Kindergarten Blues

And it begins.

The last week has been filled with sickness (both G and me), injuries, bickering, cuddles, laughter, book reading, and school excitement. My kids may have slept in my bed the last two nights. All three of us. Plus two dogs. Hey! Last few nights before my little baby boy is a big kindergartener! So whatever. Judge away… I don’t care.

I’m in such blue mood. Maybe even… gray. (gasp!) I know… it’s not my normal. I just don’t deal well with change and I know our world is about to do just that. My first little tiny baby boy, who made me suffer through 30 hours of labor, six months of pumping because he was not a good nurser, who said his first word of ‘mama’ at 6 months old, 16 months of waiting for him to walk (he may have thought he was a dog for the first 15 months or so… since he had no friends around, just the dog. He was a really fast crawler), three years of him not wanting to share mom by having her be the teacher at preschool, three and a half years of him injuring his little sister, five and a half years of hilarious entertainment… and now he is going to go off to spend his days with other people.  Ugh.

I’ve been trying to pep talk myself back up. Look at all the beautiful posts on Facebook of the older kids going back to school and how excited they are (kindergarten starts later here, so the older kiddos started today) AND how excited the moms are. The kids get to go off with their friends and learn and play and do kid things, the parents are off drinking margaritas or coffee or whatever,  or hiking around the beautiful mountains we have as a playground here. Just think, self, in a few years you’ll feel the same way- your back to school color will be yellow, not blue…. Ugh… really more like gray.

I know if my husband was here, or even in good cell phone range so I could have a conversation with him without having to repeat every sentence three times, he would be so excited!! S is going off to big kid school. I can have alone time with my little lady every day! We can go to a movie after my morning class is over or go do girly things like pedicures (So what if I only get them every five years? That totally could be a new thing?!) or bake or… fold laundry without a sword wielding ninja to destroy my piles. The list is somewhat unlimited.

But then I think… what?! No ninja sneaking around my house all day. Nobody to set traps on all the door knobs. Or let the dogs in when they are barking like idiots and just went outside. No little man voice saying ‘You know what Mama? You’re my favorite girl!’ or ‘Can I just cuddle you Mama?’ or hearing him say the words on his favorite movies just as the characters are saying them (okay… that literally drives me crazy, but now it will be gone!!!).  Kindergarten. How did we get here already?

Alright. I’m pulling it together. It’s not like he’s moving away. He’s just going to school for the day. I’m sure he’ll be fine, right? I can attempt to be fine, right?  And G is going to love it. That’s for sure.

PS We apparently are watching Toy Story 3. How am I the only one in tears at the end of it? Not a good choice for today.

 

Planning Your Funeral

My Gramps planned his own funeral.

I guess that’s a ‘perk’ of knowing you’re sick and the end is truly imminent.

When I was five or six I was down in Washington with my Grandparents. We used to go down there every summer for a week or two to stay with them and our cousins. It was a great bonding time and I am eternally thankful for that gift. We are all close to this day.

The incident I’m referring to took place in the car driving down the coast. We were talking about how hot it was, which led to how far away the sun was and the Earth moved around the sun. I vividly remember this moment… standing up in the backseat of the car leaning up to the front to chat with them (100% safe… well back then). My Gramps says, ‘and then one day the sun will explode and our planet will be eaten up by fire’. Nonchalantly, like no big deal. I burst into tears (similar to how the sun will soon burst into flames) and was inconsolable.

Thinking back on it, regardless of how it ends, the one thing we know for sure is life on Earth, most definitely does end. Gramps knew that always, but even more so with a diagnosis of a terminal illness and even, at one point, a time frame of 30 days to live. Not to worry- my stubborn genes may have come a little from him, as he lived another year after that.

In that year he planned a beautiful service. His favorite hymns were sang. His daughters, granddaughters, nephew, cousin and even my Grams spoke. A favorite lesson was shared. And we all ate cake. They put red roses in a vase up front, symbolizing each year Grams and Gramps were married. The Pastor leading the service wore Grandpa’s prayer shawl. We saw faces I had grown up getting hugs from every time we visited. We listened to beautiful stories about how Gramps had changed people’s lives. It was amazing.

