Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Mason

I am a little late in posting, but we were out of town for Thanksgiving and we are just now getting back on schedule. Mason's fifth birthday would have been November 19th. It was the first year where Noah and Mina are actually old enough to kind of explain that they have another brother waiting for them in Heaven. They attended the graveside with us, which makes it the first time we had all been there as a family. My pastor who lead Mason's funeral, and a few family and friends met us at the cemetery. My pastor gave a small prayer, and everyone released happy birthday balloons. It was beautiful, and touching, and I did not even break down in tears. There has been a lot of healing, and although I do still cry sometimes, I am also able to appreciate the gift Mason was, and is giving. It still amazes me how one short life has touched so many people. I am so grateful that his life has purpose, and that he is still remembered. I also think about how he was able to enter Heaven without the stain of having committed any sin. He could be held in the arms of Jesus without any twinge of guilt or fear for faults he never had a chance to commit. How blessed someone in his position is! In my mind, Mason is no longer a baby. He is a young man, a perfect specimen in body and soul. In my head I picture a young man who looks a lot like his Daddy did around 17 or 18. He is kind and gentle and loving. Completely uncorrupted by the worldly influence we all face. He is also surrounded by friends and family we have lost, amost importantly, wrapped in the love of Christ. There could be no better way to celebrate a birthday. Happy birthday my son.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Daddy's Girl

Mina is a Daddy's girl through and through. No one in the world can hold a candle to her Daddy. Lately, Jake has been taking a night a week to go hang out with his friends. It never fails, bedtime rolls around and Mina starts asking for Jake. Her eyes fill with tears in an instant, that bottom lip starts quivering, and it is game over. I had to laugh last night though. She looked up at me with big crocodile tears and says "But I want my Daddy". I told her I know, but he would be back soon, and would come kiss her when he got in. Now she has tears rolling down her face, and she says "But he's my best friend". I tell her I know, and Daddy loves her, but he needed some time with his friends. She then starts to get dramatic, throwing herself on the couch and goes "But he's my whole life!". At this point, I had to giggle. That's

a Daddy's girl for you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Maybe we have some work to do

For those of you that don't know, Linda was diagnosed with Childhood Bipolar Disorder. We have a family social worker that is helping us aligning treatment for her (just in case there was any confusion, this is a voluntary thing that we signed up for). Linda sees a psychiatrist, a psychologist, attends special education, and is in group socializing sessions at school. She has also been accepted into Freedom Riders which is a group that uses horses and riding for attachment therapy. Another new feature in our life is the presence of two social workers/counselors who come to our house for family coaching. They are an older man and woman who are here to help us learn how to best parent Linda, be a support system for her siblings, and teach Linda how to be a productive and happy member of our family. This should give you an idea on how bad things had gotten with her behaviors. The social workers have been to the house a couple of times now. It is kind of a rude awakening because they are there when she gets home, and if she didn't bring her homework, or has a note from her teacher, they call her out on it. She has kind of gotten used to getting special attention, and has kind of come to expect to be babied. Being held accountable is kind of new for her. Anyways, the whole point of this post is to tell you about this last session. Even though they are non-judgmental, you are still letting strangers into a very personal part of your life and it is hard not to be nervous. This last time they were asking Linda about her chores. They asked her what her least favorite chore was and she said " cleaning the poop out of the litter box". Bear in mind that she has never once done this. A little while later, Noah asked the worker if she would read to him, and then threw the book and hit her in the chest. Last, but not least, when the worker told Mina she was a beautiful little girl, Mina replied "Yeah...I know." Apparently I need to add, teach one kid not to lie, one kid not to throw, and one kid to be humble on my long, long list of parenting things to work on. Sigh.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fifth Grade

We went school shopping for Jamie and Linda's 5th grade year. It is kind of nice, because the school supply list gets shorter every year. Clothes shopping was the hardest. Linda is so tall, she is kind of in an in-between size between the kids clothes, and the Juniors. She can wear 14s in jeans, and size small in juniors (or a size 3). Poor Jamie just seems to grow super slow next to her. He is still wearing 10s and mediums in kid sizes. The downside is now they have to have regulation gym clothes that we can only buy at one store in town, and a pair of gym shoes, and deodorant that have to stay at school. Like I said, the clothes were the hardest. Not for Jamie, he was happy with a few Star Wars shirts, and a couple of polo shirts that had camo design. Linda, on the other hand, is a whole new ball game. I know this is not her fault, this is what she sees in the media, and often on other girls, but she seems to want to dress as provocatively as possible. I hate to tell her, but I don't care if she is eleven, or 17, she is not dressing like that. So a battle ensued. You should know, I am not super, uber strict, but I think shorts should cover her butt cheeks, shirts should cover at least as much as a bra does, and if any part of it is see-through enough that your underwear shows, it is a no-go. This made for a hard time. Sigh. We also had to buy a puberty emergency kit (a make-up bag with a few pads in it), in case that happens. I can't believe I am having to worry about this at age 11, but she is starting to develop quickly. About two hundred dollars later, they are all set. They are lucky this year, school doesn't start until 8:40 and they do not get on the bus until 8:30, which means they don't have to get up until pretty late. I hope this year goes well for them. They are both in band, and some other activites. I think it is set up to be their best year ever.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Circus World

This past weekend we took the kiddos to Circus World. It is a very cool place that stands on the original home of Ringling Bros. There was a museum on site, a circus performance, a magic show, and lots of activities. The kiddos had a blast and we got some very cute photos. Cowgirl Mina

Jamie and Linda found a new profession
"What do you mean the show is not about me?"
Photo Opportunities
Hmm, we may be on to something...
Noah is zonked out

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pre-teen Madness

I now have two crazy pre-teens in my house. Jamie and Linda turned 11 this month. To put it in perspective, that is the same age that Harry Potter was the first time he fought Voldemort. Scary, huh? They had a good birthday, although a quiet one. The weekend before, my cousin and Jake's best friend came to visit from home. They took Jame and Linda out for some special shopping, so they did have a special day. We also went to the beach and swam in Lake Michigan for hours. On their actual birthday, I had to work so the festivities started late. We went to out to eat at the restaurant of their choice (Pizza Ranch), and then it was time for presents. Jamie had been begging for months to get Beyblades. If you are unsure of what those are, they are little top like things that you pull with a ripcord. We got him the necessary stadium, and a bunch of accessories. Jamie is also a very pig Packers fan, and my boss played for the Packers. I was able to (after much pleading), get my boss to sign his football card that we got off of Ebay for Jamie. Jamie was on cloud nine! Linda has very much turned into a preteen girl. She wanted all sorts of girly stuff. She got a hair straightener, a blow dryer, age-appropriate make-up, brushes, hair stuff, and a new purse. She loves it, and spends hours in her rooms practicing. She also loves to paint Mina's nails too, which is ok by Mina. All in all, I think they had a very good birthday. I can't believe how much they are growing though. I hope all future birthdays are this happy for them.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How to Move forward

