"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...."

I remember reading those words at age 14 in 9th grade English as we began reading A Tale of Two Cities. Little did I know then that 12 years later, I would live those words.

2009 brought us the best of times in the time we had together as a family. 2009 brought us complete and perfect joy in the shape of a cuddly little baby who made our lives happy and whole. 2009 brought us the excitement of becoming parents for the first time and all of the fun that comes along with that. 2009 brought us everything we ever wanted.

2009 also brought us to our knees as our world came crashing down around us. 2009 brought us the nightmare every parent hopes to avoid....the one every parent imagines but hopes and prays doesn't actually happen. It happened to us. Our perfect, beautiful baby boy was taken from us much too soon without cause...without reason...without warning.

When I think back over the past year, the following words come to mind:

Unconditional Love

The list does go on, but I'm sure you've gotten the point by now. Over the past year, especially the past four months, I have gone through every emotion possible. I still feel the rawness of the hurt and pain of our loss. I still feel the joy I felt every time he would smile, laugh, or grasp my finger. I still feel the motherly instinct to nurture him...and only him. I thought that being around other babies would bring that back out, but it doesn't. I only want to nurture MY child because that's MY job, MY calling, to be a mother to MY child. And I can't. I'll go through the rest of my life feeling as if my job is unfinished because our time with him was cut so short. I won't get to watch him grow up, learn, make mistakes, graduate, get married, etc. I won't get to be "Mom" to him through all of that. Therefore, as long as we're on this earth, I will feel incomplete.

So many of you say you just can't imagine. Think about everything I just wrote - compare it to your life - imagine what you would be missing out on with your own child - feel that pinch of pain? Magnify that by a million. Now you know.

It would be easier to say that 2009 is a year I'd love to forget, but that would mean forgetting Ayden's birth and the fourt wonderful months we had with him (13 for me...). For that reason, I would never ever wish 2009 away. I would never wish we could have skipped it. I wouldn't trade those 4 months for anything....ever.

In four months, my purpose was made clear to me. In four months, I learned the meaning of ultimate joy, contentment, and happiness. I learned what it truly means to see a miracle and sit in awe of God's creation. In four months, I learned to love like never before.

2009 will be a hard year to remember, but it will be a year we will never forget. I wish I knew where we were going from here. It's so easy, entering a new year, to go into with hopes and aspirations. I'm cautious about that now. I used to be able to envision the future and have goals....usually attainable goals. But when raising your child - an attainable goal - is one that you see fall from your grasp, you aren't so quick to set goals for yourself again.

Going into the new year, all I have are hopes. I hope for the following things:

Renewed trust
Newfound hope
A break from the bad stuff
More good news than bad

We have lived the worst, but that doesn't mean we're immune to more of the "worst." That's what scares me most. More bad has the possibility of coming, and I pray every day that God will see fit to spare us from the "worst" circumstances for a while. A long while.

With each passing day, I am more aware of the fact that this world is not my home. I have become truly disgusted with this world. I'm not saying I don't find good in it; I do. I see a lot of good, but I am just disgusted by all that is wrong with this world. And it continues to get worse every day. I'm sick of hatred, disrespect, lack of courtesy and consideration, vulgarity, and materialism. This is not what God intended for us, and that becomes clearer to me as each day passes. My home is in Heaven with my Lord and my little boy. I need nothing more.

2010 is just another year. I believe it will bring new hope and new happiness - I truly do. However, my jaded eyes just see another year. My perspective will change. I won't always approach each day, month, year in this way. But this year, it's my reality, so I'm doing the best I can with it. I pray that God will continue to heal my heart and renew my spirit as only He can do. He's already done some work in me - I see things changing, but I still have a ways to go.

I hope 2010 brings only the best to you and yours. However, if you find yourself living "the worst" in 2010, just know that a new year won't fix it all. A new year won't magically make it all better. Cling to hope, faith, and the promises of Christ. That's what will get me through this year and the years to come.


