Saturday, December 8, 2012

Watching the rain...

I know, I know...it's been almost a month since my last post.  Go ahead, yell at me!  ;)  I did update the adoption blog  a few weeks ago, so it's not like I've been completely silent, but....oh well.  

I've sat down to write a post probably 30 times since my last update, but every time I've hit delete before publishing.   Today, however, seems like a day to write:  it's chilly (not cold, but chilly enough to have the heater on), dark and rainy outside, and there's a delicious-smelling turkey in the oven.  I'm listening to the sounds of my rascals playing with Legos up in Rascal #1's bedroom, and the plip-plop of the rain on the roof, enjoying a cup of hot tea....and finally sitting down to write.

If you're looking for a "happy-go-lucky, Heidi's going to share cute pictures of the boys" kind of post, this probably isn't going to be it.   You see, the reason why I've been deleting, not publishing each of the earlier editions of this entry is because of just that:  it's depressing.  There's a reason that a rainy day seems totally appropriate for finally sitting down and writing what I've been thinking and feeling:  it's quite "Eeyore-ish."    My life is wonderful - I often feel like I'm one of those "You wish your life was a great as you make it seem on Facebook" t-shirts.   The boys are healthy.  We spend most of our days enjoying being together, with lots of laughter and cuddling.     Mike's job is wonderful - his schedule is much more family-friendly, the paychecks are finally paying the bills, and the office and community have been incredibly supportive and welcoming.    We're back in a house that I love - every little thing about this house I adore.  It's my home.  

So why do I have any reason to be glum or depressed?   I don't really.   And so......the lack of posts.

How do you write about a feeling or experience that just doesn't make sense?   I have so many amazing things to be thankful for.  So many blessings.  So many things that I know others would love to have or experience.    How could I even begin to write something that's going to make it seem like I don't appreciate those blessings?   Because I do.   I truly do.  I know God has heaped tremendous blessings upon me.....and I am so grateful.    So, every time I started to think my writing was delving into the depressed realm....I trashed it.    Who did I think I was, to throw all of those blessings right back to God, without a token of gratitude?

So I'd write and write and write....and delete.

I'm going to bite the bullet and hit publish today.  Maybe.  We'll see.   If you're reading this....enjoy.  ;)  Who knows?  Maybe there's someone out there that can offer me a word or two of advice.  A book to read.  A Scripture passage.  A hug.  Who knows - maybe there's someone out there who feels the same way and is also trying to hold it inside because of the fear I'm feeling.   I don't know.  All I know is that the rain outside is lulling me into a sense of safety, and I need to write.

You see, I'm struggling.   Like I said, I'm so grateful for everything that I've been given.  But I'm struggling.   I have three amazingly beautiful, wonderful children......and yet there's an indescribable ache for more.   As far back as I can remember, I've wanted to be a mom.  A large family wasn't a requirement, but as I've gotten further and further into my motherhood journey, the desire for more than 2.1 children has gotten stronger and stronger.    I know there are quite a few of you who don't understand why someone would ever want to commit to never being able to drive a sedan but be regulated to a E-150.....but try to imagine it with me.    That's the life I long for:  a full dinner table....the stereotypical "Catholic family."   

And it seems that the past few years.....my dream of a large family has been crushed again and again.   Health problems.   A miscarriage.  A significant adoption delay (probably a year).   Adoption opportunity after adoption opportunity falling apart.  It seemed like every time we started to move forward with increasing our family size - filling those empty spots at the dinner table or in the car - the door was getting slammed back in our face.   Every time it seemed like we were moving forward....the new family member was ripped out of hands.

I look around and I see friends having babies.   Friends announcing pregnancies.   Friends meeting their adoptive child for the first time.  Friends getting approved to adopt a child.   Friends bringing home children.....I'm surrounded by pictures of them.   Phone calls from friends, wondering if they're pregnant.   Emails from friends, announcing the birth of a child.   Pictures on my phone.  Pictures on my Facebook.  Pictures in my email.

Babies, babies everywhere.    

But  none of them are mine.

And I struggle.  I struggle with pain of seeing joy on everyone's faces, watching them revel in the one thing that I wish I had.    I struggle with the bitterness of an empty crib, still in its box, when we hoped it would be filled by now.   I struggle with mustering up the joy and excitement to respond to the friend who just had a home study approved.  I struggle with jealousy and envy as I go shopping for yet another "Congratulations on your new baby" card and gift.    I struggle with the fear of being a failure.   I hear the voices in the back of my mind (and sometimes in front of me, through the Starbuck's barista), chastising me for not being a "good enough" mother.  That, obviously, if I was a better mom, God would have let at least ONE of these opportunities lead to welcoming another child into our family.   I struggle with a fear of inadequacy.  A fear of failure.  

