Thursday, April 30, 2009

My vaccuum cleaner

It's been so long since my last baby reached the milestones all parents watch for. I had forgotten how fast the first year goes and how very cute each little step really is. I think sometimes as Moms we tend to get frustrated in the beginning and wish those hard times away. Like the feedings every 2 or 3 hours that last a half hour each making it feel like you're constantly attached to this little tiny thing. And those days when they want to be held all day when all you want to do is get a load of laundry done. I tried very hard with my littlest one not to wish those days away and to enjoy every new stage, easy or hard. I was sad to have the night-time feedings end and I was sad when he moved into his own bedroom into his "big bed". And I miss the days when I was the only one who could feed him. I was extremely sad when he decided he didn't need mommy's milk anymore. My tiny little boy on strike from the only thing he knew for 9 months. That may have been the single hardest time of his young life for me. One stage I certainly didn't wish away. While I couldn't leave him for more than a few hours at a time, I enjoyed nursing immensely. We so enjoyed watching him roll around the house. He got where he wanted just by rolling, but it didn't last long. Next was a sort of commando crawl. Watching him get up on all fours was very exciting for all of us. He looked like a little gecko swaying and looking very uncoordinated as he tried to figure it out. He's got these 2 little teeth that he uses to bite everything! He loves to chew on paper and now that he's very mobile, he's discovered the dog food. I can see in his face how proud he is of himself when he masters a new skill. I love listening to him say the same thing over and over again..."dada dada dada" even though it's not "mama mama". Sometimes it even sounds like he's saying dada did it. Each new step is so precious. He's so laid back and happy. He's so inquizative, wanting to touch and explore everything he can get his hands on. He has this purple kazoo that he just loves to sing into and we love to listen. He bounces to music and is obsessed with food. Don't try to eat in front of him without sharing, that's when his little temper shows. His newest skill is pulling himself up to a standing position which is why he has a little black and blue on his cheek. It's one stage that's so hard. They learn how to pull up and can't figure out how to get back down so they just kind of fall. We have all mastered the swipe with the finger to the back of his throat to fish out random things he finds on the floor...paper, dog food, legos, lint..anything his little pinchers can pick up. I love the fat hands and rolls on his thighs. I love seeing his little head pop up above the railing of his crib after a nice long nap. I love the smile he gets on his little face when he sees his brothers or his daddy walk throught the door. I love watching him make a bee-line to a person with food. I'm so blessed and I vow to enjoy each and every stage my little vaccuum cleaner goes through, hard or easy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thank God for small favors!

I've had a rough couple of weeks. I woke up in the middle of the night with a fever a couple of weeks ago. The typical chills, can't get warm. I took Tylenol and went back to sleep only to wake up an hour later in a pool of sweat. The next morning I had one of my headaches that I've been getting since I was a little girl. Thankfully I have the worlds best baby who is the happiest most content long as he's not hungry! Cory came home at lunch time and spent the rest of the day taking care of the boys and I took a 3 hour nap. I felt much better. That night I got a fever again so I decided to go to bed early. The farther in the week we got, the worse I started to feel. My knees hurt really bad and the act of standing or sitting was awful. On Thursday I woke up and my arm felt like it was broken. What is this all about? I toyed with the idea of going to urgent care, but the more I thought about the pain, the more I thought it felt like a pinched nerve. My wonderful hubby again stayed home with me because now I can't even lift the baby. Luckily, I was able to get an appointment with my chiropractor who's office is always busy. I drive myself, shifting my car with my left hand. He examines me and decides my neck is "off" and my shoulder has "slipped out slightly." He says it may take 2 treatments and it may take 6 treatments (times a $20 co-pay each time, I'm hearing $40 or $120...not really in the budget!). So I go home and nurse my shoulder with an ice pack and no heavy in my 22 pound chunk of a baby.

