The husband – Frank – stay at home dad extraordinaire, diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1998 and in remission since 2002 (!!!), medically-retired US Army soldier. The way he kung-fus the kids around the house you'd never know he had a potentially debilitating neurological disease. He is my main cheese, the dude, the maestro of my universe. He cooks not only out of necessity but for pleasure. Thank God he does, because if it was left to me the kids would likely eat canned carrots and cereal every other night of the week. He is quiet in nature but loves loud, has piercing eyes and a quick laugh, is passionately devoted, treats me like a queen, and balances the few parts of me that are high-strung and explosive. We are that smooshy couple that's been together since high school and makes everyone sick with our lovey-doveyness.
El Cinco de Mio:
Kyra aka Twin A – 7-years old, prissy smartypants, lip gloss and lace, motormouth at home but church mouse at school, big sister and main tattletale, mommy's little helper, whose aspiration is to be a "diva, but also a doctor who models." Ahem. She has a penchant for writing and "OH MY GOSH! How did Santa KNOW that I wanted bunches of WRITING STUFF for CHRISTMAS!?!?!" She thinks that "The Brothers" can be rather silly at times and sometimes cannot care to be bothered with such trivial matters as digging holes in the backyard, but eventually the childhood appeal of dirt takes her over and she's knee-deep in mud with the rest of them. Give her a pad of paper and some cool pens and she'll be your best friend. Mess with her brothers or sister and she'll kick your ass from here to kingdom come.
Jaiden aka Twin B – also a smartypants, but I think his brain's neurons fire Jackie-Chan-type ninjas instead of the standard electrical impulses. Ask him about the theory of supply and demand and what a scarcity is and he'll tell you, but not without doing backflips and headstands and crouching tiger kicks and hidden dragon karate chops while doing so. Every once in a while he'll do something so stupid that I catalog it as a good blackmail story for when he's 16, is the bane of my existence, and brings a girlfriend over for the first time. He likes learning about cultures, languages, and geography and goes ga-ga over anything Asian. He collects fortune cookie inserts so he can learn Chinese and is convinced that if he eats enough fries, he will eventually learn French. Perhaps by greasy osmosis. Oui? He thinks everything is funny, and even if it's not, you can't help but laugh because his giggle is contagious.
Jordan aka the Middle Child – cuddlebug, gumball cheeks, munchkin-cute, sometimes moody but never bratty, says "I love you" a gazillion times a day and I never tire of hearing it, 4-year old squishably adorable boychild. He is stubborn without the meanness that is usually associated with the characteristic, and he is actually kind-of cute with it. He is not stubborn with everything – only with those things that can send parents into "What the heck am I doing wrong?" freak-out modes. Take back when he was potty-training, for instance. He just looked up at us with those big, watery, doleful eyes and would let out a mopey, "But I just can't do it," nuzzled your neck with his face, then you melt and want to squeeze him and think, "So what if he's closer to four than three and he still won't wipe his own butt, much less use the toilet in the first place." We have learned that he will get to those milestones when he feels like it (and not a moment sooner) and when he does, he's brilliant. At bedtime he tells me how many hugs, kisses, nosers (our version of Eskimo kisses), and "cups of tickles" he wants. Like I said – Squishably. Adorable. Boychild.
Kaelyn – aka the Youngest – in the throes of les Deux Terribles (even though she's three now)- singing, twirling, bossy, flipping, bouncing, bubbly, cheeky, ball of toddler fire. It is said that the youngest are often the loudest because they must shout to be heard over everyone else. I believe this to be true, because when Kaelyn yells, EVERYONE stops to listen, even if only to laugh at this pint-sized package project with an attitude ten times her size. She is bright and sassy and has already has the spunk that is at the heart of strong women. Fiercely independent, she asks for help only if she gets so frustrated that she is nearing nuclear meltdown. Until then, if you even think to offer your assistance she will react by switching to DEFCON 4, warning that if you offer it again (You assclown, do I look like I need your help?) she WILL have a nuclear meltdown and will make your eardrums implode. She is talkative, loves anything with music and dancing, and loves to grab blankets or bathtowels, climb in your lap, and cuddle. She is a huggy exclamation point incarnate.
TJ – aka the Nephew – LaTron Jr. = Tron Jr. = TJ. Family and friends call him TJ, the Teej, or Tron, but at school he prefers to be called his first name, which is Ramon. 8-year old Teej is my sister's son, and whether for the time being or for the long haul Frank and I are raising him. He has grown to be more of a son than a nephew and has always been more like a brother to the other four than their cousin. What he doles out in bossiness spiced with antagonism he more than makes up for with genuine caring, helpfulness, and eagerness to please. He is the Jet Li to Jaiden's Jackie Chan, is a budding computer whiz and/or zoologist, is funny, smart, and thinks that discussion about anything that comes from the rear end is conversation of hysterical quality. He's a bit of a walking oxymoron; for instance, he likes to be tickled but tries not to laugh and likes ham and cheese sandwiches with grape jelly instead of mayo. Something of an unexpected 5th child, he's made a welcome addition to our family and our days have an extra layer of liveliness added into the mix.
Me? 8th grade Literature teacher. I'm sarcastic in the classroom even though all the "books" say that sarcasm has no place in education. Hrmph. Not every teacher can get away with it but it works for me and not only do the kids like me, but they respect me. "Like" most certainly does not equal "respect," especially when you're talking about 83 hormone-laden-you're-not-the-boss-of-me-but-I-still-want-you-to-tell-me-what-to-do early teenagers. Or mid to late teenagers, in the case of the few students who are professional middle schoolers.
I am also a gestational surrogate. I delivered a healthy baby boy named Baby M aka "the Meatball' in March 2007 to my former intended parents (IPs) Former IM and Former IF. I had a wonderful journey with them and I will never forget the looks in Former IM and Former IF's eyes on the days that they felt Baby M stir within me for the first time and also on the moment that he was born. Baby M is now a healthy, wiggle-worm of a 10-month old who loves music, loves to dance. Former IM says that he got that from me, courtesy of all the music I blasted while pregnant with him.
When I first started this blog in January 2007, I was matched for another surrogacy journey with my former intended parents – now friends – Mia and Urs. The amazing thing about that particular journey is that they were from Europe and it was an international surrogacy arrangement. In mid-December, Mia responded to my ad on SMO and the connection between us was almost instantaneous. Mia and Urs will travelled from Europe for our cycling and transfers. We had one failed transfer and one early miscarriage in the 6th week, after which they decided to move to donor egg. Hopefully, prayerfully, this is what will work for them.
Updated Jan. 2 2009: Now, I'm matched with my friends Chance and Apollo. They have endured two losses between weeks 20 and 24 and earlier miscarriages. Our match was truly a matter of chance and a welcome turn of good luck – Chance and I were blogging friends long before my journey with Mia and Urs ended. One thing led to another and we were led to eventually led to each other. 2009 will be our year. It has to be.
Personality-wise, I think my kids each got their own little pieces of my personality and made it their own. I also have an attitude that can be measured in DEFCONs, which 98% of the time is set at a safe all things green Level 1 but given the right (or wrong) situation, I can zip through the colors faster than Rainbow Brite could crap a Skittle and then woe be unto the unfortunate soul who pushed my nuclear warhead button. I love to laugh until I cry, like to cuddle, and my stubborness shows its face through placid procrastination. In real life I'm kind-of quiet which people sometimes mistake for shyness, but what it really is is that I like to watch people and size them up before I'm too forthcoming with myself. I'm a bit of a nerd but can be a bit hairbrained and forgetful at times. Smart ass or dumb ass – depends on who you ask.