Two posts in one day, I realize people will be shocked. They are two entirely different posts. The first post was for family, this post is a heartfelt outpouring of grief that is best understood by others who have walked in our shoes relating to the loss of a child. Memorial Day was recently. I have been struggling so hard with grief ever since. I realize that feelings I will express here about guilt seem pointless. My head knows what happened to Mason was not my fault. Sometimes it is hard to tell my heart that. No amount of time, or counseling, or prayer seems to completely remove those feelings of guilt. In my case, I had a perfectly healthy baby boy, and my cervix was too weak to carry him to term. I was betrayed by my own body. My son was betrayed by my body. My son died because my body failed both of us. Memorial day seems to have increased the feelings of guilt and thus the feelings of grief. I feel so guilty for not being able to be there at his gravesite on that day. I hate that I had to leave him. I hate myself for the need to have a gravesite to visit even occurred at all. It is a terrible combination and I am unsure how to completely let those feelings go. I have come to realize several things through the counseling I do with other mothers new to this situation. Losing a baby is unfair. Grief is unfair. A grieving person will act unfairly. Friends and family can act unfairly towards a grieving person. Life is unfair. I know that I have been hurt by friends and family while I experienced this journey. There really is no excuse. I always thought before this happened that if something bad were to happen, I would be able to handle it with grace and poise and keep my pain to myself. That was not always the case, as it is not always the case with most grieving people. When a woman goes through the pain of labor and childbirth, it is usually followed by the most joyous event. When a woman is my situation goes through the pain, once the delivery is over, pain even more gut-wrenching begins. The pain of watching my son pass away. The pain of planning a funeral for my child. The pain of attending a funeral for my child. The pain of picking a casket and a headstone for my child. The pain of going to the cemetery and seeing a tiny, fresh mound of earth where my child was laid to rest. I cannot even begin to describe to you the pain I felt on the inside. I wanted to shut everything and everyone out. I thought if I could block everyone out, I could block the pain too. Because of my attempt to block the pain, I also blocked some of the best things about me. I have said before that grief is selfish, and it truly is. A bigger person would have been able to go visit friends and families who had babies in the months after, I couldn't, or wouldn't do it. The thought of going to the same hospital, on the same floor, in a room that looked exactly the same as I was in during the most agonizing and heart-crushing event of my life overwhelmed me. I could not push past the pain and even fear and bring myself to do it. There was one time in particular where I made it all the way to the hospital lobby before I began to almost panic. My throat felt tight, my chest hurt, my knees felt like jelly, and I couldn't seem to take a breath. I did the gutless thing and fled. I am truly sorry for the friends and family for whom I could not support in the way they wanted. It was never meant to cause pain, or anger. Other times I was so short tempered and lashed out. A bigger person would have more restraint. I didn't. I was angry and bitter. I was so tired from crying myself to sleep and then having nightmares when I did sleep. I was tired of cruel comments like "you should be over this" and "you still have two other kids". My fuse was short and there are times where I should have bit my tongue and had more patience. I am truly sorry for that. I still struggle with this sometimes. It seems like I have had a personality change since losing Mason. I struggle to find compassion when others need to vent about their children or babies. I struggle to find compassion for people who I feel should still talk about Mason to me. I struggle to find forgiveness for those that hurt us during that time. I struggle to let Noah and Mina be independent from Jake and I because the fear of losing them overwhelms me. I struggle to let Jamie and Linda go out of my sight with friends because again, I think I cannot survive another loss. I don't know if I will ever be the person I think I ought to. I think we are often times hardest on ourselves. I do know that I am a work in progress and that God has not finished healing me, nor has He finished molding me in his image. To my readers who are here for the same reason, I hear the pain and guilt and even shame in your stories and it hurts me. Yet, I can't tell you to let go of it and move forward because I still struggle with this. All I can do is promise to pray for you as you are molded, and to pray for me as well. There are people I need to seek forgiveness from, and people I need to forgive should they ever ask for it. There are feelings of fear, guilt, and anger I need to let go of and you need to as well. I don't know how, but I do know we will get there. We are not alone, we have a Father in Heaven who loves us, we serve a Risen Savior, and we have each other. We also have the greatest Healer of all whom by his sacrifice on the cross has allowed us to have the chance to be with our babies again. I am trying to dwell on that fact and allow myself to fully feel the joy that comes from knowing Christ. That is my desire for you as well. As always, please message me if you would like further discussion on any of these topics. I will be more than happy to respond offline. Thank you Father for all of these gifts.

Summer Begins!

