Monday, May 20, 2019

Big BIG News--Delivered via Fortune Cookies and an Ice Cream Cake

I originally wrote this post on March 10, and I have been patiently waiting to post it until I got the green light from the parties involved.  But YAY!--I finally get to share it, as written the day after the events transpired.

March 9 was a bit of a red banner day for my husband and me, and for our family in general.  We got some pretty amazing news from two of our boys and their wives--and the fact that they were able to surprise us (when they thought perhaps we'd guessed beforehand) made the experience of hearing it that much more exciting and fun.

Before I say any more, I want to introduce you to the two boys involved, sons #3 and #4.
This was taken in the summer of 1988, when son #3 was just over 2 and #4 was 6 or 7 mos.

Here they are in May of 1992, when their oldest brother (far right) was about to make his 
First Holy Communion.  Son #3 (the one making the goofy face) is 6 here, and #4 is not quite 4 and 1/2. 
 (Son #2 is 7 and looking pretty dapper in this picture, if I do say so.)

Another shot from May of 1992.

We have been fortunate that our boys really like each other.  Oh, they did fight sometimes when they were kids--I'm not trying to paint too rosy a picture here.  They bickered over toys and video games, like all kids do.  But they generally got along really well and enjoyed most of the same activities.  They were great playmates and partners in crime.

Sons #3 and #4 (and later, #5) were always roommates growing up.  They were only a grade apart, so they played on the same sports teams throughout elementary school and high school and they had many friends in common.  They both went to Notre Dame and lived in the same dorm (although they each ended up spending later years living off campus).  They were both cadets in the Army ROTC at ND, and both went into the Reserves after graduation (and initially did their drilling at the same Reserve unit in MD).  They both settled in the Charlottesville, VA area and took jobs in civilian contracting.  They both went to work in the same building and shared a not-very-clean bachelor's apartment (that their mom feverishly scrubbed and tidied for them whenever she came to visit).

Are you getting the idea that these two are close?  Wait.  I'm not finished yet!

When these two boys got married--less than three months apart!  #3 in December of 2013 and #4 in February of 2014--they lived in duplex houses in the same development, literally around the corner from each other.  Since then, they have both bought new, larger homes for their growing families.  These houses are only a few minutes' drive away from one another.

Both of these wonderful boys are the fathers of three children: son #3 and Preciosa have G-Man (4), Princesa (3), and Rosita (1);

and son #4 and Braveheart have triplets--Senorita Paquita and identical twin boys Pumpkin and Peanut--who will turn 2 in August.

Isn't this just the greatest story?  And I'm just getting started.  It gets better.

Since our house (the one we bought almost exactly two years ago, when we sold our NH home and moved south to be near our ever-growing family) is in a great central location for the four married sons who live in the area, with no one having to drive more than an hour to meet up here, I arranged a play date with my girls on March 7.  Only three of the four daughters-in-law--and 9 of the 14 grandkids--were able to make it, because some of our oldest son's kids were sick.  While the gang was at our house, son #4's wife, Braveheart, casually invited my husband and me over for dinner the next night, saying that our fourth-born wanted to "treat us."  We gave each other a look, because although we love to help our kids out whenever possible and are always ready and willing to babysit for any one of them if we're free, we had just been talking about what a treat it is to just sit and relax and have dinner with them and their little ones.  So needless to say, we were happy that we had plans with them the next night and were very much looking forward to it.

Preciosa, hearing that we were going to be in the area that night, said that she and son #3 were going on a dinner date but would stop by son #4 and Braveheart's house to see us before heading back home.  This did not raise any red flags at all, because our sweet Preciosa admittedly suffers from FOMO, and it was totally in character for her to want to join a family party happening nearby.

The next night we got there early and played with the triplets for a bit.  When they went to bed for the night, son #4 and Braveheart ordered Chinese take-out, which we hadn't had in ages (and which we all love).  When we'd finished our meals, Braveheart brought over a small plate with four fortune cookies on it. I broke mine open and the little slip of paper inside read, "Lucky Number 15."  I said, "What kind of a fortune is that?!"  My husband opened his, and it had the same message.  "They're not very creative!  They're not even trying," he said.  He was acting sort of flummoxed--and humorously, even a bit annoyed.  The kids opened theirs, and it was the same deal: two more slips of paper that read, "Lucky Number 15."  So my husband and I are talking about these crazy "fortunes," saying that the whole package must have the same ones, and it must be some kind of mistake.  Son #4 interrupts and says, "So what do you have 14 of already?"  At first, my clueless husband was like, "I don't know."  But finally, the message got through to the two thickest-headed grandparents on earth: THEY WERE EXPECTING AGAIN!  And it would be our 15th grandchild.  Get it?  (Cuz we didn't!)

I can't imagine how crazy the kids were going inside, wondering when we were ever going to figure it out!  But when we finally did, it was awesome.  I'm pretty sure the "Lucky Number 15" incident will become part of Pearly family folklore.
Braveheart and son #4  had to steam the cookies so that they would open up, making it possible to remove 
the real fortunes and replace them with these handwritten clues.  What a clever ruse!

Anyway, once we did catch on, there was screaming and jumping up from the table!  There were hugs and kisses!  Wow.  Just wow!

We were SO excited for them, even though another baby coming along so soon after triplets is a prospect that is understandably daunting.  And boy oh boy, are we ever happy that we live down here now and will be able to help them out as they get adjusted to having four babies 2 and under!  (At least they hope it will only be four!  If you don't mind adding them to your prayer list, they would very much like to experience a non-multiple birth this time around--although of course they are putting it all in God's hands and know that He will take care of them no matter what.)

Okay, so things were pretty exciting already.  My husband and I were really on a cloud, smiling from ear to ear.  Then son #3 and Preciosa showed up, carrying an ice cream cake that they'd brought to share.  When Preciosa first set the box down on the counter, I peeked inside and saw that it had writing on it, and for a split second I thought, "It must have been decorated as a birthday cake, but they just picked it up anyway."  But when I read what was spelled out in blue icing on the top, I immediately jumped up and laughed.  "No way!  Oh my goodness!"  Here's what the cake said: "Sweet 16."

After all that talk about the number 15 just minutes before, I knew exactly what that 16 meant: they were expecting again, too!!!

My husband said after that even though I had already started my explosive reaction, when he very first saw the cake he thought son #3 and Preciosa had made a math error--that the cake was meant to celebrate the news we'd just heard from the other couple, so that the cake should have a 15 on it, not a 16.  Ha ha!  Along with all the exclamations of joy, there was a lot of laughter that night (mostly induced by how slow Papa and Grammy were to understand what the kids were all trying to tell them!!  And not that subtly, mind you!).

So there was more screaming, more hugging, more kissing!  And lots of talk about how they both thought we might have guessed about #15, because of "the look" we'd given each other when Braveheart invited us over the day before.  But nope!  We were clueless.  You'd think that with all the babies that have been born, rapid-fire, since we first became grandparents in 2011, we'd be constantly wondering if someone had news for us.  But for whatever reason, that night we were not really expecting to hear that anyone was expecting.  (Although my husband did mention, after the fact, that as we got into the car to head over to son #4's house for dinner, he almost said to me, "I wonder if they have an announcement to make," but then thought, "Nah.")

The funny this is, Preciosa had just found out that morning, via home pregnancy test.  When she'd told us the day before that she and son #3 were going to stop by while we were in the area (and now we know that they actually had been told the news about #15 already, and they wanted to celebrate with us), she had no idea that they were going to have some happy news to for us, too!

Isn't that the best story?  I mean, just the best story?

Life is good, my friends.  Even when your babies do the unthinkable--when they grow up and leave you, and your nest is all emptied out and much too quiet--there is SO MUCH MORE to look forward to.

These two couples are already planning to send their kids to the same local Catholic elementary school.  Those cousins are going to grow up being the best of friends, and I can hardly wait to see what the future holds for them.  For us all.

I am reminded yet again--by the best of news delivered via fortune cookies and an ice cream cake--that I have been inordinately blessed in this life.  God has been so good to me!  And to whom much is given, much is I have some work to do!  (And in the foreseeable future, that work might include helping these young people, with childcare or new mom care or whatever might come up, as they transition from being parents of three to parents of four!)

Sweet 16: I think that's a very good number, don't you?

As an addendum to this post, here are the Facebook announcement pictures that were recently posted by these two couples. (And thanks for the prayers--the triplets are only getting one new sibling!)

First it was Facebook official; now it's String of Pearls official!


  1. Congratulations to your family! What a boom, a new daughter-in-law and two babies!

  2. Congratulations to your family!!!!! What exciting news and such a great way to share it with you!

  3. Oh, Laura, my heart is full for you and your family! Congratulations to all.

  4. Congratulations to everyone (moms, dads, grandparents, and the big siblings)!!

  5. Even though I knew the basic story....I just LOVE this!! 💚

  6. Such thrilling news! So excited for all of the Pearls. xxx