Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Trial of Toys

I'm in the mood to purge.

I'm pretty sure it's because Chopper has applied for several jobs that are overseas and has qualified for one in Germany and one in South Korea.  That doesn't mean he's offered the job, but the potential is there and we've been talking a lot about what our future may look like.

Living overseas (attached to a military base) is exciting and also frightening.  It's also had me thinking about selling the house and making a move and I swear that whenever you move suddenly your "stuff" multiplies by 10.  At our house, the toy situation seems particularly bad simply because we don't have a play room.  Instead, half of our living room is dedicated to the storage of toys and they get scattered all over the house on a very regular basis.

So as I'm cleaning up the disaster zone this morning I can't help but think -- why don't we just get rid of all of this?  Or just keep the stuff that truly interests the kids.  For William that would be trains and cars and anything with wheels.  For Megan, art supplies. For Abby it would be the tv.  I'm not kidding.  She does play with toys and with other kids but if she had her way she would watch tv all. day. long.

But this side of me is at war with the side of me that says "what if"?  They might want to play with this later or maybe we'll need that someday or whatever.  I'm a very conflicted person.

Also, please note that I am a complete hypocrite and none of this purging applies in any way, shape, or form to my sewing room.  For fabric, more is truly more!  That reminds me of a sign someone posted on Facebook that I love -- "you can't buy happiness, but you can buy fabric and that's pretty close".  

Monday, April 28, 2014

My Kingdom of Isolation

Yes it's a Frozen reference.  How can I not when we listen to it 24/7?  Surprisingly we haven't been watching it a whole lot but it still is about all we listen to anymore.

Yesterday was a bad day.  A very very bad day.  I don't know why.  I had been thinking about Aaron in the morning, had a good cry, and thought I was done.  Then at church there was a baby blessing.  Then of course there are several babies who just hang out.  And because I have no calling I get to sit in Sunday School and Relief Society and look at them.  In all the weeks since Aaron's death it's actually been ok.  There have always been babies and there was another baby blessing a few weeks ago.  Yesterday I just couldn't handle it.  I tried to get Chopper's attention in primary to get the keys to the car but he wasn't affected by my Jedi mind manipulation and I wasn't about to open the door with my tear-stained face and blubber out -- I need your keys!!  So I searched for a place in the church where I could be alone.  Easier said than done.  I finally realized that the Relief Society room was actually empty because there was no air conditioning.  So I sweltered and cried.  And I'm still emotional today.  It was just very very bad.

But a calling was extended.  Of course it won't be official for 2 weeks (stake conference this week) but I'm excited about it.  I'm excited to have something to do and yet to be cut off.  Because I will be.  And I need that.

I still do things with my close friends and I certainly don't shut myself in the house, but more and more I find that I am cutting myself off from people.  I don't like crying in front of others, I don't want to answer the questions of people who are new and don't know -- I don't even want to answer the question of how many kids I have.  Saying 4 means I have to explain.  Saying 3 feels like a lie.  It is a lie.  Even the very simple question of "how are you" is awful.  I'm fine, I'm good -- no I don't want to elaborate and no it's not really the truth.  Our stake president and his wife told us that initially it's bad, then it gets better, then it gets bad again.  So it's bad again.  For how long?  That whole first year of a child's life is constant milestones and of course there are babies in the ward that are Aaron's age.  So am I going to lose it when they start cutting teeth or crawling or walking or smiling?  Probably.

I'm also kind've tired of the "at least" comments.  They don't come so frequently anymore but "at least you have one that's guaranteed" does not help.  Nor does "at least you'll get to raise him in the millenium".  I KNOW that both of those things are true but when I miss him, when I need desperately to hold him, and when I'm trying to hold it together and keep a calm face in public it's not really what I want to hear.

Well this turned into more of a rant than it was supposed to be.

So on the bright side -- the girls both had well-child checks today.  Abby weighs 29 lbs (5%) and is 37.75 inches tall (10%).  She's got really bad eczema right now that I think is allergy triggered.  My doctor says that identifying the allergy wouldn't necessarily change the way we treat it so I'm not going to subject her to that right now.  Instead, Benadryl, Claritin, and lotions to ease the itch.

