Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nine



Dear Angels, Brynleigh and Victoria,

July 25, 2003-January 29, 2004 Such a short time to be with us.


As I think about you and what it means to be a nine year old girl and approaching those years they call the "tween" years, I wonder what kind of nine-year-olds you would be.  Would you sing Justin Bieber songs with me and dance around the living room or roll your eyes at me and groan like your big sister?  Would you like Taylor Swift songs instead or maybe both?  Would you have played with dolls and tea sets?  Dress up? Would you like to read?  Would you be "girly-girls" or a tom-boys or a lovely blend of both like Lilli?  Maybe I would have one of each in you just because you would want to be different from one another.

How would we be celebrating your birthday if you were here?  We'd dance to the Beatles Birthday Song of course!  I suppose I would have to let one of you choose the cake flavor and one of you choose the ice cream flavor.  Maybe we'd just make 2 smaller cakes and have what you both like.  If you were here, I'd buy 2 flavors of ice cream.  Whatever you wanted.  What sorts of gifts would you want?  American Girl Dolls?  Or would you be more into Wii games?



I'd love to talk with you and know what your favorite colors are, what you'd like to be when you grow up.  As I have watched your brothers and sisters grow, I have missed so much about you.  I missed brushing your hair and putting it into piggy-tails, I missed your matching dresses, ruffled socks and pretty shoes. I missed teaching you your ABC's and how to read, singing Jesus Loves Me and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with you and all the Veggie Tales Songs.  While I was cleaning up after your brother, I even missed the mischief and messes you might have made.


All of this dreaming and wondering has me looking beyond your unique perfect beauty, so intricately woven together into one body and imagining you as something else: whole; independent of one another and that shared body that so hindered you and shortened your life.  It has me imagining you doing all those things you could never do on earth; little things like breathing on your own, rolling over, sitting up, holding your arms up for me to hold you.  


I've longed for those things so often as I've missed you here on earth but also, it makes me long that much more for Heaven, where we'll DANCE!




Until then Brynleigh and Victoria. . . I love you!  


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Change

Change is happening everyday and there's always more on the horizon.  Life is fluid and one must be able to ride the ebb and flow of the tide that change brings.  I try to be flexible, to bend and not break, but truthfully:  I HATE CHANGE!
This is not something that should come out of the mouth of someone who's husband serves our country.  Being a military wife is all about change.  It's all about never getting to stick to a schedule because you never know when your husband is going to be around or when he's going to have to pull a 24 hour duty.  It's about the unpredictability of planning for birthdays or anniversaries that inevitably don't work out right because your spouse isn't here.  He's got to train.  He's got a duty. He's got a class. He's in a war.  

Being a military spouse means leaving loved ones behind, sometimes on the other side of the country and never getting to be a part of their day-to-day lives.  It means missing birthday parties and "all girls weekends" with your aunts and the cousins who used to be your best friends.  It means desperately wanting to see your ailing grandparents but not having the money to fly so far with your kids.  


Family celebrations are discussed after they happen and though you want details, only the highlights get relayed.  It means children who don't know their grandparents because time and distance do not permit it.  It means nurturing relationships with family via phone, computer, and email when all you really want is to share the couch or the dinner conversation.   

We make new friends quickly, pouring heart and soul into relationships because they are so essential.  We need people who understand; people who live what we live and do what we do every day.  Then we watch as all those treasured friends move away.  They are gone to the next duty station and we are left with only another number saved to our cell phones and a promise to call often.  Calls come frequently for a while and then only every few weeks as change makes room for new friends.  

We live in a place only long enough to become comfortable, to learn how to find our way around in a new community, which areas to avoid, where to shop, which restaurants have good service, and, if you're us, long enough to establish good medical care and know which hospitals are equipped to handle children.  Then, like reopening an old wound, it's time to start over.  It's time for new schools, new doctors, and new friends who again become like the family that you miss so much "back home."  

