Saturday, July 23, 2011

And then there was Ikea…

People fall into one of a few categories:
A. You looooooove IKEA. IKEA is your thing.

B. You loathe IKEA. You hate it’s pure existence and think it’s the devil.

C. You don’t know about IKEA and you’ll end up an A or B eventually.

D. You like/love/adore IKEA until you try to put together the furniture… you then fall into a B category for a while and then return to A, quickly.

I am a certain A or D. Mostly A.  Smile 

Today we got a Sneak Peek at our new IKEA store.  If you know me you know I love décor.  Anything that has to do with decorating, I about fall apart over.  I can find inspiration anywhere and everywhere. And I’ve waited 13 years for IKEA in CO. For me, IKEA is definitely my “style”.  Room and Board is also my style, just not in my price range!  So, IKEA works, always has, for me!  I know, I know… you hate it.  That’s okay. 

A friend from work sent me a text/FB post late last night telling me that she had a “GOLDEN TICKET” for me.  A pass to get myself and a car load of my favorite peeps into IKEA, 3 days before it opens. Uh, awesome co-worker say what??? YES please! It’s no secret around these parts that I am an IKEA junkie.  We’ve had some long dark roads over the last decade that we’re finally emerging from.  Having the “liberty” to enjoy POINTLESS things (and yes, IKEA is pointless) is a blessing, finally. 
So, GOLDEN TICKET in hand and only slightly concerned that I might be waking my sister and brother in law up, I texted the news… We were going to IKEA!  Early.  Like in two hours. Get up, get ready… Who’s your favorite sister in the world? That’s right… ME!  Winking smile

I took pictures.  Yes.  You heard it right… picture. So my “review” is this: I like it.  Shocker, I know.  It’s laid out well, the shortcuts are good.  Newbies, get familiar with your shortcuts.  IKEA has “grown up” a lot in the last dozen years.  Final word:  I’ll be there, a lot.  Enjoy the pics…..
13 years I’ve waited for this view!

Reusable yellow shopping bag? CHECK!  And, no, I wasn’t happy at all…. Winking smile (and I only spent $30! Ha!)

At this point and juncture, I’m overwhelmed, we’re only 70 yards in!  And, you’ll be happy to know that all remaining pics are of products only.  And my McHottie of a hubs standing in faux kitchens. 

A typical IKEA set up…

I ran into this chair because I didn’t see it.  HA!  Winking smile

I absolutely love their lighting selections! I didn’t even get a pic of the one we’re doing over the island.  Totally vintage industrial chic.  Sold.

Uh.. cute!!!

Uh, yes please.  Love. Love. Love. Love.

Ah.. our future countertop for our future island.  We love butcher block and have waited to complete things so that we can buy IKEA butcher block!  Stained a little darker… wa la.  Me. My style.

For a “dark” kitchen, I like!

Seriously, even from the back… he’s adorable. It helps that he always looks like a 24 year old surfer dude.  And, he's not 24 by the way. 

Need appliances?  IKEA has you covered.  All made by Whirlpool.  Amazing warranties too!

I am a sucker for a slip covered parsons chair… I may have like, uh... 25 slip covers to choose from! 

The children's section was oh soooo cute!

Really, a kid would be stylin’ in this highchair!


Free childcare for shopping parents!  Oh how I would have used this….

Glassware galore!

Bath fixtures… we will be needing these!

This will be perfect for my train loving little boy.  We found our family and our son in Union Station.  With autism you meet the kid where he was at and at the time, he was into trains.  So, hours were spent down at the station.  Now, his room just happens to be grey, white and orange.  HA!  Meant to be!

It was a GREAT trip and we can’t wait to go back.  Kurt, even in his “I AM excited, it just doesn’t look like it, at all. Yes, I know I look miserable, but  I am having a good time”  kind of way, said “Yeah, we’re not going anywhere else for furnishings.” 

