Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A year in review

It's hard to believe I am even here sitting down to summarize 2013. This year has flown more then the previous few years.

In January, we spent some old fashioned quality time together as a family going bowling. I still suck and Jake still talks about how much he loves bowling.  We also went through a tough spot with Jake. I didn't think we would ever make it out of the 3's all in one piece, but we did and 4's is so much fun.

In February, we experienced sickness after sickness after sickness, first febrile seizures, and I got a life lesson from God.  I also went on a Mommy-Jake date and it was so much fun to have some special time with him. He looked so cute.

In March, we closed on our new house and prepared to make many new family memories. I had a breakdown after closing not realizing how much this big step made me miss Daniel so much. I also took the time to deactivate my Facebook account and focus on more real time. 

In April, I began a journey towards a new kind of peace and learning more about my little family. I experienced God on a deeply personal and very tangible level. I began to understand the love of family so much more and the men tried their hand at eating smores. 

In May, we had much to celebrate. Jake turned 4, Mother's Day drew upon us again and Mason made his first visit to Missouri. We also had the fun privilege of getting to watch our Chickens grow and enjoy the weather. And I not so patiently waited for them to start the egg laying process.

In June, Andrew turned 2. Ryan went above and beyond to make our boys smile, and I revisited Job again. This time, gleaning so much more. 

In July, my Grams came to visit, Jake experienced fireworks from behind a glass door and Andrew gave us the funniest video to date. We also marked a 2 year milestone and had to talk about some ugly stuff. But, like always, we came out stronger because God is always on our side. 

In August, my Dad turned 50, I celebrated 28 and Jake started Pre K. 

In September, a new pet found it's way to us, old friends and birthday buddies came to visit and Jake started Taekwondo. I also reflected on 9/11.

In October, I had 2 superheros, the Chickens started laying, we made our annual trip to The Great Pumpkin Patch with life friends, and I continued learning about the importance of family. 

In November,  I experienced falling leaves on 3.5 acres and Mase celebrated turning 1.

In December, I celebrated Daniel's 6th birthday in Church. I cried-hard. It was a deep, painful cry that, once finished, renewed me. Christmas was one of the best I have had in awhile. It gave me hope that the season didn't always have to be so hard. I reflected on family, rejoiced in the love we all have for one another, and watched Jake begin to understand what the meaning of the season was about. His favorite part was still the presents :)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy 6th birthday, Daniel

I am struggling to write this letter, Bubby. It's hard when I think I am passing through another birthday with you; one that totals the amount of birthdays I did get to have with you. I miss you. A lot. It's not really even a miss of things that I am missing out on. It's more a miss of the things I know I would have taken for granted. Like how tall you would be now. Watching you get ready for school or interact with your brothers or cleaning up after you and doing your laundry. Sometimes I struggle with feeling cheated and not wanting to wish you back at the same time. It is in my heart that I know you possess a joy right now that is even beyond my comprehension. And that a birthday in Heaven must rock. So, it's in those moments where I reach deep inside and find small snatches of your presence here. 
Your eyes are in Andrew. Your memories are in Jake. You gave me my roses in my car when I felt so far away from you.  You are in every single song I hear singing of God. In your daddy's love for his children. In sitting near Grandpa and Grandma in church. In each picture that passes through my frame at work; bringing back so many good memories. You are there in the moments when I share opening and closing the garage door with your brothers. When I watch Jake pour over an Autotrader the same way your poured over the garage door manual. You are in my heart. In my words when I type. You are in my testimony to how great a God I have. You are in my prayers.  You are in each "like" on Facebook; continuing to show that while you may be gone from here, you are still real. You are in each egg I eat and sip of tea I drink. Just remembering all the times you dumped it onto your floor. You are there each time I get ready for work. Sitting there watching me and wanting to try my make up. You are in the monkeys on Andrew's bed and the football in Jake's room. You are there with each candle I light. You are sharing Christmas with us, placed on our tree. And you will be in each person closet to me today while we all remember how special you are on your special day. You have taught me so much, baby, and becoming your Mother was the greatest gift I have ever received.
I love you very much. happy 6th, birthday, sweet boy.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Andrew and 2

