July 3, 2014

Stuff My Kids Say - London Bridge

Noah has been memorizing a ton of songs left and right. In fact, I'm genuinely surprised when he bursts out singing all the lyrics to something I had no idea he knew. Some are hit and miss but for the most part, he's got them down.

Makes me realize two things:
1 - My kid is smart
2 - My kid is now listening to everything I say. (Yikes!)

Here's Noah's rendition of London Bridge:

London Bridge is falling down, 
Falling down, 
Falling down.

London Bridge is falling down,
My favorite lady.

July 2, 2014

Swim Lessons

Today marks the completion of the boys' first ever round of swim classes. I debated over putting them in a local swim school that is summer long and teaches a core foundation that has proven successes at the toddler level (a.k.a. the "expensive" lessons). My other option was to choose a nearby rec center, minimal cash out of pocket and a short, two-week session. Both my boys are total water babies, but having never done an actual structured class, I decided to test the waters (pun intended) and see how they liked the rec center version of swim classes.

Overall, it was fun. After the first morning marathon of getting the boys and myself dressed and ready to go in swim gear, plus towels and clothes to change in after, etc., I was ready to call it quits and couldn't quite remember why I wanted to do this in the first place. (Not to mention that it was raining right up until we stepped into the freezing pool.) But we got into a routine and it's been surprisingly worth it. I'm so thankful to my mother-in-law who came out each day as well to swim with Aaron while I tackled Noah. The best part of the class, and why I would recommend it to any parent of babies/toddlers, was that I learned something as well. I'm more confident in how to continue to teach my boys to swim and I feel armed and prepared to go.

Now if someone wanted to pay me to get back in the water. Did I mention how much I dislike pools and swimming? It's a motion thing.

Happy Summer!

May 25, 2014

Leaving

There are times I loath social media. I use it on a regular basis myself, but the times when you want to block it out comes with a cost.

A song we used to sing in church held the following words:

"You give and take away.
My heart will choose to say,
'Lord, blessed be Your Name.'"

2014 seems to be the season where I'm learning the truth of those lyrics and choosing to act upon them. I woke this morning to the news that a sweet friend passed away in a car accident last night. Just like that...gone. She was raising funds to become a missionary to Nigeria and I'd had the privilege of getting to have lunch with her a few months ago. The change in her was astounding, her entire being living and breathing for Nigeria. She was selling everything; leaving everything she'd ever known to follow her calling.

I hate all the cliche comments people tend to leave such as "God, needed her home," or "Another angel for Heaven." (Worst of all is the use of "RIP") As I know personally now, there is nothing to ease or replace the grief that her family and fiancee must be feeling. Yet, I still cannot help but being thankful for those last moments with my mom. I had the time to say goodbye. Susanna's family did not and I only pray that they have no regrets. If they are anything like her, then I know they will have that peace.

Her Facebook page has become a memorial of written memories, photos and condolences. So has my mom's. And my friend Joey. And my friend Nita, etc., etc...Why is social media so important in the healing process when we lose someone? The recipient will never read it, never accept a friend request or "like" your words of comfort. We don't take down their page or remove traces of their online presence like you cancel out the rest of every little thing to which their names were attached (i.e., bank accounts, insurance, library cards). Maybe it's comforting to express your feelings knowing there are ___ (insert # here) other "friends" who want to share in your grief.

I may share with those Facebook friends but in all honesty it hurts. Social media only increases the acknowledgement of the void left by a loved one or friend. Their page will never be touched again. Never edited. Never added to. It's left in its own time capsule while we continue on.

However, I still wouldn't take it away.

I'll miss you Susanna.






May 21, 2014

Quiet Moments

I'm cleaning up after the boys have had lunch and, as every mom can attest, scowling at the fact that my kitchen floor needs a severe mopping. Moment of truth: it's been weeks since I mopped. Days since I've swept. Oh, here and there I've thrown down a disinfectant wipe and used my foot to scoot around a couple of problem spots; but a full mopping of the floor is never on my radar.

(Second moment of truth: I will never secretly think haughty thoughts of my friends' kitchen floors now that I have toddlers. I get it now.)

Thinking about my floor stirs a memory of my mom from when I was little. For years I still had to take a "nap" and usually I opted to do so in my parents' bedroom. I remember how calm and quiet our home was during those parts of the day. Often, I would come out from resting and the kitchen would be spotless. I remember how when my mom mopped the floor she would turn the kitchen chairs upside down onto the table, mop and then sit and read and snack on something while she waited for the floor to dry. The lights in the house were off, fans quietly whirring and pockets of natural light shone in through the windows. That was usually where I'd find her. It wasn't spoken, but we were forbidden to walk on that floor while it was wet and freshly clean - a floor that wouldn't keep it's shine for too long what with two kids who loved the outdoors. The older I became, I enjoyed helping her flip the chairs on and off the table though I never actually mopped.