The hubs approves, mama is happy!  We’ve been living like squatters for a year, with VERY little furnishings, just enough to make it livable and comfortable, just anticipating the opening of IKEA.  There are rooms that are totally empty…. Not for long!  Let the decorating begin!!!!!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

As fate would have it.....

(From February 2004)

We went to bed as we would any other night. Granted our sleep had been impaired for nearly 4 weeks as the twins were in the NICU, but nonetheless we managed to get some shut eye here and there. I don't recall my dreams or the weather that night. What I do recall is being awakened by a ring a little different than most, in the late hours of the night, by Dr. Paco.

"Mrs. Divino? It's Dr. Pantoja, I am calling about your girl." I honestly thought, that this was it. The phone call. The one we had talked about possibly getting.

Dr. Paco explained Juliana had taken a turn for the worse and they were needing to put her on different respiratory support. This was full support, unlike with the regular ventilator, she breathed along with it, some of her breaths coming from her tiny damaged lungs were hers, not just a machines. But this night she had decided she was done breathing, she didn't want to be any part of it. And somewhere along the lines her heart agreed, it too was done. She had the worst night to date, and as it turns out, the worst night she may ever have. After so many episodes of being brought back to life, in such a short time frame, 11 times in 13 hours to be exact , the doctor is obligated to let the parents know that this was the usual course of a extremely premature body that is telling us, it's too sick, it's too small, it's too weak and it's most importantly too early.

I realize only now, the importance of the words Dr. Paco would say to us next.

"I think you should come down so we can discuss what is best for Juliana in her condition."

We got there in record time. When we arrived no one was around her, which was an unusual sight. We washed up and walked over to the little ones. Gavin looked plump and healthy as he always seemed to. After looking at his chart, we realized he had had a great evening after we left and they were planning on turning down his vent settings, a HUGE accomplishment.

Then there was our girl. Nothing plump about her. Healthy wasn't a word I'd ever use to describe her in her first few weeks and tonight was no exception. We saw the normal perky shade of pink disappear by the minute.... She was grey and lifeless. The new ventilator rattled her little body like a roller coaster. Kurt grabbed my hand and I squeezed his. We've been able to finish each others sentences before, but tonight, no words were spoken and no words needed to be. We knew exactly what each other was thinking. I don't think we spoke for quite sometime.

Dr. Paco went over again the details and asked us what we wanted to do. In his professional opinion, she couldn't and shouldn't go on this way. Every attempt her fragile body made to let go was taking her one step closer to certain brain damage. We agreed it was too much for her little body.

He told us we had a choice to make, when really, we had no say. It wasn't up to us, the doctors or modern medicine to direct this little life. It was up to Juliana and God. We couldn't wrap our minds around what was next. And weren't sure we wanted to. It was almost as if we thought of it, we were letting go of hope and her.

The morning hours came, the nurses changed shifts. We realized later that Dr. Paco was supposed to be at home, but chose to stay with Juliana. In so many ways, we believe that had he left, hope would have left with him. Kurt said he felt like he was in debt to Dr. Paco. There is little doubt that, as he stayed with Juliana, he'd stayed with many little ones before. I have to wonder how many at times.

We knew when the NICU social worker, physiologist and other docs were joining Dr. Paco in his office that it was very possible they were getting ready to speak to us. Turns out we were right. It also turns out that we never had to have that talk.

Kurt and I had spent the last couple hours of what we understood to be the end of her life, *holding* Juliana the best we could. Because we weren't actually able to hold her all we could do was place our hands around her and on top of her. We talked about how much we couldn't wait to really hold her. We told her that her brother was just a few feet away and she should see how adorable he was. We let her know that her big brother thought she hung the moon already, and that he was right. She did. Not only did she hang the moon but she also held our entire world in one hand and our hearts in the other. I told that if she left us, that she'd leave with those things too. We needed her.

Her vitals improved slowly over the next hour. Dr. Paco continuously mentioned his surprise at her doing so well, *all of a sudden*. By the time lunch rolled around Dr. Mark was congratulating us on making it through that night and that she seemed to have turned a corner, amazingly enough.

Kurt and I left the NICU that night and never really talked the previous 24 hours alot until recently. For me to be silenced is unheard of, but that night I was. I didn't run to the nearest keyboard and pour out our experience. And I realize, it was a form of protection.

Kurt said he never really worried about Gavin. I had to agree. I knew he'd make it out of there as I did with Brennon. Even with his serious conditions, I still had faith. But Juliana definitely made us think. We hoped a little more, pleaded a little more, dreamt a little more and prayed a lot more.

There is a poem my E.E. Cummings that comes to mind when I think of that night:

I carry your heart with me
I carry it in my heart
I am never without it
Anywhere I go you go, my dear
And whatever is done by me is your doing, my darling
I fear no fate
For you are my fate, my sweet
I want no world
For beautiful you are my world, my true
And you are whatever a moon has always meant
And whatever a sun will always sing is you

Here is the deepest secret nobody knows
Here is the root of the root
And the bud of the bud
And the sky of the sky of a tree called life
Which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide
And this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart
I carry it in my heart

In many ways it will stay a secret in our hearts. What we felt that night and what we feel today when we look at her. But what isn't a secret is, the amount of joy this little girl holds. She is the tree called life, our life. She does grow higher than we hoped and she does spend her days amongst the stars.

I wonder who to thank at times. Medicine? Dr. Paco? Our faith? Mostly I thank God for the amazing opportunity of being her mom. But,I thank Juliana every day for being a part of life, here today. At times she makes this family what it is. Other times it's Gavin, Brennon or Kurt. But most of the time it is the works of 5 individuals, each bringing something different to the table. A table I am happy to sit at all the days of my life.

5 Years and 5 Million Memories

 (From January 2009)

Most of you know what time it is… January. The month the babies were born…. I love to write and journal a lot around this time and I like to send it out in hopes that it will do just a tiny bit for you as it’s done so much for me. Maybe it will light the way in a darker world, maybe it will allow you to go back to those times when so few things mattered- where we just celebrated life and each other, maybe it will inspire you to reach for a dream that you thought unrealistic. Brennon, Juliana and Gavin have encouraged me to do all those things (as well as take a long vacation alone one day!) and I thought I’d share a bit of that today! ==========================================================

January 2008

It’s hard to even imagine what sort of memories would have been made in the last 5 years. Clearly many more than I could count.

5 years ago, this week, I checked in to the antepartum/antenatal wing of the hospital at 21 weeks pregnant. I parked there for an indefinite amount of time. My due date to deliver the twins was May 11th. As far as the doctor was concerned, I wouldn’t be leaving that hospital pregnant to try to *relax* at home, I would be there until I delivered the twins, be it the next day or May 11th.

3 weeks later, at 24 weeks gestation my sweet tiny tiny babies arrived, tipping the scales at a little over a pound each. They weren’t concerned with time, or lack of time they spent growing. They weren’t concerned with the obvious effort I had put out trying to keep them where they needed to be. They weren’t concerned with the small fortune it would take to keep them alive. Seems, after all, no one told them how hard it would be. There isn’t a direct line of communication when you’re dealing with babies, seems they are doing exactly what it is that they do- keep you guessing.

It wasn’t mentioned to them they would age their parents like millions of hours of hard labor and millions of hours in the sun- all overnight. No one told them that for 4 months in the hospital after being born they would break many hearts, pick up the pieces and mend those hearts all together again with unexpected successes. Someone forgot to mention that they would hold the hearts of those same two people (known as Mom and Dad), in the palms of their tiny hands. I don’t think they knew what those two people felt for them, or what their arrival made those two people feel for each other. They never anticipated what those two people would feel like when they got *the call*.

No one mentioned how hard it would be. Juliana and Gavin had no clue. They just did what they needed to do.

