Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Dad's birthday party...and our anniversary!

On Tuesday last week, my brother, sister, our spouses and I surprised (well, it was SUPPOSED to be a surprise, but we won't get into that!) my dad for his birthday by gathering at Osaka. It was so fun. We are usually quite the lively (ahem...loud/annoying) bunch when we're together. I love it. :)   If you know the Stewarts, you know that's just how we's how we've always been and always will be.  We sometimes cause quite the scene...and this night wasn't any different.
After dinner, Dad dawned the birthday hat, the lights dimmed and the birthday song played...we cheered and sang and clapped and probably annoyed everyone! Ha.

...that is aside from the neighboring table.  The little girls at the table next to us wanted to join they did!
We were all wearing sparkly star sunglasses when my dad arrived and so we gave the kids some glasses to wear.  They loved that.  Then, when the birthday song played, this little girl came over to say happy birthday and my dad gave her his hat.  It was pretty cute because she was totally excited to wear a hat that said, "Happy Birthday Larry".  Then she said (while looking at my dad's birthday dessert), "Can I have a bite of that?!"

And dad said, "Just take the whole thing!"
So she did...and she.was.happy!
We were headed to Granite City for more drinks and dessert anyway. :)

Oh and that night also happened to be Sean and my 8th anniversary.
Seriously...8 years?!
I love this man.
We have had some ROUGH times and our lives and family have turned out so differently than we always thought they would, but we've rolled with the punches TOGETHER (most of the time!  Ha.) and we've made it out stronger.  I know that there will be many more twists and turns for us and probably lots more peaks and valleys, but we love each other and I cannot wait to be with this man for the rest of my life!

(kinda blurry, I know)

Fun night with so many people I love.
My favorite times are times spent with family!

He's turning 6 in less than a week!

This year has FLOWN by!
I feel like he just turned 5...requesting a Kung Fu Panda birthday party complete with sushi and pizza for the food.
I had to capture my 5 year old photographically 1 more time, so he and I picked out an outfit that was fit for photographs yet still very Tate(ish) and headed out to take his pictures.  He is a joy.  Seriously, look at that face...
And he is a stud. ;)

And full of laughter...

And about the cutest child I have ever laid eyes on...

And hilarious...he is so hilarious.
He loved "posing" for me...

He is so so smart...really, I don't know where he's learned half of the things he knows.  He LOVES numbers and letters...LOVES.

And he is ours and he is almost 6.

Please time, just stop now.

Friday, September 28, 2012

I figured it was safe to share SOMETHING about or 2 new sons...

Since we finalize on Friday...1 week from today (eek!), I figured I would at least share with you the boys' new full names!  I love seeing them written out on these blankets we got them!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In just over a week...

...I will be able to share the sweet faces and names of our 2 youngest sons!  I am seriously counting down the days!  I cannot wait for this part of our journey to be over!  It has by far been the most insane year of our lives...stressful, shocking, nerve racking, scary, busy, difficult, wonderful, amazing and chaotic...all of those things packed in.  I can't believe all that happened to our family this year and how we've completely changed in such a short time!

Aside from the adoption finalization to prepare for next Friday, between now and then I have A TON of things I need to get done.  Tate's birthday party is that night, so there's preparation for that, he wants to bring cake pops to school for his birthday treat, I want to do a 6 year photoshoot with him.  We have our nieces for the night on Saturday (fun!) and then I have a photoshoot on Sunday, editing pictures, cleaning the house, wrapping gifts, assembling Tate's big gift, get all of the paperwork and and phonecalls completed that need to be completed to get everything switched over on our boys' records to their new names, etc.  I am sure I am forgetting a million other things.  So you may not hear from me until all this is over! 

Eek...can't believe it's just over a week away!!!  So blessed by our friends and family who are all being so incredibly supportive and excited for our family during this special time.  Sounds like we will have a FULL courtroom at the's humbling really.  These boys are so loved!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A day in the life...

Just thought I would do another DAY IN THE LIFE post so I have it down to look back at someday.  These are mostly for me because they are some of my favorite posts to look back on and usually make me happy that things are different! :)  Now that Sean is on ONLY days (thank the Lord!!!), there is a bit more consistency in my weeks.  This day in the life is a typical day when Sean is working...

