Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Today, One Year Ago

I got the phone call early in the morning. They told us that you were going downhill quickly and that you probably wouldn't make it through the day.

We all quickly made arrangements and soon mom and all of your children were surrounding your bedside. We held hands around you, laid our hands on you, and prayed. We prayed for your peace. We prayed for your comfort. We prayed in thanksgiving for having you in our lives. We cried and we comforted each other.

I was so happy that we were all there for you. So many of us that they had to move you down the hall to a larger room to accommodate your whole family. We all sat around your bedside and told our favorite stories about you. I knew you could hear us. I knew you were enjoying it. Every time someone would tell a story about one of your passions your breathing would speed up and your mouth would twitch as though you were trying to talk. Trying to add to the stories.

It was a day all about you. So often you have taken a backseat in your family life. Happy to let your kids have the spotlight. Never really having a party or the focus on you. But this day. This day was all about you. We could feel your love for all of us in that room with you. And we all agreed that each time one of us would tell you that we loved you we could just feel your desire to say "I love you" back. You were always so quick to tell us you loved us throughout our lives and we could feel it that entire day too.

Your health deteriorated more as the day went on and I was so grateful that you had The Anointing of the Sick just the night before. I knew it made you feel better and it was such a blessing to witness. I almost felt like I was watching you being baptized into your new life. Your spiritual life. And as the day went on and I knew you would not be with us much longer I was comforted that your soul was prepared and ready for God.

When everyone was out of the room I spoke with you. I told you it was okay to let go. To let your body relax. We all said what we needed to say. You knew how much we loved you and we knew how much you loved us. We were going to be okay. We were going to take care of mom. You had nothing to worry about. I told you again how much I loved you and thanked you for being such a wonderful father. If you wanted to let go we were going to be alright.

Still, the day wore into the night. The hospice nurse came in to stay with us and enjoyed hearing stories about how you and mom met, the musicals you were in together, and your passions. I told the hospice nurse that I had a feeling you were waiting until we all left to pass on. I thought you might be worried about us and didn't want us to be there when you passed away. You have always been so private about certain things. You have always had such a strong, personal relationship with God. I thought maybe you wanted it to be just you and God. I spoke with the hospice nurse about my feelings as she assured me that she has seen that many times. Sometimes the person passes on when all is quiet and the family members have gone.

It was late. Most everyone had gone home. Mom was exhausted. She hadn't eaten or slept much. She was planning on sleeping in your room with you but I knew she wouldn't sleep. I was worried about her and she was worried about me. Mom was worried about me being so pregnant and not having had much food and being too tired. We talked it over and I told her I had a feeling you were waiting for us to leave. We finally agreed to go home and sleep and come back first thing in the morning.

We said our I love you's and our goodbyes one more time and we went home.

Ten minutes after I got home I received a phone call from the hospice nurse letting me know that you passed away.

I jumped back into my car, picked up mom and Anne, and we went back to the nursing home to see you. We weren't sure why. We just felt we needed to. When we walked back into the room it felt differently. We could feel that you were gone.

There were no tears. We were so relieved for you, and I'm sure, a bit numb. As we got back into the car for the ride home we all felt very peaceful. We looked up at the stars and the beautiful moon and knew that it was just the kind of gorgeous night that you would marvel at. And now you had the best view of all.

One year has passed. I don't know how to feel about that. With each holiday that came and went without you I felt like I had an excuse for feeling so sad. It was the first Christmas without you. It was the first Easter without you. It was the first Father's Day without you. And now that the first year has passed am I supposed to miss you less? Because that is not how it works for me. As time moves on I feel I am missing you more.

I guess I thought I would see signs of you everywhere I looked and be comforted. I thought I would dream of you often. I thought perhaps I could have conversations with you. But they never came. And it has made me miss you more.

But every now and then I do know you are with me.

Thank you for making me laugh when I was sitting on the back steps tying my shoes. I was all alone in the house hurrying to get to church to help mom plan your funeral. It really caught me by surprise when I sneezed so loudly and then heard your voice clear as day say, "Gesundheit!" It put the biggest smile on my face. It had been years since I'd heard you say that.

And thank you for staying with me when Todd was deer hunting. I know it is silly to be frightened in my own house especially now that I am an adult. But it was a brand new house, and it seemed so big, and I felt so exposed. And I had to put on a brave face for my children even though I was nervous on the inside. The minute I asked you to come and stay with me and watch over me and the kids I immediately felt peaceful and calm. I knew you were with me making me feel safe and protected just like you did when I was a little girl.

Most of all, thank you for being with mom. The conversations you two have now are so real that I can not deny them. It is just more proof of your soulful connection to each other in life and in death. It shows me what real love is. And it also helps release any lingering fear of death I might have had.

I still miss you, Dad. I suspect I always will. Whether you have been gone for one year or 40 years I will miss you. But I take comfort in knowing we will see each other again. If there is one thing you have taught me it is to know God, to serve God, and to trust in God's love for us. And in that love we will live on forever.

I love you, Dad.

Monday, June 28, 2010

More Than I Bargained For

This past weekend while Todd was away I took the boys to see Toy Story 3. Until two weeks ago the boys had never even seen the first two Toy Story movies, but once they did they were hooked. Knowing they would have a difficult time with daddy being up north cutting wood at the cabin without them (it was too stormy and buggy and dangerous) I figured it would be a good time to treat them to the movie.

We filed into our seats and began chowing on our popcorn and soda as the movie began. I was a bit worried about the boys being able to sit through all 109 minutes of the movie but the movie was so fun and so entertaining that before we knew it the movie was coming to a close.

And then there it was. The last ten minutes of the movie. Now, I had read reviews for the movie online. I had read articles like the one Owen Gleiberman wrote at ew.com, "Message to men: Yes, it's okay to cry at 'Toy Story 3'", and yet I was still completely taken by surprise. Perhaps because the when I read articles like the one above I got the feeling that everyone got choked up over the feelings of nostalgia. Of being a kid again. And of lost innocence. That's not what got me.

It all started when Andy and his mom walked into his almost empty bedroom to grab the last of his boxes before he leaves for college and Andy's mother says to him, "Oh Andy." and gives him a big hug. I nearly lost it. I had to bite the inside of my cheek as hard as I could to keep myself from sobbing out loud. I thought for sure I would loose it and let out a loud, choking, uncontrollable wailing, "Waaaa-ahhhh-ahhhh. GASP WAAAAAAA!" Joey looked over at me, my trembling mouth, and rested his head on my shoulder. It did NOT help me in holding back my sobs.

Finally, my ten minutes of emotional torture were over and I had to quickly dry my eyes and wipe the sweat off my face before we could get up and walk out of the theater.

On our way home I was trying to get my mind off of the heartwarming scene that was still floating around in my head. I was asking the boys how they liked the movie and which parts were their favorites. They were all eagerly giving me their reviews when Joey said, "Mom, why were you sad at the end? It was a happy ending. Movies always have a happy ending."

The minute I tried to speak my voice began to crack and break. It took me a while to try and regain my composure but I finally squeaked out, "It was hard for me to see the part when Andy had his room all packed up and was leaving for college because I don't want to think about my boys leaving for college just yet. Mommy, will (squeak) really (sniff) miss you guys."

And my dear, sweet, little Tommy said, "Don't worry mom. We won't grow up THAT fast."

And with that I was quietly sobbing so hard that all I could do was nod my head. Yes, honey, that is exactly how fast it goes. Slow it down, my babies. It is going by too quickly.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Joining In

Getting to know YOU

The Questions:

1.If you had 5000.00 to spend on plastic surgery what would you have done?
2. Do you watch Soap operas and if so what is your favorite and why?
3. Favorite clothing brand?
4. An afternoon shopping spree at your favorite store or maid service for a year?
5. would you ever vajazzle?
6. Favorite Disney Princess?
7. Last movie that made you bawl your eyes out?
8. Have you ever broken any bones and if so what?

1- After breastfeeding 3 kiddos my boobs were horrendous. I felt like they looked deformed. I can only imagine what they will look like after I am done with my fourth. Egad. If I had $5000 to spend on plastic surgery I would definitely get my boobs done. Not big. Just a C or something.

2- I have never watched soap operas. I have never really tried either. My mom has been watching As The World Turns for the last 30 or so years (how long has it been on?) but I just couldn't get into it.