But I had a different idea; I knew how hard it would be. I was prepared for round 2 of the extended NICU tour as I just did it with Brennon 4 years prior. BUT- I had done it once, and told myself I could do it again. Or could I? Surely the second time around would be easier. It was not, the two experiences didn’t compare. Where Brennon had major issues the babies sailed through. Where we had no worries with Brennon, the twins seems to pick up the slack, just so we could experience EVERYTHING that there was to experience with extreme preemies. It wasn’t the worry that typical twin parents have with the parenting two children part, but wondering if those two would ever come home for us to be parents to- there were a few too many times we were told “It doesn’t look good.” We wondered day after day if they were growing normal, if their brains were functioning correctly, if the future was a bright one, or a bleak one. There was nothing *hard* about giving two babies a bath, even alone. There was nothing brilliant about feeding two babies at two am. I never got kudos for managing a last minute grocery store trip. THAT was quite easy in comparison.

5 years later I am not sure it is any easier. I think in talking to other twin moms with older twins, they told me it would get better *around 3* to make sure I wouldn’t throw in the towel and run. It was a possibility after all. Today it’s crazy, funny, sad and scary- but not hard in *that* way. What’s hard is looking back at where they’ve come from, and wondering did I do everything I possibly could? Did the doctors take all the precautions they were supposed to?

It would be naïve to say yes or no, either way. I like to try to focus on what I do know, for sure- I love these kids. I love that when Gavin gets out of bed, he likes to sit at the top of the stairs and rub his ear for a few minutes before joining the family- every morning. I love that as soon as I step in the kitchen I can as sure as the sun rises turn around to see Juliana in her chef’s hat ready to help me do whatever it was that I came into the kitchen to do. I love that Gavin only calls Juliana sissy when he tells her he loves her. I love that Juliana has to tell him she loves him back in a quiet voice. I love that they think we don’t see them hug, all the time, and pretend to be pushing each other as soon as they notice we noticed! I love that when Juliana is in trouble she gives the biggest grin you’ve ever seen. I love that Gavin puts himself in a time out whenever his brother or sister is in one- he’s all about equal treatment. I love that when Juliana is tired she says “I wanna lay on you body.” And I love that when Gavin is tired he asks if I can rub his “big back”. I love that Juliana has a preference of what she’s called, today it’s Irene, her middle name.

The last 5 years has been filled with some memories I never thought I’d be fortunate enough to have, and have often. It only gets better by the day. There are some days I am ready to check out, and I even go to the extent of pricing the tickets and carefully choosing my tropical destination based on how quickly someone could come pull me out of there- the more difficult the better! Somehow I wake up the next morning and wonder what I was thinking. There is an alternative to all this- it would be NOT having them. That is something I can’t imagine. They make me real, humble and most of all, they make me realize that I was chosen, (hand picked!) to be their mom. It’s not a coincidence that I have the 3 kids I do. It’s not a coincidence that I am doing all this along side of one of the greatest people I’ve ever known. But somehow that doesn’t make everyday easy, matter of fact, I can count the easy days on a few hands. We have to look back and honor ourselves and realize we never signed up for prematurity, autism, pre cancerous conditions, chromosomal abnormalities, developmental delays and a mom with a forever broken body from it all- we signed up for the *typical* kid stuff! This isn’t typical and to think there are those who’ve suffered more, much more.... Yet, somehow or another it was truly meant to be and I appreciate who I am today because of it.

“When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.” - Edward Teller

We’re thankful that we received both lessons, we know when there isn’t a strong base to stand on we need to rise above, flutter and flap our wings during the time in question, keep our eyes on what and who’s above and wait patiently for the time to pass, then land softly on our solid base once again. There is one thing we know for sure, whether it’s bad or good, it will change. We hold on to the one thing we know that won’t, our family commitment to each other.

I’ve said it before, it’s about 5 people that bring something different to the table, and that is table I am proud to sit at my entire life. Today is about life, the life we were given by them being able to continue theirs and not leaving us too soon. It was close at times, a little too close for me- but 5 years later we’re all here, standing taller than ever and realizing that maybe it wasn’t that hard after all!