6:00am - Wake up to the baby giggling and babbling in the monitor, lay in bed for a few minutes.

6:05am - Roll out of bed and make a bottle for the baby.

6:10am - Go up and get him out of bed, give him his bottle and go to the bathroom.

6:15am - Go to the kitchen and start a pot of coffee and check my email and Facebook quickly.

6:20am - Pour a cup of coffee, check what hot lunch is to see if I will need to make Tate lunch or not, change the baby's diaper and rinse out his bottle.

6:30am - Turn on Disney Channel (I love using the television to occupy my children...don't judge) and go to the kitchen to unload/load the dishwasher and make Tate's lunch if I know he won't be eating hot lunch that day.

6:45am - I hear Tate's alarm go off so I get his breakfast ready and put at his seat at the table.

6:50am - Tate comes down stairs dressed and his pants are on backwards (or sometimes his shirt, but it's always something) so I tell him to turn them around. 

6:55am - Tate comes back into the kitchen and sits down to eat while I grab the baby and put him in the highchair with something to munch on as well.

7:05am - Get out Tate's planner and have him do his letter writing assignment for the day or read him his library book he brought home.

7:15am - Have Tate go brush his teeth and put baby in the den in front of a show while I get out of my jammies and make myself somewhat presentable to take the kids to school.

7:25am - Draw up our middle's meds and grab a diaper for him.

7:30am - Go upstairs to get up our middle, notice his bed is SOAKING wet, unhook him from his tube feeding, pull off all his bedding, take his sopping diaper off, give him a "wipe bath", put his clothes on him and send him downstairs.  I grab the baby's clothes and then grab his pile of wet bedding and bring it downstairs.

7:35am - Give our middle his meds, throw the dirty laundry down to the basement all the while yelling for Tate to put his shoes on and grab his backpack.  After giving meds, brush middle's teeth and then tell him to put his shoes on and grab his backpack.

7:45am - Grab the baby and my purse and we all 4 head out the door for school.

7:50am - Arrive at Tate's school and drop him off.  Drive over to the preschool to drop off our middle.

8:00am - Get the littles out of the van at the preschool and walk our middle to his classroom.

8:05am - Head back out to the car with just the baby...breath a sigh of relief. :)  When I get in the car, I call my mom to chat on the drive home.


8:15am - Arrive at home and put the baby down to play in the livingroom, go downstairs and start that load of dirty sheets and realize the basement is a toy explosion.  Put the toys away and bring up the clothes in the dryer to fold.

8:25am - Pour more coffee, plop the clean clothes in the livingroom to fold (but I don't start folding them yet!) and then check my schedule for the day to see what appointments I have.  I usually check my email and Facebook again at this point and occassionally will spend 15 minutes or so editing pictures.

8:50am - Pick up our front living room, put on our baby's glasses and foot braces, change his diaper and start to fold clothes before the baby's OT, PT or teacher come at 9am for therapy.

9:00am - Doorbell rings, clothes still aren't folded...ever.  Sometimes I fold while they work with the baby, but usually I push it aside and work with the therapist and baby.

10:00am - A couple days a week, another therapist arrives or we have to go to an appt we have scheduled at 10:15am, on days we don't have another appt at this time, I use it to finish folding laundry, pick up the house, clean out the coffee pot, run and errand, change over the laundry, blog, whatever I can fit into an hour long amount of time.

11:00am - Make lunch for the baby.  Sit down to feed him and while he's eating I always edit pictures at the kitchen table.

11:20am - Make a bottle for baby and put him in the livingroom with it to drink while I clean up his highchair tray and sometimes edit a few more pictures.

11:30am - Put baby down for a nap, clean out his bottle and breath a sigh of relief...again.

11:35am - Make myself lunch and eat...usually I am on the computer editing pictures, checking email, Facebook or blogs while I eat.

11:50am - Decide what to do for dinner and pull out any meat to thaw or put some food in the crockpot.

12:00pm - Shower (on a good day...ha) and get ready.

12:50pm - I use this time to schedule appointments, answer emails, work on our budget and occassionally pick up around the house, throw in another load of laundry or on a good day, make a phonecall or sometimes even relax for a few minutes. :)

1:30pm - Go upstairs to get the baby up.  Change his diaper.