Andrew and I have not had such a great week. Ryan and I had a sinking suspicion Andrew was going to be more of a challenge at 2 then Daniel and Jake when he was born, and the premonition is coming to fruition. Andrew does not do anything at 50%. He's an all or nothing kinda kid. Which is great-most of the time. This past week he's been loud, he's been emotional, he's been hitting, screaming, and crying. He can't sit still. He doesn't understand no or wait or that's Jake's. He slammed the fridge door and broke glass bottles and at that point I stood there and just started crying. After a night of trying to keep him entertained at Jake's taekwondo class (I broke down and got the kid ice cream too just to placate him) eventually having to raise my voice, I just lost it.
He is 2. I'm not new to this Mommy business. I get that he doesn't understand I was already having a hard time before. (It's that season again. Missing Daniel a lot) But I am human. And my limit was done. I thought to myself, how am I going to make it another year with his emotional lability? 
And then this morning while I was changing him for school, he jumps into my lap, grabs me in a hug only Andrew can do (arms wrapped around the neck, snuggled into me) and says, "oves you, Mommy". In that moment, I got just enough strength to know I'll make it through this trying time. And I will continue to love on that little boy even when his attitude makes me want to scream. He's my special, special guy and that bond that we share is still very present. And that cannot change despite age 2 or 3 and whatever else the growing years will bring. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

I've been quiet over here again. It's not for lack of things going on in life and in my mind; it's just trying to find all the time to fit it in. I'm lying in bed typing this out on my phone if that's any indication on when I can squeeze this in. I did make a promise to myself, however, that I would continue to write if God purposed continuing my story; so here I am, lying in bed and making that time. 
October is one of my favorite months. Other then Christmas, there isn't another time that lightens my soul and fills me up with such joy. It goes without saying too much that the October of 2011 was hard.  Like many things that I now have to do in my day to day that Daniel isn't included in, celebrating that Fall was like a big slap in the face; a dose of the truest reality that my boy wasn't going to be by my side. It was hard. I struggled a lot. I was in a constant pull of wrapping myself in sorrow and peeling it back to catch the rays of hope. I made every effort to be more there in life and fight the grief that had wormed it's way in. 
2 years later, I still do have that battle. Without understanding how I am until I can see myself from the other side, I grow more despondent and fitful. Little things bother me more and seem to grow bigger in need. I can be short tempered and retreat more into myself.  Joy with the new life I am living gets replaced with the hurt of my former life. I feel cheated, jealous and sad. I cry. I try and comfort myself but I've since learned, I cannot comfort myself in this time; I just have to accept it for what it is and keep in the back recesses of my mind that there is hope once this part of grieving is done. 
And then I come out of it. It doesn't last as long as I feel it does. I'm not sure what triggers the change; maybe it's because I gave myself that time; or maybe it's because I've fought this battle enough times that my arsenal of hope pushes the bad thoughts back. All I know is that each time I come back, I can embrace life better. Each time I fight the fight, I grow stronger in my desire to hold close what it truly dear.
The most recent pumpkin patch excursion is a great example of the change that occurs when given time to heal and allow to be healed. 2 years ago we began a wonderful tradition of celebrating Fall with my very closest friend and her family. Whom I love, love, love. I can remember October of 2011. I was autopilot Mom. Going through the motions for the kids and really trying hard to grab some of the happiness I was trying to give the boys. Really, most of that entire day was spent wishing Daniel to be a part of it. Making new memories and experiences without having him there to share in it felt really lacking. Fast forward to this past year. (2012 was spent at home as we were in the middle of daycare illnesses) The sting of continuing with something so fun and not having Daniel there was less. The laughter was more real. The smiles truly genuine. My point in all of this is this; there is joy for those that seek it. There is the purest form of happiness if you choose to embrace it. I will forever choose. 

Psalm 27:13 
Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodnesswhile I am here in the land of the living. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

There are just some things

Since the weather is turning cooler-at least for the moment; it is Missouri after all-I started going through the clothes change. I found some Batman Pjs that I honestly don't know how I got because I don't remember Daniel or Jake wearing them, but they fit Andrew now and he's thrilled. He is currently wearing them. I put Andrew down for his nap today and decided to see if I could find Daniels old Batman costume from Halloween a few years ago. I couldn't find it but I did come across Daniel's last pair of tennis shoes. I vaguely remember putting them in his box. Seeing them again was hard. I know it's just a pair of shoes but they were his and, like with all the things he uses to wear, some just hold more memories then other things. It's usually the things that capture his size at the time before he died. 
I am also trying to learn to allow Jake to handle more of Daniel's mementos. He is currently sleeping with an old football Emily and Tanner gave Daniel when he was born. I am really trying to understand that sometimes the tangible helps the memory and you know I desperately want Jake to always remember his big brother, so I am biting back the notion something will happen to the ball and allowing Jake the experience.  
His shoes and his ball coupled with the changes and smells of a fall that is quickly approaching  is really playing with my heart. Fall is a very special time for me and the early part always makes me miss him more. There are just some things that I don't know will ever get easier. 
Thankfully, I've leaned it is far better to embrace what I am feeling then to push it further down. A good cry tends to make it less consuming and writing it down does, too. It's a good acknowledgment of what I am experiencing and it doesn't overfill my cup so I can go about with daily life. 
And today is a good reminder to myself that I am only human.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Death {and hope}