Our Christmas

Getting through Thanksgiving was the first hoop. Next, Christmas. Surprisingly, we did exceptionally well. I think seeing that we could make it through the first "big" holiday made this one a little easier. However, we've begun to go into each day as if it's just any other day, and we did the same with Christmas. Sure, we recognized that it was a day of celebration, but for us, it was another day....another day without Ayden. Just because it was a holiday, it wouldn't be any harder because every day is hard enough. We opted out of gift opening wherever we went (for the most part), so here was our line-up for the day:

1st - We went to visit Ayden's spot. He will always share these days with us....he is always in our hearts.

2nd - My Grandma's: Ate lunch, visited with family, opened one gift with my grandma because it's so special to her, then we left the rest for my sister to bring back with her.

3rd - "Intermission" Between my grandma's and Jeremy's there was a big gap of time since we were avoiding gift opening, so we went to a movie. We saw Sherlock Holmes - not bad, but not AS good as I had expected.

4th - Jeremy's Grandma's: Perfect timing - the last gift was being opened as we walked in. We opened our gifts from everyone later on.

5th - Jeremy's parents' house: We did open gifts here because we wanted to see Wesley (our nephew) open his gifts. Our gifts, though, were not wrapped per my request. I actually liked not having them wrapped......less mess and pretty much the same effect. Wesley was not very interested in the whole thing, and he was super tired. I ended up rocking him to sleep against his will. You can't fight a rocking chair....

We had "Christmas" with my parents on Christmas Eve. We kept it very simple with them this year, so they came to our house and had dinner with us and we exchanged our gifts then. Ayden is my parents' only grandchild, so they have had the same feelings towards Christmas as we have. We didn't put up a tree this year, and we didn't buy big gifts. Our gifts to family and friends this year were giftcards. That's all I could get the energy to buy. I'm hoping next Christmas will be different. Christmas is my favorite holiday, but for obvious reasons....it was just another day this year.

I know that when future children come into the picture, Christmas will have the appeal it once had, but this year, I just went through the day as if it were any other. Christmas will be bittersweet for the rest of my life. I will look forward to it for the joy it brings and for the meaning it holds, but I will always see the little one who is missing. A good friend of mine who lost her first child to a stillbirth commented recently about how Christmas is still hard for her. 18 years later, and the absence of their daughter still brings tears to her eyes. I saw my future self in her in that moment....how my life will go on, but the hole in my heart will never fully close. We will always miss him and always feel his absence, even when joy has trickled back in.

After Christmas day, we went home to pack for a trip to SC. We visited my cousin and her family for a few days. My cousin is pregnant with their 4th child - a little girl. They currently have one girl and two boys. It was so great to finally see her pregnant! I had never seen her pregnant until now. She's so cute. :) We had a good time visiting with them and playing with the kids. I could write so much about my cousin, but I'll save it for another day. In short - she is someone I greatly admire, and I love her so much. I value her insight and opinion over most, and I've always strived to be like her. She is the big sister I never had. Jeremy and I got sick while we were visiting. Not sure what it was, but it was ugly. Luckily, it didn't stick around too long. It was out of Jeremy's system after a day, and out of mine after two. We think we might have eaten something on the way to SC that didn't agree, or maybe we both caught a bug at the same time. Whatever it was, I don't want it again anytime soon.

With 2010 approaching, I've been forced to look back over the past year (saving that for another post) and to also try to remain hopeful for the year to come. I've always been an optimist - it's a quality I pride myself in - and I just hope that 2010 has good things in store. Normally, I would say that I believe that it does, but given the circumstances of the past year, I think "hope" is all I can give at this point. So, here's hoping 2010 brings new blessings, new joy, new hopes, and tons of restoration.


Another dream...

I have written several times about my "Ayden dreams." I feel blessed to dream of him so frequently. Some people may think these are too precious to share, but I record them on my blog so that I can have them written down before I forget them.

Last night's was wonderful. It was much like the others. I held him throughout the entire dream. It was Ayden, Jeremy, and myself. We were at a get together at a friend's house. And much like the other dreams, we both knew he wasn't supposed to be there, but we held onto him as long as we could because we knew it wouldn't last. I remember walking up to the party holding him, and there were so many people there with their kids....most of them babies. And I remember feeling so happy because my arms weren't empty. Everyone was so happy to see Ayden. And, as usual, he was his smiley, happy self. He leaned his head against my cheek as he did so many times when I held him. He smiled, cooed, and laughed. And throughout the entire dream, Jeremy and I were trying to figure out what we could do to keep him with us. It was as if the setting was 2 weeks before we knew he would be leaving us, and we were planning for the 25th....trying to figure out how one of us could stay home with him....or if one of us could pick him up early from daycare right before we knew it was supposed to happen.....thinking of everything we could to prevent it from happening so we could keep him with us.