1:45pm - Head out the door to pick up our middle from preschool.

1:55pm - Arrive at the preschool and unload the baby to go in and pick up his brother.

2:05pm - Load both littles back up into the van and head to Tate's school.

2:10pm - Park the car and walk up to the school with the boys and wait for Tate to be released.  I spend this time either chatting with the other waiting parents or returning phonecalls, answering emails, etc.

2:30pm - The kids start to come out of the school.  Grab Tate and Kiley and head back to the car.

2:35pm - All the kids are now loaded in the van and we head over to Ava's school to go pick her up.

2:45pm - Arrive to the pick up line at Ava's school and wait about 5 minutes before the line starts to move...just sit in the van and chat with the kids at this point.

2:55pm - Ava gets in the car and we decide whether we're going to head to Sonic or not for Happy Hour! :)  About once or twice a week, we go!

3:15pm - Arrive at home and get all the kids unloaded and go inside the house.

3:17pm - All the kids are whining for snacks.  I tell them to wait a few minutes while I look through Tate and our middle's backpacks and go through any paperwork sent home with them.

3:20pm - The kids are all back whining for snacks so I give them options and hand out snacks.

3:22pm - The kids are back in the kitchen wanting something to drink...oops I forgot that...I forget every day!  Get them all drinks and send them off to play.

3:25pm - Someone is hurt or crying or tattling.  I spend the next 45 minutes handling those situations while also working with our baby on some therapy stuff and usually changing a diaper or 2 in that time as well.

4:10pm - Check the mail, get online to pay bills or get on Facebook/email and the kids are back in the kitchen wating another snack.  I tell them no.

4:20pm - Lora arrives to pick up Ava.  We chat and rangle up Ava.

4:30pm - Lora leaves and Tate and Kiley are back asking for a snack.  I say no and start dinner (unless it's in the crockpot already) and unload the dishwasher.

4:45pm - Lisa or Aaron arrive to pick up Kiley.  We rangle up Kiley and chat for a few.  They leave.

5:00pm - The kids are whining that they are hungry, I put on a show for them and finish up dinner.

5:30pm - Corral the kids and sit them down for dinner.  Sometimes I eat with them, sometimes I wait for Sean to get home.

6:15pm - (it takes FOREVER for my kids to eat!) Tell the middle and Tate to go wash their hands and face and I clean up the table from dinner, usually just throw the dishes in the sink, wipe up the baby's tray and get him cleaned up.  Usually Tate asks to play XBox at this point and I let him.

6:30pm - The kids play unless it's bath night and if it is, this is when we start baths.  Baby first, then middle, then Tate.  If it's not bath night, I will clean up the disaster that is my house from the kids destroying it in the afternoon.  If it is bath night, the house stays messy.

7:00pm - Tell Tate to go upstairs and put his jammies on and brush his teeth.  Go up and get the littles' jammies.

7:05pm - Come downstairs with the littles' jammies and realize Tate never got his jammies on and teeth brushed because he is "almost done with his Xbox game and needs a minute".  Argue with him until he finally goes up to get ready for bed.  In the meantime I change the boys' diapers and put their jammies on and then head to the kitchen to draw up our middle's meds.

7:15pm - Give our middle his meds and finally get Tate up to get ready for bed.  After giving meds, clean out the syringes and fill his bag up for his nighttime feeding.

7:25pm - Go up to put our middle to bed and realize I haven't put his clean sheets on yet.  Awesome.  Make his bed, lay him down, hook him up for his tube feeding and tell him goodnight.

7:35pm - Make a bottle for the baby and give it to him so he can start eating while I go upstairs with Tate to put him down.

7:40pm - Come down and realize the baby has sprayed milk all over (every night...seriously, it never fails) while playing with his bottle.  Clean him up with a wipe and give him his bottle again and sit there with him to monitor him so he doesn't make a mess again.

7:50pm - Clean out his bottle, swaddle him, give him his meds (he's been on meds for weeks! Ugh) and go upstairs to lay him down for bed.

7:55pm - Come downstairs and breath a sigh of relief...again. :)  Sean usually calls right about this time and tells me he's off work and we chat on the phone for most of his drive home while I just sit and relax.

