Sunday, December 21, 2014

A moment in time

I'm just trying to freeze time here….but I had to post this picture.  It's the end of the year and I have been posting more to the kids' individual blogs recently and not this one and I felt this was totally worth taking the time to write about for this space.

The kids are out of school and we have nothing going on today…just four days out from Christmas.  They've all been doing their own thing and I've been playing with Owen but asked the kids to play with him somehow….and this is what I got.  A long time family tradition of theirs.  They started this years ago when Reese was probably Owen's age.  Actually, the girls played this even before they started including Reese!  But they "divvy" up their stuffed animals and give them names and characteristics and play.  For hours.  The stuffed animal pile has certainly grown over the years and it was so fun listening to them dump these out and remember things about them.  Telling stories where they came from or something that had happened with a certain one.  This is something they get pretty serious about and what means the most to me is that they are doing it together…even Owen.  (We'll see how long it lasts!)  THey'll have memories the rest of their lives about this time together.  I just hope they keep doing it so that Owen will have memories of it, too.  I love seeing my kids all together and I always imagine Chase in the middle of it all.  I know he would be loving it.  

These are the times.  Times I wish I could freeze.  I listened to Owen ask his sister to sing the Jingle Jingle song to him this morning and when she did without hesitating because she totally adores her little brother, I saw a flash of the future.  I saw my kids sitting down talking at a dinner and saying how they loved how cute their little brother was and how much fun he was.  And I can see Owen saying "yeah, right" and not remembering what they were talking about because he was too little.  They will continue to make memories I know, but they won't be like these or like the old ones.  I can't make Owen remember our life before Colorado, those will be memories just for the older three.  I'm afraid I'll be sad that he won't be able to recall those times like they will one day, but I know there will be many that he can from these days forward. 

Such is life.  It moves on.  Time never stops, no matter what one hopes for or wants.  I'm just thankful for these moments that I can freeze a memory in a snapshot…one that will spark conversation and recollections years down the road when they are adults. And we will all remember when….

Friday, October 3, 2014

Making mistakes

I've never claimed to be perfect. I'm far from it quite honestly.  But when my actions/behavior doesn't provide the kind of example I wish to give my kids, I try to be honest with them and let them know where I have failed them.  If they don't see me fail and try again, how can I expect them to do so.  And if I have expectations of honesty and ownership from them, they need need to know they should expect the same from me.  

This came about when I posted a picture on Carly Marie's #captureyourgrief for Pregnancy and Infant Loss month and stated that I had two miscarriages between Reese and Chase's births.  Both of my girls were hurt by this because I had not told ever them about the miscarriages.  They felt this was private information that I had shared in a public way and they were hurt I hadn't confided in them before doing it publicly.  At first I was focused on explaining to them how I use the CYG project to post and read other's sharing of their experiences.  I thought they misunderstood my use of the social media tool and was trying to explain my intentions.  And I also felt that them not knowing about the miscarriages was a result of their age appropriateness on the topic and when they were old enough I would have told them, though I may have been too late.  At first I didn't see the implications of my post.  But after hearing from my oldest about it immediately after I posted and then later seeing how upset my second oldest was, I thought long and hard about it.  

And I felt horrible.

I couldn't believe that I was so thoughtless as to not have the piece of mind to make sure they had known the information I was posting about.  It was insensitive and stupid on my part and I should have known because I, too, have been hurt by learning personal information about loved ones in such a public forum.  I knew I owned them a heartfelt apology. Any further explanation of my use of social media or intentions for the post were futile and insignificant.  What they needed to hear was that I messed up.  Big.  And that I should not and will not post something that they don't know about without telling them about it first.  I couldn't believe I had done that--something that I was so angry when I had been "treated" that way both someone else.  

But that wasn't the end.  I am so thankful that it wasn't because what I learned during the rest of our conversation was probably one of the most important things I needed to know as their mother.  

Karly was upset because she said I have always done that…posted things that she didn't know about Chase.  And while I was again, focused on explaining how the miscarriage information was not related to our experience with Chase at all, I was missing the boat.  She said that we don't talk about Chase at all.  

That was a pivotal moment--because we talk about Chase all the time.  Even Owen knows Chase's name and that he's his big brother and will say "hi Chasey" when he sees a butterfly.  But what she meant is that we don't ever talk about what happened with Chase and how all of that….the whole tragedy happened.  And she was right.  I had been waiting til they were old enough and ahd questions to explain to them what happened.  About two years ago I had a long talk with Emma in the car after she asked me some questions and I told her what I thought was too much.  Partly because I didn't want her to be scared for me and partly because I knew she wouldn't understand the medical side of it all.  But she asked and so I told her as best I could.  We cried and talked about it for some time until we were able to move on.  Karly is now that age and I told her that I would answer any questions she ever had and that I don't mean to NOT talk about it and that there is nothing I would keep from her.  But the thing is, Karly's not the type to come right out and ask the questions.  And I told her talking about the events surrounding Chase's birth and death are all very painful so it's kind of like catching both people in the same mood at the same time in order to start the conversation.  But it opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to make sure and take the time to fill in the blanks for her and explain some things.  Part of me feels like a complete failure for not doing this for her but part of me is so completely thankful for the fact that I know this and we had this conversation and I have the opportunity to do this right…..not letting this past and never talking about it and then when she's 30 years old being upset with me for not feeling like she was ever told why or how her baby brother died. 