The truth is this.  I miss my mom and dad and I mourn the relationship they *should* have with my kids.  I miss my sisters, my brother, my niece and my nephews and all my aunts, uncles and cousins.  I weep for every missed birthday party and thanksgiving and Christmas get-together.  I miss my friends from each prior duty station and those that have moved on.  While I love the people that I've met here, part of me wishes that I'd never met them because I know that too soon I'll have to say goodbye.  
This is how I feel about change.  Yet. . . time marches on and more change is coming.   The man is training and a deployment is in our future.  We will adapt.  We will overcome.  We will bend with the winds of change so that we do not break.  
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tangled

I recently started a new weight loss plan.  I'm doing Ideal Protein  which is basically low carb but with packaged food like Jenny Craig.  I got on the scale this morning to find I'd lost another .8 lbs. I have to think it's too good to be true and I won't keep it up. Weight Watchers usually tells you that you lose more the first week, I'm sure it's the same with this. On a good note though, I wasn't hungry yesterday! I didn't even eat all my required veggies and I still wasn't hungry. I only ate a little over a cup at lunch (instead of the required 2) and only a little over a cup at dinner (instead of the required 2) I have to do better today though. Maybe that has something to do with why I only lost .8 lbs instead of the 1 full pound I lost on Monday and Tuesday.  Yes, I've only been doing this for 3 days and I've lost almost 3 pounds.  Too good to be true?  Maybe.  The jury is still out on that.  

Bad news over here is I'm running out of veggie choices. I am down to very little broccoli at my house, out of asparagus, out of Brussels sprouts. I'm down to just zucchini and yellow squash and peppers and mushrooms. I need to get back to the store. Although, I might have some frozen stuff in the freezer I can pillage. I want cauliflower and kohlrabi but I can't find kohlrabi. It must not be in season yet.   Wait a second! I have a cabbage I can eat too. I just don't want to eat it the WAY I can eat it. I want it the way Ms. Sheryl from church cooks it. Yum. Ms. Sheryl makes the BEST cabbage.  I could eat a whole pot of it.  What is her secret?  BACON GREASE of course!  This is Georgia.  What do I do with it if I can only eat it with salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar?   (insert heavy sigh) 



  • I'm going to be gone most of the day today, which is great!  We've got a tree company out here trimming our personal yard forest and taking out 4 "problem trees" for us.  The whole process makes me nervous, what with people dangling from ropes from pines with chainsaws and such.  Then there's the part about dropping 2 ton trees so close to my house.  I don't mind that I have appointments today.  
    Willow's got a hearing test at 10:30 in Savannah. She failed the one they did last week at school even WITH the hearing aid. She should have near perfect hearing with the BAHA clipped on her head so something isn't right. (of course. . . can anything EVER be right with that child?) I have to stop at that chiropractor's office to get some more Ideal Protein packets for myself. I'm not running low or anything. I just like to save gas and kill 2 birds with one stone while I'm in town.

    Matt should be off work at noonish which puts him home by one. I will come home, feed the kids lunch, then Willow has her OT appointment in Richmond Hill at 2:15. I figure the money I spend in gas coming all the way home is still less than it would cost me to feed the kids fast food lunch. YUCK. This afternoon we'll go see the new Titans movie in the theater.  Gotta do something fun on spring break, right?  And Dad's off early too so he can go with us!  YAY!  

    In other news, Willow is supposed to be having an "extra" tooth that's hiding up in the roof of her mouth removed in a couple of months.  It's in preparation for getting braces later.   Do you know that we had the same surgery scheduled 3 times in San Antonio and every time, something came up and she couldn't have it done?  Now, for some reason lab work that she had done has revealed that she has a clotting disorder with her blood and caution should be taken with surgeries.  Is God trying to tell me something? 

    I wanted to get the tooth removed for the soul purpose of putting braces on her teeth. But I have to ask myself "why?" 1) You can't see her teeth when she smiles. 2) Her teeth are incredibly hard to keep clean WITHOUT braces. Add metal into her mouth and it will be much worse. 3) The orthodontist didn't guarantee that braces would fix her "underbite" problem. He said that it could only "make it better" Not fix it. 4) The child has a hard enough time breathing as it is. Her orthodontic treatment includes a palate expander and head gear. The head gear to be worn at night. WITH her oxygen? And her bipap mask? Is that even possible? And all of this because I want my child to be "pretty?" Because really, if I'm being honest, that's the biggest reason why I wanted to fix her teeth. Because I don't like the way they look when she does her fake smile in pictures. She looks like a pug and that's sad because she has enough problems as it is without adding crooked teeth.

    So, once again I'm tangled.  Emotionally torn over what to do for one of my kids.  Life is so complicated sometimes.  Sometimes I feel just like this:  


    Maybe that's why I like this movie so much.  I can totally relate.  


Friday, February 17, 2012

The Stranger

My friend Erin (who shows up often in my posts) got me started a couple days on creative writing.  All she did was mention that she needed to get started on a creative writing post for Write on Edge about a BLT.  I thought "That's a funny prompt!" but then I started writing. . . and it was fun!   So, here it is.  My first 400 word Write on Edge prompted creative writing.  Maybe I'll write that book I've been dreaming of putting together!

The Stranger


The bacon on his sandwich was overdone. It reminded Cyrus of his mother. She used to burn everything.  As he sat, slowly chewing his BLT, he contemplated how he was going to handle the next few days, alone.  Why did he let Alice go on vacation?  He’d have to think seriously about finding a new secretary if Alice kept asking to go see her daughter in Tulsa every month. 

A fly buzzed around his head and landed on his plate where he had left a few tomato seeds and some toast crumbs.  He swatted at the invader but missed by a mile. Across the room, he heard the jingling of the bells on the door and the hostess squeaked "Hello! Welcome to Benny's!" 

Cyrus glanced up to see a middle-aged man, limping as he pushed his way through the door. A patch covered the stranger’s left eye and his hair was slick with oil and slightly disheveled as though he just got out of bed.  His unshaven face was weary.  Cyrus was sure it had been quite some time since the man had touched a bar of soap and warm water. 

Cyrus picked up his coffee cup and threw back his head to get the last of the cold liquid from the bottom.  He wiped his upper lip on his sleeve and started to stand.   The cloud of stench that surrounded the stranger reached Cyrus before the old man made it to his table.  He smelled like perspiration, campfire and stale beer.  Cyrus connected with one piercing blue eye. 

“Sit down.  We’ve got to talk.”  The stranger growled. 
“Do I know you?”  Cyrus eyed him suspiciously.
“No.” he said flatly.  “But I know your mother.” 
“My mother?” Cyrus lowered himself onto the bench.  “She’s been dead for 10 years!”
“Dead?” the man raised one bushy, grey eyebrow. 
“Yes.  Who are you?” Cyrus challenged.
“My name is Martin.”  The stranger mumbled.  “I worked for your mother in New Orleans up until a few months ago.”
New Orleans?  Cyrus shook his head. “My mother would never travel that far south. She couldn’t stand the heat!”  Cyrus again tried to stand.  The man came to stand in front of him. 
He leaned over Cyrus’s shoulder.  Hot, stale breath assaulted Cyrus’s nostrils. The old man whispered, “Your mother is very much alive.  I can take you to her. . .but first?  I need food.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fun at the Medieval Faire!

We've been busy around our house.  We had been planning on taking the kids on an overnight trip down to Florida for the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire and the kids wanted to earn some extra spending money so I put them to work!  Here they are with happy faces, scrubbing the grout in my kitchen.  Perfect kid job!  They are lower to the floor, after all!



 We stayed over night in a hotel on Friday night and the weather was so beautiful on Saturday morning that the kids wanted to swim!  Ahhhh.  Tis a lovely early February in sunny Florida!














Willow looked more like this.  She still has a cast on her leg.  No pool for her!









We spent the day at the fairgrounds wandering amongst the peasants, enjoying sunshine and fun activities like archery, horse back riding, sword fighting and magic. 



Met up with a small Genghis Khan. . .

    and an elf princess!


Willow and I also got our hair plaited by the Queen's royal hair lady.


A lovely time was had by all!  We hope to do it again next year!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Birthday Matt!

Today I'd like to say a few words about this man.  Isn't he cute?  He belongs to us.  Sometimes I still can't believe he's really ours. 

Today is his birthday.  We have so much to celebrate!  Here's where I gush over my love. . .

He is my constant.  He never waivers in his devotion to me. 

He makes me laugh because sometimes he is just silly. 

He's the most intelligent person I know but he doesn't think he is so he's not a "know it all." 

He's extremely interesting to talk to.  This would be why my kids would rather ride home in his car than in mine because they want to talk about all those things that mom doesn't know about, like intricate details of battle history and politics. 

He's a great dad!  He's very "hands on."  He changed as many diapers as I did.  He cleaned up as much vomit and snot.  He cooks all the kids favorite foods.  He washes their laundry and mates their socks.  He reads to them.  He plays with them.  He is the "fun parent."

He supports me in anything I want to do.  He really thinks I can do anything I put my mind to and I appreciate that. 

He is taking ballroom dancing with me. . . just because he knows it makes me happy. 

I'm pretty sure that the day my husband was born, the world received a gift.  Oh I love him so! 



Monday, January 30, 2012

Pause. January's almost over?

The month is drawing to a close.  I managed to make it through my commitment to blog everyday.  Some of my blogs weren't fabulous but I think I did pretty well since it's been so long since I did this all the time.  Tomorrow is Matt's birthday, although we aren't celebrating it tomorrow because Tuesdays are busy.  My plans for tomorrow are as follows:  Nurse comes to take care of Willow at 9.  I clean house for a friend from 9:30-11:30 or so, come back and pick up the kids (and nurse) for an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon.  We'll know tomorrow afternoon whether or not Willow is going to get her cast off and wear a removable one for a while.  Hopefully she'll be able to bear weight on her foot soon!  After her appointment, I will be picking up the rest of the kids back at home and running them back into town for dance.  We have musical theater, hip hop and tap tomorrow night but we also have a choir concert at Noah's school at 6:00 so we'll probably have to skip the tap class.  There goes my exercise for the day. 

I can't believe that January is almost over but it's because I have a lot of days like the one that's planned for tomorrow.  Time flies when you're busy and I'm REALLY busy.  Sometimes it's stressful but for the most part, I LOVE MY LIFE!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A letter to my angel babies

It's January 29, 2012.  Eight years ago today our family made the hardest decision we've ever had to make.  We had to let our babies die.  Brynleigh Belle and Victoria Grace were born July 25, 2003.  They were 2 months early.  They were tiny.  They were broken.  They were a miracle!  During the 6 months prior to withdrawing life support, we watched helplessly as they struggled to survive with the conjoined body they were given.  We listened to their shared, malformed heart beat through the monitors, heard the swish and pump of the ventilator, the beeping when their blood oxygen levels were too low.  It was constant.

They lived and died in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Wilford Hall Hospital in San Antonio.  Natural light could only be seen through the window for part of the day.  It would never be enough to replace what they missed of the world outside.  They never felt the sunshine's warmth on their faces or the wind blowing across their pink cheeks.  They never walked barefoot through green grass or felt sand between their toes.  They never were able to smell flowers or bread baking or fresh salty air of the sea.  We'll never know if they would be girly-girls and like pink and princesses and flowers or whether they'd be tomboys who liked to climb trees and play in the dirt.  We have no idea if they'd like to sing or do crafts or ride bikes or swim.  We will never see them dance or hear them giggle. 

Even their cries were silent.



While even now there is grief for those lost moments with them, more than that there is gratitude. 


My darlings, Bryn and Tori,


As I look back on my life, and remember you, I observe what some would see as hardship. I can only call it a blessing.  It was an honor to know you, even for the short time we were together.  Because of you-- your birth, your life, your death--  I am forever changed.  While I prayed that God would save you, heal you, let you live, at least give us more time. . .He, in His infinite wisdom, had a greater plan for you. . . a purpose that we never could have anticipated.  You see, someday when we all meet again, I will tell you about the brother you never met.  His name is Daniel.  He was a little boy far away in another country that needed a family.  

Because I loved you, I could also love him.  

Then I will tell you about the sister who was on the other side of the world waiting to belong to someone.   Her name is Willow.  She has been sick her whole life just like you only she went through it all for years without a Mama.  

Because I loved you, I could also love her.  

We learned we were stronger than we ever thought we could be. . .because you were born.  We saw you struggle and learned so much from you. . . because you lived!    We have two children in our lives now that we never would have known. . . because you died. We are stronger, wiser, and better people because of you.  I can only say thank you.  Thank you for teaching me about compassion.  Thank you for teaching me how to love.

Loving you until I see your beautiful faces again in Heaven,
Mommy

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Writing contest

I'm thinking about entering this writing contest.  My friend, over at momfog, suggested that it might be fun.  It does sound fun.  I'm definitely interested just to see if I could win something.  My problem though is not writer's block, exactly.  It's having too much stuff to write about.  Here's what the writing contest is all about, in case you didn't feel like clicking the link: 

"Notes & Words is looking for the next great memoirist. We’re calling for short personal essays about the challenges of caring for a child (age 18 or younger), including medical issues (e.g., an accident, illness or diagnosis) or emotional crises (e.g., a death, divorce, breakdown) or one of any one of the more common parenting dramas (e.g., academic, social, athletic, epicurean).  We welcome both humorous and serious essays of up to 800 words." 

I definitely have some material but who do I write about?  All of them in one essay?  It might be over 800 words.  Should I write about the twins?  Having a child with Asperger's?  ADHD?  Adoption?  Take one of my blog posts and elaborate on it?  Maybe I'm over analyzing.  If I keep this up, I may talk myself out of it. 