8:15pm - Sean gets home, we talk about our days and he eats (if I haven't eaten yet, I will eat with him).

8:40pm - Sean lays down on the couch to relax a bit, I edit pictures, check Facebook, email, etc.

9:00pm - Sean and I decide to watch a show we DVR'd and I sometimes bring my computer in the livingroom and edit pictures while watching.

9:45pm - SOMETIMES we decide to watch another DVR'd show or sometimes I will edit pictures while Sean plays Xbox.  Also, I use this time to go to the grocery store or WalMart to run errands.

11:00pm- Sean goes to bed and once or twice a week, I will too.  If I don't go to bed, I spend this time editing pictures...sometimes until the wee hours.  I TRY to get to bed by 12 or 1am.

12:30am - Go to bed and watched Chopped or HGTV for a half hour before I go to sleep.

sometime between 2:00am and 3:30am - Our middle's pump for his feeding alarms that there is a kink in the line.  I roll out of bed and go up to his room and turn off his pump, try and figure out what the problem is and then turn it back on.  I go to the bathroom and then go back to bed.  That all takes usually about 5-10 minutes and happens about 4x/week.

Then the cycle starts all over again at 6am!  If you made it this far, I am impressed! 

Etty and Amelia Bows!

I was contacted a few weeks ago by the owner of a company called Etty and Amelia.
She is out of Cedar Rapids and has unbelievably adorable bows!  I am partnering with her and will be photographing several little girls in her bows.  I gave her lots of ideas of what I liked from her shop and today and glorious package arrived at my door!
Me oh my...I have 10 fantastic bows to choose from now and I CANNOT wait to start photographing some adorable kiddos in them!  And really, I need...NEED a daughter.'s a problem.
Tate thought he was pretty funny wearing the Hawkeye bow. :)

Ava modeled the headband while Tate stuck with the Hawkeye one.

And then Kiley, Ava and Tate got just plain silly.  Nice, Kiley.
These kids crack me up every day!

Check out the Etty and Amelia etsy shop!  Right now, if you use the coupon code JETPLANE, you get 30% off which is fantastic because her bows are really inexpensive at regular price!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kidney Walk 2012

We walked in the Kidney Walk today as a whole family. It was a really fun time for the kids and us and for such a great cause.
Tate enjoyed getting an awesome snake painted on his face...
He was so proud and it did look pretty cool! :)
We can't thank our family and friends enough for donating so generously to this cause that we hope to become a lot more involved with as our eyes have been opened to it since our newest addition entered our family.  We appreciate you recognizing the importance of it as well...and we completely understand how tight money can be.  We understand it all to well!  Yet you still opened your wallets out of love and it is just so humbling to us.  It really means the world that you all have backed us and supported us in so many ways throughout this journey of taking on the medical needs that our middle son has.  This is something we will deal with as a family for the rest of our lives and your support is so appreciated.  The National Kidney Foundation does such great things and we were honored to share in this walk today and look forward to working with the foundation more closely in the future.

Thank you so much for your support!  It was a great day and it felt good to know that because of your help, lots of money was raised for this wonderful foundation.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The BIG Day will be...

Yes, for his birthday, Tate will be OFFICIALLY getting 2 new brothers!  In all of our eyes and hearts, they are officially his brothers, but we will have it all LEGALLY done that day. :)
The hearing is at 8:30am at the Scott County Courthouse and it is open to our family and friends who have supported us and loved us throughout this crazy last year since we decided to adopt again.  If you are one of those people, consider yourself invite! :)
It will be a very special day!
22 days and counting!

Monday, September 10, 2012

I got a new purse for Sean's birthday!

Ha.  I did...kinda. I am the budget queen and I did budget for a purse since I got my new, amazing Erin Condren Life Planner that is so large that it didn't fit in my current purse. That planner is my lifeline these days...I needed it to fit in my purse. I just happened to find my dream purse on Sean's birthday while out and about. :-) I mean seriously, rainbow chevron stars?! SO ME!!!

Friday, September 07, 2012

One of the most productive days...ever!

