Wednesday, November 28, 2012

explaining death to a 4 year old

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” 
-Mae West

Today we are going to the viewing of Jack's Great Great Uncle Phil.

Last night, I wanted to prepare Jack because it will be his first time.  I thought talking to him before bed would be good so it would sink in and he could ask all the questions that came to him within the next 24 hours.

But I soon realized bedtime is not the time to explain death. 

I underestimated his ability to comprehend what it was, and at the same time he didn't quite grasp it all.

It started like this... "Jack I need to talk to you.  Tomorrow we're going to a viewing.  A viewing is a place you go after someone dies to say goodbye.  Someone we know died last night, and he will be there." 

I described how it would look like Phil was sleeping.

He asked what Phil's full name was, and was upset I didn't know his middle name.   

Jack asked if he would be breathing.  He asked if he could open his eyes. 

I answered him truthfully, but without lots of details. 

I talked about where he was now, in Heaven with people he loves... which made Jack happy, but when I told him he might see that some people are sad at the viewing, he started to cry. 

He asked me if he would die one day, and if people would come to his viewing and cry and be sad.

Woa.... I was so not ready for that one.  That was a monster wave that made us both cry.  

I told him hopefully I would die before him, which didn't make him feel any better and he said he didn't want me to die.

This conversation was so deep and emotional and on a whole different level than I thought it would be.

He asked me why we die, and I told him that we're here to learn and that we will all die someday, but when we do we'll be with God and Jesus and family.  He added, "And Santa?"  

The idea of Heaven, angels and wings made him happy again.  

He asked about blood and pain.  
I told him a lot of people die in their sleep and it's like waking up from a dream. 

Then he said to me with a smile, "I'm not going to die someday, you're just kidding right?"  

The part where he wanted me to say everything was just a joke.  I wish it was.

I just stayed silent and told him he didn't need to worry about dying. 

I waited a minute and then changed the subject.

We sang a few songs and told a few stories, and after our conversation I didn't want him going to bed thinking about death alone, so I cuddled with him until he fell asleep.  I woke up several hours later and went to my own bed.

Growing up is hard.

Another part of parenting that makes me question if I handled things right.  But there is no "right"...

Phil & his wife Lou
I took this photo last year when all their children were home.  
It's my favorite.

At the viewing, Phil's oldest son told me they are using the photo below for their headstone.
I have never been so honored.

Monday, November 26, 2012

a hard lesson

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did - that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that - a parent's heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.” 
- Debra Ginsberg

Parenting isn't easy.

There's no manual that tells you what to do in sticky situations.  No black and white... and today I found myself in a situation where I just went with my gut.

I took Jack grocery shopping with me.  He insisted on wearing his batman costume, and I've chosen as a parent, not to pick unnecessary battles like a silly costume.  It doesn't hurt anyone, so I went shopping with batman.

He was an angel during the two hour shopping trip, but as I was checking out at the last store... I saw Jack hiding something inside the back of his shirt.  I asked him if he was hiding anything and he lied and said, "no."  He did this in front of me, the lady behind me, and the cashier.  We all knew he had a toy and intended on stealing it.

I looked him in the eye and told him to put it back in a stern voice.  Then I told him that the lady behind the register could call the police and have him arrested for stealing.

He quickly put the toy back without a single word.

After I checked out, and pushed my cart out of the way... I got down to his eye level and let him know how serious the offense was.  I told him how we don't take things that do not belong to us.  I told him that people go to jail for stealing all the time.  Then I pointed to the lady at the cash register and told him to go back and apologize.

And he did without hesitation.

My heart hurt for him.  Life lessons are not always easy.  And as a parent I kept thinking... was I too hard on him?  He's only four.

The lady at the registered thanked him for apologizing, the lady behind me in line said he was right to put the toy back, but I could tell they thought I was making a bigger deal than necessary.

But it's my sole purpose in life to raise him right, and it was a big lesson that needed to be taught.

In my Mommy heart, it felt right... even if it hurt me more than it hurt him.  He needed to know how wrong it was.  He asked me a few questions on the way home about stealing and I answered every one of them.

My heart is still a little heavy from tonight.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dear Jack

Dear Jack,

Tonight I put your brother to bed first so I could spend some one on one time with you.

I let you stay up a bit longer than normal so I could give you a bath.

We played with your small batman & joker while you splashed around in the tub.

Afterwards I lathered you in lavender baby oil and lotion since it's becoming winter and you're starting to get dry skin.  You insisted that you needed oil under your armpits. ha!  I refused to do it but you stole some and did it anyways.

And when I got your new toothpaste out you actually hugged me and told me I was the best Mom for getting you new toothpaste.

I read you a book called, "How to Catch a Star" and "Killer Whales."  Afterwards you asked for a story so I gave you the short version of "Free Willy."