Tomorrow is the last day of fourth grade for Jamie and Linda. Linda has made significant progress academically since she began her medication. She is still very behind, but we are encouraged. The kids will be taking summer band. We went to the school to be fitted for instruments. I had a short list of instruments I was trying to "steer" them to because I was trying to think of long-term scholarship potentials. I called and spoke to my former college choir/band director and asked him what instruments he had the hardest time filling scholarships for. I was ultimately ruling for the French Horn, but it was not to be. Jamie ended up selecting the trombone and Linda (in a surprising turn) picked the baritone. They will go to daily band lessons for a few weeks this summer to get a jump start before the school year starts. I really hope they stick with it because I must admit, I see dollar signs when I think of the chance for scholarships. Next month, Jamie and Linda will turn eleven. Pre-teen years have begun. Linda especially had begun to "blossom". It was time to have a detailed puberty talk with her. This was no fun and I was dreading it. Linda's emotional and social maturity does not match her physical maturity and so I had to be very careful in how I presented this topic. I did a lot of research and finally selected a book by American Girl called the body book for girls. It covers the girl's body from head to toe and addresses puberty without the topic of sexual intercourse. I liked that fact. It also discusses hygiene for every part of the body from shampooing to deodorant. I cannot seem to get Linda out of the shower now! She handled the talk very maturely I thought. We discussed "periods" without making it seem scary. We talked about how to use feminine products and created an "emergency" kit out of an old pencil case. She knows to talk to Mom, or the school nurse and knows how to use pads. She also knows that all she has to do is tell Jake that she needs to talk to Mom if it happens while I am at work and she has any questions. I think she is well prepared and it will hopefully go smoothly. Jake thinks he doesn't need to have the talk with Jamie yet. I am trying to find out what time is a good age for boys. I have all sisters so raising boys is brand new territory. Speaking of boys, Noah is all boy. He loves trucks, tractors, sports, transformers, anything at all that fits under the boy category. We are beginning to realize that he is exceptionally bright. His language and speech skills are very advanced for his age. He also loves to be read to and only has to hear a book a few times and then it is memorized. We are looking into preschools for next year for him and Mina. Mina is all girl. Jake says she is all Mommy. She loves animals (especially cats), nail polish, pretend make-up, dress up, jewelry and anything sparkly. She is very sassy at times and does not take guff from anybody, no matter how much bigger than her they might be. She can definitely keep up with the boys, but is all girl at the same time. She has an amazing fashion sense already and is very picky about her outfits. I tease that she picks cuter outfits for herself than Jake does. She loves Linda and follows her around faithfully. Linda actually loves to play with her and most of the time they play well. I have spent several years collecting Fisher Price Little People for the kiddos. We are getting quite a collection of both modern and vintage. Linda will sit with Mina and Noah and they will play with these sets for hours. We have about 25 different sets- barns, zoos, castles, houses, carwashes, airports, amusement parks, malls, just about anything you can imagine. I am constantly looking in thrift stores and amusement parts. Jake keeps busy with fishing, shooting league, and his metal detecting. He has found a lot of cool stuff. I am keeping busy with my glass projects. In addition to a huge panel I am working on, I have also started creating garden gazing balls out of bowling balls and glass. The demand is high for those and people keep asking me for them. I get funny looks buying five different bowling balls from thrift stores. That is a big update for today. I will finish the post with some pictures.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Trip Photos

So I posted earlier about going to visit family for Thanksgiving. I am finally getting around to posting pictures. Our family met up with Jake's brother's family and spent time in Branson. These photos are from our trip to Ripley's Believe It or Not.

The Ripley's Building

Rome in Cards

Jake Next to Image of World's Tallest Man

My Turn

Noah and Mina Exploring

Zach and Mina Playing Around at Lunch

Zack Enjoying Time with Daddy

Saturday, March 10, 2012

No More Pain in the...........

Work has been going great and I recently got a really nice bonus check at work. We also had a nice income tax refund as well. We kind of use tax time as our savings plan. We have a ton of taxes taken out and then we get a huge check at the end of the year. This year wasn't our biggest, our biggest hit 5 figures once, but it was still really nice.

We took a big chuck of it to pay bills, and then sat around deciding what to do with what was left. We had set aside some money to help family come and see us who couldn't really afford to on their own, but that fell through and now we had more to work with than originally budgeted. We thought about taking a trip to Florida. I was able to get free tickets to Disney World and so we thought that would be nice. However, the more we talked about it, the more spending $6,000 at this point in our lives to go to a theme park seemed a little extravagant. Noah and Mina are only three and would not get as much out of it as they will if we wait. This left us trying to decide what we did want to do.

We have set money aside to spend some time with family in Missouri and Kansas this year. We plan to make at least two trips this year. One of the trips will be to Missouri where Jake's brother lives very close to Branson. We are planning on meeting friends and family from Kansas there and doing the whole tourist thing with them. That should be a lot of fun and will count as our vacation for the year.