The next morning I woke up and now I'm really feeling awful and sort of strange. My hands, wrists, knees and my jaw all hurt really badly. I guess today will be my trip to urgent care with another co-pay. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely thankful for health insurance, but these co-pays are killing me! So, again, I drive myself so I don't have to drag my 3 children and I sign myself into urgent care. By the time I arrived, my headache was back with a vengeance. I'm happy that there's nobody in the waiting room and think to myself I should be in and out of there in no time...boy was I wrong!

I was taken to a waiting room directly in front of the nurses station. Now, if you've ever been to urgent care, you know that the doors are glass so you can see everything. The nurse left the door open, so at least I got to listen to the nurses complain about everything they could think of. I think that's one of my petpeeves...I hate going to places and listening to people complain about everything. I swear people are so ungrateful!

So anyway, I wait and wait and book, no magazines, nobody to talk to and feeling really crappy. Now in one of the many conversations I eavesdrop on, I hear the nurses say they're running an hour behind..GREAT! She comes and says "you're next, hon." Finally! 20 plus minutes later, the Dr. comes in. He's more focused on my shoulder than on my joints, which is why I was there to begin with. So, I say "what really brought me here is my joints!". He checks me out and goes over my symptoms and says I have fifth disease. Then he asks me if that "sounds okay to you"???? Are you looking for me to diagnose myself? Very strange. Slightly more rare in adults. Settles more in the joints with adults than kids and the pain can last months...WONDERFUL! No specific treatment other than treating the symptoms...Tylenol, ibuprofen, rest.

I got through the rest of the weekend with a bum shoulder and feeling like an old lady with arthritis.

Monday I went to Kingston with my sis. I felt good, mostly. Last night I started to feel my headache coming back. Of course, as my luck would have it, Cory has a conference in Syracuse today and can't be home to help with Luke! This headache is BAD! The kind over-the-counter meds can't touch. Zachary also complained of a headache this morning. I left it up to him if he wanted to stay home or not. He stayed. Thank God for small favors! His headache stayed mild enough for him to take care of Luke for his sick momma. He is the best kid ever! He changed diapers, played with Luke, put him down for naps and even swiped his ten year old finger in Luke's mouth a couple of times to fish out random things he picked up off floors or tables. He felt bad for me as I sat on the couch crying because it hurt so bad wishing Cory was home. Such an old soul, my Zach. So caring. I'm so blessed!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

No words necessary.

My self-professed atheist a short 2 years ago. He's a numbers guy. A believer in the Darwin Theory. He evolved from apes.

I know many people who had been praying for him. Praying for God to work in his life. Praying for the day that he would accept Christ. It felt like the day would never come. I had him read books about God to our kids hoping it would change his heart. I tried to show him how Jesus had changed my life.

I begged him to come to church with us. He reluctantly agreed to come once a month and I hoped he was listening. We slowly went from once a month to every week. We had conversations. Nothing in those conversations indicated he was at the place we all wished he was in. But, he was no longer an atheist. Now he's moved on to being agnostic. I knew that God was working on him. I know that everything happens in Gods perfect time, not mine. I was patient and I continued to pray.

I would jokingly, but not really, say "I love Jesus Cory, do you love Jesus?" and he wouldn't answer me. "Jesus is my Savior Cory, is He yours?". Nothing. We continued to pray. And even though he wasn't answering my questions, I knew God was working. He was now praying with the kids at their bedtimes. Going with the flow? I didn't know. God knew.

Last night Cory came home with this giant tattoo on his leg. All we could see was a bloody paper towel taped onto his leg with masking tape. He wandered around the house as if he was afraid to show us until he finally sat down on the couch and cut the towel off. Tears streamed down my face as I looked at my husband with his newest tattoo. A huge statement for all to see.

This tattoo is even more special because in the middle of it is our birthstone. Cory and I share the same birthstone. To the left is Zach's birthstone. On the bottom is Max's birthstone and to the right is Luke's birthstone. He decided to leave the top one his words "just in case". I watched Zach's face light up as he gazed upon his fathers leg. He had been praying also.