You were really curious about the truck that hauled Willy to the ocean.  You said you wanted a "dump truck" like that so you could help animals too.  It was so sweet... it made me laugh and smile.

We said prayers together, snuggled and then kissed goodnight.

You're asleep down the hall right now... I'd like nothing more than to go cuddle with you, my sweet boy... but I know you need your rest, and Jude will more than likely be waking up this evening and he'll need me.

Don't grow up too fast, okay?  Today I looked at you and reminded myself that next year you'll start preschool, and you won't be home with me everyday.  I reminded myself to make this year count... that's a hard pill to swallow.

Love you Sweetheart,

Dear Jude

Dear Jude, 
     I told everyone today that I think you are going to be a genius when you're older.  I can see your little mind working as you look at me.  
     You are constantly having conversations with us and today when I held you over my shoulder and let you look at yourself in the bathroom mirror... you slowly moved your gaze from yourself to me, and when you did- your eyebrows relaxed and you smiled.  You basically said, "I love you Mama"... because I could tell that's exactly what your little mind was thinking.  Your eyes were just lighting up.  You did it over and over again.
Love you to the moon and back, 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

get busy living, or get busy dying

"It is not enough to be busy.  So are the ants.  The question is: What are we busy about?"
-Henry David Thoreau

It has been non-stop here.  It's anxiety crazy season when it comes to family events and my work.  The business is taking off again while I struggle to contain it's growth and Joel just got a second interview as Lieutenant at the prison (prayers and positive thoughts appreciated).

I found myself sipping out of a wine glass last night and this morning... (wait for it)
because all the other glasses were dirty.

And today Jack took his bowl from breakfast and washed it in the bathroom sink to "help wash some dishes".... geeze, I am slacking on the cleanliness of the forefront.  I gave him a kiss and hug and told him how awesome he was (and then proceeded to discreetly put the bowl in the sink for later washing).

This evening after our family photoshoot, I fell asleep with Jude on the couch for several hours.  Joel did dishes, bathed Jack and put him to bed- all while I was sleeping.  AND he beat the new call of duty.  The man is a superhero.  Batman.  Seriously.

Here's just a small bit of our craziness...

A spontaneous family shoot today at a nearby field.  Joel took this photo of Jude and me.

A family outtake.  Jack getting ready for our photoshoot and our little lion Jude.

It snowed, and snowed again and my little four-year old came running into my bedroom early one morning to let me know, and exclaimed that Santa was coming that night.

Which later prompted the constant nagging to put the tree up.  So we did.

Jack is so in love with Christmas.  He was hilarious while putting up the tree.  I actually got out a pen and paper to record all the things he was saying.

I'll just share a few... by the way, he was wearing snow pants (he insisted) so you can get a visual.
"This is a happy Christmas day... ho ho."
"Happy Christmas Dad!"
"Happy Holidays!"

(takes off snow pants off)

"It's almost Christmas day!"
"Don't do it all Mom!"
"A latter! Latter! Mom Latter!"
"It's Christmas Jude!"
"It's Christmas coming up!"
"Mom it's almost Christmas!"
"It's almost Christmas for meeeee!"
"Gimmie that!"

(gives a thumbs up to Joel and points at the tree)

"I love Santa Clause!"
"It's a Christmas holiday!"

(puts snow pants back on)

"No breaks!" (as we tell him it's dinner time)

Like I said, he's sooo in love with Christmas!

Onto other things, here's how we spend our October!

What's that you ask?  That's my brother-in-law, Kyle, carving his pumpkin in our backyard.

Here's Joel after he shot carved his.

And the rest of us carving our pumpkins in the basement.

And the pumpkin patch where we got our pumpkins.

Halloween came way too quickly.  Jack brought me a book one day and pointed to a monster and said that's what he wanted to be for Halloween.  Like the crazy I am, I promised him I'd make him the costume.  I spend several hours at my Mother's house sewing that costume.  I hope he remembers it.

Joel wanted to be batman.  So while grocery shopping with the boys, we surprised him with his very own costume.  He was ridiculously happy!  And you should have seen him trick-or-treating... he actually stopped a car and let kids cross the road and talked in a deep voice all night.
                                                               Jude was a police officer, but he didn't really like his costume.  I wanted to be a witch but couldn't bring myself to spend $15 on the hat, so I grabbed the fro.  The fro is my "go-to" costume... I've had that thing since high school.  Jack wanted me to be Cinderella. 

Half of my nieces & nephews on Halloween.
Time is moving so fast.
The leaves are gone... and soon it will be Christmas.

I've been working a lot...

Trying to be there for the people I love the most...

My friend, Kadie at her baby shower.
And the night before me forcing her out in the rain for part of her baby shower gift.  
Baylen you can come out nowwww!
Taking my nephew for a night so my sister and brother-in-law could relax, and of course because Brayden is Jack's BFF.

Photographed my cousin and she asked me to be in her wedding... which I am totally stoked about!

Left my other sister a love note in her driveway when I missed her.
Took Joel for a routine check-up... his first ever.  Only took me five years of marriage!  We also visited the eye doctor last week, Jack had his first real eye exam, and Jude got his first round of shots.

I voted and celebrated. #donthate
And I read this book to Jack more times than I can count in the past week. 
(He cried the first time I read it when the monkey cried.)

Can't forget all the thrifting and grocery shopping in-between it all!

I read a friend's facebook status about, and decided to join.

And guess who's making a special trip to IKEA soon for Christmas shopping.... THIS GIRL! 

I can't believe how crazy our lives have got since Jude made his appearance.  It's nice-the craziness.  
I kind of like it.

And to end this post on a positive note, here are all my thankful posts for the month of November so far...

Day 1: I am thankful that I met the love of my life early... when I was 15. He is my BEST FRIEND. Nobody makes me laugh like he does. And he gave me two the greatest gifts in this world-- Jack & Jude. 

Day 2: I'm thankful for my boys. They have taught me more about life in their few years of existence than all of mine combined. When the world starts to seem scary and uncertain... just looking at them makes me realize what is really important and what is pure and true in this world. There is GOOD, there is LOVE still here. They are my constant reminder that love (God is love) is here and is strong. It is a beautiful world. 

Day 3: I'm thankful for my parents. They love me for me. They support me and my decisions... even if they don't agree with them. I can honestly tell them anything. And if I needed them, they would be here in 2 seconds.

Day 4: I'm thankful for my sisters. They are my best friends. I would do anything for them, and I know they would do anything for me.

Day 4: (opps a repeat!): I'm thankful for my crazy big brother. He was the best playmate growing up, and he's the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back. And I know if I needed him, he'd be there in a heartbeat.

Day 5: I'm thankful for books. I have lived many stories that were never mine and traveled many places I have never been.

Day 6: I am so thankful for the right to vote. Women were the last to have that right given to them. 

Day 7: I'm thankful for my warm bed... because today I had my whole world- Joel, Jack & Jude in it snuggled close and warm, and I don't think there is a feeling more whole than that. It warmed my soul :)

Day 8: cloth diapers

Day 9: the silence that comes from living in the country

Day 10: anxiety medications :)

Day 11: I am thankful for the opportunity to be an entrepreneur like my father. I will never forget when I hung up the phone after speaking with the State of Ohio about my business license, the lady on the other end of the receiver saying to me, "... and Olivia, congratulations on the opening of your business." It was a real monumental moment for me... one you don't forget.

Monday, November 5, 2012

2 months old

Two whole months!  You are smiling in response to us and cooing now.  

Your hair is growing back and you finally grew some long, beautiful, black lashes.  

You are a total snuggle bug like your Daddy and every night I have to hold you for a good hour or two or you won't sleep in the rock n' play next to our bed.  

You've also started to hate bath-time, it's not pleasant for either of us.

And you now weigh over 13lbs!

Our beautiful boy :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012


 "...It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold...” 
--Anne Lamott

It's been almost a year since I shed a tear for you, but today... today I have been over-come with thoughts of you and what could have been.  I looked down at your baby brother today, who holds the name we chose for you... and I sobbed.  

I'm now writing this through blurry eyes... 

I will never understand it.

I held your brother, Jude, close to my chest today and hoped God was doing the same with you.

An acquaintance on facebook shared that she just lost her baby.  I gave her the link to the story about you to hopefully comfort her... and it all came rushing back. 

I remembered being in the sunroom, staring outside... sitting in the old, wood rocking chair when the phone rang.  And the nurse, in not so many words, told me to let go of hope- and at that moment, it very appropriately began to rain.  

A spring shower.  And I took your older brother outside.  I wanted to feel it.  I think I would have been angry if the sun was shining. 

And when I found out I was pregnant with your baby brother, I cried tears of fear instead of joy.  You were on my mind. 

Grief is unpredictable.  The weather is cold. 

Thinking of you today.  Sending you light and love and trying to let go. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dear Jude

"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, 
worry about the future, 
or anticipate troubles, 
but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly." 
-- Buddha

Dear Jude,

It's amazing... 
You are amazing. 
Not even two months old, and already teaching me life lessons.

Tonight you were a challenge.  Everyone else fell asleep but you.  You wanted to be with me.  And after I did a load of dishes, you started to cry so I carried you down the hall into your room and laid you on the changing table.

And as I changed your diaper mindlessly... I noticed you stopped moving your legs. 
You were completely still.
I looked up at you...and you smiled at me. 

You brought me back to the moment.

After that, we had a lengthy, slow paced... completely in the moment... conversation.
You mostly listened, cooed a few times and smiled occasionally.

It was a good talk, and you're finally asleep... off to bed we go.

Love always,
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