Megan is 36.8 lbs (5%) and 42.5 inches tall (5%).  I had to point out that she is NOT the smallest kid in kindergarten though!  When the nurse came in with the vaccinations needed Megan started crying.  I practically had to yell at her that they weren't for her.  She stopped crying immediately and said, "well then who are they for?"  As soon as I said Abby's name, SHE started screaming and crawled under the exam table.  I had to pull her out and hold her down.  I didn't tell her she's going to have to get 2 more in July.  On the way home they were both complaining about shots so I started a conversation about WHY we get them and what kinds of diseases they prevent.  Very morbid I know but they were both interested and it got Abby to calm down.  I told them the names of several disease and then they were asking about the symptoms of each one.  The best one was Abby asking what happened to you if you got "weaselness".  Took me a while to figure out that she was talking about measles!!

So other than small and traumatized, both girls and happy and healthy.  At least until the next set of shots is due!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

It's going to be quite the year I think.  Every holiday I'm going to be thinking, "this would've been Aaron's first . . . "  Maybe it's a good thing that the first holiday to "celebrate" that way is Easter.  It's meant a lot to me this year.  I've lost loved ones before, grandparents, Chopper's dad, but this time the true meaning of Easter feels more tangible and I'm more grateful. promoted a social networking opportunity with a beautiful video called Because of Him.  They have a really good video here.  They also did a photo challenge with a different subject for each day.  With the exception of last Sunday, I posted every day on instagram and Facebook and what was particularly nice about it was that I was looking each day for a moment that would fulfill that "requirement".  I liked thinking about Jesus Christ and what's he done for me every day.  I wanted to post those pictures and thoughts here today on Easter Sunday so that they'll be sure to go in the blog book for next year because they are my testimony.

Because of Him I am blessed with amazing parents and family and even though we don't live close I can love and support them and be a better daughter by helping to keep those family bonds strong.  And they mean more to me than ever.  And because of Him they can last forever.

Because of Him I can follow His example and serve others.  It's something I'm still working on but it can be as simple as pushing my kids on the swing and I'm working to recognize and take those opportunities when they come.

Because of Him I can love more fully.  That phrase makes me think of my children and how we are their favorite people unconditionally.  They want cuddles and laughter and love.  THey don't care what I look like when I'm not put together or compare me to others.  They just love.

Because of Him I can be a better me.  It's been 7 years since I've done ANY running.  I can't say that it's been fun yet but I know it's making me better.  And it's a good analogy for the atonement.  No matter how long it's been we can work to be better and can be forgiven of our sins.  Every day a little better.

Because of Him I live in a beautiful world.  And it is beautiful in Texas in the spring!

Because of Him we will all be resurrected and live again.  Because of His atonement we can be forgiven, strengthened, and endure to the end and have eternal life sealed to those we love.  It is the greatest gift we have been given and I know that it is real.  Happy Easter!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Laughter and Tears

We assumed (correctly it turns out) that Aaron's headstone would be in place by now.  Yesterday we drove out to the cemetery to see it.  I really like national cemeteries.  I like regular ones too, especially ones with really old graves, but I like that at a national cemetery it's well-kept and organized and beautiful.  Chopper loves that Aaron is in good company with those who have served our nation and their family members.
Chopper and I didn't know that his name would be on it but it makes sense since everyone in a national cemetery is either military or military related.  It's a nice headstone.  Simple.

After we stopped to see some bluebonnets and got an education about them from Megan.  Near the cemetery there were large stretches of highway where the sides and medians were purple from bluebonnets.  People were pulled over in cars taking their pictures (Texas tradition).  We found a small patch somewhere a little less busy instead.
Megan was adamant that we not pick them because they are the state flower.  

I should catch up here a little bit -- General Conference was really good.  The girls particularly loved the dollar store makeup I put in one of their conference bags.  Megan isn't too bad at it, other than her choice of colors.  She wanted to wear makeup to school the next day.  I told her she couldn't wear makeup in public until she's 12.  And then rethought myself and said 16.  Then she asked if maybe it would be a good idea if she started wearing makeup at 19.  We're going with that.

She also had her kindergarten musical performance last Tuesday.  We knew how she would act since she she refuses to sing and gets upset with all the primary performances but I was a little worried when she somehow ended up in the front row, the very center person.  So she started like this: 

And then started to cry (quietly at least) and covered her face.  I had her teacher move her in between songs to the end of the row. 

And she stayed there and cried the entire performance.  Thank goodness it was short.  Then we went for ice cream afterwards because she was very brave to stay up there.  But she told me "mommy I wasn't brave I was scared."  All I wanted to do was rescue her but Chopper's right, she does need to learn and grow from negative experiences as well as positive.  Don't we all? 

 I think her first field trip was a hit though.  Friday she went with her class to the zoo and I purposely did not help chaperone -- both for her sake and mine.  She told me that she was homesick when they saw the giraffes but seems to have enjoyed it otherwise.

