Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Aaron's 2nd

I've delayed writing this post, not because of emotion, but because of pictures (of course).  However, I just realized that today is the day that Aaron passed away (I really try to just focus on his birthday) so I guess a late post is actually appropriate. 

2nd year.  What can I say?  In some ways it's been just as hard as the 1st year and in some ways it's been better.  I've spent all of the past month thinking about his 2nd birthday and the service project and activities that we were going to do for it.  So, consequently, he's been on my mind a little bit more than usual and I've been a little bit more emotional than usual.

That's the funny thing too -- without the perpetual milestones (rolling, crawling, walking, talking) to suffer through -- life has taken on a routine and rhythm that doesn't include him.  It's kind've the same thing as having a child -- you get to a point where the newness wears off and you can't hardly remember what life was like without that child.  Well, the newness of this grief has worn off and I can't hardly remember what life was like WITH this child.  Which I hate.  And which is also a tender mercy.  But Chopper and I have made a conscious decision and effort to include Aaron in our day to day lives.  That has meant a lot of different things but I think the hardest thing has been talking about him with new people.  In some ways, referring to Aaron comes very naturally -- especially around this time of the month.  And then I get confused faces or polite smiles because people don't want ask questions -- I think they can tell it's a sensitive subject.  I hate when he comes up unexpectedly.  I have no time to compose myself and think about what I will say.  When I am in control of the conversation and take it in that direction, I'm still emotional, but it's less .  Easier to talk and easier to smile.

So this year as we decided to again do service for Children's Medical Center in Dallas, I felt like I had to explain myself to those who wanted to know why this service and why this hospital.  I hosted 3 Tuesday mornings where friends came and helped me sew FIFTY Beads of Courage bags and then we collected individually wrapped snacks to be used in ICU's at the hospital.  Our total was 1227 snacks!!  They'll probably be gone in a day or two but it was still an awesome thing to take a trunk load of snacks to the hospital.

This is just the stuff we purchased with donated money.  It does NOT include what people gave us in actual items.  William not included of course!

This year we didn't stay.  We dropped the donations off and went to visit Aaron's grave.  There was another family standing at his grave.  It was the family of the couple who are his next door neighbors.  We talked with them briefly and then they left us alone with our son.  I had my moment -- I always do and the kids always comment about how I'll cry as we drive there.  Megan had hers too.  Abby and William put flowers at his grave and then they look at others or go sit on the bench nearby and play in the dirt.  Megan always takes a moment to be quietly by herself.  She told Chopper one time that she talks to Aaron.  I think he appreciates that and I love everything about it.

Afterwards we went into downtown Dallas and played at Klyde Warren park and walked through the art museum.  We got ice cream on the way home and I would say that overall it was a really good day.  I should also mention that this was all on Saturday.  Thursday -- his real birthday -- we celebrated with cupcakes and and edible arrangement that my parents sent.  And I spent the whole day inside.  No one came over or called and it was actually great because I could cry in peace.

Megan did a project in the fall on a famous Texan and chose painter Julian Onderdonk because of his funny name.  But she genuinely liked his paintings -- he is famous for being the first to really paint landscapes with bluebonnets.  Well they have a real live Onderdonk at the DMA and she was pretty excited about it and studied it for quite some time.

Working on a community art project -- weaving.  I think we're going to add this activity to our conference bags.  They actually really enjoyed it.

William jumped in with a group of boys playing soccer at the park.  I think it might be time to try him out in some sports!

Who is the poet/author who said "it is better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all."  It's attributed to Tennyson but that's the internet for you.  Well it's true.  But only because I believe that that particular love will remain and be stronger when I hold him again.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

8 is Great!!!

I don't think I will ever forget how much we (maybe really I) wanted to have a baby.  And after trying for 2 1/2 years, Megan finally came.  I remember being so THRILLED when they said she was a girl.  I have always really wanted a daughter and it was something of a relief to have the first baby be a girl -- I hope in the future that doesn't make Abby and William feel bad because I love them dearly too -- I was just so excited!!!

Then she came and the world changed!!  And I don't mean that metaphorically -- I quit my job, we moved to a different state, and I gave birth in about the space of a month.  Or less.  It was a hard transition.

And that poor first child is when you really realize that you have no clue how to raise children or what it's really like!  And although that new life is not without it's trials, it certainly is also sprinkled liberally with joys and blessings.