Seriously.  We got SO MUCH done!  So much that I can finally say we are completely unpacked!  Woohoo!  We are hosting a large gathering this weekend to cheer the Hawkeyes on to victory while also celebrating Sean and Olivia's (our friends the Knutsons' daughter) birthdays.  We have a large house (well, it's large to me because I never have lived in a 2800 sq ft house, but to some that's not large...ha.) and have all kinds of space to host said party that will include 22 people. HOWEVER, our basement was full of boxes.  Seriously, the kids had never been down there.  Like never...for reals.  It was crazy ridiculous and it was a HUGE undertaking getting it cleared out and organized.  It's DONE!  And now we have a large, open space for the kids (or adults if they want) to hang out and play.  When they boys got home from school, I brought them downstairs and they were honestly disoriented.  Tate was like, "WOW, I have never been down here...I didn't know there was another livingroom in our house!!!"  He played the rest of the night down there.  Ava was here after school and when she came down, she said, "For real, I didn't even know you had a basement."  She did.  She said "for real"...because she's hilarious and talks like and adult...for real. ;)

In addition to the basement being cleaned out and organized and the floors swept and the Knutsons bedroom set up (with a fancy air, we also got our 2 new couches and our new chair Scotch Garded, curtains hung in the den, our piece of steel painted with chalkboard paint that we hung in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago, the trim we are putting around the piece of steel painted, our island reassembled so we have another eating area in the basement, 5 loads of laundry washed, folded and put away, almost 400 cans and bottles returned, Tate's black out shade hung in his room (he's had a towl hanging in his window since we moved in!) and in the midst of all that we had physical therapy for our baby, an extensive conversation with our middle's Nurse Coordinator at the U of I Hospitals in regards to some health things and a phone conversation with our lawyer who will be finalizing the boys' adoptions to smooth out some issues that have come up.  Also, much time was spent today on the phone with family, praying and mourning a tragic event that occurred this morning to my uncle and aunt.

Tomorrow I have a list a mile long as MUST be a productive day.  I have several desserts I am making, a fun little project I am putting together for the party to honor Sean (more on that later), a package to mail to Brandon, Tate's birthfather who shares a birthday on Monday with Sean, picking up the boys rooms, cleaning the bathrooms, doing a couple more loads of laundry, I am buying our oven (woohoo!) and doing a major grocery trip to make sure we have everything we need for the weekend.  I honestly am still a bit unsure how I am going to get it all done, but I am sure I will manage...even if it means staying up LATE! Sean has a couple of things on his list to do tomorrow when he gets home from work as well. :)  He's been a machine today...seriously amazing. 

Saturday morning, I will be at the Farmer's Market when it opens to pick up some flowers I requested (more Sunflowers!!!) from my favorite flower booth Seeded Earth Growers and some fresh veggies for my chili before I head to Sams to pick up the cookie cake I ordered for Sean (his favorite).  Guests will start arriving around 10 am!  My plan is to have almost everything done so I don't have a lot of work to do while everyone is here.  SO looking forward to spending the day with our dearest friends...I know it will be a blast and we'll have lots of fun and laughs.

Not sure if you'll hear from me on here until after the crazy weekend...adios and GO HAWKS!!!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Stuff I like...

Isn't this the cutest Scentsy burner?! I LOVE it and I want it! The orange color would be perfect in my house and it is their new Charitable Cause Warmer - Champion which benefits the Special Olympics!  LOVE!  I need a countertop sized warmer now that we have a bigger house and the small plug in ones just don't quite cut it to scent up my whole house very well.
I saw this on Pinterest several months ago and NEED to know where to get it or else I may need to make it because this MUST hang in our home. 

On a more pricey note...we need a new mini van STAT!  Ours feels as though it might die at any moment.  We hope it lasts until the spring when we can get a Toyota Sienna...for now I will drool over this picture.  Who would have ever thought I would be drooling over a picture of a mini van?!?!  NOT ME!  I'm not afraid to admit is currently my dream car...for reals.

And this beautiful Kitchenaid 5 burner gas range with double oven will be mine later this week!  I can hardly contain how excited I am!  Unfortunately, it will not be delivered before our bit weekend gathering...good thing I am not really baking anything anyway!

 The funniest thing about this post is I am SO SWAMPED over the next several stretched way too thin, have no idea how I am going to be able to get everything done kind of busy.  So why am I blogging such a random post?!
yup...that's why.

a gift for Mrs. Jeannie...