What tomorrow will bring.....

 (From November 2009)

I know that we never know what tomorrow will bring. For once, I know exactly what it will bring should life decide to keep me breathing for one more day. Tomorrow I will wake up and remember THIS:

At some point in my life I've mentioned that I might like to change the world somehow. I still haven't pinpointed exactly how I'll reach *the world*, a megaphone might just be my communication tool of choice- seems we as a society have problems with our hearing... OR, maybe we just have a problem with feelings. Maybe it's those pesky *expectations* that ruin it all. I don't know, and I'd venture a guess that while there are many opinions on what is wrong with the world, there sure isn't a lot of action on changing what's wrong with the world.

Here's my attempt at changing the world.... procreation. Yes, the amazing gift of pregnancy and the miracle of life. I said I wanted the OPPORTUNITY to change the world. How is it that I was gifted with THREE amazing opportunities to do so? Opportunity came to me in the form of children.

(DISCLAIMER: You obviously don't need to have children (or birth your own) to have a positive impact or make a contribution to the world. I was made from scratch to be a woman, daughter, wife, mother. I am honored to have those titles, however, it all started with being one thing- a life. If you have one, you have more power than you'll ever know. I just know THIS is how *I* was chosen to be. And well, this is my ramblings...)

What better way to contribute to the world, than offering to the world, no, scratch that.... offering to the UNIVERSE, three amazingly, powerful human beings? Do I think they are amazing already? I do. I see it in every breath they take, in every problem solving attempt they make and every raised chin in satisfaction when they've accomplished something THEY didn't think they could, but I assured them they would.

How I teach, guide, influence and carry on will mold these little peace makers in to an army of integrity, confidence, goodness and INFLUENCE. How I influence them will be a direct affect on how they influence others.

Will my children see weakness or power in me? I hope they grow to see the power in me, but also feel humbled enough to know that we are allowed to cry, have emotion, express fears and learn through mistakes.

Will my children choose to *bail* at the first sign of *tough times*? I hope they learn that our true warrior comes out in times where our base isn't so stable. I believe in you can't have dark without light, evil without good... You can't appreciate the good times until you've experienced the tough times. Perseverance is key.

Will my children choose to break down the weak or build up the weak? I hope that they've seen unselfish acts from not only me, but others they are influenced by. I hope that they realize that while a helping hand helps at that moment, their words will forever stick. I hope they choose to breathe life in to those falling down. I hope that they use the word *love* when ending a phone call with me AND when passing a stranger with his head down.

Will my children adopt the " you are a product of your misfortunes" or take responsibility for their fortunes AND misfortunes. I hope that they never fall victim to mistreatment in any form, but if they do, I hope that they realize the transfer of power, from the hunter to the hunted happens the minute they refuse to consider themselves victims.

Will my children get wrapped up in a title? I hope they find energy in being themselves. I hope they are able to disconnect from certain titles and get back to the root of their life. I hope as much as they give to others they will not forget themselves.

I know that tomorrow I will wake seeing the beauty of their souls and remember the power that I have as a woman/mother. I hope my daughter will see that she holds the same power and she will one day be called to execute it in some manner. I hope she knows her worth as a woman, I hope that if there is anything I do on this earth, it will be to show her what she deserves, which is everything, in life. I hope my boys will be true men and honor the women in their lives by treating them as a woman should be treated. I hope that we, as husband and wife, can show them the fruits of a relationship filled with honor, integrity, interest (there's one that isn't around anymore), respect and passion.

There are many hopes that I have for them, but all in all I hope they make a difference to someone. I will continue to mold my army of goodness and I hope the world is ready to receive them.

In the spirit of the Thankful month- I am THANKFUL for the opportunities I've been given with my children. My one true desire, fulfilled. I will not take for granted the lives entrusted to me. I will lead by example.
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