As I heard a man say Sunday night at Daytop...I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am a self-professed Jesus Freak. You're truly missing out if you are not. I am not ashamed. I have faith in my God and I know that when my number is called, I am going home to be with my Savior. I now know that my husband will be joining me, no words necessary.

Praise God.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I'm glad I came around.

I guess I always had issues with forming close relationships.
I remember laying on the floor huddled up in front of my grandparents big console TV listening to my grandmother on the phone with my dad. I remember thinking that I had never seen her cry...until now. I remember my father talking about my mom in later years and swallowing the lump in my throat because I had to be strong for my father. I was seven.
I remember at the time how mean I thought my Poppop was. He was loud and impatient. Sometimes he said things that weren't so nice. I think he was obsessed with It's a wonder he lived as long as he did. He was also a big softy if you caught him on a good day. He'd give you the shirt off his back if you needed it and always had a boat of a car that he handed over to me whenever I wanted. I loved him. I watched in sadness as he went downhill fast after his stroke. I also watched the day the coroner came and took him away. I was twenty three.
I never came around when my family was visiting. I was always invited, obviously, I just rarely showed up and when I did, I didn't stay long. I remember being jealous listening to my sister talk about their get togethers and my sisters trips to visit them, my cousin and my aunt. I never thought about it at the time, but I think I was afraid of loving and losing and being hurt again.
I've been through a lot in my life, even more than I'm willing to write about. I've grown as a person so much over the years and it was after having my own children that I realized how very important my family was to me and how ridiculous I had been.
I let down my guard and started going to family functions. That was possibly what was missing from my life. I love them all so much more than they'll ever know...ALL of them!
My sister and I are best friends. We don't always agree on things, but it's part of what we love about each other. She's my big sister, the older, skinnier, blond version of myself. She hates when I say that. She hates that she's aging, but I think she's still young and hip. She still looks good in a bikini. LOL. Do you know what it's like to just have to look at someone and know what they're thinking? That's my big sister and me. We've been through a lot, me and my sister. But we're strong, must be the Hillman blood.
I think about how excited I used to get as a child waiting for "Jersey and Delaware" to show up.
My Uncle Sean who used to steal my nose and put it in his pocket and makes the best collard greens. He told me I took his breath away when he saw me walk down the isle at my wedding because I looked just like my mom. The reason I had to explain to people why my cousins were black. LOL. My cousin Apryl, the beautiful model and actress I was so proud of. Lover of butterflies. I used to take my blue Ziggy folder full of her magazine adds and the playbill from The Piano that she acted in as a little girl to school and show her off as if they were pictures of myself. Seanie...I miss Seanie. So handsome. He took over my place as the one who doesn't come around much. We did get to see him last summer though. I love him! And my Aunt Tracy...we've formed a special relationship in the past year or so. My fellow chocolate lover. Germophobe. LOL. When I think about what my mom must have been like, I often think maybe she was just like my Aunt Tracy. We're stubborn. Sarcastic. Funny. They're Delaware.
My three cousins from Jersey. I always loved listening to them talk with their Jersey accents. I remember traveling with my grandparents to see them and telling them I thought the trip seemed longer the older I got. I was little. I remember Mary coming to Mommom and Poppop's one time and taking me in her little pickup truck to the Apollo Plaza shopping. We had conversation about what kind of car I wanted... a Mazda Miata...what was I thinking. Lisa, the pretty blond in the Navy. She has my grandparents only other great grandchild besides mine and Nicole's. Dalton. What a nice boy. And then there's Sandy. Sandy and I were born on the same day, December 26th, 5 years apart. I didn't realize until this past Easter how much I've been missing out on not keeping touch with my cousins. Sandy and I have a lot more in common than I ever knew. My hope is that we'll all be better about keeping in touch. My Uncle Grant. If there ever was a Poppop, Jr. it is him! I feel so much differently about him as an adult than I ever did as a child. Maybe it's him, maybe it's me, but I really like being around him. He's funny. He owns 50 of the same camo shirt because they were cheap. My kinda guy! He so reminded me of my grandfather at our last gathering, I was so amazed. The food obsession we all possess must be a Merwin thing. He was waiting for the women of our family, and Uncle Sean, to get dinner ready and he jokingly made a comment about it taking so long and then the phrase "by the Jesus" came out of his mouth and I was taken back 15 years. Aunt Judy. I don't really remember much of her, but I do remember that she took my sister and I for our first Shirley Temple.
My Aunt Charlotte. Baker of pies and maker of jelly. I remember going to the NYS Fair with her and sleeping on a lawn chair in the big barns next to the goats. What a blast we had. We got to see Whitney Houston in concert that year. Even working in the barns she always had the cutest heels on. And the legs on that woman...woo! LOL. And who could forget about my Uncle John. Uncle Hiney. Always jokingly calls me the good kid. And wet head. So funny.
And my Mommom. The glue. The most amazing woman I've ever known. I have fond memories of peanut butter fudge and fried hamburgers out of her cast iron skillets. I remember pretzels bitten into the shape of her name. I remember cross word puzzles and ham and cheese sandwiches. Candy hidden in random drawers. The most amazing Christmas village you'll ever see. Loving. Strong. Fiesty. She's a Jesus loving woman of God and we are so blessed as a family to have her. She's never had a drivers license and never been drunk! A rare breed, my mom's mom. Our Mommom.
We're all scattered across the North East. Always wished we lived closer. We're all obsessed with food, even my skinny sister. We're all sarcastic and stubborn. We're a talented group of women and men, if I do say so. We've loved and lossed. We remain strong and positive. Must be the Hillman/ Merwin blood.
I'm glad I came around.

