age of 18.

That being said, we had a birthday here this week.  Our girls are growing up.  So pardon the my sentimentalism (Yes, that’s a real word.  I looked it up).

Happy Thursday.

 

 

 

A Sixth Birthday Party or parties

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 03/31/14 11:12 AM
CATEGORIES: 1015 The River, Blog, Daughters, Decorating, Focusing on The Joy, Glass City Parent, Holidays, thankful

Mary Kate’s birthday is officially over and I’m exhausted.  You see, after a series of parties dedicated to her 6th our middle child may have the rather demented impression that her seventh birthday should rival the Queen’s Jubilee.  It all started innocently enough.  This was going to be a “party year” for her.  We don’t have big birthday parties every year in our house.  There’s always a family celebration but the shindigs with friends and stamped invitations are reserved for the big years, and in our home “6” is a banner accomplishment.

(I have no idea why.  There is no logic to this so don’t ask.)

Anyways, back in January I asked MK what she wanted for a theme for her party and she announced that she wanted a “Princess Castle Cake” with fireworks shooting out of the top.  I said yes to the cake,  no to the fire works and spent the entire month of February in Hobby Lobby.  (I think I may have single handedly financed Hobby Lobby’s law suit against the federal government…or at least one of the attorneys that argued in front of the supreme court last week.)

I have to confess—I had a blast with this party.  I don’t know if it was because I spent the first thirteen years of motherhood convincing myself I would never miss doing the girly stuff that comes along with a daughter or if it’s because I need mental help.  According to Sean it’s the latter.  I’ll cop to a little bit of both.  Regardless, I went balls out with theme to the point of my sister-in-law threatening to hide my glue gun.

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Now comes the explanation about the four seperate celebrations.  Mary Kate’s birthday is March 29th which was a Saturday this year.  When I first looked at the calendar I was ecstatic.  We could have her party on her actual birthday, however, after further inspection the reality of MK’s lot in life came to fruition.  When you are third in line behind two very active older brothers sometimes your schedule gets trumped by track meets, ACT tests and high school dance schedules.  So…we moved the party date up. Which made sense but also contributed to the concept that March was now designated MK’s birthday month.

The Royal Table

The Royal Table

The Royal (no spill) drink glasses. (Tutorial on how to make coming tomorrow.)

The Royal (no spill) drink glasses. (Tutorial on how to make coming tomorrow.)

Crafted goody bags hung on the back of each chair.

Crafted goody bags hung on the back of each chair.

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Of course, the highlight of the party was the appearance of Princess Laurel.  I wrote about Laurel last summer when we attended one of her  fairy garden parties.  Back then she was just starting her Princess Party business and since then her popularity in our neck of the woods has exploded.  Mary Kate couldn’t have been more thrilled that Princess Laurel came to her party.

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Princess Laurel comes with an invaluable message about how true princesses are kind and true to themselves.

Princess Laurel comes with an invaluable message about how true princesses are kind to others and true to themselves.

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They also dance...

They also dance…

 

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Even the littlest princesses...

Even the littlest princesses…

The afternoon was magical.  8581104

The timing of the party coincided with Drew’s spring break so there were kings in attendance as well!

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Princesses can be silly, too!

Princesses can be silly, too!

When the party was over I was sad.  Sad in the same way I am the day after Christmas.  It was such a wonderful celebration of Mary Kate and her friends.  She is growing into such a special young lady who is so different than I was as a child.  She’s outgoing…I was shy.  She’s confident…I was timid.  She sings at the top of her lungs and doesn’t care what others think…I was affected by the opinion of others.  I know a lot of this is simply wiring but I like to think, at times, that her happy-go-lucky attitude is a symptom of her environment.  This party was the perfect reflection of her current stage in life.

We went on to celebrate her birthday three more times.  Once in Florida with my parents…where my dad delivered on the fireworks portion of her birthday request…much to her chagrin…

Once with her classmates…

This is a Montessori birthday celebration.  The entire class is circled and a candle is lit to represent the sun.  The number rods are laid out to signify the six years MK has been on this Earth.

This is a Montessori birthday celebration. The entire class is circled and a candle is lit to represent the sun. The number rods are laid out to signify the six years MK has been on this Earth.

For each year, I was to tell a special thing about MK at that age, and then MK carried the Earth around the sun representing the year of growth that had taken place in her life.

For each year, I was to tell a special thing about MK at that age, and then MK carried the Earth around the sun representing the year of growth that had taken place in her life.

In the Montessori setting snack is a work choice.  On birthdays a special snack is provided by the birthday student.  It's supposed to be healthy but we snuck a Peep into the mix.  And of course...it's pink.

In the Montessori setting snack is a work choice. On birthdays a special snack is provided by the birthday student. It’s supposed to be healthy but we snuck a Peep into the mix. And of course…it’s pink.

And last night with her fairy Godmother, Sean’s mom and our immediate family.

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Homemade Ho Ho cake.  Recipe linked below.

Homemade Ho Ho cake. Recipe linked below.

It’s been a whirlwind of a month that has served as a reminder of how grateful I am for my daughter.  She may have come into this life as the tiniest of miracles…

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….but she continues to bless us every day.  It’s a joy to be her mother.

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Now…time to prepare.  We have a “17th” coming up!

That “Cover Yourself Up Teen Girls” Post…Some Thoughts

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 09/5/13 1:15 PM
CATEGORIES: Blog, Communication, compassionate parenting, Daughters, Health & Safety, Little girls, perspective, Prayers, Resilience, twins

So, unless you live under a rock or don’t have access to social media, you have likely seen  the viral blog post written by Kimberly Hall.  It was all over my Facebook feed yesterday and it seems to have struck a chord.  A most unexpectedly divisive chord.

Read Kimberly’s post here.

Interestingly, not every reader thought the article was awesome.  Many took offense and pointed out the dangers of “slut shaming”.  Personally, I didn’t find the article to be shaming at all.  I thought it was encouraging young women to make better choices for themselves.  Frankly, the post read like something I could have written.

That being said, when I was perusing the comments on GivenBreath.com (Kimberly’s blog) I came across a link to a post about the same topic written by Nate Pyle.  It was a conversation that he hopes to have some day with his young son about how women should be “seen”.  The topic is in the same vein as Kimberly’s post, except Nate goes a step further by placing the responsibility to view members of the opposite sex with respect—regardless of what they are wearing—on the person doing the looking.

Please give it a read here.

I worry about the culture in which my three young daughters are growing up.  The all-to-common onslaught of  hyper-sexualized messages go against everything I want for the futures of my children.  I know that it’s my job, as their mother, to raise them in a counter-cultural manner.  In the Savage house we swim against the stream of provocativeness and disrespect that is peddled as acceptable in mainstream society.  So far, so good with regards to our sons, but these three little girls?

View More: http://photos.pass.us/savage

They scare me.

I know Sean and I have a lot of parenting ahead of us.  I also know our charge to guide them into an adulthood rooted in goodness is going to be a battle.  That’s why I’m so grateful to writers like Kimberly and Nate.  Regardless of whether I agree with them, they share their thoughts which causes me to hone in on what it is I want to teach my children.

I need all the help I can get.

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What a blessing.

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More from the twins’ two year pictures.  They were taken by the amazing Allie Darr from Allison Darr Photography.  I love Allie’s work.  You can learn more about her photography at her website.

Isabella

Isabella

View More: http://photos.pass.us/savage

Reagan

Reagan

View More: http://photos.pass.us/savage

View More: http://photos.pass.us/savageView More: http://photos.pass.us/savageView More: http://photos.pass.us/savage

For Drew...

For Drew…

Yup...that's about right.

Yup…that’s about right.

Happy Thursday…the weekend’s coming!

First Day of School for Them…All Alone for Me: Hallelujah

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 08/26/13 10:24 AM
CATEGORIES: Back-to-School, Blog, Choices, Daughters, Focusing on The Joy, Glass City Parent, perspective, twins

I am completely alone in my house right now.  Not even the cat is inside.  There are no toys tinkering;  No little…or big…voices chattering; Even the television is silenced.  I can actually hear the cicadas though my closed windows.

It.is. AWESOME.

It’s been so long since I’ve been alone in my house—over two years—that I’ve forgotten the feeling it elicits.   My present state-of-giddiness doesn’t come from being alone.  It comes from being alone IN MY HOME.  I think I can trace my love of being home alone back to my earliest days.  I’ll never forget the first time my mom deemed me old enough.  I must’ve been around eight—don’t judge…it was the seventies—and my two younger brothers needed a ride to a friend’s house.  As I watched my mother’s car disappear around the corner, I remember making a b-line for the fridge so I could sneak a can of my mom’s diet Fresca.  I pulled back the tab, listened to the fizz and took my first sip.  It stung as it went down.  Actually, I didn’t even like diet Fresca but drinking that can of soda wasn’t about sneaking a treat.  It was about independence.

When I’m home alone I answer ONLY to myself.

Of course, even my eight-year-old-diet-Fresca-snatching-self knew my time alone was precious.  It wasn’t to be wasted.  It was an opportunity to be unabashedly productive.  The difference was I could do whatever I needed to do while singing at the top of my lungs…with an English accent…half-dressed…because I was home alone.

All three little girls started school this morning.  It was a busy routine to get three dresses on, three pairs of shoes tied, and three heads of hair coiffed with matching ribbons, but I accomplished all of it with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.  I’m excited for them.  I love their school.  I can’t wait to see what they learn.  I’m so proud of the little people they are becoming.  All reasons to smile.

But the spring?

The spring was in anticipation of what lie ahead for me and is the reason I sprinted to my car and pealed out of the parking lot after drop-off.

An empty house.

Cue girly squeal.

So, if you’ll excuse me  now, I have responsibilities to carry out.  And, I may or may not be accomplishing them while singing at the top of my lungs…with an English accent…half dressed!

I’m home all alone.

Amen.

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If you’re surprised to learn the twins are starting school at the age of two I can’t blame you.  There was a time in my life I would have scoffed at the concept of sending a two year old to school.  I wrote about our decision to send Reagan and Isabella to school at such a  young age over at WhatToExpect.com.  You can read our rationale here!  I’d be so appreciative if you’d go over and leave a comment!  Thanks!

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A few peeks at their first morning!

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Couldn’t help but spy on her through one-way mirror/window before I…you know…peeled out of the parking lot! 

A Mothering “Must Pinch Myself” Moment…A Fairy Garden Party

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 07/17/13 7:16 AM
CATEGORIES: 1015 The River, Blog, Daughters, Focusing on The Joy, Little girls, Stories

When I was an 8th grade teacher back in the 90s our parish school had a tradition.  Right around May Day the second grade class would plan an all school mass centered around their first communions. It was a special service that began with all of the first communicants processing in wearing their first communion garb.  The boys looked cute enough in their blue blazers and ties, but the girls.  Oh the little girls with veils and gloves and pretty white dresses.  They looked angelic.

That annual mass was always bittersweet for me.  I was thrilled to be the mother of two boys.  Drew and Ryan have been (and always will be) a joy to parent.  But there was something about watching those little girls that set off a soft pang of desire in my heart.

I’d always pictured myself with a daughter, and at the time I didn’t think she was ever going to come to me.

Little did I know what God had in store for us.

When I was pregnant in 2008 I had a feeling my baby might be a girl.  Sean was adamant we keep the gender a surprise, so when we heard those delivery room words, “It’s a girl” we were both over the moon.

One of the things I worry most about raising my three daughters is how to teach them to treat others kindly while bolstering  their self-esteem.  I make a point to search out activities for Mary Kate that will teach her the invaluable lessons of “do unto others” and a sense of self-worth.  I was so excited when I heard about a young woman in our community that is making it her business to do just the same thing.

A few weeks ago I took Mary Kate to a fairy-garden building party.  It was hosted by Laurel Lovitt (aka.  Princess Laurel) and oh.my.goodness…what a wonderful afternoon it was.

In case you've never heard of a fairy garden...

In case you’ve never heard of a fairy garden…

Princess Laurel in real life is a very intuitive and creative student at the University of Toledo.  She’s studying sales and marketing and my guess is…given her ingenuity…she’s got a great future.

When the girls first arrived Laurel gave them a lesson in everything fairy...including being kind and believing in yourself.

When the girls first arrived Laurel gave them a lesson in everything fairy…including being kind and believing in yourself.

 

Then it was time to build their own fairy gardens!

Then it was time to build their own fairy gardens!

DSC_0246DSC_0248Then each child picked out her fairy…or as Laurel explained…the fairy picked the child.  Vidya, the fairy of the fast, chose Mary Kate and she couldn’t have been more thrilled considering the slight emphasis on running in our household!

Admittedly...Mk wasn't too sure about Laurel at first.

Admittedly…Mk wasn’t too sure about Laurel at first.

 

But she and her friend Hailey warmed up right away!

But she and her friend Hailey warmed up right away!

Plus...Laurel had turtles.

Plus…Laurel had turtles.

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Of course, MK ate the whole experience up, but for me?  For me it was so special.  I get super sentimental sometimes when I’m watching my girls.  Like I’m watching a dream.  There was such a long time in my life that I thought I’d never have a daughter.

Now I have three.

So grateful…so, so very grateful for all five of my children (princes included…obviously!)

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My fairy princess…

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Princess Laurel is currently accepting registrations for two fairy garden building parties the week of July 21st.  You can register here.  In addition, she has a full schedule of events coming up and is available to do birthday parties in your home, as well.  You can contact her here.