 When I was much younger than her, my parents were divorced and my step dad stopped picking us up for visitation.  Since we lived in a new town, my mom made us keep it a secret (that we spent weekends with our dad) and lie about it to anyone who asked, like she was trying to extinguish all of our memories like the ashes of a smoldering fire.  And eventually anger rose up inside me at her for trying to act like none of it ever happened.  I don't want my girls feeling that way about what happened to Chase.  I don't want there to be any secrets from them.  They deserve to know the truth and what happened and now they are old enough to handle it. I want them to feel like they can ask me anything.  I asked Emma how much she remembered of what I told her two years ago and she said not much really.  I told them that's because it's pretty complicated and as you get older and learn more it will make more sense.  And more questions will come up at that time and again, I'll be here to answer any of them.  

We talked about some of the things but we didn't go into all of it because it wasn't the time or place.  That was a talk that needed to be started at the beginning and what we were doing at the time was throwing snapshot memories out at a time.  I started to realize how different their memories were than mine….even as fresh as my memories seem.  They were so little when Chase was born; it's just so hard to believe it.  And quite honestly I want to be sitting down and prepared when I hear what their specific memories are because it's a lot for me to handle, too.  Karly told me her worst memory and it broke my heart--when she walked into the kitchen and found me on the floor by the trashcan crying.  This conversation was about letting me know that they are ready for more information and want to hear things about the day he was born and I am so SO thankful for that.  I know Chase is part of this and helping me through this every day and making sure I handle this right.  I almost feel like if this hadn't happened tonight that we were headed down that path…..of not talking about "it" and that leading to never talking bout it and then them being grown adults and never knowing.  Because they didn't ask and I didn't tell.  Maybe that wouldn't have happened but nonetheless I had a wakeup call and am grateful for that.  

My girls are awesome.  I am so lucky to be their mom.  I hope and pray every day that I don't mess this up.  Because of my shaky relationship with my own mom, I work so much harder on mine with them.  They already know I make mistakes.  But they know I will fix it and be honest with them and that's all I can do.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

All for one

These guys are definitely siblings.  They fight about as much as they get along, but when they get along, it's music to my ears.  I love listening to them converse, interact and play together.  Owen imitates everything Reese does and kicks up everything to the Nth degree just so he can be heard or noticed around here.  And if he's lucky enough to get their attention, and if they are all in a good mood, I love to be the fly on the wall.  

As I've said earlier, how my kids interact and get along is one of the most important things to me as a parent.  I love the fact that the girls are so close in age and even though there's a gap that shouldn't be in between the two boys, they have each other.  Chase being here would make it perfect…in a different way.  But right now they have each other.  Some days they get along and some days they fight.  But as they get older, this will tilt toward getting along more and more and their relationships will change, become even more dependent and more unique.  They will have each other always, no matter how many miles are between them.  Distance will not matter.  They will always be close in their hearts.  

This is my hope and dream, anyway.  I grew up a different way and, thus, not all of my sibling relationships are the close knit type that I wish they were. Actually, they are very distant relationships nowadays.  I didn't work on closeness as a kid, because….well, because I was a kid and so were they and we fought a LOT, just like siblings do.  But there was no working on that relationship and bond encouraged by my parents.    They officiated (sometimes literally--we used sock 'em bop 'ems), but they never tried to make us bond--especially across the gap in ages.  They'd get us to stop fighting with punishment, but that was for their sanity.  There was no "working on relationships" when we were kids.  Things were just they way they were and you got used to it.  My older sister and I are super close today but we weren't always.  We had some major disagreements and fall-outs as adults.  But we worked things out between us over time and have a very special bond.  For the other two sisters, one is completely out of touch and the other relationship is one-sided and hindered by my mom despite her opinion.  But this is all part of what helps guide me and be motivated in encouraging a relationship between my own kids.   In the end, though, a mutual desire to be close was what bonded me with my older sis.  That and we are closer in age, too.  Going through life's milestones (college, weddings, babies, etc.) together certainly facilitates closeness, when both individuals want that.

That's why I do what I do with my kids.  I so often am looking into that crystal globe trying to imagine what things will be like between them as adults.  We even talk about it amongst all of us.  "Reese will be the type to not call or anything and so I'll  be really close to his wife and that's how we'll stay in touch," Emma says.  "Owen will always be the loudest," Karly says.  And so go the predictions….  I try, though they seem to do it on their own, to bridge the gap between the age differences.  But I strongly feel that the way I teach them to get along with each other now will affect how they get along when they are independent.  I tell them I can't make them be best friends.  But I can show them, as I do with my closeness to my own sister, how important those bonds are.  And then I have to let them try it on their own.  They have to see that when they reciprocate on this relationship, it will grow.  I don't get involved on all of their arguments (there are toooooo many).  And there are days when I get sick and tired of officiating.  I remember my mom saying that.  But I do my best to talk to each of them in private about all their siblings and what role they play in our family and how we will all be here for each other.  Always.  And how incredibly important that will be later on in life, in so many ways.  The boys are definitely different than the girls on this whole relationship thing, but I truly see this being important to my boys as adults.    

I'm not saying this is going to work and that it will all be like I hope it will be.  They will piss each other off.  A lot.  And sometimes it will be a big deal. A really big deal.  But I try my best as their mom.    It's not all I do, but it's part of what I do.  I foster their relationships as often as I can and instead of fixing their problems, I make sure one of their siblings fixes it for them when possible.  And when they fall ill, I see the result of this…

A couple of nights ago Owen had a really quick allergic reaction to something, I'm not sure what exactly, and his eyes got red and puffy and watery and he was crying and we were all concerned.  None of my kids had ever had this instant of a reaction to something or this bad of a reaction so I was even caught off guard.  To see the care and concern come out of each of them, was incredible.  Karly wanted to go to the hospital with us if we took him in (I called the hotline first and this took a while so we didn't know what we would need to do).  Emma helped with him and Reese tried entertaining him with toys and giving Owen some of his own toys.  It reminded me how delicate their little hearts are.  How all sibling rivalries are put aside and all they cared about was his well being.  It broke my heart all over again to remember the pain these guys went through watching their baby brother die and how little they each were themselves.  And how much they care…which makes them fragile, whether they are sick or worried about someone who is sick.  

This is why I want them to be close to each other.  I want them to always be there fore each other and know the importance of this.  And I think Chase has a large part in helping me make sure that happens. He has taught them so much in their short lives and he continues to every day.  Owen knows he has a big brother in heaven and I know he'll have questions one day for me that will tear me inside out…  But it's who we are and it's part of our lives.  And it's part of them realizing the importance of each other in their lives and I'm just hoping that this, along with my efforts, will forge that bond between them and continue growing at the incredible rate it is.

Monday, September 1, 2014

How Perspectives Change.

warningif you're related to me and you don't talk to me every day or every other day, you should close this window now. these are a few of my uncensored, unedited feelings and thoughts going on inside my head about an area of my life i'm feeling like is totally messed up.

Adulthood is everything we've ever dreamed of as kids, right?  I mean, I learned a lot as I became an adult and moved out of the house and into college dorms.  I learned even more as I moved into my first apartment and even more as I graduated and started my first real job.  There were more responsibilities each time and that day you finish your last car payment on the car your parents helped you with or that last payment on your student loans, you feel the freedom…and even more responsibility…of adulthood.

It's all part of growing up.  Some of us are still trying to get there, right?  Ha--maybe emotionally but that's another post.  You're the boss.  You're the one calling all the shots.  Making your own decisions.  Which job you take.  Where you live.  What you do after work.  Whether or not your bed is made every day and how clean your bathroom is.  No one else is there to check up on you or tell you how to do things.   No one to nag at you or advise you.  All you know is that all those things you learned from your mom or 4-H or home ec class or whatever, are really coming in handy now.  You cook for yourself, you take the trash out, you pay your bills on time, or you dodge calls from the credit card company.  Your actions, your consequences.  No one else to blame.  

Fast forward to getting married….and fast forward a little more to having kids.  


Everything changes.  I.Mean.Everything.  Kick up the responsibility factor to a whole new level now.  There's a whole 'nother human being you are responsible for now.  Your perspective changes on a lot of things.  Maybe your career isn't as important as it used to be.   Maybe it becomes more important.  But raising those kids, that's what it's all about.  You focus everything on them.  They learn things from you from Day 1.  And the older they get, you realize the more they are learning from you.  Of course that is how it should be, but they start to form who they are and they are a piece of you.  One of them, at least, is probably exactly like you, down to the temper or creativeness or laziness or whatever.   

As they get older you start to teach them things, like how to brush their teeth or clean up after themselves, or fix things or bake.  And here's your chance to do it right.  You don't just teach them to brush their teeth, but you teach them how to clean out the sink after they're done.  You (try to) make sure they pick up their rooms and make their bed in the morning.  You are teaching them things that they will be doing every day of the rest of their life.  You teach them how to curl their hair and put on make up.  And what you teach them is probably what you did when you were a kid, or how you fix your hair now.  

This is parenthood.  A lot of people do it.  But no one is ever taught how to parent.  Usually people don't take classes how to parent.  You just do it.  You know it from what you've learned as a kid, adolescent, young adult and now…adult.  And you draw on  your experiences as a child.  

A LOT.  