This week will be pretty quiet I think as we prepare for Easter and enjoy our spring weather.  And our tortilla faces. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spiritual Stuff

I'm grateful that the church does a General Conference every 6 months.  I don't always hear a lot of it despite preparing conference bags for the kids but it's still good to catch bits and pieces and then of course read over the talks the next 6 months.  I'm also grateful that our stake offers an institute class for adults.  It meets on a Thursday morning and the moms take responsibility for a nursery.   I haven't been a lot this semester because of everything going on but I went back on Thursday and we had a really good lesson about miracles and prayer.

Prayer honestly is one of my weak spots.  It always has been.  That's probably ironic given my ability to talk but I've always found it more difficult to have that one-sided conversation that in the immediate moment a prayer tends to be.  On Thursday, our teacher asked the question "have you ever had someone pray for you and had it make a big difference in your life?"  Of course my answer is yes.  I'm pretty sure that the number of prayers offered up in our behalf these past few months has numbered in thousands.  And we have been incredibly blessed by them.  But I am horrible at praying for others!!  I tend to be very me focused in my prayers and I need to be better.  So I decided for the month of April I'm going to focus on improving my prayers.  I don't know how yet.  One thought that I've had actually came from the book The Help.  I can't remember the name of the character but one of the maids writes her prayers down.  I still think prayers need to be spoken but perhaps if I wrote myself some notes first and really thought about it before actually praying would help.  But I realized in institute that prayer can be kind've a way to pay it forward -- we've been so blessed by the prayers of others and that is something that I can do in gratitude for what has been done for us.

One of the things that stuck out to me at General Conference were the stories told of people with trials and tragedies in their lives and their faith in overcoming those.  It had an effect on me in 2 ways -- first in reminding me that my trials aren't the only ones out there (you know, again that me focus) but also that in my trials and despite my imperfections that I am loved and blessed individually by the Lord and he doesn't look at me when I'm wallowing in grief and think "well so and so has it worse so you just need to pull it together!" although I probably say that enough to myself to make up for it.  I don't think that I want to talk about the specific things that have happened  to help me feel that way these past few days because they're too personal I think but on Saturday these pictures arrived from the photographer who came to the hospital.  And it was a very needed reminder of how blessed we were during that whole time and what a gift Aaron was and is to us.  Another reminder has been commentary from President Joseph F. Smith on the loss of small children.  A friend told me that there was something in one of the old manuals and I found it.  He gives a lot of comfort about having and raising our children again and I know there's a scripture somewhere (haven't found it yet) on our losses being made up to us.  And I needed that.

I've only posted the color pictures although she also sent us the same picture in black and white and there are many more.  These are just a few of my favorites:
Love Abby's face here.  She is a sweet sweet girl.

To me his leg looks so purple.  And they were purple although I don't remember them being quite that bad.  the IVs and tape and things put some extra pressure on his little limbs.

Aaron has been our smallest baby and I think it shows here with his tiny hands and feet compared to Chopper and I.  This top one is Chopper holding his hand and I just love it.

 Most of the pictures he slept through.  In addition to being a newborn and sleeping a lot I think he was just tired from his heart working so hard and also since he hated every procedure done he spent that time screaming and then was just tuckered out.  After the photographer left, he decided to wake up and be calm!!  So rare for him and she just happened to come back to bring some paperwork and so she ran to get her camera again and got a few more with his eyes open!!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

You Have to Write that Down

I tend to write the funny little things that the kids say on Facebook because it's a quicker, easier access than logging into the blog.  But as I've been finishing last years blog book it's been a very tedious process to take all of that commentary and get into the book so I need to try to more regularly write stuff here even when it seems too little.

So today out of the blue Megan said to Chopper,
Daddy, sometimes my brain talks to me.
Chopper -- What does it say to you?
Megan -- I don't know.
Chopper -- That's ok because sometimes my brain talks to me.
Megan -- Can you hear it?
Chopper -- Sort've, I can hear it in my head.
Megan -- I can hear mine for real.

Megan does a lot of talking and imaginative play by herself although I don't think that she actually talks to herself (at least not the way that I talk to myself!).  But sometimes it's all about perspective.  So is she actually hearing voices or is she just thinking?  Kind've a funny little conversation though!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Abby's Birthday and other bad blogging habits

I don't feel like I've been taking a lot of pictures and I definitely have not been keeping up here so I'm just going to squish it all in for now.