I escape into another book.   I try so hard to fight the tears.  The anger.  The depression.   I fold yet another load of laundry and try to focus on the laughter in the next room.   I put down the laundry and go sit on the floor with the little rascals, designing my own Lego car...in an attempt to shake the sadness and "be present to the moment."    But the moment I return to my silent room with the piles of laundry...or the moment the house is filled with only the snores of sleeping children.....or I catch a glimpse of the unopened "nursery" box while running to grab something out of the basement.....the pain hits me like a tidal wave.     I'm once again sinking in an ocean of pain, of confusion, and darkness.   Why is this dream being crushed, over and over again?

Why another miscarriage?

Why another delay in bringing Peter home?

The questions just echo again and again in my mind, feeling like little knives being stabbed into my already bleeding heart.

So I try to escape into the virtual world.  I sign onto Facebook, hoping for a cheap laugh from another silly meme, or a thrilling debate to distract my mind with.    And I see another newborn picture.   Or another visit to an orphanage to meet a child.   Another smiling family, welcoming their newest member.

And those evil, nagging voices with their daggers return.    I'm not a good enough mom to be trusted with more children.   I'm obviously failing in my vocation.   I mean, come on, I can't even focus on the goodness that's in front of me.  I'm obviously a greedy, selfish, ungrateful woman who can't be expected to care for another child.   So I turn off the computer and try to focus on the book Rascal #2 wants to try and read to me.  I try to memorize his smile - he'll never be this age again.   

So the beating myself up continues.   Not only am I now an ungrateful, selfish person....I'm losing the opportunity to be truly present to my life.   It never ends.   I write and write and write about it....try to pray...try to give it to Him and just trust in His plan.

And I fail.  EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

I just can't seem to let go.    I want to give it to Him.  I want to trust in His plan for our family.

So I write.  And I cry.

And I try again.



My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

–Thomas Merton

Friday, November 16, 2012

Quick Takes: Homeschooling (in pictures) edition

It's been awhile since our last homeschooling update, so I thought I'd appease the grandparents and offer, for their enjoyment (and yours!), this edition of Quick Takes.....make sure to go visit Jen for more!






1.   I'll start off with an art project/science project series.  We had a bajillion broken crayons laying around the house, so we peeled all of that pesky paper off of all of them and melted them down into cool "swirly" crayons (Rascal #2 named them), while talking about primary/secondary colours and the concept of melting.....

Hard labour.  ;)

Excitedly watching...

Using the finished product (Rascal #3 creating a Memory-style game)








2.   A few weeks ago, the Rascals went on a weekend adventure to Nanny and Poppy's house.   While there, Uncle Tony took them on a tour of the greenhouse he works at, and they got to learn about all kinds of fun things.   Interesting things like:  how do they make their own potting soil?   How do you care for certain kinds of plants?   How do you know what amount of each plant to grow?  and so on.....they had a BLAST!











3.   This last week, we had a fun engineering project that we had to complete.  Mike and I managed to score an awesome playground structure at a great price, but with one catch:  we had to put it together ourselves.  While this was NOT fun, the boys had a blast helping to figure out the directions and learning how to use tools.  We'll call it math/engineering/AND shop class all in one!










4.  One of the great things about homeschooling is that we can focus on what they truly love to do, and really individualize each of the boy's education.   Rascals #1 and #2 LOVE gymnastics, and thanks to a school day that requires MUCH less time than traditional schooling, they're able to spend many hours each week at our local gym.   Both of them will be competing for the first time this year, and we just received their competition uniforms.   They were excited to try them on, and I was quite shocked at how professional they looked!  Insta-gymnast!











5.  We may live in a town that's officially a "village," but we have the best village library around!  The rascals LOVE going, and I love that it produces many, many moments that look like this:


He's such a good big brother!









6.  Best investment we made for this school year?   Teaching Textbooks.  Without a doubt, this program has made math time with Rascal #1 so.very.much.easier.  He's being challenged with it (we started him at the 4th grade level, even though he's technically in 3rd grade), but is excelling.   For our little boy who LOVES the chance to be on the computer and his mommy who's NOT ready for him to spend any time online....this is the perfect compromise.  He's thrilled that he's the only one who gets to spend time at the computer....and I'm thrilled that math is no longer a fight!