When our kids were really young (like 3 or so), I used to argue with my husband because he'd compare them to himself as a kid in situations and I knew there was no way he remembered his life at that age.  He may have remembered elementary school, and as a poor judgement of history or how fast time flies, he just thought it was the same.  But it wasn't and to me, how you discipline your kid at age three is quite different from you discipline them at age 7 or 8.  What's interesting, though, is that you draw from how you were raised to make these decisions.  And at this age, through the elementary years, my memory, or perception of my childhood, was pretty carefree and typical, but with pretty strict discipline.  We had tough consequences growing up.    My parents happened to be spankers, and timeout was something I had learned about in my parenting resources so we used a combination of both to discipline our kids.  I tried as best I could to teach them lessons without disciplining.  When I was a kid, our punishment was extra time weeding our rather large garden from what I remember most.  And our spankings were pretty harsh, with scrap lumber in the shed.  One or two swats was all it took to teach us a lifelong lesson and burn it into our memories forever.  Something I don't think any parent enjoys but some find it necessary.

So let me get to the point of this post.  I realized early on in parenthood that my own upbringing would provide an integral part in the way we chose to raise our kids.  Patric and I have talked a lot about how we were raised….everything from family traditions to family time during the week to supporting them in whatever activities they choose to participate in to discipline and beyond.  Both of our parents were strict and both of them pushed us hard in athletics so that we talk about that a ton.  And as our kids are getting older, to ages that I have a pretty vivid memory of in my own childhood, there are issues coming up that I have to deal with.  My dad kept a very tight reign over my older sister and I through high school.  We were not allowed to go out with friends or date.  That's just how life was; there wasn't any success in fighting it so we just accepted it.  We were forced to dedicate our time to our schoolwork and sports and that's what we did.  We were both successful at both of them, which is what our parents wanted for us, so it made a pretty good cover for what was really happening inside our little house in town.  

Since our girls are first, I feel like I'm going through my own childhood again in a way.  Maybe when the boys are this age, Patric will feel this way, too.  But when they have fun opportunities come up that I was not allowed to do when I was their age, I want them to take advantage of it and support them in whatever they choose.  Of course as far as activities go, I didn't have much available to choose from so that doesn't really count.  But it's little things like wearing makeup or talking about boys.  I have boundaries for them and as long as they stay within those boundaries, I love talking to my girls about who their crush is or what makeup tutorials they have seen. Now they are kids and occasionally step outside their boundaries so I discipline them, by taking something away that means a lot to them.  I don't spank them with a piece of lumber.  I couldn't even fathom doing that to my kids.  Not for a second.  I gave up spanking several years ago because I physically couldn't and it was a disaster if I even tried.  

Without getting into detail that I'm not ready to write about, there are many things that come up with my girls that trigger flashback memories of my own childhood and are creating a pit of anger in me--mainly why we were physically and emotionally handled the way we were.   This triggering helps me in a way that I deal with my girls' issues in my own parenting style.  I have made plenty of mistakes but for the most part, it's working for me.  Karly is so much like me so I draw from my relationship with my mom at her age and it helps me to know and decide what I want to do with Karly so that we have the kind of bond that I want to have with her.  I've had a rough time with Karly--it has not been an easy road.  But I feel so much better equipped in knowing how to talk and respond to her because of my memories with my own mom and with Patric's help and advice how to positively affect her.  And our relationship is amazing.  We still fight, but I feel so much closer to her than I ever did with my mom at her age and I am so thankful for that.  I was a tough cookie at her age.  I didn't talk much and Karly has those moments too.  But I'm able to do what I need to do because I know what makes her tick.  And I have Patric's help and support which is just as important.  

While these childhood revisits that I have frequently help me in parenting my girls, I can't say the same for my relationship with my own parents.  I have a lot of anger that has risen as a result of memories that come to me out of nowhere.  Memories of things that are, in my mind, insane.  I saw "When The Game Stands Tall" with Patric last night and in the movie there is a psycho parent that pushes his son to the extreme as he nears a national high school record his senior year.  This dad's lines in the movie were almost identical to the things that our dad used to say to my sister and me during our high school athletic careers.  And to hear it in a movie and see it on a screen so much bigger than life triggers an intense flashback.  Some of the scenes in the movie resonated with me so much so that I caught myself trying to block out my own personal images of them.

And this is what happens as you get older and your kids get older.  You look back on your own childhood, whether you want to or not, it comes back.  And your perspective changes.  What was once innocent and simple, a little messed up, but normal and so perfect, now becomes flooded with bad memories, negativity, and anger.  And what's unfair is that they don't know that.  They feel the distance, but they don't know why.  And I'm not at a place where I can tell them why.  I honestly don't feel it will benefit anyone to go back in time.  Digging up the past reveals way too much about a person and can wreck families.  But covering up ends up smothering you instead.  I am struggling with a lot of things about my childhood and family relationships I but also know that this struggle has probably helped me to work toward and achieve the kind of relationship I have with my own girls.  Which is something pretty special.  And it's been such a pretty thing covered up for this long, why open the package and risk ruining it?  In the meantime, I stay buried in our crazy busy life, consumed by the schedule of school drop offs and pick ups, practices for four kids and homework and everything in between….so nobody can even tell.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The memories and still holding on...

