This is a REALLY long post and is more for our personal record as a family but if you have the time I’m happy for you to read it.
2009 was special. I’m sure that I’ll catch myself saying the same thing next year but I’m one of those that thinks life just gets better every year. I do try to rehearse God’s faithfulness in the past, and I look forward to the future with anticipation, but for the most part I tend to be present in the now. In fact I’m so much of a now person that it will be hard for me to sit down and record some of the highlights of this past year. I’d rather tell you about the best December ever, this December.
We greeted 2009 in Asheville with my family. We left just after Christmas to vacation with my parents, sister, both grandpas, grandpa’s friend Robin and brother, sister-in-law and niece. It was magical. We stayed in a home just across the Golf course from the Grove Park Inn so we spent lots of time there walking the decked out halls and enjoying the gingerbread house displays. Each New Year’s day we celebrate my parents’ anniversary, which is always exciting. We also learned some sad news just several days after Christmas. Our sweet friend Sydney was diagnosed with a significant brain tumor and while we continued to enjoy our time with family, the remainder of the trip was tinged with sadness for me. I can’t claim that I made any formal New Year’s resolutions as a result of the news, but I did experience an umbrella of perspective that has lasted all year. Watching the Gaylord’s walk through this with hope and grace has called me to re-evaluate the way I approach each day.
In January we realized that with another boy on the way we would begin to feel a little tight in our home so we decided to convert part of our garage into a playroom. Joe & my Dad worked every weekend through the winter until it was completed in late February. The end of January was crazy busy for us as we celebrated Joe’s 30th birthday with a Sushi party on Saturday and then Bennett’s first birthday with a pizza party on Sunday. I was wiped out by the end of the weekend but both birthdays were too significant to just wink at.
I celebrated my 31st birthday in February with the opening of a new IKEA in Charlotte. God new that a local IKEA would please me more than winning the lottery. The last weekend of the month Joe & I had our first getaway without the boys. The last time we went on a trip alone was before Bradley was born. Our good friend Shelly offered to watch them but at the last-minute she had to travel to California for her Grandmother’s funeral so her Superhero/Fireman husband stepped in and took great care of the boys. We were so excited to get away and to visit an Aloft hotel that we didn’t flinch at the fact that we stayed in an airport hotel in Charleston and stayed in our room for two days. That weekend crossed into March when we had our first real snow of the season. The boys loved it and Bradley even got to build a mini-snowman. Fortunately March was relatively uneventful. Physically and emotionally I was so exhausted from being pregnant with two energetic boys that I couldn’t have done much anyway.
April was quite a different story. The first weekend in April I took Bradley & Bennett to my Grandpa Stancik’s 85th birthday party. It was a two-hour drive that seemed to last twenty. I was so exhausted by the time we arrived that I wasn’t phased by the fact I forgot my shoes or that the boys spent the evening eating desserts and having sword fights with the dinner knives that I neglected to remove from their place settings. If things weren’t busy enough the next weekend I thought it would be a good idea to have a yard sale with my equally pregnant friend Lindsay to make room for the new babies. The next day was Easter and we journeyed to Gastonia to eat with my aunt and uncle. Sadly all I can remember about that day is that I almost got in a fight at the Country Club where we were eating with an old man over the last piece of key lime pie. I was 9 months pregnant so I won but he didn’t refrain from cussing at me just loud enough for me to hear.
Dexter’s C-section was scheduled for that Friday and by Wednesday there was no way I could carry Bennett around another day. Bradley started walking right at one so I was surprised and disappointed that at 14 and a half months Bennett was still showing no interest. I managed to drive the three of us to a play date that day but I made Bennett climb out of the car and crawl down the street, sidewalk and up the stairs to the house were we were playing. I think he got the point because that evening he started to walk. I was singing praises.
The next day my parents arrived to stay with the boys while Dexter was born. I didn’t sleep a wink but we made it to the hospital the next day bright and early. Dexter Abbott Pay was born via c-section at 9:15 weighing 6 pounds 9 ounces and measuring 19 and a half inches (that information is general and may not match his birth announcement but not many people even saw it because I never got around to mailing them out). He was the cutest little frog you’ve ever seen. Bradley adored him and he fascinated Bennett and I was obsessed with him. Unfortunately I got a spinal headache that lasted a week so our first week was a little rough but my c-section recovery was much faster than it was with Bennett.
Joe only had a few days home with us so my sweet grandpa Deibler offered to help me by paying for a sitter a few times a week. Thus started our love affair with Miss Kristen. I don’t know how we would have made it through those first few weeks without her. Dexter was a really easy baby but I wasn’t at my best and he made three!