7.  Last homeschooling update for today is about Rascal #2.   Now our middle rascal has a bit of a challenging personality.  He will not attempt to do ANYTHING in front of ANYONE (including Mom and Dad) if he thinks he might fail.   Even as a baby, we'd catch him practicing his words in his crib thanks to our handy-dandy baby monitor for weeks before he'd say it in front of us.   He's a perfectionist, through and through.   In some ways, this is great (this child can make a mean bed!)...but with homeschooling, it has presented as quite a struggle.  It's hard to teach a child who refuses to make a mistake.

Enter in this book.   I'll admit, teaching Rascal #2 how to read was terrifying to me.   Not only did I not remember learning to read and was scared I wouldn't be able to relate to my rascals, but his perfectionist personality just screamed "DIFFICULT!" when I thought about it.    This book has been the answer for us.  It moves VERY slowly (we only do 3-5 tasks per lesson each day, so it usually takes us a week to finish each of these "easy" lessons), but this is good for my rascal.   Moving slowly allows him to fully master each step.  One day, he's going to pick up a chapter book and read it all to us, flawlessly, I'm convinced.  Today, however....he read this:



Perfectly.   Without any prompting from me, or any stumbling over words.  This book rocks, y'all!



And with that.....our Thanksgiving break begins!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hey, hey, we're the Monkees.....

....or something like that.


Ever hear a song on the radio and have your breath taken away?   One of those moments where you just know that the songwriter was channeling your innermost thoughts and fears and dreams while penning a song?

Do you feel like you have a "theme" song?


For me, this is it:



How about you?  What's your theme song?



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Open Letter to My Children


The first thing that a person finds in life and the last to which he holds out his hand, and the most precious that he possess, even if he does not realize it, is family life.  Blessed Adolph Kolping


"The history of mankind, the history of salvation, passes by way of the family. The family is placed at the center of the great struggle between good and evil, between life and death, between love and all that is opposed to love." Blessed Pope John Paul II



Dearest Rascals,

The other night, your father and I went to see one of our favourite Catholic speakers, Dr. Ray Guarendi.   You know this, of course, as you got to have a babysitter and all of the fun and bending of house rules that comes with that.   It was  a good night for all.

I've been mulling over quite a bit that Dr. Ray shared with us last Friday night, as I tend to do with any new information that I've been given.   Most frequently, the anecdotes he shared with us about his own father kept coming to mind.   The focus for these little stories was discipline strategies and techniques, but the one "theme" that Dr. Ray kept returning to, over and over again, was that his knew just how much his father loved his children.  In his words, which I will paraphrase, discipline worked for his father because the children knew that he "loved them desperately."   Over and over again, Dr. Ray spoke of his own father's "desperate love" for his children.

I realized that I wanted to make sure that you knew, too, just how much you were loved and cherished. It sometimes feels like we're the odd family out - high expectations, discipline, faith-based family life, and so on.     I hope, however, that you will be able to see....just like Dr. Ray did.....that all of this is done out of a burning love for you.   Love, defined as wanting the ultimate good for the other person, is the basis of every single decision your father and I make.

We probably don't say it enough.  We probably don't tell you enough just how much we love you.  How  your ultimate good - happiness with God in Heaven - is the reason for everything we do.  We will try to say this more often, both in our words and our actions.   Let me begin by starting here.

You three - and soon to be four - rascals are our gift from God.  He has blessed us abundantly by placing you in our lives, and we will be forever grateful for this blessing.   You are beautiful little boys, made in the image and likeness of our Creator.   You shine with joy and love, and it is a brilliant, radiant light.  

Our job, as your parents, is not to cushion you from the outside world, or throw you to the evils that can be found within it.   We love you too much to do either of those.   Our job, as your parents, is to be your primary source of education.  Our job, as your parents, is to pass the truth of the Catholic faith on to you.   This is hard, it is scary, and we often fail.   But we will love you desperately through all of it.

The world out there is scary.   It is filled with temptation and evil.   It is hard to become the saint that each of us is called to become, when you are constantly being torn down or tempted by society and culture.    Our job, as your parents, is to help you grow strong in your faith, to know your own Christian humanness, and to strive for holiness for each and every one of you.   It's a daunting job.....but one that we accept because we love you.   We truly and completely want to see you  enjoying happiness in paradise someday.

So if there comes a time when we've fallen from a peak into one of those natural valleys of family life, please come back to this letter.   We love you.  Desperately.  We only want what is truly best (Heaven) for you.   Everything we do and decide - - from discipline to education to house rules - - is based on this one goal and undying love.  Remember that.



Especially about 10 years from now when you are all teenagers.  Please.


Love you always Rascals,
Mommy

Friday, November 2, 2012

Quick Takes - Finally!


I'm finally catching back up over here and joining Jen again for our Friday quick takes - make sure to check out her blog for more fun!