I have always been one to take pictures.  I have ALWAYS loved pictures.  I love photographs in the professional way as well as candid shots taken by polaroids, DSLRs, instagrams, whatever.  I love catching the moment for the purpose of preserving it. And….in a way, holding on to it.   Never forgetting it….always remembering it.  No, I can't freeze time, but I can certainly frame it, make it my screensaver or home screen and age myself while i search through photos or starve at it….remembering that time.  In the past, I have been known to take 10,000 photos in one year.  Yeah, probably capturing about 5000 moments, but either way, it's still a lot of photos.  I make a photo book at the end of the year (with about 300 of those photos) to tell our story in a special way and that can be picked off the shelf at any time to reminisce…or whatever.   But that's not to say that I don't ever go back to those dated folders on my hard drive or old printed photos, to search for a specific photo that I KNOW I had snapped.  Like that one year I had a photo of Owen wearing the potato head glasses and thought it would be fun to include photos of each of the kids when they were toddlers wearing those silly things because I knew they all did it and I was SURE I had Captured.The.Moment.

That is just one example.

I have argued with my husband a time or two before about him always looking so far in the future and not enjoying the present while he rebuts I am always looking in the past at old photos and books and then being sad that the time went by so quickly.  I think it's kind of Mars vs. Venus but I don't deny that I enjoy old memory books.  And I do my best creating memory books and boxes for my kids for when they are older and sometimes will initiate a conversation at the dinner table of the memories we made in our first home and their favorite times from  I know from my own experience and as a bystander that one's past is comprised of what their memory is of it.  Whether their memory is accurate or not.  If you have an idea in your head of how something happened in your past, unless it's photographed or journaled, there is not really any way to correct the memory if it's wrong, or prove that  it is right.  Just sit around at a family reunion sometime and listen to siblings or parents reminisce and almost always, there is a disagreement, if not argument, on what happened in an old story….who did it, who won, who got caught, who broke what, etc….

As much fun as I have with photos and momentos that help me remember fun moments, like ticket stubs, programs, receipts or whatever, I recently lost a very important momento (that's what I am calling it) to me and I am trying to help myself get over it.  I'm trying to justify the difference between material things and memories…the tangible vs. the intangible.  Since my most plentiful and present moemntos are photos, those are tangible, are they material?  Because I don't want to be a material person. (I know I am but I strive not to be. Don't judge.)  I spend precious time (read: HOURS) making things for my kids to remember their childhood when they get older and for  me to reminisce and even spend money producing these things.  These are the kinds of things I would grab if there were a fire or a natural disaster headed my way.  (After grabbing my children of course) But not because they are things….because they remind me of moments.  Of time.  Of life.  Of our history.  They are what tells our story and proves our memories write or wrong.  They document things that will be forgotten.  Yes, forgotten.  Because we can't possibly remember every little detail and with 10000 pictures per 365 days, there were a lot of details documented, right?

Memories. Details. Things so desperately held on to as our kids are growing up right before our very eyes.  This is kind of a battle I am fighting within myself of how important these things are to me.  Are they too important?  I would rather spend time ON my kids than on looking through all those pictures OF my kids…right?  Actually, I don't regret any of the time I have spent on my memory keeping.  I'm sure not everyone is like me.  But I don't.  I'm so glad I have the finished products of the things I have stayed up late creating.  The momento I lost, though, is not a photograph.  However, it is present in MANY of my photographs.  And though I knew I wouldn't always have this momento to come back to, I never ever wanted to see it go. Or see it gone.  It tells a story all by itself.  Just it's presence and just by looking at it and touching it, thousands of memories are flooded into my mind and the minds of my kids.  I just hate that it's gone.

It's our swing set.  Our old, warn with broken parts, but still lots of life….swingset.  Our renters' kids used the swing set and they have taken it with them. (on our accord--not mine, my husbands).  I didn't know this arrangement had been made so it was a heartbreaker when I laid my eyes upon an empty spot in our yard that once held a piece of our families history.   Milestones were marked there.  Battles were fought and won there.  Treasures were built and buried there.  Flights were landed there.  Stories were made and told there.  The rhythmic squeak of a swing being ridden….all in that spot.  By three of our children.  And a swing set has been what I have missed most for Owen since we moved.

But now that I got my sob story out and it is obvious what that old thing meant to me, I don't want it to be so important.  I don't want to feel this way over something that is material.  But I am just trying to tell the difference, in my heart, between that being a thing, or it being many happy memories that we will have forever.  Yes, we could have still played on it on our once or twice-a-year visits back to this place,  but we can also replace it for that matter.  But there's the bar that Karly used to flip over and the swing that Emma and Karly would jump out of and the slide that Reese would slide down and the sand box that he hid his army men in…where Owen would have done the same thing...

But it's all just stuff.  And I don't need to be so emotional about it.  And I'm trying not to be.  I'm just bummed.  I didn't expect it to be gone when I rush Owen around the corner and told him to "Look at what you get to play on!" and then find nothing there.  He hardly noticed as he ran off and played in the dirt.  No big deal.  He doesn't remember that thing.  And I didn't expect him to.

That's why I took all those pictures.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

MIssing you...