Tate loves school and loves his teacher. He is doing amazing! Really, I couldn't be prouder of him. :)  He is so smart.  He is amazing with numbers and letters and always has been, but now he gets to do activities with them all day long and that makes him so excited.  He is so close to being able to read's crazy.  So the other day he said, "I want to do something super special for Mrs. Jeannie".  He wanted to "make something" for her, so I decided maybe she would appreciate something baked a little more.  So Tate and I baked a bunch of Banana Bread with chocolate chips.
Tate said he wanted to make Mrs. Jeannie a card so I had him tell me what he wanted to say in his own words, I wrote them down so we wouldn't forget in the long process I knew it would take to have him write them and then I helped him write it out by spelling each word for him.
It's about the cutest thing I've ever seen...
 I love that kid.  And I love that he loves school!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Feelings/Emotions (part 2 of our adoption story)

So if you haven't read my previous post yet and want to know how we got to where we are today...about to finalize the adoptions of our 2 newest little boys, go ahead and read it if you'd like.  This is where I disclose the ugly truth about feelings and emotions I went through during this process...and to a certain extent am still experiencing.

People thing adoption is easy after you get your child.  With Tate it was.  I don't know why.  I don't know if it was because he was 2 days old or if it was because he was our first or what, but it was easy.  The SECOND we held him in our arms, we were FULL ON in love with him as though I had just birthed him.  I cannot even describe the rush of emotions I felt for him.  IN LOVE with every ounce of my being. 

I expected this to be the same as we adopted more children.  I knew it might be different and people told us it could be, but deep down I just KNEW that wouldn't happen to me.  I would instantly look at this newest addition as thought I birthed him or her as well.  That's just how I would be.


We got our baby first.  Though when we got him, we knew there was a possibility we could be getting "the call" about our 3 year old as well.  However, we were told it would be unlikely.  So we just kind of tried to forget about that possibility and put all our energy in making sure Tate was okay with the situation while also giving our newest addition all of the love and attention he needed.  He is LOVABLE to say the least!  Oh  For reals.  He came with LOTS of appointments and doctors and therapists and he turned our lives upside down!  Everything we did with him required special attention.  It was hard.  I loved him and was sick at the thought of us possibly not being able to keep him, but my love for him was not the same as it was for Tate.  It just wasn't.  I would have died for him, I would have done anything for him, but was different.  I can't explain it though.  It's really hard to put into words how it was different.  I felt guilt for changing Tate's life so drastically, I felt overwhelmed and worried and maybe was unintentionally guarding my heart because we didn't know if he'd ever officially be ours.  I don't know.

2 weeks after he came to us, we got "the call".  Yikes.  THAT was scary.  We had our heart set on our little 3 year old for MONTHS.  We really hoped we'd get him and then kind of let ourselves mourn the fact that we wouldn't after getting our baby.  So though we were FREAKING OUT, there was no question we would take this little guy too.  We hadn't even met him yet!

A week later we met him and he was a HANDFUL!  So happy and social and funny, but BUSY.  We had him for the day...not overnight, just about 6 or 7 hours of the day.  It was fun to play "Family of 5".  We knew it was going to be hard, but we were cautiously optimistic.

We went through the motions of being interviewed by a panel of 6 people and a few days later were told we were definitely the right fit to be his "forever family".  We were soooo excited and started preparing.  It was a crazy time that is kind of a blur.  We began the transition process about a week later and started taking our newest addition for a night and then 2 nights at a time.  He would go back and forth between us and his current home he had been living in for 18 months.  It didn't seem to phase him or stress him out at all.  It was rather amazing actually.

During that transition, things got real.  I mean, by the end of his time with us, I had feelings of being ready to have a break from him.  Then came the guilt.  I felt terrible for feeling that way, but I couldn't help it!  I don't know if it was just the stress of having 3 kids so quickly, 2 of which had such specific needs or what, but it was HARD.  It shocked me and made me feel terrible about myself as a mother.

Though I always felt ready for that break when he left, I still always looked forward to him coming back.  Tate on the other hand didn't.  He struggled immensly during this time and until just recently, continued to struggle.  When it came time to complete the transition, I think all of us (but Tate) were ready.  We just wanted the back and forth to be done.  We wanted some stability and I knew that though Tate often said he wanted to go back to being a family of 3, he would do much better with a constant situation as well.  So March 8th was the day when our 3 year old moved in.

