Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 130

Saturday December 25, 2010

By the time folks and I returned from midnight Mass, it was close to 1:30am. I still had to wrap the kid's gifts from Santa :) As I searched around for a pair of scissors and tape, I got a wonderful text message from my friend Santiago. In it, he reminded me that "this moment" is all that we really seem to have and that the fact remains that each moment is a beautiful thing. He went on to add that he believes that somehow, everything that happens is part of a perfect plan much too complex for us to understand.

Santiago's words spoke volumes to me. Life really is just a series of "moments". We just need to decide what to do with those moments. As for everything being part of a perfect plan, I can relate to Santiago's heart. I do not believe that God is a puppeteer, pulling our strings one direction or another. I do not believe that God gave Nina her illness to teach me or anyone else a lesson. Nina's disease is simply that, a disease, a horrible part of life. Although I do not believe that God is playing one giant chess game with our lives, I do believe that He provides us opportunities throughout our lives to fill a purpose. It then boils down to what we decide to do with these opportunities. What is hard for us (i.e., humans) is that for the most part, the "purpose" is not always clear. In my life, I will probably never know the purpose, at least not while I am here on this earth, but that is okay. Somehow, I'm learning that is okay.

I finished my wrap job and loaded the Christmas tree with gifts. The living room looked spectacular. The kids were going to be elated in the morning, which by this point was only a few hours away. I crawled into bed, right between the two most precious gifts I had ever been given. To my right was honey-girl and to my left was my peanut! It was a perfect Christmas morning!

The gift to my right!

The gift to my left!

Everyone slept in, even Vovo and Vava. I woke up around 9am to the smell of bacon. Yum! For a little Portuguese girl, there is no better smell in the world :) Although the bacon and coffee were calling my name, I decided not to move. I just lay next to my two most precious and perfect gifts. I snuggled with each of them, savoring the sweet smell of sleep that quietly escaped with each breath they inhaled and exhaled. Around 10am, Teddy woke up. We cuddled for a long time! He is such a cuddle-bug. I could cuddle with him all day and the thing is, he could too! One of my main prayers for Teddy is that he will choose to marry someone who is a cuddler. It would such a waste of perfect cuddling if he married a woman who didn't appreciate how special and rare he is and took advantage of all his cuddling :)

After 20 minutes of cuddling, Teddy succumbed to the wafting invitations that were flowing through the house, so we snuck out to greet Vovo and Vava. Within minutes, Uncle Bruno and Auntie Michelle (along with the "belly bump" as Uncle Bruno so affectionately refers to his unborn son!) arrived. It was now officially Christmas. We all hugged and then Teddy snuck from in-between the adults and zoomed to see the display of gifts. He was stoked!! He crawled around, inspecting which gifts belonged to him and which belonged to everyone else :) My dad brought me a delicious warm cup of coffee. Everything felt great!

Wow! Are these for me?

So eager to start opening!

Matching beanies!

Around 11am, Miss Nina graced us with her presence. She was beyond elated to see all of the gifts and immediately wanted to open them. However, first things first.....bacon! We had a delicious brunch prepared by my loving parents. Of course, the kids scarfed down their meal and then patiently waited as the adults gabbed away. Eventually Teddy asked, "Are you guys going to be done sometime soon?" Bruno burst into laughter! That was our cue for returning to the couch and to prepare for the gift-opening extravaganza.

Nina hugging her baby cousin!

Teddy asking what a Nipple Shield is. You shouldn't have asked son!

Teddy hiding and freaking out after he found out what a nipple shield is.
I warned you! You shouldn't have asked!

Because of Nina's illness we are all hyper aware of the precious nature of Christmas, the ultimate gift that we each have the opportunity to receive. Because of Nina's illness we are also hyper grateful for time. Christmas morning with my family was Heaven-sent time! We were all so happy! The kids loved their gifts and loved giving every one else the gifts they had picked out. My parents, Bruno and Michelle all got a huge kick out of the pillow pets Nina had picked out for everyone. Teddy and Nina were especially proud of the gifts they had chosen for their dad. Nina had picked a doggie pillow pet for Todd and Teddy had spent a ton of time meticulously choosing the "perfect" mini-pocket knife. As Todd opened the gift he had chosen, Teddy sat quietly with the greatest grin spreading across his sweet face ;) He knew he had done a great job and he was so proud!

I picked it  out Dad!

Dad loves his pillow pet!

Nina is a great gift giver!

advil for pain relief.

The stink was on!

Unfortunately, I didn't plan things out well! Aghhhh!!!! I try so hard to think of what needs to be done, how things can be delivered in the best possible way, and then I miss that absolute obvious or the most important. What I should have done was have the kids exchange gifts first. This would have caught them both at their very best. At the very beginning Nina was super happy. By the time Teddy reminded me he wanted to give Nina her gift, she was already in full stink mode! Again, I should have primed her to do the right thing, to say thank you and be cheerful toward her brother, but I messed up once again.

In all fairness, we started off well. Nina gave Teddy her gift and was delighted by his enthusiasm. She had picked a basketball for him to practice with. She was very proud of herself. Teddy genuinely loved it and made a huge deal about how special it was. His entire exchange with her was breathtaking. He was so kind-hearted and thankful, gave her a hug, and told her he loved her!

Then it came time for Nina to open Teddy's gift. In actuality, I really don't think she understood it was a jewelry box. She unwrapped it the scowled, "I don't like it!" We visibly saw Teddy's heart sink and it broke mine into smithereens. I jumped right next to her and showed her how it opened up and played music and how much time Teddy had lovingly spent picking it out. I then explained that she needed to be thankful and she did mutter a soft "Thank you Teddy." Unfortunately, the damage had already been done.

For another 15 minutes or so we continued to open presents. Eventually the commotion and excitement died now. I watched Teddy sneak out of the living room and make his way into the den. I waited to see if he'd return. When he didn't I went to check on him. I found him seated in my father's old Lazy Boy recliner. His eyes were dewy, from tears he was fighting back :( We proceeded to talk about what he was feeling and he explained that his heart was hurt because Nina hadn't liked his gift. I did my best to explain that it wasn't personal because she had complained about others too and that it was about her being tired and cranky. He pulled out an 8-year-old retort and quipped that he had never acted that way when he was her age. It was hard not to laugh at his preciousness! I reminded him that all kids do hurtful things and that just last week he hadn't been too stoked about a gift and hadn't demonstrated strong enthusiasm for it. Bingo!!! Teddy has yet to learn that I don't forget much. When I said this, he looked at me sideways, trying not to grin. I made sure to validate his feelings and add that she had behaved badly, regardless of having a headache or being tired. Finally, I explained that appropriate behavior is something we all work on, especially when we are 5!

Eventually, he came around. Luckily, his mood had vastly improved when she walked in and spontaneously apologized for not being nice. She also thanked him for the present. He accepted her apology although I could tell he was still hurt. I couldn't blame him!

The rest of the early afternoon was spent lounging. Shortly after our conversation in the den, Teddy and I found ourselves cuddled on my parents bed. He is such a snuggler. I kissed him and told him that he was the most incredible boy I knew and that he deserved every gift he got. He shook his sweet head no and said that I was the most incredible of them all and that I deserved credit for all of his progress! His PROGRESS!!! I died!!! What 8 year old kid talks like this?? I laughed so hard!! Then I grabbed my camera and took the following ridiculous video! I love this video because it captures Teddy's pure sweetness and rascally boy behavior! What a love!!

It was so nice to just relax! The kids played with their new gifts, the grown ups napped, and my parents and I caught up on some long over-due heart-to-heart conversations. Around 4pmish, Todd left for his Aunt's house. The kids and I continued to spend time at my folks. On the way to this trip, I had decided that friends and family could come visit us at my parents home or at the Fredeens but that taking Nina to large gatherings was out of the question.

That night we had several visitors. First my cousin Christina and her two darling kids, Loralie and Logan, came for visit. Being surrounded by peers immediately elevates Nina's spirit! Truly amazing! Then after my cousin's arrived, Kyle, Kameron and Ellie came for a visit too. It was wonderful to have our loved ones visit with us and our kids. Again, we had another miracle!

Loralie and Nina :)

Teddy and Logan

Making pretend food.

Happy to see Kyle!

Cowgirl Nina!

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