Saturday, November 30, 2013

Looking For Some Awesome Holiday Gifts? A Giveaway!

While I have pretty much written things for about as long as I could write, I don't know that I'd have considered myself a writer.

But, one of the fabulous perks of others reading about what I write means that I often get the chance to sample some pretty cool family-oriented things and tell you about them.

One such opportunity was presented when an AMAZING box of books appeared at my door, waiting to be opened and perused.  Being in the classroom for as many years as I have, I am very familiar with the impressive quality and content in National Geographic books.  In fact, my classroom libraries (and now, Luke's personal library) have always been filled with some really rich and interesting Nat Geo books I've bought through the years.

I was super, super excited to see what Luke thought, though cool as they were, I had to wrestle a few away from daddy first!

Most of the books I received for sampling are a bit older than Luke's age range, but that did not stop my little bookworm from digging right in.  "Mama, can I look at that squirrel book?" (what he called the book about Meerkats) and "Ooooh, look, Mama!  Donees!" (what he said about the picture of a donut on the First Big Book of Why book) came peppered at me as he grabbed the books with the zeal that does a teacher's/Mama's heart proud.

After I read him the Meerkats book and we talked about them (and how they are NOT squirrels), Daddy got back in the picture and he and Luke looked through the First Big Book of Why.  It is a REALLY cool book.  Big, bright colors and short enough little excerpts that allow a Mama or a Daddy to offer as a piece of information to a little guy or gal and a great talking point for older kids. 
John said, "This book is really cool because it has stuff Luke and I can talk about," and I agreed. 

Luke also really dug the Everything Pets book and I nearly teared up as he opened one of the first pages and began, "Once upon a time, there was a kitty cat who needed his Mama."  

Not only was my sweet boy utilizing some fine pre-reading/writing skills (if I say so myself!) but he reminded me how he has such a tender heart!

Speaking of tender-heart...there were two books that tugged at mine.  As a dog lover, the Devoted book  just made me give the pups some extra loving, and reminded me how much more enriched my life has been with dogs in it.  The Mother's Love book...true stories about moms in the animal kingdom?  Yeah.  Seriously, again, though a bit older for Luke, this book is a coffee-table/stocking-stuffer kind of book that I think every mother on this planet can appreciate and relate to.  Just really touching.

One of the things found in the Mother's Love, so, so, so true.
From the parent perspective, I love having some fascinating non-fiction to share with Luke, even if above reading level.  I think kids will soak up what you throw at them, and several of these books have already proven to be entertaining, educational and permanent parts of our bedroom library.

From a teacher perspective, I had no idea that Nat Geo even had something like the Funny Fill-In book (a mad-libs type book that is sure to inspire even the most reluctant writer to forage into descriptive words and writing) or the Just Joking book.  I can, without question guarantee that the joke book will be a hit with elementary/early middle school kids everywhere.  This is the type of book that all the kids fight over when it is free reading time, and then beg you to take home for the afternoon because they want to keep reading it.  I cannot wait until Luke is a bit older and we can share jokes like in this adorable book!

The best thing about buying National Geographic books is that profits from sales help go into conservation, exploration, research and education programs.  Pretty much a win-win.  Even better, if you check them out at, you can find these and lots more on sale for 30% off!  (Seriously, they are sooooooo reasonably priced! Hellooooo, holiday shopping!)  Best yet, because they were such awesome books, I am giving one of the books away—simply enter the rafflecopter and if you win, you will get to choose between Best Friends Forever (cute early chapter book about animal friends) or the Funny Fill-In book.  Win-win-win!

*** I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meetsm  program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meetsm  blogger, I agreed to use this product and postmy opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC. or the manufacturer of the product.***

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What Happens In Four Years...

Four years ago, I was BEYOND ready to give birth.  Not that I'd not enjoyed being pregnant or wasn't BEYOND grateful to be so, but because my 'little turkey' was overdue already and the symptoms of preeclampsia we weren't aware of were taking their toll.

You can see...I was ready.

But I was thankful.  So, so, so thankful.  An excerpt from that night's post:

"There are so many things I have to be thankful for this year...even as I sit waiting for Matthew to make his debut, and am admittedly a little nervous about what labor is going be like, I am thankful that I have had the blessing of pregnancy--something I basically thought was never going to happen. Mom and I were talking last night about how different this time of year is than we thought it would be. We never in our wildest dreams imagined that we wouldn't have a little baby girl eating her first Thanksgiving dinner with us and we certainly didn't imagine that we would be waiting for a chubby-cheeked little baby boy to decide he was going to come out after all.
Again, Lord, thank you for your many, many blessings."

How could I ever, ever have known that not only would I not have a little baby girl eating her first Thanksgiving dinner with us, but the following year would not include the chubby-cheeked little baby boy who was born just two days later?

I honestly do not know how four years has gone by.  I look at Luke and can't believe that he's nearly THREE...but I remember the details of these days four years ago so.vividly.

I remember with a heaving chest and a knot in my throat that I just can't seem to swallow.

That night, laughing about how Matthew had already outgrown an outfit and he wasn't even born yet, I decided to look and see if his birthday could ever be Thanksgiving Day.  I looked at years and years ahead and basically figured out that unless Matthew was born that day or the next, he'd never have a birthday on Thanksgiving.  I'd thought that was kind of good and kind of sad...good that he'd never have to share his special day but sad because if there was ever anything in the that we in our family would be thankful for, it would certainly be John Matthew Ennis!!!!

Whether I just misfigured or was just suffering pregnancy brain, I was wrong!  Matthew's birthday IS Thanksgiving this year.

It's hitting me very sharply.  Maybe because I never thought it would actually be on Thanksgiving Day, and after he passed, I was SO glad I'd never have sit a table recounting my blessings as I should have been helping my little boy blow out birthday candles.  Maybe because it reminds me of how naive I silly I was figuring out things about his birth when I should have just been on my knees 24-7 praying I got to bring him home and raise him.

Maybe it's just because no matter how much time passes, I will never not miss him.  Never not ache for him and wonder what life would be like with him and his brothers.  Never not wish that it was different and that he'd lived.


So, what happens in four years?  Nothing and everything.

Because while my heart aches particularly deeper this year, it is also filled with so much joy and gratitude.  There is this little boy...a precocious two-year old who proudly tells everybody that he's a 'free-nager' (threenager; he overheard me talking with a friend, little stinker!)...who calls me Mama and tells me he loves me "the whole world" and calls his Batman slippers his 'Datman slip-flops'; is a hilarious prankster and actually ate bok choy for dinner the other night...he makes me smile and he fills with fun and laughter.

My heart is overwhelmed with Thanksgiving for his life and his place in our family.  Just overwhelmed.