Friday, April 17, 2009

U Rock!

It's a sad day when my Zach turns down a family night to go to the chiropractor with his grandparents. He's just tooo old (more like too embarrassed) to go to an Uncle Rock show with his little brother. After all, someone might see him and mistake him for a U. Rock fan.

We arrived early so we could get good seats. I was hoping to at least get in the first third of the beautiful new theater at our school. Boy were Max and I surprised when we showed up at 5:50pm for the 6:30pm show to find that we were the first people to get there. Now if you know my husband, you would know that if he were involved in any way with this family outing turned date night for Max and I, you would know that we may very well have been the last ones there. I love Cory, but man, prompt he is not.
I sat in the very front row on the end so I could make a quick get away with Luke if he decided to sing above Uncle Rock's voice, if you know what I mean. Luke enjoyed his dinner of homemade sweet potatoes and chicken. Yum. Max is definitely not one to sit still and wait so I got to watch him act like a complete spazzy McGee as we waited for more people to show up. First to arrive and fill up the front row with us was the cutest little blonde girl I used to babysit for and her family. Once upon a time Max and Jenay were gonna have a pink and purple wedding because those were her favorite colors. This was according to him. She had other plans. They didn't involve marrying my Max. LOL.
I may be exaggerating when I say there were 50 people in the 1000 person theater. I felt awful for Uncle Rock. My guess is that they didn't advertise good enough because I know families in nearby surrounding towns that would have loved a family night out for $20. If you're familiar with Uncle Rock's music, you would know he's great with the kids. We saw him the first time when Zach was little and Max was really little. The place was packed and the kids had an absolute blast.
Just as Uncle was about to start I heard a loud "Mom, Josh is here!" in my ear. Max and Josh are double trouble on crack! They feed off each other like nothing I've seen. They love being together and never stop moving. They've known each other since they were 3. They are in Kindergarten deepest sympathy for their teacher. Josh's mom and I joke about not letting them get into a car together when they're old enough to drive. A nice family. Good pick Max!
In our theater there is an orchestra pit that was turned into a mini-mosh pit for the night. Max had been in there all of 2 minutes when he collided with another boy and lay on the floor gripping his right cheek screaming in pain. Kids recover so much more quickly than us wimpy adults.
There is no better entertainment than to watch these mini-moshing kids jump around like they just got done raiding the candy store on the corner. I thoroughly enjoyed watching a little brother/sister dance team with their hilarious dance moves such as the Macarena that was danced to a song about superhero's. Foot stomping. Floor rolling. Pogo jumping. Circle spinning. Downright craziness wrapped up in such little packages with the biggest smiles ever...except for my Max.
Too embarrassed to dance in public I guess. And the fact that he was mean to his future wife Jenay and Mom was making him apologize really didn't help all too much. "Mom, I'm scared" he said to me through the tearless cries. We as parents think we can come up with things to threaten our kids with to get them to do the things we want. I should know by now that it never works with Max. So I say, "go apologize to Jenay or we're leaving" to which my son says..."ok, let's go." Uhhhhh! This child, seriously. Now I have to say we're not leaving until you Now he tries to put his buddy Josh up to coaxing Jenay over to him so he can mumble under his breath that he's sorry. It didn't work.
Now I'm getting mad. A wonderful trait I picked up from my Poppop. Short-fused. Plus the fact that my baby has been on a 6 day nursing strike that has me crazy isn't helping the mood or patients. I walk to the makeshift mosh pit and push him until Jenay's dad brings her over and I apologize for him. What a snot.
Uncle Rock gave a great concert. Unfortunate that there weren't crowds lined up at the door to see him. Hopefully he'll come back.
Our night was completed with a shirt signing, slushy drinking, cookie eating "after party" in the hallways of our school and a sleepover on the couch. Time for the sugar crash. Priceless.