Today there are many aspects of Megan's personality that are older versions of what she was like as a baby and toddler.  She can STILL focus incredibly well and engage herself in any activity she's interested in.  Lose herself sometimes even.  When she was about 18 months, Chopper and I were browsing at a Goodwill and she sat on the floor and looked at books, real books, for ages.  Other shoppers commented on it.  Today she still has that same absorption with books (chapter books and any nonfiction about the world and especially animals and she also enjoys graphic novels like Geronimo Stilton and LOVES Calvin and Hobbes). art (she's got several adult coloring books and does beautifully with them), writing, and her imaginary play.

Megan still has a lot of the anxiety and dislike of being the center of attention.  She rarely smiles for pictures or gets up in front of people for any reason.  She doesn't like crowds or being in large groups of people that she doesn't know or feel comfortable with and she doesn't like being put on the spot.  She is very affectionate though with the people that she loves, when she wants to be.  Right now I would say that includes her best friend Samantha and her former primary teacher, Duana Blakey.  Sister Blakey is now her Activity Day Girls leader (she's in Activity Day Girls!!!!!!) and it's wonderful for Megan to have that person that she loves.  She also really really likes her teacher Mrs. Kremer and I do too!!  She has a great sense of humor and we've found that humor dispels so much anxiety for Megan.

Megan is very smart and learning comes easily for her (although triple digit subtraction is giving her a run for her money!).  Her favorite class in school is art and her least favorite is PE but music comes close -- when it's time for the grade level concerts anyway.

She has a unique sense of what she likes to eat.  She will now try pretty much anything I make for dinner and eats almost everything (I thought she'd be horribly picky her whole life!) but her favorite foods are anything tangy and sour and she likes strong flavors.  For her birthday Saturday we are having tacos (with home fried shells -- she'll eat 4), shrimp, lemon cake, and rainbow sherbet.  She still does not drink anything fizzy.

Megan likes fairies (Tinkerbell mostly) but for the most part it is all animals: Palace Pets, birds, cats, snakes.  The girls have a menagerie in their room rather than dolls.  She recently changed her mind and no longer wants to be a veterinarian but rather a scientist who studies the earth.  I love that she changes her mind according to her interests.

She kind've had a Star Wars birthday this year.  We decided on no party but spent Saturday watching Star Wars movies and she asked for a Star Wars cake and gave me directions on how to decorate it.  For her birthday, she got some TinkerBell doll figures with clothes, some great books (a bird encyclopedia, Geronimo Stilton, and a joke book) and a small stable with lots of horses.  She was actually very pleased with her presents which made me glad.

I just realized recently that next year we'll be halfway through our life with her in our home (based on leaving the house at age 18).  And that scares me a little.  It doesn't really seem possible for her to be 8 years old and a baptism at the end of the month!!  But I feel like we have a good relationship overall and I'm hopeful that it will help carry us through those pre-teen and teenage years that are coming way too quickly!!!!
We had lunch at school with Megan on Friday -- this was the best she would give me!

Only 2 candles because . . . I kind've forgot to buy more.  She wasn't upset -- easier to make wishes that way!!  William was disappointed that he didn't get to blow the candles out AND was very eager to open presents.  Poor kid is the last birthday of the year in our house so he is definitely learning some patience by seeing everyone else have their birthday!

Grandpa and Grandma Gasser sent a baptism book!!!  Seriously -- I'm not sure how she's old enough for this.


Chopper couldn't resist buying her a peacock.  And I will say, I get more people tagging me on Facebook with peacock pictures or videos or things to make than anything else!!!  Everyone knows she's fascinated!!

Monday, February 8, 2016

No Winter

I think it's safe to say that winter has skipped Texas this year.  We've had some low 30s at night but on average we've been the 50s during the day.  No snow at all (we usually get at least one light one) and actually very little precipitation.  There was that series of tornados right after Christmas, including one that destroyed an area to the south east of us and that is something that usually comes with spring.  Last weekend we took a beautiful day and went to the Arboretum of course.  The flowers that usually come up at the end of February are already sprouting and they were talking about putting ice on them to keep them in the ground a little bit longer!

I just hope this doesn't mean a horribly hot summer for us.

Camellias are apparently a winter flower and so they were all in bloom and beautiful.  They look a lot like roses.

The kids found lots of seeds and pods from some hanging vines and made art.

Megan's butterfly

Williams' bugs

He dismantled Abby's dragonfly and then made a whole series of bugs.  He was very proud of himself.