We are spending time together as a family as much as we can this week.  It doesn't make it hurt less that you're not here, but it does make it more bearable.  Leaning on each other is what we do and what we do best at times like this.  I spent the day at your daddy's side and we talked about you and shared you with each other.  We miss you with every breath we take and that will never change.  THank you, though, for the gift you have given us and continue to give us.  We struggle to see them at times, but we are searching for you always.  We love you little buddy.  

Hurting for you today,

Monday, April 14, 2014

5 Years Old....Happy Birthday in Heaven sweet boy...

Mama misses you.  I can't ever say enough how much I miss you.  There are not enough words in our vocabulary to describe the love and loss I feel for you.  Today you would be 5 years old and I would be teary-eyed thinking about the last of your pre-kindergarten days.  I would love to have that right now.  I would give it a thousand times over if I didn't have to live this life on earth without you.

I hope you have the most wonderful of birthdays up in Heaven my sweet boy.  I know you know we are thinking about you and celebrating you today and always and hold you closely in our hearts.  You live within us each day as I see you in each of your siblings.  I see you in the beautiful signs of spring and in all the signs you send us.  I miss you sweet boy. Happy Birthday.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mall Scavenger Hunt birthday party....I survived!

I have written about this on both the girls' blogs so that they will have (my version of) a little bit of detail to come back and reminisce on....But I wanted to include this on my blog, too.  This was a very important night for me.

My girls are 6th and 8th grade.  That's 12 and 14 years old.  They are mini adults.  They are making bigger and bigger decisions all the time.  They are growing up and I have nothing to do about it.  Except make memories while it happens.

When they were little I went all out with birthday parties and the planning that went into them.  We did princes  more than a few times, we did spa parties, cooking studio parties, fancy tea parties, bowling parties, roller skating, horses, safari scavenger hunt....the list goes on.  We talk about them every year at their birthdays and try to remember the theme to each one.  But the last couple years, they kind of dwindled.  Or were replaced by bigger gifts like summer camp or expensive concert tickets (great memories!).  Moving from NM to CO also factored in because it has taken a while to build up their friend base which is what a party is really based on.

This year Emma did a little searching on Pinterest and decided she wanted another scavenger hunt.  And though the Lion King 5th birthday party was pretty awesome, she wanted to do one in the mall with her friends.  And oh yeah, it has to be, like, hard mom.  Okay?  For 14-year-olds.

Great.  No pressure.

In the meantime, as kind of a long time wish of mine, I talked Karly into joining us and combining her party with Emmas so both groups would be in the hunt.  Karly's situation is a little different as her friend base is pretty volatile (read: inconsistent).  It changes quite often.  But as the time neared, she was able to formulate one of the four teams that would be in our Scavenger Hunt Party.

I got a lot of my ideas off of Pinterest but here are pictures of the stuff I ended up making...I did two versions.  Turquoise for Emma and Pink for Karly.  Everything else was the same for each girl.
Invitation and envelope, goody bag, water bottle, hunt rules and scoring sheets.

Again, I found these on Pinterest but instead of purchasing them, I made them myself in Photoshop.

For the "credit card" I used business adhesive 3M card protectors.

The goodies were big size candy bars and some candy from the candy store, beauty items from Forever 21, glass bottle of soda and straw, and face mask/mud from Forever 21.  

The party was from 4-7pm as the mall told me it starts thinning out in the mall after 5pm on a Saturday.  I had asked the stores (and the mall) that I was including on my hunt before hand if it was okay to send my girls in.  There were a couple stores that said no so I steered them clear of those.  The hunt part was from 4-6pm.  Then they came back to the food court and ate, had cake and got their prizes.  I learned a lot from this experience and unfortunately, I wouldn't have know if I hadn't tried it this way.  But the girls loved it and we talked about doing it every year.  I had a lot of fun with it because it was a fun "girl" thing to do. 

As my girls get older, I see them growing into the adults they will soon be.  I am absolutely loving talking to them and spending time with them as they grow.  They are such cool, neat little spirits. They are so much like they were when they were 5 and 3.  In some ways they haven't changed a bit and I just smile to myself when I think about those times.  As I get older and my kids reach the age that I wished I had done things like this, my brain sends me back to that time in my life.  The things that my parents did or didn't do to make my childhood the way I wanted it to be.   Teenagers usually go through a phase where their parents "ruin their life" and I expect that.  But I fully intend to make the best of my time with my "big girls" now that they are old enough to do things that I like to do (and wear the same clothes, ha!).  Our relationship is growing with them.  We are learning from our mistakes and they know I will make mistakes, too.  I have already shown them that.  But I have owned up to it and admitted where I went wrong and how I will try to do things differently next time.   We talk about the decisions we make and how they affect the rest of the family.  About being happy with who you are and what you are doing.  And this all goes for me as well as them.  As long as they know I'm not perfect but I'm honest and am not hiding things from them, I think I have a little less chance of ruining their lives forever.  ;-)  Things are well right now.  I  know there will be ups and downs.  But I intend to make it through those times and come out holding hands on the other side.  Or I will die trying.  Here's to the many more memories we will be making.....