3- I don't really have a favorite clothing brand. I really am not impressed by labels, to be honest. But I do love shopping at The Limited. I could buy EVERYTHING in that store. (and right now online they are having 70% off a HUGE selection of their clothes. woot woot!)

4- Shopping Spree at my favorite store! I REALLY don't have many clothes right now. I am still in the process of loosing my baby weight (man, this is really taking me a LOoooooooonnnnggg time!) so I have a limited selection in my current size. By the time I get down to my ideal weight (I'll get there eventually) I will definitely have to go shopping for new clothes.

5- Okay, I didn't even know what vajazzle meant. I had to look it up. Umm. Hmm. I guess I don't really know WHY a person would do that, but whatever trips your trigger I guess. I don't think it is for me though. I'll pass.

6- My favorite Disney princess is Belle. She is smart and funny and feisty and brave. Love her.

7- Toy Story 3 made me bawl my eyes out. I'll talk more about that later.

8- The only bone I've ever broken was my tailbone during labor with my first child. That. Was not fun.

Friday, June 25, 2010

PSF- Done!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily
Do you remember this picture?
This is what our house looked like when we first bought it one year ago. Of course we knew the entire house would have to be redone. You've seen all of those pictures here, here, here, and here.

These are the pictures of the outside of the house. A whole other project in itself. You know we had to fill in the in ground pool that was in the backyard. You know we had to cut down all of the rotten trees, level the whole yard, put in a new driveway, add a patio in the back, put up a new fence in place of the rotten fence, and then replant all the new trees, bushes, flowers, and grass.
But we had to wait until spring to do most of that. So for the rest of the year the yard looked a lot like this.
I had a hard time keeping the boys out of the dirt. It was not fun. And not pretty. It got pretty depressing looking at it all year. Thankfully, we were finally able to get to the landscaping this spring and our grass was planted a month ago.
Ladies and gentleman! We have grass!
And trees, and bird baths, and bushes, and flowers!
And more flowers! I planted 32 pots of flowers (and 6 pots of tomatoes, peas, and peppers) and yet somehow it doesn't even look as though I have that many in the yard. Humpf.
And this is the new fence (that just needs to be enclosed on the side now that the heavy machinery does not need to get into the backyard anymore).
The boys are no longer restricted to playing in the driveway (although they still love to ride their bikes up and down it).
I love watching all of the birdies picking around in my little rock gardens.
I've always loved spending time outside and now I really love it. What a difference grass and flowers can make.
Now if I could just find a way to get the bunnies and deer to quit eating my pansies and impatients I'll be doing great!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On The Down Low


I've been looking to be inspired so I thought I would join in on today's You Capture. This week's theme is Get Down Low. So I did. This is what I got:

How low can you go?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dad's Love

Your trust in me gave me confidence.

Your abundance of compliments gave me self esteem.

Your belief in my abilities gave me drive.

Your amusement at my spunk and independence made me feel I could do anything.

Your acceptance and support of all my decisions made me trust myself.

Your attendance at each and every play, game, musical, and concert made me feel important.
You laughed at all of my silly jokes and sarcastic quips.

You didn't bat an eye when I wore baggy jeans, your old flannel shirts, and combat boots, and insisted I was model material even in my most hideous phases.

When my heart was broken you wanted to break his face and told me over and over again how stupid a man must be to let me go.

Your love for me showed me that I was worthy of love.

You shaped who I am.

You live on through me.

And it is no surprise, no coincidence, that I married a man so undeniably similar to you.

And I know that he will be just as influential, just as loving, just as wonderful a father to her as you were to me. And, like me, she will grow up knowing one of the most powerful loves there is.
Thank you.
Happy Father's Day.
I love you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

She's All That

Grace's personality is really starting to shine. She is the easiest baby on the face of the earth. She sleeps approximately 12-14 hours every night. She eats well. She travels like a pro. She spends much of her time crawling from brother to brother, mom to dad, giving out kisses and hugs. She is so close to walking she can taste it. She grabs onto the couch (or table, or mom, or dad, or brother) and stands up with ease. The minute she has her balance she lets go and tests herself, laughing when she realizes she is standing all by herself. She throws mini temper tantrums when I try to change her diaper. She constantly has her chunky little pointer finger on her right hand extended, whether she is babbling to us, showing us what she sees, or scolding her brothers. She is an enthusiastic pointer. She loves looking at her pretty shoes and zooming cars with her brothers. She is very good at shaking her head "no" at us but has yet to master nodding "yes". She screams when she sees mama take the bag of cheese curds out of the fridge and smacks her hands on her highchair until she gets some. She loves noodles, blueberries, and oyster crackers. She can't sit still for five seconds when we are in church but she loves to snuggle up on my lap at home, holding my pointer finger and watching one of the boys' movies. She scrunches up her face and wrinkles her nose when she is really happy. She does not cry often but when she does mama is the only one that can calm her down. When we say, "How big is Gracie?" she throws her hands up above her head as we say, "SOOOooo big!" When daddy walks in the door she shrieks and claps her hands and throws her pudgy little arms around his neck when he picks her up.

She is sweet.
She is dramatic.
She is inquisitive.
She is smart.
She is calm.
She is silly.
She is curious.
She is a goof.
She is lovable.
She is affectionate.
She is feisty.
She is mischievous.
She is funny.
She is a dream come true.
At just 10 month old she is ALL THAT and more.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I Just Want You To Know

It is never too late to chase your dreams.
If you can dream it, you can do it.

Don't be afraid to look like a fool.
Who cares who is watching?
Dance like you want to dance.
Sing as loud as your voice will allow.
Act like a fool.

Life is for living.
Right now.
Don't waste time.

Worry not about what others think.
They are too worried about what others are thinking about them
to worry about you.

This life
It is yours for the taking.
Grab it.
Seize it.
You want it?
Take it.

Work hard.
Work long.
There will be struggles.
Work harder.
Don't give up.

You can have all that you dreamed.

Be you.
There is only one.
Be proud.

Your attributes and your flaws
make you who you are.
Embrace them both.

Do not let yourself stand in your way.
Tell yourself you can
And you will

Live life.
Don't be afraid.
Live well.
Live hard.

Friday, June 11, 2010

PSF- Rush, Rush, Rush

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

This past week has been a gush of activity. Typical of the last week of school we have been busy with school picnics, plays, reports, projects, bake sales, and carnivals. School supplies have been amassed and brought home and are now scattered around my house. Yearbooks have been purchased and are in the process of getting the all important classmates' signatures. There have been a few late nights thanks to my forgetfulness and subsequent scrambling to make treats for a boy scout bake sale and yet more treats for the school picnic. I think I am done making treats for a while.

This morning I awoke to a big crash of thunder and a downpour of rain. One of my very favorite ways to wake up. Because of the storm it was unusually dark outside and even though I knew I should get out of bed I decided to take a few minutes to enjoy the stormy lullaby. I nestled down in my blankets and listened to the rain before the last-day-of-school madness broke.

Just like every other day this school year the morning was a rush. I rushed the boys through their breakfast. And rushed the boys to get dressed. Then I rushed to gather the garbage and recyclables for pick up. And I rushed through making Joey's lunch. Then I really rushed the boys into their jackets and backpacks and shoes because it was time to go.

And even though we were rushed and we were running a tad behind I just had to capture my boys on their very last day of 1st grade and 4K.
I begged Ben to get in on the picture but he was in his usual jovial mood he is always in when his brothers go off to school without him and he didn't want to participate.
I reminded him that next year when his brothers go off to 2nd grade and kindergarten he will be going to 3K. That made him feel a bit better.
But not much.

I have to get back on schedule now so that we can make it to the grocery store before Tommy's graduation ceremony at 10:50. Then it is another rushed lunch so that we can pile everyone back into the car to pick Joey up at school for an early release at 1:10. Rush, rush, rush.

I am very much looking forward to this summer. No schedules to keep. No place we HAVE to be. No more rushed mornings and rushed lunches. This summer (unlike last summer when we were busy building a house, selling a house, saying goodbye to my father, and having a baby) we will just BE.

The sky is getting lighter now. The sun is fighting to break through. The stormy rush this morning is soon to give way to sunny, summer and it's warm, breezey ways. And I can not wait.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Dancey Pants Family

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn

All it takes is a little music at a family picnic and we are having fun.

Joey started it off by jumping on the "stage" singing into his foam sword and dancing along with the stereo and all the other kids quickly joined in. Even Grace wanted to dance. After watching her flap her little arms and kick her chubby legs as she sat in her stroller I decided to take her out and let her join in the fun.

It's good to see that the "can break into song and dance at any moment" gene continues on in our family.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I'm A Big Girl Now!

Lately I've been positively reinforcing every tiny milestone the boys have with, "Wow, Ben! You took off your shoes all by yourself! Such a big boy! Great job!" Or, "Tommy, you put your bowl in the sink so nicely! Thank you! You are getting so big!" I am always bragging up their big boy behavior.

Yesterday I was on my way to the bathroom with my little shadow, Ben, following closely behind. I was desperate for just a moment alone (what's that?) so when I saw he was planning on entering the bathroom with me I turned around and said, "No-no, Ben. I want to go to the bathroom all by myself."

Ben immediately gasped and said, "WOW! Good job, Mom!"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

WW- A Good Way To Get The Boys To Put Their Toys Away

She is on the move!
On a mission to find toys...

to chew on.
Boys, if you don't like slobber on your toys, you'd better hide your stuff!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bring On Summer

This past weekend up north was the most fun we've had at the cabin in a long time. A very long time. Just about everything seemed to go well.

The ride up was long. Tommy refused to sleep at all and Grace only slept a half an hour and then cried for the last 40 minutes of the trip. Then she fell asleep when we were five minutes away from the cabin. Go figure. Still, the kids were all well behaved considering their lack of sleep and even obliged me in trying to get my new header pic the minute we arrived.

We got quite a few good pictures but decided to try again that night so that we could have a pretty sky as the backdrop. After we got back from dinner at the kids' favorite bar/restaurant we took a few more pictures and found a winner. See the new header? I'm liking it.

That night the kiddos went to sleep really well. I was wiped out and in bed by 10:00 and so happy when I was able to get a decent night's sleep. And then an energetic little fellow decided to wake me bright and early at 5 a.m. I couldn't figure out what the loud, metallic tapping sound was until later that morning when I followed the noise.

I found this confused little guy: Can you see him on top of the METAL roof of the wood shed? How about on top of this METAL boat? See him?Here is a better picture. It is Woody the Woodpecker of course! Not sure why he thought he could get his breakfast from metal, but the sound sure was annoying at 5 in the morning.

After listening to Woody for far too long I dragged myself out of bed and woke the boys up. Breakfast at the cabin is very special because they are allowed a treat that they very rarely get. Bakery! Of course I had to give them each a banana and milk with their bakery so that I wouldn't feel too guilty about the sugar overload. The boys happily scarfed down breakfast, got dressed, and headed outside.

The boys went down to the water's edge to chat about the day's plans as daddy drank his coffee. The day would include putting the pier in, fishing, and a bonfire. The boys' perfect day.

Soon it was time to get to work. The boys tried to be patient as daddy got the pier ready. Grace finally woke up from her 14 hour slumber and decided all of that sleep (and the 90 degree heat) made her sleepy so we spent much of our time on the swing. And it made her even sleepier.

Todd (and his dad and a family friend) got to work on the pier while the boys waded in the warm water looking for rocks and minnows.
The ladies cheered them on from the cushy blanket in the shade.

As soon as the pier was in the boys wasted no time getting their fishing poles. Daddy attached their bobbers (no hooks or bait just yet) and off they went to practice their casting. They were on that pier from morning until night.

Literally. Morning until night.

Somehow we managed to get the boys inside to eat and sleep but early the next morning they were out on the pier casting again.

I'd say it was a pretty successful weekend. Not only did I get my header pic, the boys got to cast night and day, the weather was hot and perfect, we roasted tons of marshmallows, and got plenty of vitamin D and precious sleep, but Grace also taught herself to crawl. AND, we got back home safe and sound to enjoy the rest of the Memorial Day weekend with a parade, lots of bike riding, and planting my garden.

It is weekends like these that bring that rosy glow of summer into focus. I can feel it's warmth. I can smell the suntan lotion. I can taste the watermelon and blueberries and cherries. I can hear the lawn mowers running all day long and the children playing in the distance. I can see the evening sunsets getting peachier and later.

Yes, summer is almost here. And, thanks to this weekend, I can hardly wait.

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson