June 24, 2012
Jae taking photo of her “Dandelion Meadow.” medium: dominos

Jae taking photo of her “Dandelion Meadow.” medium: dominos

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Jae’s “Dandelion Meadow.” medium: dominos

Jae’s “Dandelion Meadow.” medium: dominos

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March 1, 2012
When I grow up I want to be Minnie Mouse, a ballerina, and go to space.
Jae Helline, age 3-1/2 yrs
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January 10, 2012

The Good, The Less Good, and The Mildly Unattractive

Parenting is not a joke. My 3-1/2 year old is smart. I know not to underestimate children and their intuitive nature and their ability to grasp and learn quickly so I shouldn’t be surprised but this child stops me in my tracks often. She certainly can bring out the good, nearly bad, and almost ugly in me. Yes, kids are smart, but we’re the adults here. We should be more than capable of out-smarting them and influencing and (gasp!) manipulating them into being and doing what we want. Right? I say it because it’s true. Of course, I don’t try to stifle her spirit or her confidence, but I will admit to trying to break her will at times. I don’t know why. Yes, I do. Control. I’ve made every decision for her for 3-1/2 years. This is a learning experience for me too. Her will is strong and I know it won’t break easily. Hopefully she can harness it and use it for good later in life.

Her vocabulary is wide and she uses it in the proper context most of the time. The negotiating and threats are what have been throwing me for a loop lately. “If you do/don’t ______, then I won’t take a nap/eat/pick up my toys/listen, etc!” Ummm. Excuse me?! Of course, she is just regurgitating variations of what she hears from me and her loving father. I try calmly to explain that children do not speak to their parents that way. That’s when she comes back with “Well, you’re not listening and you need to listen to your children.” Again, just serving me up what I’ve said over and over but, daggumit, the 3-1/2 old is right. I do need to listen. I need to hear myself and how I speak to her when patience is at a zero. I will not allow her to speak to me in the rude manner and tone that she’s apt to use, but I do need to pay more attention and adjust my tone. Authoritative doesn’t have to be rude, but rude is easier and I am guilty of being rude.

I admit I’m hard on her. I have to remind myself she’s only 3. I have to quickly evaluate and choose to laugh rather than scold when she starts to pitch a fit and cause a scene in Target because she’s “Cheetos hungry” rather than “apple hungry.” She’s loud and dramatic and it draws attention but I know those hysterics will only intensify if I lose my cool. And when she proclaims “I’m very angry with you!” because I won’t buy her new nail polish, I thank her for using her words to express herself and ask her to please sit back down because she’s still not getting new nail polish. She frowns and pouts but it’s okay because it distracts her from me white knuckling the shopping cart as I “keep my cool.”

When she’s not protesting, she’s talking. I don’t mind her talking for the most part, but lately she barely stops to take a breath. Colleen was snoozing on a recent car ride so I asked Jae to lower her voice a little. I tried to get her to close her eyes and rest. No dice. I even suggested she put the stickers she got from the Target cashier over her eyes to see what it felt like. I know. I’m horrible. No worries - it didn’t work. Then, I lost my composure and desperately asked her to stop talking for one minute. For what it’s worth, I did say “please.” She looked at me through the rear-view mirror and with a serious 3 year old face said, “Momma, little kids talk. That’s what they do.” I’m pretty sure that translates to telling me to get over myself. Point taken, little person.

Parenting isn’t a joke. It’s constant. It’s hard. But, it’s not constantly hard. It’s not always good. But, it’s mostly not truly bad or truly ugly. There are definitely some unglamorous times whether it be your child’s attitude or your own. But, most situations could be worse. That’s what I tell myself. It’s what gets me through some days. But, I can honestly say at the end of the day the good outweighs the junk. And not just because they are sleeping. You need some junk mixed in to fully appreciate the good stuff. And that smart little person living with us proves that theory. She proves it every other hour of every day.

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December 27, 2011

A Christmas Carol

Oh come all thee faif-ful boyful and friumphant.

Oh come thee. Oh come thee to Bethlehem.

Come and hold him. Born the king of angels.

Oh come let us adore him Christ galore.

Jae Helline, age 3-1/4 years

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December 1, 2011

Girls

Just a few things I don’t want to forget about my girls at this age.

Jae, 3-1/4 years

  • Yesterday, Jae referred to me as “Grandma” all day long. She also renamed her doll “Tanner.” Any other time the doll’s name is “Ryan.”
  • When I made a stop at Dunkin’ for coffee she politely asked for a “bo-nut.” How could I say no?
  • This morning she was calling me “Handsome.”  When asked why she explained that I am handsome because I’m the one that takes the tickets. She’s so matter of fact when she gives explanations of her imagination that I almost feel silly for even asking.
  • This afternoon I am “Dr. Money.” I didn’t get an explanation for that one. Just wild and hysterical cackling as she ran off shouting “I love Dr. Moooonnnneeeeeyyy!”
  • And today Colleen is “Elise.” I can only imagine that name change is a positive result of our recent visit with her cousin, Elise. 
  • Jae insists on wearing dresses or skirts and tights. It is a huge fight to get her to wear anything else. She will sometimes compromise with leggings or jeggings on a good day.
  • Her favorite colors continue to be pink and purple. She’s quite particular on what shade of pink. She prefers more of a purplish pink and she’ll tell you so.

Colleen, 15 months today

  • She is trying to talk and makes sounds that sound like “I love you.” I’m sure it sounds nothing like that to other people. Kind of like when pet owners claim their dogs can talk. No, I’m not calling my child a dog, but you totally get what I’m saying now don’t you?
  • She also puts her little hands out and and curls her fingers as if to say “gimme” when she wants something. Usually more food, but occasionally it’s for a hug. Those little arms give the best hugs. She’ll also pat and rub you before letting go.
  • She will cry for you to put shoes on her little feet. She has some new old-school booties complete with bells. You better put the bells on each time if you know what’s good for you and your ear drums.
  • This child is totally attached to her immediate family. She’ll squall if anyone else tries to love on her when we’re around. I try not to think how she does when we’re not around. I just say a prayer for whoever is in charge of her well being.
  • She’s usually easy going but can turn into a firecracker in a second. A very loud firecracker. Some say fire truck is more accurate. 
  • The child loves to be changed out from her pjs. Must be her father’s child.
  • Must have two pacis to sleep. 
  • Smiles with her eyes and it melts me every time.

It still astounds me that I am a mother of two girls. 

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November 14, 2011

ten.

Ten years ago today my heart was wrenched and broken. Tears poured. Prayers were said. Questions were asked but not answered. My world felt empty. There was anger. There was loneliness. There was anguish. There was selfishness. There was immense sadness. There was rage. There was lack of faith. There was adrenaline. There was self pity. There was relief. There was helplessness. There was guilt. There was eternal healing. Ten years ago today my mother died. She was 53. I was 23. Just days before we had been laughing and enjoying getting to know each other better. We were always mother and daughter but our relationship had been evolving. We were becoming friends and it was fun. I was learning more about her and myself. It was wonderful. 

I moved home from college the year before to help my dad care for my mom when Multiple Sclerosis left her paralyzed from the neck down. My life in Charlotte was left behind without an ounce of hesitation. The disease had moved into her spine. With therapy she gained limited use of her upper body, arms and hands. Her condition required around the clock care. For the first time in my life, I felt I had a true purpose for being alive. I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Taking care of my mother felt natural and I truly wanted to do it.

Often MS will affect a person’s mind  and cloud their thoughts. Not Mom. She may have moved slower but she was still as sharp as a tack. And I know, at times, that made it even harder for her. She was aware of everything her body was doing. Or not doing. Mom was a doer. She was a multi-tasker. She was thrifty. She was crafty. She was creative. She was honest. She was funny. She got things done. She was a good cook. She was strong. She worked hard. She was a giver. She was a dynamo. There are so many more ways to describe her and I was still learning about her.

Ten years is a long time. A lot has happened. I worked through my grief. I met a boy. I moved back to Charlotte. I became an aunt. I fell in love with that boy. I moved back to Georgia. I married that boy. I became an aunt again. I became pregnant. I had a miscarriage. I became a mother to two daughters. A lot of things happened that I wanted to share with my mother. Life has carried on with me and my family but November 14, 2001 still feels fresh. I remember how soft her hair was as I cut a lock to treasure. I remember the way the thread felt as I tied the awful tag around her ankle. But, mostly I remember the sky. It was the bluest of blue with a few cotton clouds. I remember the way the air smelled. It was crisp and fresh and almost warm. “What a gorgeous day” was all I could muster to my dad as we walked out of the hospital. That may have been an odd thing to say at a time like that, but it felt right. And it felt like something Mom would say. She was good at finding the pretty in the yuck.

I can still hear her laughter. I can still smell her soft skin. I can still see that sparkle in her eyes when she smiled. I know she is healed. I know she is with God, but I still want her here. I’m trying hard to trust that there is a bigger picture that I can’t see. It’s hard. I work on it everyday. One of the last conversations I had with Mom was her wish for me and my brother to be happy with our lives and to follow our hearts. Do for others and be fulfilled and never stop trying to achieve that feeling. Well, Momma, I’m doing it. And, again, I feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I love you to pieces. And I love all the pieces.

xo

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September 1, 2011

Today marks the one year anniversary of Colleen’s birth. This has been the fastest year of my entire life. I’ll admit I’m in a bit of denial that we’ve arrived at this milestone with our little baby. And I’m quite alright and comfortable with continuing to call her “baby.” She’s still content with crawling and being carried rather than walking. I am grateful that she’s not in a big hurry to run away from me. Of course, my back will probably be out of alignment for years to come, but I can live with that.

Colleen has brought immense joy to our lives. I say this past year has gone by quickly but, just like her big sister, it’s hard to remember life before her. I labored with her for 30+ hours. She is my VBAC baby. She made her grand entrance into the world weighing 8 pounds and 10 ounces. Her cheeks were so squishable. Since the moment we first held her she has loved to snuggle. She craves human touch and pats you on your arm when you hold her and sometimes strokes your hair. She has the sweetest giggle. She also has a fiery temper. She’s not afraid to express herself when she’s not happy. She’s a screamer. A thrasher. A teeth grinder. Despite the healthy temper, I still say she’s an easy going baby. She hangs tough with her sister during the day and sleeps when she needs it. As long as she’s fed and clean, then she’s ready to roll. She’s also as soft as a marshmallow and has the most edible thighs you have ever seen.

Colleen’s biggest love is probably her big sister. She thinks Jae hung the moon. Jae can make her laugh harder and louder than anyone. She can also make her scream louder than anyone. They’re becoming sweet playmates and friends. Jae is really sweet when she talks to her and teaches her words. She’s not saying them right now, but we have a feeling she’s storing them up for later.

Colleen isn’t walking or talking all that much but she can figure out how to unhook buckles, open packages, climb into the bathtub, stand up in her highchair{see: buckles}, and climb just about anything that will hold up to her. And she’s quite proud of herself when she does so. We’ve enjoyed watching her grow and develop into a tiny person. She is starting to communicate more and more each day. She’ll wave hello and goodbye, blow kisses, sign “more” and gives great hugs.

Colleen Shea, I never could have imagined how wonderful you would be and how much my heart would grow when I laid eyes on you. I love your sweet nature. I love your dimples. I love your thunder thighs. I love your cowlick. I love your soft hair. I love your rather large big toe. I love your smile and giggles. I love your little hands. And I love to watch you sleep. I love you. Your Daddy Boy loves you. Your sister loves you. And God loves you.

Happy Birthday, Colleen!

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August 5, 2011
This time three years ago we were mesmerized at the sight and smell of the brand new baby in my arms. We had been up for over 24 hours but her bunny fluff hair and sweet grunts had our full attention and sleep wasn’t important. Jae Helline joined us at 3:03am and we had no idea of the fun adventure that was in front of us.
It takes my breath away to think about how that tiny baby above has turned into my little *gasp* girl. I suppose I can’t technically call her a baby anymore but she will most definitely always be our first baby. And I have a feeling she will continue to take our breath away from here on out.
Happy 3rd Birthday, Jae! Thank you for forever changing our lives! We just love you forever.

This time three years ago we were mesmerized at the sight and smell of the brand new baby in my arms. We had been up for over 24 hours but her bunny fluff hair and sweet grunts had our full attention and sleep wasn’t important. Jae Helline joined us at 3:03am and we had no idea of the fun adventure that was in front of us.

It takes my breath away to think about how that tiny baby above has turned into my little *gasp* girl. I suppose I can’t technically call her a baby anymore but she will most definitely always be our first baby. And I have a feeling she will continue to take our breath away from here on out.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Jae! Thank you for forever changing our lives! We just love you forever.

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July 12, 2011
Farewell
He was a sweet little piece of chocolate when Tyler brought him home. He quickly grew into a strapping 100 pound companion. He chewed on everything. He loved to swim and fetch the buoy. He came along on our very first date. He loved playing with his giggler toy. It was the only thing he couldn’t chew up. He turned into a lap dog at the sound of loud noises. He loved wrestling with his little brother, Gus. He was the king of the backyard. He left us way too soon.
Rest in peace, Hunter Coppertone Brislin
2.23.02 - 7.4.11

Farewell

He was a sweet little piece of chocolate when Tyler brought him home. He quickly grew into a strapping 100 pound companion. He chewed on everything. He loved to swim and fetch the buoy. He came along on our very first date. He loved playing with his giggler toy. It was the only thing he couldn’t chew up. He turned into a lap dog at the sound of loud noises. He loved wrestling with his little brother, Gus. He was the king of the backyard. He left us way too soon.

Rest in peace, Hunter Coppertone Brislin

2.23.02 - 7.4.11

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July 2, 2011
Momma! I want to tell you a stirry (story) about my hearse (horse) that likes to eat kern (corn). He was burn (born) in a bahrn (barn) and dey blowed a hearn (horn).
Jae Brislin, age 2-3/4 years
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June 26, 2011
Farewell
He was a clumsy little fur ball when we brought him home. He quickly grew into a handsome 105 pound gentle giant. He liked to help cut the grass. He thought he was part goat. He could dig a hole the size of a Buick. He loved his big brother, Hunter. He loved to be rubbed, scratched, and snuggled from the day we met until the day we had to say goodbye.
Rest in peace, sweet Gus.
3.9.04 - 6.25.11

Farewell

He was a clumsy little fur ball when we brought him home. He quickly grew into a handsome 105 pound gentle giant. He liked to help cut the grass. He thought he was part goat. He could dig a hole the size of a Buick. He loved his big brother, Hunter. He loved to be rubbed, scratched, and snuggled from the day we met until the day we had to say goodbye.

Rest in peace, sweet Gus.

3.9.04 - 6.25.11

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May 20, 2011

Is there something red on my neck?

Who has two chickadees under 3 years old? 

We do.

Who eats out way more than they should given they have two small children to wrangle?

We do.

Who has an 8 month old who, for the last week, has been teething like it is her job only allowing us to get a good night’s sleep every other night if we’re lucky and making meal times reminiscent of a horror film?

We do. 

Who had ribs for supper last night and in a fit of desperation proceeded to give the mad teething baby a clean rib bone to chew on in the middle of a restaurant for the sake of our sanity?

I so totally did. And she so totally loved it. You’ll just have to take my word for it as I was too busy enjoying the rest of my ribs to take a photo. 

And, we made it out of the restaurant before someone called child services.

Red or not, that right there is parenting success!

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May 10, 2011

Jae Says

Just in the last 72 hours…

Upon being told there are hotdogs in her soup in an attempt to get her to eat it she calmly asks “Can I have some hotdog that’s not in the soup?”

-*-*-*-

7:20am. I awake to the curtains being ripped back and wicked bright sunshine flooding the room. Jae exclaims, “I yawned and woke up the sun!”

-*-*-*-

Jae walks around the corner licking her hands and wiping her spit on whatever is close whether it be furniture or me. I ask her why she’s licking her hand. She looks puzzled and does it again. I tell her it’s gross. “Do you see that wet stuff on your hand when you lick it? That is spit.” She looks back at me and licks her hand again and says “It’s not spit.” *lick* “It’s licker.” 

-*-*-*-

Me: Jae, are you ready to eat your soup for supper?

Jae: NO!

Me: It’s what princesses eat. You will love it!

Jae: Nooooo! Princesses eat princess foooooood.

Me: Yes. Soup is special princess food.

Jae: No! NO soup! Princesses don’t eat soup!

Me: What do they eat?

Jae (rolls her eyes and sighs): Brownies! 


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April 14, 2011
We need sunSCREAM!

Jae Brislin, age 2.5 yrs

said about 10 million times a day.

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