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A new birth

My sister had her baby and we welcomed this little guy into our extended family yesterday but it has been bittersweet.  Though not in the way I would have expected.  His little body, so fresh and new, to tiny, is a reminder of my sweet little boy.  But I can look at this little one and separate him from Chase.  I don't hold him in place of what I'm missing.  We've had Owen and been through this stage with him and we are beyond that.  And that was a huge, very huge part of my healing process.  I think an hospital, and any baby ward I walk into will always bring back first my memories of Chase, and secondly, my memories of birthing my other children as well.  I wish it wasn't that way because my healthy births are the happiest moments in my life and and I wish those were the first images in my mind when I see those things.  But that is not my life.

What is bittersweet about the welcoming of this new little soul is my niece and nephew.  I look at them and I see my own kids and that is when the sadness rush in and I struggle to hold back tears.  Beckham is almost the exact age (within a couple months) of what Reese was when Chase was born.  That is so hard to believe because we see my nephew Beckham, and Owen, as the babies and they seem so little compared to what I "remember" Reese being five years ago.  Reese just seemed older and it's one of those thoughts that I really try to push away when I think of losing Chase.  That Reese was still a baby himself and that he had to comprehend death and carry those feelings in his little heart that day and those days after.  The questions he had…I remember holding him next to me during Chase's funeral and Reese listening so intent to the preacher and then looking up at me and asking me if it was Chase on Jesus' lap in the picture and if he was in Heaven now.  He was too little to have to bear that and go through all of it.  It wasn't fair.  And when I see Beckham's eagerness to see his new baby give him his present and hold him, I see Reese and what should have been happening when Chase was born.  And  my niece Gracie is just a year younger than Karly was when Chase was born and it seemed like Karly was so much older.

I don't know why our minds trick us this way, maybe to protect us.  I want to believe that they were "grown up" and old enough to handle what was dealt to us--because they did and the were all amazing through it all and they still are.  But the truth was they were just babies themselves.  They never should have had to travel the paths they did.  Children should not know that kind of pain and tragedy.  It breaks my heart today just the same as it did five years ago.  I failed them because as the parent I am supposed to protect them.  And not only did I not protect Chase that day, I watched them get hurt, too.  It devastates me.   I am so sorry.  As parents, we make mistakes and I think we realize we're not perfect.  But this was something that was never supposed to happen and I couldn't fix it.  And I never will be able to.  And I don't think they look at their new cousin thinking these things, but I can't help myself.  My kids were hurt.  All of them.  And that's the worst feeling in the world for a parent.

April is knocking on the door and I know I'm getting emotional about that already.  I can't believe how the years are flying by and I feel like Jan to the end of April are full speed downhill ride.  I don't want these years to fly by.  I want to enjoy them and while I'm trying to do that with Owen, it's just as important I do with the older kids.  I want to remember these elementary and middle school years as fun and amazing.  I love them all the same, regardless of age.  I hope they know that.  April is just a reminder to when our world shattered into a thousand pieces while we watched everyone and everything else go on around us as if nothing changed.  But we had.  We had to pick ourselves up and start over, at the same time we continued on with our lives as best we could.

So I look at this new birth as a beautiful miracle….but also as a reminder that we all were kind of reborn.  Not in a beautiful, everlasting, enlightening kind of way but in a you-have-to-keep-going kind of way.  And we made it.  We are here.  But we will never forget our little boy.  He is deep in our hearts and there he will stay.   Missing him more today than yesterday and feeling his presence in each other and in our beautiful surroundings.  I love you, little man.  Until we meet again….

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Owen is potty trained.  Wow.  That.Is.Huge.  Maybe not for Patric.  He never packed diapers to take Owen somewhere anyway…but now I don't have to worry about it!  lol.  that's a whole 'nother post.

Anyway, we are moving on…to the next phase.  So much of him reminds me of Emma.  He's home alone all day and wants me to play with him all the time.  And I do …. so much more than I did with Emma!  But I still have to stall with him a lot to get my stuff done around the house.   It is so fun to take him everywhere I go.  There are times when I don't--he'll either go with Dad or have a play date.  But most of the time I prefer to take him with me.  I feel like the time is going so fast.  I want to record all of his words.  This weekend at the swim meet, it was "Lappy Tappy" for Laffy Taffy.  His expressions.  His tone.  I breathe him in every day.  I had the best time buying an outfit at BabyGap…because (it was on sale!) I hardly ever buy him clothes, unless he needs them.  He is still wearing a lot of hand-me-downs from Reese and I just don't go into BabyGap much anymore.   AND, the real reason is, because I know he won't let me dress him much longer, if he's anything like his big brother.  I had a blast dressing Reese until he decided gym pants and tshirts were ll he needed to wear….at age 4.