Any of you have any thoughts? 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Exercise woes

I'm getting older.  I'm getting fatter.  It's not as easy as it used to be to do things as it was when I was in my 20's.  My friend Lauren (see picture at left) has decided that we should exercise together which is wonderful!  It makes sense, she dances at the dance studio where my kids dance. We're in Bible study together.  We live in the same neighborhood.  Great, right?  Except for one thing.  She IS still in her 20's.  I'm in my 30's.  It hasn't been as easy as I'd hoped to get started.  She's in better shape than me because she's a ballerina.  She's got a goal in mind.  I've just got this vague idea that it would be nice to be thinner and I know I should exercise but my loathing for anything that might make me break a sweat is an obstacle that is hard to overcome. 

So yesterday we started with a quick upper body workout that left me feeling like I wanted to cut my arms off.  Life without arms at all might be a better option since I can't lift mine anymore anyway.  Today it was our Couch to 5K day.  We started off walking for 5 min then running for 1 and then walking again for 1 and 1/2.  I think we did that 8 times.  I lost track because all the blood rushed out of my head and I nearly passed out.  I could hear my heart pounding in my ears and there was no way to catch my breath.  My legs were like jello and I thought I might die.  All this extra work and I'm also trying to watch what I eat.  It's difficult to do when exercise makes me want to eat a small farm full of delectable barnyard animals.  Steers and pigs and chickens, OH MY!
What I need to do is find it within myself to change my attitude and just accept the inevitable.  People who want to be healthy and have a body that's reasonably free from rolls of extra flesh, exercise.  That's just what they do.  Many of them even like it.  I can't figure that out. . .but they do.  So the question is:  How do I bring myself from point A (hating that feeling of impending death when I exert myself) to point B (endorphin addiction?) 


Thursday, January 26, 2012

A letter to the public

Dear People in Public,

Today you met a child who has an invisible disability.  He looks like a normal eight year old boy but inside of his beautiful, perfectly formed skull is a brain that is broken.  It didn't develop properly while he was being formed in his birth mother's womb.  This is called schizencephaly.  Would you stare and whisper if it was his legs that were misshapen instead of his parietal lobe?  If instead of a hidden part of his brain called the septum pellucidum being absent, it was his arms? 

The tantrum that you witnessed was not just a child being a "brat."  While you were staring at him and forming your judgments, he was struggling to maintain self control.  He knows right from wrong and can clearly articulate that when he's feeling well.  Today he had just left school where he had to hold it together for his teachers all day.  He was tired.  He was hungry.  He had come back to his family where he is safe to show his struggles.  He knows Mom loves him unconditionally.  Mom is comfort.  Mom is security.  Knowing that after school is his hardest time, this mom had no choice but to take him to a doctor's appointment for his brother.  After waiting to be picked up from school, being told he had to wait in the waiting room was too much for him.  Being tired, hungry and bored pushed him over the edge. 

While you were seeing a boy hit and kick his mother and yell and throw things, I, the woman who knows him better than he knows himself, was seeing progress.  This child's half hearted thumps on my leg with his fist had none of the intensity of tantrums past.  His screams contained no threats of homicide or obscenities.  He may have kicked me but he did not object when I took his shoes away.  He put his teeth on my leg but he didn't bite.  This child who has been an inpatient in a pediatric inpatient psychiatric treatment facility 8 times in his short 8 1/2 years has been on 7 different kinds of medication at one time to keep him from hurting someone else or from cutting his own tongue off!  Yet he never even talks about hurting himself anymore!  He sleeps when he's supposed to sleep.  He makes jokes.  He laughs.  He's a mere shadow of the intense, volatile, angry child he was even a year ago!    He cares about his teeth and proper nutrition.  He is affectionate and works hard in school.  He has increasing empathy for others.  At Thanksgiving when asked what he was thankful for, he announced "Jesus" without any leading. 

So while I thank you, dear lady in the Dr.'s office waiting room for your offer to cut a switch off of a tree outside while he howled in frustration at my feet.  Though it might have looked like my child "just needed a spanking," it won't be necessary.  When my soft, calm words and consistent discipline fail, I'm wise enough to know my child just needs a safe, quiet place to be.   When his daddy picked him up, he promptly fell asleep in the backseat of the car.  Like a toddler who's had too much activity in his day, my "normal" looking 8 year old boy felt much better after a power nap. 

I hope that in the future you will remember my son for whom I've often thought I should buy a shirt proclaiming "I'M NOT A BAD KID. . .I HAVE BRAIN DAMAGE!"  When you see another child struggling, understand that not all disabilities can be seen outwardly.  Even so, the struggle and the stigma are very real.

Thanks.  


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Montage of Messes

Wordless Wednesday: