Tag Archives: Siblings

Dear Ashley

Birthdays are special.  It’s like a bookmark, with each year signifying the end to a splendid chapter.  I am sure this last year had many highs and lows.  Like the time you took Emily for me when I went into labor with Andrew.  Or when you took all the exquisite photos of our family.  I am sure there are other more distant memories that you can recall better than I.

It’s funny how we spent so much of our teenage years fighting.  Your iron will against mine.  A clash of Titans.  Physically, you won much more of the fights, but emotionally, I’d say I did some damage.  I’m sorry for that.  I am grateful that we have moved past that adolescent nonsense and turned our relationship into something much better–a sister relationship.  We still exchange silly banter but our fights have diminished, our iron melted down.  We have our differences, of course, yet we see past those.  Recognizing how much we need each other.

I felt it more poignantly after I miscarried.  You called and it meant the world to me.  Knowing that I had a sister who cared and would listen.  Thank you.

I wish you the best on this birthday.  Enjoy the cabin and the fishing.  Above all, remember that I am here, forever, as your sister.

Love,

Amber

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The Whole Crew

As I’m sure you have all noticed,  I write birthday letters to each of my siblings.   I do this to help keep the connection between and them alive.  After the last birthday letterKelly asked for more information about my family.  Kelly, consider this your answer.

I have 9 siblings, 5 sisters and 4 brothers.  I am the second child.  Yes, we all came from the same mother and father.  To satisfy any curiosity you might have,  here’s what my family looks like.

Steve & Kim (Mom & Dad)

These are the leaders of our clan–Steve and Kim.  My dad is busy with work and my mom is busy keeping track of all their children.

The First Born: Ashley

Ashley is a buyer for HerTern, a boutique based out of Alaska.  She is gorgeous, successful, and everything I could have hoped for in an older sister.  She explores her photography and baking talents at her blog–Just {Ash}.

Raul, Brody, & Autumn

I have referred to Autumn a few times for the ultimate sacrifice she made a couple years ago.  She is now happily married to Raul and completely smitten with her son, Brody (who has Down’s Syndrome).

Austin

Austin will be leaving to serve a 2-year mission to Peru in a couple of weeks.  He practically saved my sanity while I was pregnant with Andrew.  I will greatly miss him.

Aaron

Aaron is busy breaking girls’ hearts.  He is an incredible athlete who has had to leave sports due to injuries.  He is a big goof ball.

Katelynn

Katelynn dreams of becoming a paramedic.  She brings balance to our family with her witty sense of humor and kind heart.

Alden

Alden is a strong boy.  His battle with Asperger syndrome often leaves him feeling confused and out of control.  His heart, though, remains untouched.  He is extremely compassionate–often the only sibling that can comfort a crying niece or nephew.

Abby

Abby is a happy, sweet, angelic little girl.  She enjoys snuggling and playing with her little friends.  She has a special place in Ben’s heart.

Kaden

Kaden is the miracle baby.  As you can see, he has grown to be a handsome little boy.  He is adventurous, smart, and loving.

Alivia

Alivia was also a premature arrival, slipping into our family when we least expected it.   Yet,  she has made a name for herself as Queen Alivia.  She is completely a Daddy’s girl.

There you have it–my family.  If you have any questions you’d like to ask about my siblings, my parents, or growing up in a large family, ask away.  I will do my best to provide well thought out answers.

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Little Miracles

In conjunction with the baby shower, Service Soapbox is hosting a writing contest.  This post is my submission.

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My mother’s pregnancy was a surprise.  She was nearing 40 and was not anticipating any more children.  Besides that, we were planning on a move to Alaska.  Moving and familial responsibilities amounted to an enormous stress load placed on my mother’s shoulders.

My mother was a seasoned homebirther–having given birth to all of her previous (8) children in the comfort of her bedroom.   This pregnancy, though, concerned her from the beginning.  Her midwife, after evaluating my mother’s symptoms, suggested she start seeing a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) at our local hospital.

At my mothers 30 week mark, she started experiencing severe symptoms.  One night she began feeling a severe pain that started in her upper abdomen and spread throughout her whole body.  The pain was accompanied by severe nausea.  When the pool failed to alleviate the pain and the nausuea continued, she called her midwife who then directed her to call her CNM.  The CNM advised her to come in immediately. In a remarkable string of events, her home teacher unexpectedly came over and offered her a ride to the hospital and another lady from our congregation arrived to take care of the kids.

After arriving at the hospital, they took her vitals and had her take a urine test.  The L&D nurses (and her midwife) were beyond concerned when they found her urine to be saturated with protein and her systolic blood pressure over 200.  They admitted her immediately, began pumping drugs into her system in an effort to lower the blood pressure and to send steroids to strengthen the baby’s lungs in case of an emergency C-Section.

As I’m sure you have already guessed, my mother had a severe case of pre-eclampsia.  After a few ultrasounds to evaluate the health of the fetus, they discovered the presence of HELLP syndrome.  With this realization, they deemed it safer for the baby to be on the outside than inside the womb.

My brother, Kaden, was born at 31 weeks weighing 2 lbs. 10 oz.

As you can imagine, his low gestational birth meant a long fight for him.  He was in the hospital for 6 weeks and left weighing 5 lbs and with a bunch of equipment (heart monitors and respirator).  Still.   He was home.

Seeing how modern technology saved my brother,  I became quite active at my local branch of the March of Dimes.  While I only did menial tasks like helping send mailers and other paper things, I felt like I was helping an organization that saved my brother.  I felt like I was giving back.

My brother is now 7-years-old. He still bears certain marks of his premature arrival, but overall he is healthy, smart, and quite active.

I guess this is my way of publicly saying thank you.  Thank you people who took care of us while my mother was in the hospital and for the 6 weeks that my brother was in the NICU. Thank you doctors and nurses who saved my brother’s–and my mother’s–life.  Finally, thank you March of Dimes for funding research that made it possible for my brother to be here today.

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A Birthday Letter for Two

Katelynn and Alivia:

It seems nearly impossible that out of the 365  days of the year, God chose both of you to be born on the same day.   To honor the both of you,  your letters will be posted on two successive days.  Starting with Katelynn (she is, after all, the oldest) today.

Dearest Katelynn,

While looking for a picture of you, I came across this one.  I sat and stared for a while.  No, not at my cute little guy, but at you.  At how beautiful you have become.  I think back to when you were born.  You were a delight from the beginning.  I think God blessed Mother with you because Aaron was so exhausting.  He sent you to bring balance back into the family.  You did and still do.

I’ve never told you this, but I felt a lot of guilt about your baby years.  I felt I should have held you more, played with you more, and paid you  more attention.  I was sure that my selfishness had ruined our relationship forever.  This idea held me back from basking in your delightful spirit for many years.  I didn’t think I was worthy enough.

I know it must be hard, smashed by 2 older brothers and 3 older sisters, but you have learned to hold your ground.   Your voice is often the reasonable one amidst the torrents of nasty remarks.  Your slick sense of humor can ease tense moments.  Your calm demeanor helps us all to be more patient.

You might be younger than me, but I look up to you.  Your courage in all situations stuns me.  Your desire to do what’s right no matter what makes me shiver.  Your valiance.  Your strength.

You are a strong young woman.

I have no doubt the Devil shudders when he sees you.  May that always be the case.

With admiration and love,

Amber

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My Kids Hate Me

Before I continue, I want to make something clear:  I can’t complain about my night’s sleep.  When I am tired, I am completely to blame.  However, I can complain about my babies recent naptime sleeping–or lack thereof.

I find naptimes to be slightly more essential than nighttime sleep.  See, it is during naptimes that I take a shower, do the dishes, and write.  It is also during naptime that I gather my energy to make dinner, take walks, and start laundry.  So, when nap times are compromised, I become grumpy and my house becomes dirty.

Lately, my kids have been doing tag napping.  You know, when one falls asleep the other wakes up.  It is very aggravating.  It has led me to the conclusion that my kids hate me.  This must be true.  Why else would they put me through so much torture?

Now, if you are looking to excuse my children, it is because you don’t know them.  Sure, they might look angelic,

but deep down they are devious little creatures. I should know.

Take Andrew.  He used to sleep moderately well.  He would at least give me a half hour to an hour of good napping 3-4 times a day.  I can do that.  Lately?  He has been fighting sleep.  After vigorous rocking, he might close his eyes.  But, the instant I put him down–BAM! He wakes up.

I did expect this.  He is 4 months after all.  His sister did the same thing around this time.  It doesn’t make it any easier.

Emily, on the other hand, sleeps pretty well hen she wants to sleep.  If she does not want to sleep, she is grumpy.  She whines and has melt downs when I give her something besides cookies to eat.

After a day or two of their ornery sleep habits, I pout.  I’m pretty good at pouting.  I will put on a movie (I’m on a classics roll right now) and let them go crazy while I sit and inwardly moan and groan.

It’s funny when epiphanies hit.  While writing this sarcastic, and somewhat true, post I realized something.  I really have a good life.  Sure, my kids may drive me nuts with their non-sleeping habits, but I know that phase will end too quickly.  Before I know it, they will be leaving the house.  Then I will have quiet.  I will be able to nap when I want and write when I want. Strangely enough, I’m sure I will miss this time.

I  think I will go and kiss my little babies’ faces.  This sleeping thing will not last forever,  the joy they bring to me will.

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To My Little (Big) Brother Austin:

Once upon a time,  I prayed and asked God how I could juggle pregnancy and a 6-month old baby.  He answered me by sending you.

I would sit in my rocking chair, holding my little baby, a bowl within reach, and rock and rock–seeking some relief from the constant nausea.  You would feed and diaper the Queen,  clean the dishes,  and wash the laundry.

When I was feeling blue from the constant sickness,  you’d put on my favorite movies.   I smiled when I saw how much you enjoyed Sense and Sensibility. You fell in love with Elinor Dashwood and cheered on her romance with Mr. Edward Ferrars.

Those mornings when I cried because of the constant vomiting,  you would send me off to bed with a promise that you would take care of the Queen.

You and Mr. B got along swimmingly.   You kept his mind away from his crazy, sick wife and helped him relax.  You watched the Queen so he could take me somewhere to eat.  The companionship of another male was exactly what Mr. B needed to handle a very tough semester.

I can’t forget how you helped me see the humor in my sickness–laughing over my new “diet,”  and reminding me that it was worth it.

The time came for you to leave.  I’m sure feelings had been hurt,  as they are apt to be in a small space with three adults,  but you have remained a favorite of the Queens and an excellent friend to Mr. B.

And now you are turning 19.  You will be leaving for your mission to Peru soonly.  I will miss you.

It is strange to think of you,  my 6 foot brother, as my little brother.  But you are and will always remain so.

Happy Birthday little (big) brother!

Love,

Amber

If you have time, will you leave some birthday wishes to my sweet brother?  He will be reading them!

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Dear Alden,

When you were a baby, I was your favorite.  Only I could read you stories.  Only I could comfort when fear and sadness betook your little soul.  Only I could wipe away your tears.

We shared a room. You in your crib, me in my bed.  Often, though, you would end up snuggled next to me in my bed.  I cherished those moments.

Alden, during the turmoil of my teenage years you made me smile.  You brought me blossoms of joy, nestled sweetly in a vase of love.  The bright, red petals smelled sweetly of delight–the feeling I felt when you kissed my cheek or gave me a hug.  The long, strong stems held the delicate flowers–much like you, in all your innocence, held my delicate spirit. This joy, thankfully, never wilted.  It continued to brighten my many dark moments.

One day, it was time for you to move in with your brothers.  It was time for you to grow and become independent.

That was a sad, dark day.  You cried and cried, pounding your little fists against the door.

Unfortunately, I was a self-absorbed teenager.

I am glad you forgave  me.  I am honored that you still consider me your favorite sister.

You inspire me. You, with your many, many struggles exert extraordinary amounts of effort in school.   I know–I see–how much you fight. In my eyes, you win.  Everyday.

Even though your war against Asperger’s is ongoing (and one that, unfortunately, will yield no permanent victory), you do not let it wear you down.  You are courageous.

Dear brother, you are now on the threshold of your teenage years.  You have so much to look forward to.

You make me proud to be your older sister.

As you keep fighting, know that I am by your side.

Love,

Amber

As part of Amy‘s ongoing Neighborhood series, Becca has asked me to post on her site, Drama for MamaCheck it–and her–out!!

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