|Could you just die? December 2006|
Five years later, they would NEVER agree to do this pose! They love their brother, but would no longer be willing to smooch him on the cheek and have it saved as a framable photo forever. Ah, the sweet, younger years.
The three oldest kids have had quite a 2011! They moved from a kids' dream house and neighborhood into an apartment half the size of the house. They went from having their own room to sharing a room. They left the street that held some of their dearest friends. They happily, and without a second thought, gave up a spring cruise on the Disney Dream, were content with a very humble holidays, and heard lots of, "No, we can't afford to do that right now" statements from their parents.
If you asked any of them if they regretted one sacrifice, they would say no, then talk about how having their brothers is more than worth any of those things. Do they sometimes miss those things? Certainly! But there is no comparison.
The Brownies are far from perfect kids. They are imperfect, just like their parents. They are sometimes selfish, whiney, lazy, and ornery, also like their parents. But, they are also selfless, considerate, open-minded, willing, passionate and giving. That has all been evidenced over this past year.
Before you feel too sorry for all they've given up, understand what they've gained. Above all, brothers. That's priceless. They also enjoyed a month in China, traveling to 5 different provinces and cities. Thanks to another's kindness, they were able to fly first class both to and from China. They got to witness 14 sets of parents welcome their baby to the family for the first time. They rode a ski lift up to the Great Wall, walked this one of the Seven Wonders of the World, then toboggan-slid back down! While they have sacrificed much this year, they've also had a year of adventure.
The kids have grown up a lot this year; not only due to becoming big brother and sisters to two toddlers, but also because they've had to live among some difficult people and situations. They've been bullied, teased and ridiculed really for the first time in their lives. Other kids have attacked the Brownies personally, as well as our family. They've taken shots at the fact that they have a Deaf dad, a signing family, adopted brothers, a big family in a small home, and a close-knit family. Some of these instances have made them cry (and made ME flaming mad) and some have made us all laugh. The kids were most recently teased because they like to spend time with their family. We have fun together. The kids tell us just about everything, including telling on themselves when they are less-than-perfect. Some other kids can't seem to handle it. They don't understand it, so they ridicule my kids for it. Thankfully, that is one insult that just makes our kids feel very sorry for the ones teasing them.
Being a close family is something Ken and I are strategic about and unapologetic for. We WANT the kids to feel like they have the most fun when we are together. We know as they get older, they'll have more and more fun with their friends and not always with us. That's a good thing! But we want many of our times together to be fun-filled and memorable.
We spend a LOT of time inside these four walls doing pretty mundane activities: school, chores, cooking meals, chores, cleaning up after the boys, school and more chores. We also don't believe kids need to be entertained every moment (or even a majority of the moments) of the day. We don't have cable, extensive gaming systems nor a TV in every room. But...
But we do want to provide ways for us to have fun and have fun together or at least here around the house. In our family, that could be board games such as UNO or Yahtzee, watching endless episodes of iCarly or The Cosby Show, Wii games such as Harry Potter Lego or Just Dance, and this year, lots and lots of wheels! Skateboards, scooters, bikes, Striders, Ripstiks, and a ramp to add an element of excitement. Boy, that ramp has drawn a fairly large crowd of kids to our driveway this past week!
Ken's and my anniversary is next week. We'll be celebrating 15 years of marriage! What a blessing! Instead of a fancy dinner out that would be over in 2 hours, we decided for the first time ever to get season passes to our local amusement park. We surprised the kids tonight and they're already anticipating our first visit of 2012. Now Ken and I have our date nights set and paid for the entire year!! (We are rollercoaster-lovers.) We also can take the older three kids on special one-on-one dates, or have one of us take all three of them once every few weeks. We can take the littles, too. Tian is free until July and Travis' ticket will be fairly cheap. But with so much focused on their two new brothers, Ken and I wanted to do something special just for the older three.