9/11 has specific meaning and memory for many of us. For me, it's remembering sophomore year sitting in history class after just getting out of gym and not quite understanding what the world trade tower crash meant to us as a society. It's watching the video footage again and again and sitting in English the whole week discussing the tragedy. Of being in proximity to some that knew of those or that had loved ones actually perish. Later, it meant feeling a surge of pride as I recognized the many that made and had made the decision to join the armed services. My Dad, my brother. And even later still, it was my own salvation on 9/11/2011 as I made my formal commitment to God as I was baptized and made anew. 
I had an impromptu heart to heart with someone near and dear to me today. Conflicting emotions due to the anniversary of 9/11 and the passing of a co worker who so bravely fought the breast cancer battle pressed in her mind.
With the thought of death and dying staring more boldly today, there was an opportunity to also share the hope that proceeds death. It's a fact of life; an event that must occur. An event that must be embraced even if it hurts. I have watched death settle in. I have watched the eyes bright light be removed and seen breaths stilled. But in it all, I have physically felt the life of God still my breaking heart. I have felt His great hands lift me from my sorrow and give me reason to move. I have heard his words whispered and even shouted into my ears, full of promise of something so much bigger. Death can be the beginning of something greater if you allow. It can bring about change in your life, bring perspective to your actions, bring peace to your heart. 
 I find myself reflecting on Romans 5 when I find myself burdened with the idea of death.
Romans 5:3-4 
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 
I know there is everlasting hope even when it feels like there's been an absolute end. 
1 Peter 1:6-7 
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 
No matter, God is there. Will always be there. There are no surprises, no feats he cannot handle. Death could not stop Him and He will not let death overpower us. 
And I have absolute hope in that.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Andrew is 2 (and 2 months)

Andrew, Andrew, Andrew.
You by far are the most unique of the boys. You definitely beat to your own drum. You have a strong opinion, a strong disposition, and a strong body. Seriously, you verbalize what you want (or show it), you will stand firm on what you want and do not waiver until you have it, and you can literally push Jake's dead weight up a small hill on a bike. 
Since turning 2, your vocabulary has gotten more expansive. You are making 3 word sentences and we are having to guess less on what you want. You can count to 3, say A B and C and try to "read" books.  You love motorcycles ("cocor cycles")  and trains and PaPa. You associate motorcycles with PaPa and have even gotten the privilege to ride with him. From the driveway to garage. About 6 feet. Going .0002 miles per hour. But you loved every minute of it. You love being outdoors on a bike, chasing the chickens and cleaning. Really, you do love to clean. You are quickly turning into a brother see, brother do and it's never quiet when that happens. You still sleep with a pillow over your body and must have a book, 2 cups of milk, your Mickey,  and a motorcycle when you sleep. And Heaven help me if I try to read your night time story in a different spot. You quickly point to the correct spot and say, "Mommy, here". You love to ride in Daddy's car and get so excited when he picks you up from daycare.  You also love any push toy. Especially the pink stroller I got from a yard sale 3 years ago. You push just about anything in that. Even a miniature lego man. 
You have the most infectious smile. You give the cheesiest grins and a person would have to have a stone cold heart not to melt with the joy you give forth. You get super jealous if someone is entertaining me or PaPa and try to weasel your way in. You definitely have stranger danger now and will stand close beside me or grab my hand if someone you don't recognize begins talking to you. You HATE riding in carts and taking you to the grocery store now is probably my worst nightmare. Especially when you and Jake double team and start running around. You have a pretty healthy appetite and will eat most things. And get it all over your face and table. 
I still know that you are going to grow and accomplish something big. You just have a way about you and a voice that can be heard for miles. I look forward to watching you grow this year and start to become a little boy. I love you, Andrew Thomas, my biggest surprise and blessing.