I know that my mom had 30+ years to learn how to maintain and create a home. It's hard to keep that in mind while I have two munchkins undermining my every move to have at least one corner of our house clean. It's my hope to one day obtain that moment of calm. I want my boys to feel at peace in their own home and maybe later appreciate those quiet moments...

...and a clean kitchen floor.




April 17, 2014

3 Things a Funeral Taught Me About Myself

Three weeks ago today, we lost my mom.

Three weeks seems like a lifetime.

Remember when you got married (those of you who have), it seemed that the #1 piece of advice given from just about anyone was some form of this: "Take a moment to soak it all in and enjoy your wedding."

On the complete opposite of the spectrum, I don't think anyone should be advised to take a moment and enjoy a funeral but I feel almost as if the same thought process might apply. I don't necessarily want to remember and focus on a sad moment in time, but there's something healing about being able to recall the visitation and the memorial service and saying goodbye.

That being said, as I've been reliving those days, some discrepancies have popped up in my head about how that time went by and I discovered a few things that I never realized about myself. These are more or less notes for future reference and maybe for others who have never had to attend a funeral from "loss" side of things

1.  I pretty much hate the phrase, "Blah blah blah...sorry for your loss." First of all, my apologies to anyone reading this who actually did write or say those words to me. Secondly, I understand that it's incredibly difficult to even know what to say to someone so these words are easy to use, show remorse and could not in any way be offensive. I know that's why people use it and I think just acknowledging the family's "loss" is like a long-distance hug or handshake. I honestly didn't know I hated it until recently, really. Although I actually never use those words myself because they sound so cliche and robotic.

Anyhow, I'm just rambling now. These words just aren't for me.

2. Send plants not flowers. At my previous job, it was my responsibility to send a floral gift on behalf of the company whenever there was a death, birth, etc. regarding one of our associates. I had nothing against flowers, but especially when there was a death, we always sent a plant. Flowers die. Plants (if under the proper care) can live on for a while whether potted or planted. Now, having been the recipient of a myriad of flowers and plants in honor of my mom, I was overwhelmed at the outpouring of love just visible through the amount that were sent in. There were so many beautiful arrangements and any concern we had about the memorial service being decorated with displays were null and void.

What I did not expect was the aftermath of those beautiful arrangements. On the day we drove to the grave site, the funeral home brought along with us any sprays that were on stands or arrangements not in glass vases. They placed them around the canopy where we sat with my mother's coffin waiting to be lowered. Before we left, my sister-in-law and I took a few stems from the spray on the casket, we returned to the limos and drove off. When we arrived back at the church, what was left were all the plants and maybe two arrangements that we were able to choose from to take home. All those beautiful flowers stayed with my mom and perhaps that's the way it needed to be. Going forward, I realized that we'd been right all along at my old job to send plants and it's something I will continue to do myself. If I'm the only person to send a plant, at least I know the family will have one to take home, care for and keep as a reminder.

3. Honoring a funeral procession by slowing down and pulling your car over if you're driving actually feels incredibly meaningful. I will never not slow down for a funeral procession again. As we rode in the limo toward the grave site, I was deeply affected seeing other drivers pulling their cars over as we passed; even the vehicles driving in the opposite direction. It's difficult to articulate in words the appreciation I felt watching complete strangers honor our family by foregoing their own agenda just for a few seconds in order to pay some sense of respect. I have no ill will toward those that did not stop or couldn't, but it's a phenomenal practice that I hadn't always participated in. Only now do I realize just how important it might be to the family riding behind the tinted windows.



The husband and I brought home three plants. It wasn't until later that I discovered who sent the actual plants and I was pleasantly surprised that the ones we chose to keep were each given by a family or group of people that hold a very special place in my life. I don't have a natural green thumb, but I'm planning to do my best with what we have and cherish them for a long time.




April 3, 2014

Silent

We buried my mom yesterday.

Part of me wants to write about the facts. No one saw this coming therefore I feel a need to share what all has transpired over the past few months/years. Part of me knows I should write about and share with you that we believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she is healed and whole and in the presence of Jesus and that one day we will see each other again. Part of me wants to scrap this entire idea of even trying to compose this blog post because I'm afraid the words I type won't seem as elegant and meaningful as they sound in my head and feel in my heart. Then again, part of me doesn't care. Part of me just wants to talk about my mom.

Maybe I'll do a little bit of each.

My mom was a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed and fought and overcame Hodgkin's Lymphoma three times before I was barely in grade school. The first was when my brother was born in '79. The second, when I was born in '82. The third, in the mid-80s when I was old enough to remember that she wore bandanas but without comprehending why. Growing up, I barely knew the stories or details or the fear that was associated with cancer. All I knew was that mom was consistently in "remission" and "thank you God for another year of health". In a way, it was a naive optimism that I carried, never once imagining cancer would touch our family again. I had never experienced it the way my mom and dad did firsthand. Though neither of them lived in fear that it could return and that is testament to our faith in Christ. As my Dad shared with me weeks before Mom passed away, they've lived 30+ years knowing that God is the One who truly knows the number of our days and with that comfort, although it may be hurtful at that moment in time, we can cast out fear of death and fear of the unknown. Everyone will have that day. I'm pretty sure there's no going around it.

This past December, my mom's physician ordered extra tests due to something abnormal that turned up during an appointment: cancer. This time it was non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. My parents waited until after the holidays to tell the family and close friends and pretty quickly my mom began chemotherapy.

She didn't want me to see her get chemo, but I needed to see it. I felt like chemotherapy was this giant monster that I had no context of and almost an even greater fear of compared to the cancer itself, and that I could not find a way to wrap my brain around it. I needed to be there. I sat with her for her very first treatment and we watched the movie Warm Bodies (of all things) on my portable DVD player, sharing one set of headphones because I'd been remiss to think of bringing two pair. We started the movie right as the first drip was hooked up to her IV and instead of dreading and waiting for any symptoms of the chemo to take effect, we spent two hours giggling quietly in our chairs over this genius zombie chick flick. (And if you knew my mom, she did NOT watch anything with zombies - this was one the exception.)

Over the past two months, I took mom to her chemo appointments when I could and some additional hospital visits as well. We talked on the phone every day and even got to bring the boys over to the house for a short visit. My sister-in-law and I went wig shopping with her and helped try on beanies and crazy turban bandanas and hats. Mom finally finished Downton Abbey too with all the time spent at home and she'd get so upset over the plotline for Anna and Mr. Bates saying, "I just want them to leave Anna alone!"

The weekend after Mom's third chemo treatment (one of those days in which I got to take her and even make a Walmart run after), she came down with an infection that without any immune system landed her in the hospital and slowly began to take her away from us.

We spent as much time, every day in that ICU room with her. Tuesday evening, my brother and I just sat for a few hours and watched some of her favorite shows with her that were on that night. (I still can never understand what is so great about NCIS.) Wednesday, we were there again but no TV, just words said. Words spoken that I never wanted to speak. Words to convey a lifetime of memories and love just hoping that they were enough. And final words that I would hear from a voice that I would never hear from again. Forever treasured and locked away.

We were with her on Thursday when she left us.

You know that feeling you have when someone has been to visit for a while and then you drop them off at the airport and afterward it's almost like you don't know what to do with yourself for the moment? You know that person is off to their own journey on their way home but you're just still...here.

I miss my mom. The urge that I get to call her or text her when the boys do something funny or sweet or cute - I don't ever want that to go away. This past week I've cried when I opened my first Dr. Pepper because that was her favorite drink and never once did we meet up together without one of us bringing a bottle along for the other. I cried when I heard a song by Franki Valli and the Four Seasons because we were going to get awesome seats at the theatre when Jersey Boys came back in town. She was my go-to theatre person because she also gave me a love for theatre. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was one of our favorites and although it took me years to come around, so was Fiddler on the Roof. She shared with me the classics and I in turn introduced her to current shows as they came around.

We went on two glorious Mom/Daughter cruises together in the past 5 years. My one regret being that we didn't get to do one more. I can close my eyes and remember a moment on our first cruise together as we just sat on the top deck, lying in the shade, napping and reading books and enjoying the gulf breeze and beautiful weather. We sat there for hours.

There are so many things I want to remember and share and tell the whole world about. I have told my husband for years that I always knew that when I grew up and moved out of the house, got married, etc., that my mom and I would be friends. I knew that mother/daughter relationship would expand. How I knew, I'm not sure. But I'm so thankful that I have had the last 10+ years being a daughter and a best friend to my mom.

It wasn't until now that I realized how much I want to be so much more like her.


January 8, 2014

Two Boys

The older my kids get, the more they'll have to say and you better believe that I plan on writing down some of those choice phrases and funny thought processes that will eventually come out of their mouths. There's even some fun ideas seen around Pinterest on creative ways to store/display those memories. But until then, we're still discovering words and ideas and how to use them. For now, at the most, Noah will combine maybe 2-3 words to communicate certain things with us.

One phrase he recently started on absolutely melted my heart the first time he said it.

We have a two-story home and Noah is adept at going up and down unassisted. Aaron can make his way up (with me hovering) but he's always carried downstairs. Lately, Noah hasn't wanted to go down by himself so either we hold his hand or he asks "carry?" and I'll swoop him up from the top landing and head down - usually with Aaron in tow as well.

For the past week, when I have done this (carted both kiddos down the stairs at the same time), Noah gives me a big smiles and says "Two boys!"

"Two boys! Two boys!"

My heart smiles.They know they have their momma wrapped around their little fingers.