As we were discussing it one night, I sat down in our recliner and immediately yelped because the cracked leather pinched my arm and the back of my leg. The recliner is not that old, but every where it has cracked, the babies have slowly picked off the leather and now there are big bald patched all over the arms. It looks awful. At the same time I was yelping, Jake sat on our love seat and there was a lovely "Toing" sound and he sank way down in it. We are guessing a spring broke on the inside. We decided that this is our sign to get some new furniture. Our couch and loveseat that we have now was our first big purchase as a married couple. It took us almost six months to save up the $1,100 dollars for the couch, loveseat, coffee table, two end tables, and two lamps. I was kind of sad to get rid of them....until I rested my toosh on the one we have decided to buy today.

We went to five stores to make sure we found the one we liked at the best price. The kids were as good as gold considering how boring it was. We finally made a decision on the sectional in the picture. The fabric is so soft that it almost feels like a warm blanket. I think the wedge part is going to be very popular for both baby, and cat alike. Because we do not need end tables or lamps, we were able to trade those for the matching recliner. Currently, we only have one recliner. If you figure in that both sides of the new couch and love seat recline, we will now have 5 reclining seats to choose from. That will make movie night with friends much more comfortable! Another added bonus, the store we bought it from thinks our old loveseat can be fixed. They will take the old stuff back to their store, fix it, sell it on consignment, and give us 60% of the sale of it. I know 60% doesn't seem like much, but we were just going to going to give it away when it was broken, so at least we will make a little money off of it.

I am very excited about getting it in, and we had a great day as a family picking it out. My wonderful husband was very patient with me as I shot down selection after selection. I am very blessed to have such a patient and loving husband. The best part? Once it comes in, I can sit on the loveseat without getting a big pain in the.....

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hey, where's the fire!

We visited a new church this weekend. We have been having trouble finding a church home. This visit was going well. Music and message were great, the babies made it through Nursery without crying so hard for us that our pager goes off, and Jamie and Linda had a good time. Did you note how I said "was"?

As we were getting ready to leave, I was visiting with a coworker. Jake put Mina's coat on and turned to put Noah's on. In that split second, Mina noticed a little red box on the wall and ran to investigate. Well, this box had a red lever to go along with this. Mina, being the curious sort, reached out and pulled said lever.

Weeeee-ooooooooooooh-weeeeeeeeeeeeee-oooooooooooooooh! Sirens start going off, strobe lights start flashing, and a big, booming voice orders everyone to evacuate the church immediately. It turns out the siren is also directly linked to the fire department. The pastor ran around trying to figure out the number to call to shut it off and cancel the fire trucks. Mina stood there with this look of sheer panic on her face at the amount of trouble she caused. Jake and I scooped up our kids and slinked out of the door in the chaos.

I am not sure we can go back to that church.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Hi everyone, it has been awhile since I gave an update so I thought I would take this time to fill you in.

The weather up here has been very mild this year. Only a few days below zero, the rest have mostly been right at freezing. What a change from last winter where we had several days in the negative temperatures. There has also been much less snow this year than normal. This is actually a bad thing for the sturgeon spearers. The lake is not as frozen as normal so they can only go a few miles out to cut their holes in the ice. They also cannot drive trucks and have to drive four-wheelers or snow mobiles. Jake might have to sit this year out as we have neither yet.

I did receive the results of the broker's exam teat that I took in October. I missed the pass rate of 75% by one question. Bear in mind that the nation wide average is that only 5% of people who take it pass on the first try. I am taking the advantage of the appeal process to protest the answer that was given for two questions. I think I have a pretty strong argument. I only need them to accept it for one question to pass. Keep the prayers coming!

Work is going great. There have been many chances to grow and it shows. It is nice to be almost making the same salary Jake and I made together back home. It allows Jake to be a stay-at-home Dad and it is very important to us that one of us stay home. I am glad he gets his chance. He suppported me so much while I worked on getting my Master's degree and I am glad to get to use it to help our family.

I also got brave enough to apply at a local university. I applied to teach a night class for returning adults. This would be a great fit as I attended night classes to finish my degrees. I know what it is like to have a full time job, a family, and still be working hard to better yourself. I remember all of the fun I missed out on because of papers and homework. I meet all of the requirements to teach so we are keeping our fingers crossed. We are planning on using the extra income to pay off my student loans. That would be awesome.

Mina and Noah are doing well. They are almost completely potty trainied except for a few nights. They can count to 10, know all of their colors, shapes, all normal animals, and some of the ABCs. They can tell a lot of the letters and numbers by sight. They also know quite a bit of sign language. At their last appointment with the pediatrician, she was amazed at their development. They are advanced in a lot of things. As far as mental development goes, she stated that you cannot even tell that they are preemies. They are both in the 90th percantile for height and weight as well! This is amazing to me. If you remember, they came home from the hospital under five pounds. Their first 4 months, their weight was not even on the percentile charts. The doctors would draw a line under the chart to show me where they were. There first month was spent at the doctor's office everyday for weight and breathing checks. I just cannot believe how much they are thriving. The only area of concern is Noah's lungs have still not caught up. He has asthma that will flare at every little cold or sniffle. He also gets pnuemonia very easily.

A few weeks ago we kind of had a scare. Noah has been having severe leg pain for several months. When we took him to his check up, the doctor wanted to do blood work. Noah is so fair that bruises show up really easily. His shins are always covered in bruises. Add that to the leg pain and the doctor wanted to check for leukemia. I usually do not freak out until I know there is something to freak out about, but I was a mess. I prayed so hard and pleaded with God to keep him safe. I think our loss affects us that way. The tests all came back fine though. If it keeps up, they are going to do leg X-rays to see what is going on.

If you remember, Linda was diagnosed with Childhood Bipolar, and Reactive Attachment Disorder. She has since started taking a medication to help with the bipolar. We were so hesitant to put her on medication, but wow, what a difference. She is doing great. We had the first positive parent/teacher conference we have ever had with her. She is still really behind her peers, but for the first time her behaviors have leveled out and the teachers feel that they are making progress. She now has a psychiatrist to manage the medication, a psychologist for counseling, and a social worker to manage everything including her Special Education. Her moods are so much more manageable than ever before. I feel like I am seeing my daughter for the first time.

James has had a rough time lately. He has gotten into a rough crowd at school I think. He has had a major attitude problem and has even used foul language. We are not sure what is going on. Prayers for us as we figure out a way to reach him would be appreciated.

Jake is doing good. He is bummed because his metal detecting is on hold because the ground is too frozen to dig. He is on a trap shooting league though, so he gets to get out with the guys every week. He keeps busy with little projects around the house as well.

Well, that is all for now. My fingers hurt from all of this typing. Much love for all of you from us up here in the frozen North.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A horrible thing to miss

I think only the other mommies who share my journey in grief might understand this. I moved to a different state a year ago. My son is buried in my home state. This sound a little crazy, but I miss his gravesite.

I know that seems like an odd thing to say, but try to see it from my perspective. When your child is gone, your feeling as a mother are not. You still have the same need to take care of him or her as you would any living child. The feeling does not go away, even years after. As the mother of a child who is with God, I was left wrestling with the need to be his mother here on earth. The only way I could still "take care" of him was through his gravesite.

I visited it almost daily. I picked weeds, changed decorations, brushed off leaves, and wiped the dust off. I would pray, cry, talk to him, and sometimes just sit and let the quiet ease my soul. I crave that time now. I know that I am blessed with great friends and family who care for it in my absense, but I am still left with the feeling of "What do I do now?......."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Birds and the Bees

So let me set the scene. I had just gotten home from work. I got in comfy clothes, kissed everyone hello, and was just settling down with a drink for what I thought was a relaxing evening and then BAM!, it came from left field. "Mom", Jamie asked, "Did they cut the skin off of my penis when I was born?"

Whoa, whoa, what???!!!

"You know", he continued, "Do I have a circumcised penis?"

I am pretty sure the following is an accurate representation of my face.

I am also pretty sure that the following is an accurate representation of Jake's face as he realized he just dodged a bullet.

To continue with the story, I fumbled along the best I could under the circumstances. It turns out this week is the Human Growth and Development classes. I had signed the slip weeks ago eager to pawn off that task on someone else, but I had forgotten all about it being this week. I am so not old enough to be dealing with this! To top it all off, today is only Tuesday, there are still three more days of progressively more complicated stuff to come. I think now may be a good time to take up drinking....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

No More Baby Curls and my favorite photo

I wanted to share with you my picture of Noah's haircut, and my favorite picture from our visit home.