Of course, in the end, we all returned home. To the house that was once filled every summer with the laughter of five rambunctious cousins, one enabling Grandpa, and one smiling Grandma- probably soaking it all up. I would hear the echoes of my brother’s footsteps coming up the stairs during a wild game of hide ‘n seek. I could feel the intensity of sneaking into the attic to hear Becky read scary stories. And hear the giggles of all us girls sleeping on the hide-a-bed in the living room.I even did one quick lap around hidden porch, for old time’s sake, barefoot and running as fast as I could.

Know what else I could feel? Grandpa’s love surrounding us all. Like he was there, lifting us up. Like he always has. Like he always will.cousins

My July Blog. Yah… I know. It’s August.

July update. Because I suck at blogging. As we all know.

Just got back from celebrating my Grandma’s 80th birthday!! We had a fancy tea at a tea house for all the girls- and it was amazing. I haven’t been ‘to tea’ since I was little… and my sweet G got to come with us too. The food, atmosphere and company were perfect. I have been blessed with positive, loving, encouraging and a little bit stubborn women in my life. Being surrounded by strong female role models has really helped shape who I am and, hopefully, who I will help my kids to become.

After that we had games with prizes. My mom was in charge of this department. We played some classics: drop the clothespin in a jar, cotton ball toss and keep the balloon up. Prizes were awesome- my mom excels at buying great gifts and prizes. It’s so fun! Followed that up with a delicious Sunday bar. My cousin excels at putting together things like that. We had so many topping choices, lots of ice cream and even fancy adult sauces. Yum! She bought some of it from mouth.com – check it out. Cool stuff!

Our happy birthday weekend was frequently paused by visits to the hospital. My Grandpa was dying. He has been fighting MDS for the last five years. Last summer they told us he had a month to live. It’s been a year. Then he came down with pneumonia and that was it. He landed in the hospital where we discovered his kidneys were quickly declining and the afternoon of my Grams’s birthday, he had made it to his goal: her special day. And was ready to go on to Heaven.

The gift of being able to say goodbye, give him one last hug, kiss and hear him say ‘I love you too’ is indescribable. If you haven’t lost someone suddenly, without warning, you don’t realize what a gift this is. To see him exhausted, unable to sleep because he was in such pain and having a hard time breathing, to hear him asking why it was taking so long for him to die and that he didn’t think it would be this hard to go… it’s a gift. It’s a hard one to take, impossible to think of it as something helpful- but it helped me to let him go. To know it was time for him.

My poor little man is going to think everyone is going to leave him. Can we say abandonment issues? Although, in a large development, a bit after I told him that Great Gramps (who he wanted to play with all weekend, but never got to) had to go to Heaven, he looks up at the sky and says ‘Great Grandpa. I forgive you for leaving for Heaven. I will not see you there because I am not going. I am staying with my Mama forever.’ I remember feeling that way when my Aunt Cindy died suddenly when I was a kid. Like you never know who might be next and definitely didn’t want to be alone or away from my Mom. It was scary. I hope S and G don’t have to say goodbye to anybody else for a long time.

He has given and given and given his whole life. He has been the strong one for his family of ladies. Now, as my Grandma said to him sitting on his bed at the hospital, it is our turn to be strong. And take care of each other. And we will do that. We will be okay.

We will continue to plan parties, play games with fun prizes, go to tea and celebrate milestones- because that is who we are. And we are that because of him. And my Grams. And they are that because of their parents. Our tribute to their legacies is to continue on and make our children’s lives as amazing as ours are, as our parents are, grandparents are and great-grandparents were. To remember in happiness. We had more good than bad- more smiles than tears- and now we are here. And here is all we have. With each other.

 

 

Quiet Time Leads to a Loud Brain

I haven’t been writing. It hasn’t been good for me. My new coping technique has involved constant activity. This is the first day I’ve just sat down in months. Literally.

I haven’t slept all night in months. I try to, but every noise wakes me up and then my brain keeps me up. It’s exhausting. During the day I find things to keep myself busy- jobs that must be done now-or lists to make- or items to cross off the lists. The irony is I never understood why my father in law was always on the move… I get it now.
Quiet times makes for a loud brain. And it quickly fills with beautiful memories. Which leads to tears because there are only memories now. Which leads to this incredibly frustrating anger. I am not an angry person. The emotion itself is one I’ve always had to stretch to understand… I have known people my whole life with anger issues- it’s almost their default emotional status- and mine tends to be… contentment. If that can be considered an emotion?