Alright, here goes!


1.  I am very grateful to Apple for a fun little feature on my not-so-new-but-new-to-me cell phone.  What is it, you wonder?   IT DOESN'T TELL ME HOW LONG UNTIL  MY ALARM WILL GO OFF!   I already know that I don't get enough sleep.  My old Droid used to tell me, once the alarm was set, that it was set for "X" number of hours from now, and I would get so depressed at how little sleep I  was getting.   So, thank you, Apple, for not torturing me like that.

2.  We went trick-or-treating on Wednesday night with the rascals (exhibit A below).  It was hilarious.  Rascal #3 kept going from house-to-house, showing each house what the previous one had given him.   He just did not understand why that was rude.   Oh, to be a three year old again!  

Exhibit A

3.  We joined the local YMCA the other day.   Vacation (or: moving and being pregnant) is officially over.   Need to get back on track with diet and exercise before I have to buy bigger clothes.   Wish me luck!  Also:  any workout suggestions?   I love running, but looking to branch out a bit......


4.   We lost power for a couple of days this week, thanks to Hurricane Sandy.  I'm not complaining - it was warm, I didn't have much food in the fridge/freezer to lose since we'd just moved, and it wasn't cold enough to be chilly inside the house.   It did lead to very funny conversations.  My favourite?  When Rascal #3 exclaimed very very excitedly "THE POWER IS BACK ON!!  I CAN FLUSH NOW WHEN I PEE AND POOP!"  hahahahaha

5.  Homeschooling is going well around here.  I *think* we've figured out our logistical changes of going from a house with an awesome school room to a much smaller house.   We're back into our groove (yay!), and the boys are doing well.   Rascal #3 is going to a preschool two mornings a week now, which is working really well for the big boys.   Now, just have to figure out how to answer the "Why aren't you in school today?" questions from curious people when we're out and about......How do you handle it?

6.   I bought a beef brisket the other day.   Any good recipes out there?  I can't remember the last time I made brisket..........

7.   This week contained a few firsts for us:  the best one was being "set up" twice.  Once by a hermit and once by a priest.  haha.   Both times, we were introduced to people that we should "become friends with," and I'm quite happy to say that both matches seemed to have worked.  I just think it's funny.......


Okay, enough rambling and back to running errands!!




Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Everybody has a job to do..

Before I start, I wanted to take a minute to say THANK YOU to everyone who's messaged or emailed me about this or this post.  I cannot even begin to put into words how much this experience has blessed me and Mike.  Your thoughts, your shared experiences, your prayers.....all of that is so overwhelming and humbling to me.  For a couple of posts that I didn't even think were that well-written, the response has been incredible.  I am so grateful to all of you who shared it with a friend, or took the time to tell me how my words touched you.   In the midst of my grief, God has blessed me abundantly.   I am so grateful.

I'm still processing everything that has happened over the past few weeks, and right at this moment, we're dealing with the clean up from Hurricane Sandy.  We were blessed to not have a direct hit up here in Maine, and are praying fervently for those who were in her direct path, but we do still have a lot of clean up in our neck of the woods.  We're going on day 3 with no power, and our yard is a mess.   Thankfully, our only damage is some denting to one of our cars (hit by a falling tree limb), so the majority of what we are dealing with is minor annoyances.    No electricity during a blizzard is a bit more dangerous than what we have right now:  60ยบ temps, so we are just camping out and counting our blessings, while continuing to pray for those who are truly struggling with storm damage and clean up.

I was asked recently to share our "chore chart" system, so today's post is going to be just that.  It's light and fun (especially for Mommy and Daddy), and I think it's a good time to share.  A bit of a breather from the "heavy" stuff, if you will.

Anywho, a couple of years ago, I realized that I was frantically trying to do too much around the house, and had a few able bodies who were at the right age for "life skills training."   Our chore chart system was born, and with a few modifications, it's the same one that we use today.   We started when our oldest was 6 (and the youngers were 5 and 2).  Now, the boys are 8, 6, and 3, and it works like a charm!

Here's the basic concept:  I have a list of chores that I "draw" from.  They range in difficulty and frequency, and I try to make sure the majority of them are ones that everyone can do (I do have some that only the big boys can handle, but the bulk of them are ones that everyone can do).   These are chores that I don't *mind* if they're not done exactly to my liking - I learned quickly that if I gave a child a chore to accomplish but would be really upset if it wasn't done to my standards.....it would backfire.  I'd end up being annoyed that it wasn't done "well" and the boys would quickly lose their confidence in their ability because I'd find myself correcting them constantly.  

Each day, I draw 3 chores for each child and place it on their chart, in the "to-do" column.  Some are chores that happen every day (like making their beds and feeding the dogs), and some are ones that happen on a less frequent basis.    Whatever the chores are, each boy is responsible for 3 of them each day.

I do not nag with these chores.   They have a day to complete their 3, and if they don't, they do not get rewarded.  I will sometimes give them a block of time after dinner as "chore" time, if I'm feeling nice.  ;)

When the chore is completed, the boys move the magnet with that chore's name on it into the "done" column.   At the end of the day, I check to see if they've finished their chores, and if so, I add a tally mark in their "bank" (also on the chore chart).   At the end of the week, I count up the tally marks and pay allowances accordingly.   7 tally marks is equal to one dollar, and if there are less than 7 marks, I prorate the dollar based on their work completed.

It works for us!   Live runs more smoothly than it did before, and the boys LOVE having a way to earn their own spending money.   

So, I present to you, our chore chart.....in pictures:

The finished chore chart - I used to use a piece of posterboard and velcro, but when we moved, I had to condense it a bit (we have less wall space here).   This is a piece of plywood with picture hardware on the back (the sawtooth kind), and magnets.  I painted it in chalkboard paint to make it more fun, but the same thing can be done with just regular paint)


A close up of a sampling of daily chores - these are just piece of cardstock with clip art printed onto them, and magnets glued to the back



My stash of chores to pull from - I keep it on the fridge, out of reach of little hands



our system in use



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Untitled...

**Disclaimer:  I'm not sure this will be coherent.   I have a lot of thoughts and emotions and ideas playing on bumper cars inside my tired, overworked Mommy brain, and this will be an attempt to begin to express them.  Don't set really high expectations for me, and you won't be disappointed.  

*****


We buried our baby yesterday.


Under brilliant blue skies (with only ONE cloud in sight, haha), surrounded by technicolour autumn leaves, and with the warm sun on our skin, we gathered with friends and celebrated the short life of our little baby.


It was beautiful.  It was slightly surreal.

And it opened the floodgates.

I think I've run through every single emotion possible since 2 pm yesterday.  Well, really, since I got up yesterday morning.  I've felt joy, I've felt grief, I've felt sadness, I've felt gratitude, I've been angry, I've been annoyed, I've been happy.....you name it, I've probably felt it in the past 36 hours.

As I sit here, a day later, my entire household (except me, haha) is asleep.   Even the dog is snoring.  Pandora's finally figured out (it seems) that when I choose "David Crowder Band Radio Station" I really just want to listen to DCB and not songs that sound like them, but am feeling too lazy to go find my CDs or my iPod.   A cup of hot tea is sitting next to me.....the house is a cozy warm compared to the chilly fall night outside.

It's a perfect night for writing......but yet I still sit here, unsure of what to say.  It's taken me 30 minutes to get this far, and I don't even have to use the scroll bar yet on my screen.

How do you put into words the experience of burying your child?

Multiple times in the past week, I worried.  I worried that we were doing something wrong, making too much out of our experience, going "overboard."  It's bad enough that we're already the crazy Catholic family headed up by the weirdo doctor who won't prescribe birth control.   Now, here I was, adding to that reputation by holding (and inviting people to) a burial for our child who hadn't even been born yet, and even more than that, a child that most people weren't even aware of yet.   Shouldn't  I really be just letting it go and moving on, instead of going through everything in such a public matter?

A couple of times, I even picked up my phone to text our priest and tell him to just not worry about it, that we'd changed our minds.   Why bother him for something as silly as this?   He's an busy guy (aren't most priests nowadays?).   Wasn't I being selfish to request so much of his time for a child he'd never met?

But something kept me moving forward, even with all of those doubts and fears circulating in my head.  Maybe it was Mike's support and care during my pain.  Maybe it was seeing his own grief and pain at losing his child.   Maybe it was the fact that our busy priest never made us feel like he was too busy to support us.   Maybe it was the friends stepping forward to join us yesterday, stepping forward to help in any manner.  Maybe it was the phone call from my doctor, checking on me.   Maybe it was the handwritten card from my OB/GYN, or the seemingly never ending stream of Facebook messages and emails speaking of love and compassion and shared experiences (there are a lot of us out there, it turns out).   Who knows?  Maybe it was a combination of all of these things....but whatever it was, it led us to a moment of sunshine and blue skies, hugs and tears, and celebrating the little bit of time we'd shared with Jonathan.  

Standing there amongst the rolling green hills, listening to the beautiful prayers being read (and even you non-Catholics have to admit that the Church has the got the absolutely best, most amazing prayers written out there.  She's had, oh, 2000 years to perfect them, and my gosh, perfect them she has), it hit me.    I had to go through this burial process not only to say goodbye to Jonathan......but also to the baby I lost nine years ago.   Nine years ago, I was newly married (yes, we had a honeymoon baby!) to a man in his first month of med school, and at a prenatal appointment, we discovered that our baby no longer had a heartbeat.   We didn't know what to do with the pain and sorrow we were feeling, or how to move on.  So, we did the culturally acceptable thing - we didn't talk about it, and threw ourselves into our day-to-day routines and lives and just kept stumbling forward.

I realized, standing in the sun yesterday, that I'd never truly grieved the loss of my first child.   I felt myself slipping almost into a state of shock, as I realized that the pain I was feeling in my heart at that moment was so strong, so raw, not because I was crazy and going overboard like I'd feared....but because I was living out the two separate losses in this one process.   Reliving our first miscarriage and finally letting myself grieve instead of stuffing the pain down inside like I had been....while simultaneously grieving our Jonathan.  

As I stood there and watched his tiny body being buried, saw the grass being replaced, listened to the wind blowing through the trees, I felt a wave of intense gratitude start to replace the pain.  Love started to remove the suffering......joy replacing the sadness.   It's not a complete change-around just yet, and it probably won't be for a long time.   And as you all know, I'm quite the introvert, so I might be quiet around here for awhile still as I work through the remaining pain and guilt and sadness.  But I will work through it, and I will respond to your notes and messages, and I will some day be able to find the right words to truly express my gratefulness to all of you.   

We said our goodbyes, thanked our friends for being there with us, loaded the rascals back up in the car, and drove out of the cemetery.   Later that night, as we were driving through town, we were talking about the burial and just how we both felt that we had begun the healing process at that moment for both babies, my eyes seemed to be drawn to the sky.   Almost immediately, my cell phone buzzed.  A friend, hundreds of miles away, was sending me a picture of her evening sky.   A few minutes later, another text came in with another picture.   Across the country, it seems, there was quite the display above our heads.

And I'm pretty sure I know why.   It was love.  It was joy.  It was happiness.   It was laughter.   It was beauty.  

It was two siblings, finally meeting each other, face-to-face.  








Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When there are no words...

....but you need to talk anyways.

We all know those moments.  The ones where you feel compelled to say something, but have no idea what to actually attempt to say.   

Like when someone dies or gets really sick.   There's really nothing to say, other than "I'm sorry"....but you feel like you want to say so much more.

But what if you're the one that is in pain, who's going through a tragedy?  What do you say then?  There's so much bubbling up inside you.......you need to talk.....but what can you say?

I've been quiet around the blogosphere the past few weeks.  That's been on purpose - we're adjusting to life back on the East Coast and a new job and schedule for the family.   Our youngest is attending preschool a couple days a week.....a big deal for this homeschooling family.   We're updating our adoption paperwork like crazy and trying to get all of that moving forward in a timely manner.

And last week....I was that woman.

The one who wanted to say so much, to talk about so many things.....but couldn't find the words.

I was that woman who miscarried.

Last Monday, ironically on the day that's set aside as a time to remember pregnancy and infant losses, I miscarried our youngest rascal.  The child that the majority of our friends and family weren't aware of yet.   The child that I'd known I was pregnant with since pretty much the day of conception (yay for Natural Family Planning and my chart).   The child that I already loved dearly and spent a good chunk of my time thinking and dreaming of.   The child I was already praying for......and who now is interceding on my behalf in Heaven.

I had known it was coming.   This was my second miscarriage, the first being before Rascal #1 was even born.   I saw the signs starting on Friday evening....and by Monday morning, when my baby's death had been confirmed through an ultrasound, I had already accepted the fact that our youngest rascal, this child I already loved, had already left us.  I didn't like it....but I'd accepted it.

So we went home.  To wait.   Thankfully, my body didn't make me wait too long before Nature kicked in.   I am very grateful for that - with my first miscarriage, I waited for almost two weeks, wondering when it was going to happen, trying not to let that little voice that kept whispering "Maybe the doctor was wrong....." get too loud.    

And then it was over.  My baby was gone almost as quickly as he had appeared.   Mike and I wrapped up his tiny body as carefully as possible, and started to make arrangements for a burial, which will happen tomorrow afternoon.

Almost instantly, the part I'd been dreading the most started to set in.   The "fog of emptiness," as I've come to call it.

Everything became empty.

Physically, my body was emptying itself.  My arms physically ached to hold my baby, but were empty and cold.

My heart ached with grief, unable to focus on anything other than the empty hole left behind by my baby.

Emotionally, the fog manifested in a sense of numbness.  There were no emotions.  My emotional vault was empty.

Empty.

Empty.

Empty.


I walked around on auto-pilot, completing daily tasks and chores, trying to keep life as normal as possible for rascals 1, 2, and 3.   I made phone calls and arrangements.  I answered emails.  But behind the normalcy was a deep cloud of emptiness.   No energy.   Sadness.   Guilt.   Pain.

Hardly anybody knew about our littlest rascal.  We'd not wanted to tell people yet - partly because of our previous experience with miscarriage, and partly because we had so many changes going on in our lives at that moment and we didn't want to spring this kind of announcement on everyone (and risk it getting lost in the chaos).  He was our little secret....to cherish and revel in.

But people figured out that something was going on.  We told a few friends......and then a few more....and then the process of retelling our rascal's story over and over and over again became too painful, and Facebook helped spread the news for us.   While the support and love that has been shown to us has been incredible, I can't help but wonder about the millions of women who struggle with the loss of their baby in the darkness, in the silence.   Publicly talking about our baby has been hard for me.   I can't finish a conversation without crying at least once.   The fog of emptiness is still there, and it is thick.   I'm grieving my child, and reliving the loss of my first child......and that pain is raw.  It is deep.  It permeates everything I do and say right now.

And there's a part of me that can't help but pray for the millions of women who may still be struggling with this pain today, even if they lost their child years ago.   Whether it was by their own decision, or through natural causes, they are all touched by this fog, this emptiness, this pain, in some manner.   They, too, are hurting, and my heart aches for (and with) them.

In a society filled with people who scream that my baby was nothing more than a "ball of cells" or a "blob of tissue," how do I give myself permission to grieve?   My pain and sorrow reaches down to my innermost core.....but there are millions of people surrounding me today who argue that my baby was not a real baby.   Millions of people who claim that my baby was not a real person.   Millions of people who argue that my baby was not valuable enough to be grated the basic, fundamental protections in our Constitution.  

My grief is real.   My pain (physically and emotionally) is real.   My baby was real.  

But how can I talk about this, work through my grief and my pain, remember the memory of my child, or the dreams I'd dreamt about my child.....when our very own government and leaders will not admit that my child was a real person, one with inherent dignity and value?

It makes no logical sense to try and appease a woman like me with the idea that my baby was real because he was wanted.  My baby grew and developed the same way he would have if I hadn't been happy about the pregnancy, or if I hadn't welcomed his addition to our family.   My wants and desires do not dictate biology.    Allowing me, a woman who miscarried naturally, the right the grieve purely because I wanted my baby and pregnancy, only does a disservice to women who do choose to terminate a pregnancy that they may not "want."   We need to allow these women (and men) to grieve, as well.   

They have lost a child.   They have entered the fog of emptiness.   And at their deepest, most instinctive level.....they know it.   One quick google search will pull up hundreds of organizations and ministries designed to help post-abortive women through this fog, this grief.   They feel it too.   And they need to be allowed the chance to grieve.

But NONE of us women who have lost a child will ever be given that chance to truly, and freely, grieve until we, as a whole, recognize the fact that our children who died this early were just that:  our children.    Until we stand up and call them by name (child, baby, etc) women will continue to find themselves stuck in a place where there are no words....but where their hearts yearn to say so much.

My pain is real.

My grief is real.

My baby, my Jonathan Francis, was real.


I challenge you to stand up and speak for these women, myself included.  If you've had a miscarriage, stand up and say so.   Talk about your baby, your experience, your grief to anyone who will listen.     We cannot continue to let women suffer in silence and pain, mourning their children because our culture screams that these children do not exist and are nothing more than a ball of cells.  

Please.   For my sake.  For your sake.   Let us come out of the darkness, out of the fog, and reach out for help.   Find the words your heart is longing to say.

Allow our children to be who they really are.   It is okay to mourn them - they were real.



**if you are struggling with the loss of your own child, please know that these organizations are here to help you speak those words you hold in your own heart:








Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kaleidoscope

Just a little unpacking

Dinner!

taunting the turkeys.......don't worry, it's mutual

my daily view
early morning hike

beautiful fall day

rascal #2

checking out a gurgling stream

beach sky

Moooooooooooo
awesomeness in a pan:  chalkboard paint on a cookie sheet.  Fun to draw, and magnetic too!  ;-)

Big little boy's first day of preschool.  Sniff!

Craft sorter......or snack tray?


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Road Trip Preparation

I've got a few fun craft projects ahead of me, in preparation for our road trip.  I'll share them here, so keep looking for them!  :-)

Tonight's craft?