Just the numbers people.

So, I can't tell you how often I'm bragging about how much money I save at the grocery store and then have to explain to amazed people just how it's done. Don't get me wrong, I love sharing and helping others save as well, I guess I just get sick of hearing myself tell the same story..."I buy my coupons on Ebay..." so on and so forth. I think I'll draw up a flyer complete with examples of how much I actually do save. Each time someone asks me, I can just hand them a flyer. I should be the mother who actually set up a website and is making money telling people how to do it...too little, too late.

I often get blank stares and the occasional giggle as I'm walking through ShopRite with my shopping buggy overflowing with 60 PowerAde's, 20 boxes of cereal and so on. And forget about how long it usually takes me to check out. If I'm super lucky, I'll be getting lots of items for free and that takes a manager to override the computer! That's always fun.

This has become a serious addiction. I so look forward to Friday's so I can shop for my coupons for the following week and if I'm not home at noon when the flyer posts, I start itching. LOL, not really.

So, for those of you who may be interested in getting groceries for very little money, here goes.

Ebay is your friend! Yes, it's illegal to sell coupons, but coupons aren't being sold on Ebay, envelopes are. As an added bonus, you are sent the coupons just for buying an envelope...clever huh? Always a way around things.

So you need to have Ebay opened up in one tab and ShopRite in another. You'll be clicking on the "view next weeks circular" button after you've selected your ShopRite. You really want to get all of the coupons you plan on using the following week by Sunday, that way you'll receive them before the sale ends. You'll be checking sales at SR and then going to Ebay and searching for individual items you may be interested in stocking up on. For example, one week Birds Eye boxed veggies were on sale 5 for $5.00. I went to Ebay, searched for Birds Eye coupons and purchased $1.00 off each, making them free (aside from the small cost of the coupons, of course). Now heres the thing...SR doubles coupons up to .99 cents and only up to 4 of the same one per order. This is where the whole timing issue comes into play. You'll need to split your checkout into several orders to make the most of it. This past week Colgate toothbrushes were on sale for .99 cents. I purchased .75 cent off coupons, doubled made them free AND I checked these out 3 at a time because for every 3 the computer spit out a copon for $3 off your next order! My 60+ toothbrushes were free and I got $60+ off my next shopping order. It's just a game folks...easy to play with a big payout!

So I thought it funny, the amount of some items in my house at the moment. Here are the numbers people.

Keep in mind that there are 5 of us and one doesn't use toothbrushes yet. If we (the 4 of us) changed toothbrushes twice a year..because who really changes every 3 months?, we have enough toothbrushes to last us 5 years, yes I said 5 years! And I gave some away, so I could have gotten another few years out of my free toothbrushes.