First off, Abby is now 4 years old!!  She was so excited for her birthday but in many ways has been more excited about Easter so we had an Easter themed birthday party.  It was a very small guest list because I wasn't in the mood to recreate Megan's monstrosity but it was perfect!  The kids played we had lunch and cupcakes and then an Easter egg hunt which they loved.  Then they played some more and went home and we had naps!  It was a good day!

You can't see her face really well but I love the look.

Yes, she's wearing a Buzz Lightyear costume and yes it is way too small for her and no, neither one of us cares!

I bought this flower pot arrangement for cupcakes for her 2nd birthday and we have used it ever since.  She loves it.  And I would say that it was definitely worth the money!

The Easter egg hunt was a lot of fun and William's first -- at least as a mobile toddler.  Last year at Easter he wasn't even crawling I don't think.  He did not understand it at all but just wandered around with his paper bag watching everyone pick up eggs.

After school when Megan was home we had a second egg hunt so she could have some fun too.

William actually picked up one egg and put it in the basket.  I added one and Megan added another and then he dumped them all out.

Grandma tried to help him understand by showing him that inside the egg was chocolate.  He was incredibly skeptical.  Even after she unwrapped it he didn't want it but finally took it, licked it, and then put the whole thing in his mouth.

However, what's the point of hunting eggs when you can just take them from your sisters?  Ok so he does understand more than we think . . .

Then it was dinner and cupcakes again with the family and presents of course!

These presents were sitting in my room during the party and Abby had to show them to everyone.  She also told everyone that we saw that day that she was four years old.  Not a statement to inspire congratulations so I had to clarify every time that it was her birthday and then she got the reaction she was looking for!

Yesterday Megan found a stray egg in the grass and very excitedly brought it in to show me.  When she opened it it was full of ants.  I screamed, she screamed and threw it down.  The ants were all over the carpet and we vacuumed them up.  My mom said that judging by our reaction she thought it was some large bug but Texas ants are mean, biting things!  They're bad enough!

Abby keeps asking me if she's still 4 by the way.

So what else?
We got Megan's school pictures.
We actually didn't order them.  Apparently they send you the package anyway to try to guilt you into buying it ($50!!!!  NO way!) and then shred them when you return them if you don't want them.  What a waste.  Was it wrong of me to take a picture of it?  Probably . . . 

Megan is really coming along in her reading.  She got a super reader award at school and I had to take pictures of her reading Green Eggs and Ham to Abby the other day.  I love hearing her read and seeing her excited to do it. 

The super reader award!
She was very upset afterwards that she didn't get the star student award.  I explained to her that she got it last quarter and how very special it was but it was another child's turn to get that award.  I think she takes it as a criticism but it may also just be wanting an award.  I'm reading a book called The Highly Sensitive Child that I'm hoping will help me understand and parent her better.

We had some more incredible, picturesque Texas weather.  These are CLOUDS behind our house last week.  The layers of colors were amazing and the pictures of course don't do it justice because you could clearly see the clouds rolling and moving.  It was an absolutely incredible sight. 

Today I had my 6 weeks post-partum check and am cleared for all activity although I still have some lingering irritation with my incision.  Apparently that is normal and will take a long time to go away.  The recovery for this hasn't been bad I guess, just annoying.  Plus my mom left today.  It will be good for her to get home and for me to occupy myself in running my house and raising my kids again but I'm not going to lie -- it was a hard day.  I feel like in some ways the evidence of having Aaron has been wiped away and sometimes I feel like it just isn't real and that really bothers me.  I'm also very close to my mom and she has been a huge support to me while she's been here.  She kind've allowed me to check out for a while and deal with things as well as heal physically and that has been a tremendous help.  I feel like I can do what I need to do now and continue to heal myself and face the world.  Well maybe face the world.  That may take a little more time.  I don't know that we necessarily choose our families but knowing that the Lord loves us and knows us better than we know ourselves I think that he knows what families will be best for us.  I'm really grateful for mine.  They are loving and supportive and throw in a good dose of laughter.  I don't know if I ever posted what happened with the memorial service.  Three of my four brothers came.  Mark and Adrienne both came from Philadelphia, Danny from Canada, and Jeff from Washington D.C.  All last minute flights that cost them financially I'm sure.  And it meant so much to me that they would do that.  James couldn't because of tests and things at school but it meant so much that he wanted to.  I love and appreciate them all so much for their sacrifices  to support us.  Chopper also had a brother and sister come and then of course our parents.  It has been such a blessing to be so surrounded by love, I can't even say what it means to me.  The outpouring of love and strength from family and friends has been tremendous!