We prepared Tate for this day and he was actually excited.  We knew that would wear off. Ha.  It did...after about a few hours.  He began struggling so much that I felt such a crazy amount of guilt.  He reverted back to more immature behaviors, he cried and whined all the time, constantly wanted my attention on him, etc.  It was awful.  Our baby and our 3 year old have loved each other deeply from the's been so sweet to watch.

Things were hard for both Sean and I.  We lived in a TINY house with 3 busy boys, between the baby's needs and our 3 year old's major medical needs, I was busy every day with appointments (still am, but just used to it now!), Tate was struggling, Sean was tired because he worked nights much of the time and couldn't get sleep with 3 noisy kids in the house during the days.  It was a trying time to say the least.  Then, we added in a house hunt which was stressful.  We finally found our current home, purchased it and started packing up our house we lived in.  It was virtually impossible for me to get anything done between appointments, taking and picking up Tate from preschool, taking care of the kids and giving them the attention they craved and needed, making dinners, trying to take care of the house as best I could and also trying to fit in a bit of "me time" so I could keep my sanity.  It wasn't all peaches and cream like I thought it would be...I cried many tears from just being overwhelmed and stressed.  I forgot things, mixed up appointments, was late to things, neglected my friends.  It was like an out of body experience and not like me at all.

Each day things got a LITTLE better.  I can see that now, but in the moment I thought they were never going to get better.  I prayed and prayed every day to just survive.  I never once considered backing out on our plan to keep these boys because through everything, I loved them...I really did.  However, I loved all 3 of them differently.

I think the love for our baby grew quicker.  During these stressful times, I could snuggle him and he always loved me and brought me joy.  He never pushed my buttons and was too young to misbehave...he quickly snuggled into my heart and I knew that if he was taken away from us, a part of me would have died.  He was my son.

June 13th came...CLOSING DAY!  We were all smiles.  We had our 3 boys in the care of others while we went to the new house and started our renovations.  We had 3 a week of pure hard work planned.  The days were mapped out.  We had A LOT to do to the house in 10 days before we moved in.  We were EXCITED.  We had our 3 year old at his previous home to stay for a few days.  It was good for him to get to go see them and they were excited to have him.  After a day of back and forth calls about him having a low grade fever and acting not quite right and then things getting better and then the fever coming back and so on and so forth, we finally thought things were good.  We hadn't heard from them for a while...then 11:30pm came.  We were working hard at the house and my phone rang.  Things weren't good...he had a high fever, throwing up, very sick.  I called the U of I Hospitals and then went on to speak with the specialist who has been our little guy's doctor since he was a baby.  We needed to go to the ER immediately.  So we headed out and were in IA City by 12:30am.  We thought we'd end up staying the night probably, but had no idea we'd be there a whole week. 

That week was one of the scariest of my life.  Sean was amazing and kept me strong.  He spent his Father's Day in the hospital with this new little child of his who was literally deathly ill and he never complained.  That week changed our hearts.  We suddenly knew that if anything happened to this little man of ours we would be beyond devastated.  Watching him suffer for a week, watching all that he had to go through, snuggling with him was what we needed for us to fall head over heels in love with him...and boy did we!

I am not going to lie, there have been LOTS of very hard days since then.  He still gets under our skin and pushes our buttons, but we love him and he is our son.  And you know what's also amazing?  Tate loves him too.  He and Tate are BUDDIES!  They fight all the time, only now they fight like siblings.  They will play together sometimes for hours!  They will bicker and tattle on each other and be mean to each other, but when they're apart, they'll say they miss each other.  Tate was so worried and scared when our 3 year old was in the hospital, so in a way, I think that week changed something in his heart too.

We still have a long road ahead of us.  The fact that I no longer feel that guilt I felt is life changing.  I can't say for sure if our love is different for each of the kids still because it just hasn't grown fully yet or if it's just because parents love their children differently.  I can't say that I love any of my 3 more than the other, but I do love them each differently...that's really the only way I can describe it.  Ask me again in a year, maybe I will feel completely different.