On May first Dexter turned two weeks and Lindsay delivered his best friend Porter Hartman White. That same day Bennett had a poop event I will never forget. I put him down for a nap, he took off his diaper pooped in his crib, used it to finger paint, went to sleep, woke up, pooped again and rubbed it all over his face, hair and the wall. It was a nightmare. Took me an hour and a half to clean it up. I wasn’t even able to walk very well yet.
Joe & I celebrated our 10th Anniversary on May 21st. We couldn’t take a trip so close to Dexter’s birth but we did get away for a date night at Brio.
Joe’s mom visited in early June. We so enjoyed her visit and I was grateful for the help. That week we also took a trip uptown to visit “Mr. Eric” at his fire station. Bradley was in heaven and I was glad to finally be getting back into the swing of things. One of our favorite summertime activities was Tuesdays at the Cameron Wood neighborhood pool with our friends the Lattas, Brays and Eichs. Bradley got much more comfortable with swimming and I got a chance to visit with my good friends as we lived life alongside one another.
Joe took off the week of July 4th and we had our first ever Pay family vacation. We visited Ocean Isle and much to our surprise our friends the Lattas and Harrises were also there visiting family. Joe & I were grateful to have friends to hang out with and the boys were glad to have playmates. I also took the boys to visit the whites at camp and Bradley & Keller went on their annual zip-line event.
In August I took advantage of the tax-free weekend to get a new computer and Joe & I started doing a home exercise program that we stuck with until the holidays got the best of us.
In September my brother’s family came from Germany for a two-week visit. While they were here we celebrated my brother’s 30th birthday and took a family vacation to Hilton head. The weather was perfect, the kids had a blast at the beach, I got to do some post pregnancy shopping, we ate lots of good food, and we realized how fun it would be to have them live close by.
In October Dexter insisted that I begin feeding him real food. I was fine with it but it did mean that my life with three would get just that much more difficult. In late October Joe & I went to my college roommate, faith’s wedding. It was our first night away since Dexter’s birth (thanks Mommy, Daddy, Aunt Anna and Miss Shelly) and we had so much fun visiting with old friends and just being together without any crying in the backseat. It was the reunion with friends at faith’s wedding that inspired me to begin a blog. Next came Halloween and the swine flu. We didn’t get the swine flu but school was canceled the week of Halloween because of it. We were stir crazy by the end of the week and then on Halloween of course it rained. All the kids had plenty of fun. No amount of rain could put a damper on the excitement that comes from candy & costumes.
November started the business that comes with the Holidays. I decided to offer Christmas cards on my own this year with the help of my long time friend Ashley and we all of a sudden had a packed schedule. I spent November overwhelmed with gratitude, seriously. I couldn’t believe how it changed my thinking and attitude about everything. We spent Thanksgiving with family at my aunt and uncle’s in Gastonia and the next day Christmas came to our house.
We put up our Christmas tree on November 27th, bought eggnog and started playing Christmas music around the clock. I think Joe & I were just as excited about Christmas as the boys. I won’t say that Bradley is not excited about gifts…he definitely is. He tried to steal the fake presents that were wrapped for Jesus at the Church Christmas party but fortunately gifts are not the pinnacle of this Christmas. I have to admit we did the elf on the shelf. I know it’s just a means of behavior modification but Joe & I enjoyed taking turns with “Elf duty” and the boys loved it. Bennett even added the word “Elf” to his 50 word vocabulary. Snow and egg nog were other recent additions. I’m curious if he had started talking at 18 months if he would have said things like pool or sunshine instead? So after a crazy week of Christmas parties, playschool productions and last minute shopping, we headed to Asheville to end the year where it began. When we arrived we were greeted by over a foot of snow. We all had a blast.
The next big news was the engagement of my sister, Anna, to her boyfriend, Ken. It happened on her 27th birthday…Christmas Day. So on December 25th 2009 she had 3 major events take place and she was 3 cubed. I know I’m the only person who would care about something so silly but how exciting is that! They are looking forward to a mid to late summer wedding.
Then the day after Christmas Bradley left for Germany with my parents to visit my brother Paul, sister-in-law Cindy, niece Kaylen and nephew Baby Chase. Bennett took it upon himself to make up for any bad behavior I wasn’t having to deal with in Bradley’s absence and had the worst week on record. He threw temper tantrums, was constantly hitting and biting me, screamed for hours at bedtime each night, jumped out of a grocery cart at Target and was just all around bad, bad, bad. It was probably in part because I was dead set on getting the house organized and cleaned up from Christmas and didn’t give him the attention he needed. He arrived home safely today and I am so very grateful.
We got off to a good start in 2010. Bennett & Dexter slept in until 11 am…and we did too! Latest we’ve slept in since Bradley was born in 2005. Hopefully there will be more rest in 2010.