Road trip binders for each boy.   It took me about 2 hours to do all of it, from start to finish, and I already had some of the supplies on hand, so they ended up being about $8 each.


Check it out!

Start with a few simple supplies:  binder, blank paper, laminating sheets, and crayons.   Cost?  $0.  I had all of this on hand, in our homeschooling supplies

Decorate the binders - My boys are VERY MUCH into Angry Birds right now, so I went with that for the theme

Fill the inside with fun goodies.   I made an "I-spy" bag for each boy, coloured pencils, and a couple of folders.   Cost?  $2 for the coloured pencils, $2 for the pencil bag, $1 for the folders, and $3 for the beads.

Close up of the I-spy bag.  I filled it with shaped beads, and just regular pony beads.   I super-glued the zipper shut, to keep the beads from falling out.

I cut the pencil box into two pieces, and then covered it with my trusty glue gun and some scrap fabric.  I hot-glued it to the binder, along with a list of items to look for in the i-spy bag.

I had a bunch of unused colouring books and workbooks that I'd bought on clearance right after the back to school season at the store.   This came from that stash, so no new costs.

The second folder I filled with blank computer paper, and a supply of construction paper.   Again, this came from our homeschooling stash, so no new purchase.


I'm excited to have the boys play with them.   This will be our "new toy" on Day One of the move.  I'm pretty sure this will keep them pretty busy for awhile in the car - and be able to be used for the rest of the week on the road.   

You could easily fill the folders up with items that would keep your kids' interests - stickers, foam projects, books, puzzles....anything!  

I'll let you know how they make it through the drive!  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kaleidoscope

Some images from our last few weeks in Arizona......

Dinner at one of our favourite places

After dinner tree climbing....

We are really going to miss this town

And our friends!

And this room.   The schoolroom is all packed and ready to be cleared out.  :-(  Really going to miss this room.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Quick Takes



Thanks to Grace for guest-hosting while Jen is off doing the only reality show I'm actually counting down the minutes until it's on TV!  :-)



--1--

Let's see.   What's new here?   In fun news, my tooth saga from May/June is not over.  I've spent the good majority of this week at different dentists and specialists getting all these fun scans done of my mouth.   The diagnosis so far?  No one knows.  Let me tell you how reassuring it is to know that your tooth has officially stumped people who have been in practice a combined 50 years.   Sigh.   Looks like it's going to end up meaning that the tooth is extracted within the next few months, and we'll go from there.   Maybe we'll be able to get some answers at that point.







--2--

Wanna see the cause for concern?   Here's a beautiful pic, courtesy of my dentist:


See the last tooth?  The one with the rods in the roots (it's the one that I had a root canal done on in June).  See how much higher it is than the rest of them?   Yep.   It's moved that much in 3 short months, and it's taking the bone along with it on the ride.   So what has my body done?  Created more bone to fill the spaces.   Apparently my jaw wasn't cool enough, at least in my body's perspective.   They had to  mix things up a bit.  ;-)







--3--

In other news, I have a carrot cake in the oven and it smells DEE.LIC.IOUS.   Cannot wait to cut into that baby tonight.







--4--

Mike and I went to see the 25th anniversary touring production of Les Miserables last night at Arizona State.   We were both a bit hesitant to go, after reading descriptions of the changes that had been made to the score and staging.   However, we were incredibly pleasantly surprised.  It was absolutely fantastic.   I, of course, didn't think ahead after being totally brain dead from my day of dental exams and scans.   Not sure why I didn't recall just.how.many.times Les Mis makes me cry, but I didn't.   And I bawled (expectedly).   God bless the woman next to me who brought an extra pack of Kleenex!   She saved my shirtsleeve from being put to use.  Very grateful!







--5--
Want some pictures?   Of course you do!  

What have we been drinking every night that Mike's not on call?   Oberon, of course!  It's not sold in Maine.  Gotta get our fill now.  :-)   

A photo to make you jealous.  :-)







--6--

What greeted me this morning as I cleaned up the kitchen and made some phone calls after breakfast:


My kids crack me up.








--7--

And in moving news, we now have exactly 12 days until we head out on the road again.  Is the house packed, you may wonder?

Bwahahahahahahahahha

Not at all.

We've got about 15 boxes filled.  Not bad, right?   I'm trying to avoid them.  We finished up school this week, so next on my to-do list for next week is to box that room up entirely.   That'll make a huge dent in what needs to be done still.   Maybe then I'll feel a bit more accomplished!



Alright, that's a lot about a little!  Have a great weekend, y'all!