I have 60+ PowerAde's, 44 rolls of Marcal toilet paper and coupons for about 40 more for free, 25 pounds of butter, 7 1/2 gallons of Turkey Hill ice cream, 10 pounds of mozzarella cheese, 51 boxes of Birds Eye veggies, 6 pounds of bacon, 12 bottles of bodywash, 28 tubes of toothpaste, 60 toothbrushes, 2 dozen bottles of VitaminWater, 3 dozen bottles of SoBe lifewater and 46 boxes of assorted Kelloggs cereals...few take a breath. Crazy? Probably, but it didn't cost much.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Getting you up to speed.

In the beginning...Larry & Emma Jane created a beautiful little blonde girl who they named Nicole...then came me, a little brown haired girl, a late Christmas present, the one who was supposed to be a boy. At least that's what our father has always told me. I was born in the days of avacado colored toilets, mini dresses and platform shoes. It was the year Saturday Night Live premiered with George Carlin as it's host and the cost of a stamp was a mere .10 cents. The average household income was a whopping $11,800 and the national debt was 541.9 billion dollars. Now we live in a time of instant gratification, living beyond our means, can't live without a credit card and our national debt is 11 trillion and counting. We don't know the price of a stamp because we pay our bills via the world wide web and hallelujah, we still have Saturday Night Live-33ish years strong! So, I don't remember much, well, I don't remember anything really before a certain point. Some psychological mechanism our body posseses to protect us form traumatizing events I suppose. You see, when I was at the tender pre-pubescent age of 7, our mother went home to our Good Lord. Unfortunately, the memory of the events preceding her being picked up by the ambulance are as vivid as if they happened yesterday, I remember everything right down to the meal our family was sharing. The day after my sister celebrated her 11th birthday. I missed no school and didn't cry until I was 13. Our father picked us up and moved us away from our mother's parents, our beloved grandparents who we lovingly called Mommom and Poppop, the people who not long after, would rescue us from the hell that was living without parents in Binghamton. Quite a culture shock for 2 little girls who knew nothing except our sheltered life in East Branch attending our tiny school of 350 K-12. We spent many-a-night alone doing things kids will do when left alone to raise themselves. My sister bravely ran to a payphone down the street in the dark of night to call our Mommom and Poppop, yes payphone, apparently our father had hidden the phones on us, don't remember and don't know why. The next day, we were greeted by thinly shaved ham and cheese and fresh hard rolls and more importantly, our Mommom and Poppop. We took up residence with our acting parents back in our sheltered life in East Branch and re-entered our tiny little school in Downsville. Whoooo.....that was heavy! We're not bitter, Nicole and I, we were blessed to have had caring grandparents who were now raising their second family. Our huge generation gap didn't create much heart-to-heart conversations and there weren't many hugs and kisses from a not-so-touchy-feely generation of people, but given the circumstances, we wouldn't have had it any other way. Nicole and I weren't pushed for excellence and weren't required to go to college. We did okay, even so. I tried to go to college, to give my Dad, who we rarely ever talked to, another chance to be a Dad. I was going to move back to Binghamton, the place that only a few short years before we had been running from. I moved back into my old room, complete with rainbow covered wallpaper. My Dad even bought me a tiny 13 inch TV that still works to this day, a good little TV! I applied to BCCC and got a job. Drove back and forth when I could to see my family and my then boyfriend. The day that sent me running from Binghamton once again was when my over-sensative ears heard an argument throught the walls of my rainbow covered walls about the picture of my Mom and Dad I had proudly displayed on my dresser that was laying face down when I arrived "home". I was asked to remove it, apparently Vera was feeling threatened by one of the very few pictures I owned of my dead mother. must be my Hillman blood...I stand strong and move on. I celebrated the day my Dad called me while working the night shift at The Trout and Bear in Livingston Manor to tell me they divorced. Forgive me Lord, but she was