Lately I just feel this anger bubbling inside me. And it’s not at anybody, but fate. Or maybe God. Or life. It’s not fair that Curt is gone. I feel like my body starts to vibrate with this intense feeling and I might just explode. I don’t know how to make that stop. Or if you are supposed to just ride it out and assume it’s part of the ride of life with grief in it. To be clear- the angry shivers I get never progress past that- it’s just not in my nature. One time I ripped a poster I made for a school project when I was mad and the intense regret that filled my soul afterwards led to me never acting in anger again. Seriously. I was in second grade at the time.

We have his house on the market. I stopped by and did yard work yesterday and paid myself in perennials dug up at his house. The lilac tree that was tiny when Vince and I started dating is now taller than the house. The glass ‘pond’ my mother in law and I made when I was 17 is still there, covered up by weed blocking fabric. The creek all the cousins (including my kiddos) have spent hours at throwing rocks, looking for fish and being kids in runs through the back providing a soothing background music. The porch we’ve drank tea, cocktails, beers and ice water on a hot day is sitting there waiting for the next family to make memories on it.

I hope that with the sale I’ll get a little more closure. Or maybe with more time. I just don’t know. But I do know my house and the cabin is going to be amazing with all this time off I have this summer. Keeping busy, crossing items off the list as fast as I can add more on and somehow finding time to make new memories with my sweet babies…

Five months out. Still waiting (but not idly) to wake up.

A Blink and Forever

Today marks 10 years of my husband’s Mom passing away. I was lucky enough to date him in high school, and get to know his mom then.But we were not together when she passed away. After this January, and losing his Dad, maybe it was a blessing that she wasn’t a daily part of my life then… although the pain would have been worth the gain.

Things that remind me of her are springtime, tea on the porch, dirt… digging up flowers and moving them again, and again and again, playing games in the winter, Christmas… the crazy excitement over that train that went around the bottom of the tree. Party mix. Knowing that what you want is worth working for. Ladybugs. My daughter’s smile. The idea that helping others, even if it is inconvenient to you, is important and should be a priority.

The world is a darker place without her here to light it up. I wish my kids could have experienced what she felt like. She lit up a room when she walked into it. But they won’t get to know that. Just like we didn’t get to see her smiling face on our wedding day. She never got to hold our sweet babies in her arms. I never got to show off my garden to her  and the kids will never get to help her in hers.

Her opinion on our landscaping is unknown. Her advice for simple things and big things is a secret, lost forever. We frequently feel her around us… see her signs… and we have to make that be enough. Enjoy each tiny moment where it feels like she is there, lighting up around us.

My sweet husband is in a world without his parents. At too young of an age for anybody to be there. So today we will gather together at the lake, let our lanterns fly up and deliver our wishes, and have a seven and seven in memory of her. Or two. Make party mix and eat too many raspberries with cream. Look at old pictures and read old memories. Remember all the amazing times instead of thinking about what we are missing out on.

Imagine how a life went by in the blink of an eye…. and yet it still feels like forever since she was here.

 

 

At Least We Have Us

So here’s the thing. We have always talked about how much it just sucks that Brenda (my mother in law) isn’t here to be a part of our kiddos lives.  It will be ten years, on March 25th, since she passed away.We’ve lamented about how much our kids are missing out on.

*Every time someone complains about their mother in law, it takes every part of my patience, every piece of my being, to keep my thoughts to myself about how lucky they are to have her there. Every time. And sometimes my thoughts just spill right out of my mouth. (So… note to reader: Enjoy every day with everyone in your life. Are they bugging you? Giving their two cents? Hug it out. Tell them THANK YOU for loving your kids so much they need to meddle in your business and tell ‘how they did it’. Even if you don’t want to at the moment, just do it. And you’re welcome.)*

But in all our complaining and missing her, we always  have said ‘At least we have Dad’.

Aunt Elaine was taken from us  in a horrific accident almost two years ago. It was shocking and earth shaking. Unexpected. She had filled such a void for our kids, making them feel so loved (and us too, of course) and always taking the time to make them feel important. When she was taken, we were again so glad to have Curt there to hold everyone up. To look to for what to do next. I feel safe in saying that the whole family felt like he was the rock to lean upon and a guide to get us through the darkness. We thought ‘At least we have Dad’.

Here we are coming up on our first Easter without him. Having to plan our own celebration instead of Grandpa putting it all together. We just got back from our first cabin trip, just the kids and I, without Grandpa there to meet us. I found myself wandering around the cabin, finding jobs to do and things to move around. While looking around for ‘the eagle’ who lives there, and feeling sad he wasn’t there to remind me of Curt, I noticed a set of footprints walking from the cabin down to the lake. All the snow was melted away, except for a set of tracks, set in ice (probably from when the ground first froze). It was my sign that he was there… but also bittersweet to know those tracks are all that’s left.

Tomorrow my husband comes home from his first ‘hitch’ at work without his dad around. I haven’t gotten to talk to him in a few days. And the Grandpa calling to check in call is glaringly apparent. Just feels… extra mean. If that makes sense.

Losing someone always is hard. Always. We love big and we love hard in this family. You’re in or you are out. No middle ground.  But it’s not fair that he is gone. He was our best buddy, for all of us… not just my husband or me or Sawyer or Gracie… but for every member of this family, he felt like a best friend to. And now… there’s this hole that can’t be filled. And it isn’t fair. I feel like we’ve picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves off so many times… and now again. We have to do it again.

I’ve been hanging in there. That’s the only way to describe it. I’m ‘cursed’ with being stuck on the bright side of things, most of the time. Even when thinking of all we have lost, I can’t help but count all our blessings and the amazing times we did have.And all the time we have coming to us in the future to make new memories with our kids, and each other.

But there is never enough time. Maybe… my bright side isn’t a curse, but an opportunity to pick up those around me. Maybe I’ll pick myself up in the process and find something else to write about beyond the losses we’ve encountered. That seems like asking for a lot- but we have to have goals to know where to go.😉

grandpa wait for me

Joke is on me. And it ain’t funny.

The jokes appears to be on me.

I pulled into my driveway today, after having to take my daughter to the doctor as early as possible on a Sunday because of an apparent ear infection (she screamed from the moment she woke up until we got into the doctor… about 2 hours), and what do I see? Cabin Grandpa’s truck, my husband’s truck and my parent’s car parked there. All the people who are not here to help me. My support group represented by their vehicles. Shot to heart!

I knew this first hitch of Vincent being gone would be tough. I underestimated what would be thrown at me. Hey… if you’re going to get used to having to do things alone… what better way than to be challenged at every turn? And have all back up people be out of town. (*That’s not 100% fair. My sister in law who lives here did call the other night, but in the midst of crying/medicating kids and wrangling dogs, I didn’t get a chance to talk to her.)

Between conferences with parents, sick kiddos, being coughed on, vomited on and snotted on… plus having no communication with my husband beyond a few 2 minute phone calls… plus apparently there’s some sort of night loitering going around in my neighborhood… plus no babysitter… jeez. Oh! And throw in an uncle who is in ICU because of complications with a cancerous tumor. Anything else? Anything? You can believe I’m waiting for something else to come along.

There’s been lots of good things too. Snuggles with my hilarious little man… who is extra funny when he doesn’t want to go to bed yet. All the laundry is done, folded and put away (yay me!). I got a sweet package from our cabin neighbor with a book that I didn’t know I really needed to read. I mentioned wanting some old glass insulators  and a couple barrels of glass stuff my great grandpa collected were discovered in Washington. They haven’t been opened in 40 years since he passed away. That’s kind of cool.

But isn’t that what life is? Right? It’s hard and challenging and mixed in there are the amazing, beautiful moments that make it worth it all. I’m hoping all  my bad times are happening in these last two years- but even that’s hard to say. I’ve had two devastating losses… and a handful of big losses, a lot of ‘oh well’ moments… but all and all… my life is good. And isn’t the hard and sad supposed to make the happy and amazing seem better?

All I know is I’m ready to appreciate some really, really, really great moments. Let’s start that now. And…. go!