This thing called parenthood is the toughest, most draining, yet most rewarding, ugliest, yet most beautiful, complicated, yet simple (rarely), most awesome thing ever.  And I see my journey in parenthood moving into a new era almost.  I'm not entirely sad about it, because I obviously don't miss changing diapers and toting around all the stuff for that.  But it just feels like a book is closing in my life.  I'm starting to look forward to the next one, without looking back at the last one teary-eyed all the time.  But most of all, I'm really focused on just enjoying this day and this moment.  This conversation and this task.  Because they are all so precious.  I love the girls growing up into young women that share my interests and enjoy our girls days out.  But I often reminisce when they were little and remember those silly things they did and their behaviors and little quirks they had.

I love being a mom.  But not a day goes by that I don't take it for granted.  Being Chase's mommy has most definitely helped shape me into the mom that I have become, just as the others that are here on earth with me.  It's not easy.  But I love it.  It makes me happy.  I couldn't ask for anything more.  I am so incredibly lucky.  And I know there was a time in my life that I thought I would never say that again.  But I can.  With tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart.  I'm a lucky girl.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Never too late

Some people go through life never knowing their guardian angels, if they have one or who they are.  Some don't believe in them and that's fine.  But I happen to have the bittersweet privilege of being so very well taken care of by one and even to know him….my sweet baby Chase.  I know he looks out for me and he's with me all the time.  I get reminded of it very acutely sometimes.  Like the other day…

Owen goes in little phases.  Sometimes he's in timeout several times in a week and then he'll go a few weeks without even seeing the chair.   I'll say this now:  I am not proud of the way I act sometimes.  My behavior and anger that is provoked by his misbehaving and tantrums can be unnecessary.  Though I feel I have myself under control, I regret being rough with him sometimes.  Keep in mind, this kid is one that does not learn with only timeout, only a spanking, or only a raised voice.  He needs all three and then sometimes, in the case of hurting others or throwing and/or breaking things, he requires more to help learn the lesson.  Saying that out loud sounds rough but because of my experience raising kids, I don't judge others for how they discipline or how they punish, within limits.   Raising kids is tough.  They push and pull you in all sorts of directions and test your sanity in moments of fatigue and weakness.  And you are expected to prevail, remain logical and reasonable, and know what to do.  Stay-at-home parents with kids at home are tested in that this environment 100% of the time.  There is no down time.  No time-off.  No holidays.  (If lucky, you have a babysitter on occasion and if extremely lucky, gramma can watch the kids for a weekend getaway.  But not everyone is and some of us wait several years for this kind of relief.)

Owen was in a phase of frequent Time-Out visits (they seem to compound each other…perhaps my tolerance level declines as his frequency increases…which is first?) a couple weeks or so ago.  I was feeling guilty for getting angry and handling him with less than acceptable care when removing him from his misbehaving spot and placing him in timeout.  (read: jerking him around)  I was feeling guilty because...he still loved me.  I have teenagers in the house too so I am now living in a world where  kids get mad and can stay mad; they don't forgive so quickly.  But Owen still does.  He forgives me within minutes.  Seconds.  And sometimes, when I'm mad at him and scolding him in my own shameful ways, he grabs my neck and hugs me.  That is when my discipline is like a boomerang:  I send it out and it comes right back at me, fast and furious.  Because he is going to love me no matter what I do.  Just as I love him no matter what he does.  But the moment of anger is not getting either of us anywhere.

My guardian angel stepped in one day and gave me something.  He gave me a perspective so clear that I can't believe it had gotten so far from my thoughts.  I realized that these days are so soon to be over.  This toddler age of defiance and tantrums is almost done for me and then I will have no more.  Ever. Ever. Ever.  And it hit me like a ton of bricks.  It's like the last 10 seconds of an exercise to muscle fatigue. It's almost over.  Don't fight it.  Hang on and muster through it and it will be done.  Soon.  And then one day, you'll be sad.  You'll want it back.  And you won't get it back.  It will be too late.

The rest of this story is that I didn't see Chase's intervention until just the other day. And I started crying.  It was him.  He was the one who gave me that quick glance into my crystal ball and reminded me to chin up.  And I thanked him.  Through my tears and gut wrenching ache I was thankful for this perspective.  The biggest, most tangibly intangible gift he has given me.  And then I miss him.  All over again.  Fresh.  It hurts not to have him here.  It's not fair.  I don't understand why.  This would be his last year home with me as he would be starting kindergarden next year.  I would be sad and crying but instead, I'm broken hearted, forever changed, sad beyond comprehension.  But I also chose to be grateful.  Grateful for my guardian angel to watch over me.  I cannot change our fate.  I thank him for helping me see what is in front of me when my eyes are blinded by every day stresses and tasks.  When I feel like I'm messing things up with Owen or being a bad mom to him and getting undeserving hugs and love from that little boy, when I feel like I'm failing at the only thing I really know how to do and love to do, when I feel inadequate and lost when I look in the mirror, he helps me to see.  He's there to send thoughts into my head and tell me what I need to hear, or what I need to say, or what I need to appreciate more.

I can't always explain it.  And I don't always know why I fix things when they need to be fixed.   That sounds elementary but often times I try to fix things after its already too late.  But I guess it's better late than never.  Because it's never too late to love or feel loved.  And that's all I'm really trying to do.