an evil woman. I still think about that house on Burr Avenue in Binghamton and remember feeling rich in an average house that I never felt welcomed in. What do little girls know, afterall. I met my now husband Cory at work, of all places...he was a dorky dishwasher with double bar gold glasses and a killer body! And I remember thinking how did I land someone who was soooo intellegent...oh the stupid thoughts we have...haha. We had so much fun together. I couldn't figure out why he would often blow me off to spend time with his family. I always thought they were strange because I had never been around a family that was all huggy-kissy and actually enjoyed being around each other. Our family loved each other, but it went unsaid, only assumed. They thought I was the most stuck up person Cory had ever met and told him not to bring me around! The gual of those people! If they had only known that I loved them and was sooo painfully shy, I was always afraid to say the wrong thing, to sound stupid. An old friend of mine once said I had the personality of a door knob...yes she was my friend. We kind of did things backwards, me and Cory. We found out I was pregnant at Christmastime in 1997. Cory had made up his mind, his life was ruined, he would never make anything of himself. He was terrified to tell his parents and even cowardly left a note on their kitchen counter to give them the news that they were to be grandparents. We gave birth to Zachary Kenneth on August 15, 1998 at 3:03 am, 3 hours and 3 minutes after my beloved Poppop's birthday who sadly passed while I was pregnant. My Zachary, my loving Mr. Cautious. Sensative. Caring. Sarcastic. My Poppop was Kenneth Sanford and his name lives on in my first born. He was a grumpy old man, but you wouldn't find a more generous person. He called me Allisoni-macaroni and occasionally other names I'll not mention...Cory stayed in college. First SCCC then New Paltz and graduated Cum husband...I was so proud as I stood on the chair holding our son Zachary in the air, watching him walk with the hundreds of other graduates that day in New proud, as if he were the only one walking that day. The day Cory proposed to me...we were sleeping on a mattress on the floor of his parents spare bedroom...someday I might tell you why we were sleeping at his parents...maybe not...probably the single hardest time in my entire life was that period. Those who know and love me know. Anyway, back to the ring I so selfishly picked on that night. My first, tiny little WalMart engagement ring and my poor husband. Ahhh, what was I thinking? He was a full time college student with meager earnings from a part time job, what more did I expect? It'll do for now. We set our date and Cory's mother and I began the do-it-yourself preparations for our wedding. We made everything by hand, cheaper that way. I was amazed when my oh-so-generous, do everything for everyone else, lay down and die for her family sister-in-law offered to buy my $900 wedding gown! This is some family I'm marrying into! On September 28, 2002 4 years after our son was born, we were married at East Branch United Methodist Church, the same one my parents and my sister were wed. Tradition. We really had a wonderful time that day. 9 months later Max was born! We could have named him Ceasar after our honeymoon, lol. My OB came in to my labor room that June 15th morning telling me that there was a beautiful blue aura surrounding the moon. Fitting that my Max was born under a blue moon. My rebelious Mr. Personality. Fiesty. Stubborn. Funny. I quit work when Max was 2 1/2. I so loved being home with him. Finances were seriously awful, but they tell me it'll be worth it. It is. Just when the time is coming for Max to start school and mommy to go back to work, God decides we need to have another baby. Zachary 10, Max 5 and a newborn 0. Man, what's up with the timing? Max is gonna be a big brother and Zachary couldn't be more excited. I enjoyed the extra hugs while I was pregnant, even if they were meant for Luke. Our 3rd baby boy. My 3 sons. Testosterone city. Only G.I. Joe's, no G.I. Jane's. It was true for me, labor is shorter the more babies you have. 33 hours for #1, 8 hours for #2 and 4 1/2 for #3. He sort of looked like Max, but then again looked really different from his big brothers. My big boy, 9 pounds 2 ounces. My Luke, my Mr. Content. Playful. Easy-going. I'm so blessed. Even through the many trials I've been through, I remain strong. Positive. Stubborn. Must be the Hillman blood.