Then, the party ended, and we all got into the car. Then, I looked behind me, and his carseat was empty. In the dream, I just sighed....

But today, I've walked around with such a heavy heart. I just miss him so much. And I would give anything to have him back, just for an hour.....just to hold him one more time.

We did another interview yesterday. Our last interview, I hope. This one was more personal because it was done at home, and the guy interviewing us "knew" us. The questions were hard to answer.....remembering Ayden so personally was hard. It just hurts. And it's not a pain that just goes away. It always comes back. It isn't temporary, and it never will be. I will look at our future children and always see the one who is missing. Our family will never be "whole." We'll always be without Ayden, and that realization is painful.

One day, though, we will be a whole family. I pray often that our future children will learn from this and that they will decide to be believers as well. Only then can we all be promised to be a whole family again. I like to think that our future children will know Ayden somehow. I don't know how that works, but I like to think he gets to meet them before we do. He'll always be the oldest....the big brother, but he'll also always be the baby of the family.

I was doing well until today. Just happens that way sometimes. It helps to have times like this when I just breakdown and let myself feel it all. Missing him just hurts so badly.

Thank you all for continuing to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. I hope you all have a safe and Merry Christmas. I like to visualize Ayden celebrating the birth of Christ....right there with Him....wow. I wish I could see it.

A friendly visit

You all remember my friend, Amber.

Amber has been a part of my life for almost 22 years. We met when we were 5 years old, and we have been the best of friends ever since. I'm so fortunate to be able to say that I am still friends with the people I have considered my best friends for most of my life. My friend Ashley, and I, have been friends since we were 6, and Kristina and I have been friends since we were 14. I would consider these 3 my life-long friends. You know...the friends you can go years without seeing but then when you meet again, you just pick up where you left off. I know that not many people can say that they are still friends with people they met that long ago, so I consider myself very blessed.

Amber has been in town for a few days to visit some family for the holidays. So, I took advantage of her visit, and I kidnapped her for a day. She spent yesterday and last night with us, and it was just like old times. We did the usual reminiscing about the old days and laughing about all the crazy stuff we did back then. Amber and I were/are quite the duo. We just click, and you see it right away with us. It's obvious that there is a history there....and a good one at that.

Amber spent the day with me, my mom, and my sister. We just went various places around town....and I may or may not have driven them all out into the country to see "my" house...again. Amber loved it.

After that, we went back to my house and we tackled one part of our "list." We watched some iCarly episodes - specifically the pilot episode. Here's why: when we were in elementary school, Amber and I had a pretend TV show where we would talk about whatever we wanted and just do crazy stuff. Usually, we bantered back and forth with our nemesis, the fictional Jack Hunt. We were trying the save the chimps (yeah...I don't know....). Anyway, when I first saw the pilot of iCarly, I immediately thought of us - and I remember actually saying, "That's US! That's me and Amber!" The similarities are really bizzare. If you've ever seen the show, I would be Carly and Amber would be Sam. This may be a teeny-bopper show, but it's just so cute. I love it. Anyway, we have put together this list of things for us to do when she gets out of her school/training she is in right now. One thing on the list was to watch the iCarly pilot, so we did, and Amber is now a convert. She definitely sees us in this show.

After that, Amber tagged along with us to a Christmas gathering at Jeremy's parents' house. Without getting too detailed, his parents have been taking care of a little girl in our family while custody issues get straightened out. It appears that things will get straightened out this week, and she will be going home. Last night was a way for all of us to have Christmas with her before she has to leave. I'm glad Amber got to meet her; she immediately took to Amber....the big kid.

When we got home, Amber and I settled in for a scary movie. As kids we always set ourselves up. Both of us knew how scared we were when it came to scary movies, but we just couldn't help ourselves. I had asked her if she had ever seen the movie, 1408. It came up because I had just heard Karen Carpenter's "Merry Christmas, Darling" and I told her how that song creeped me out because all I could ever hear when I heard her voice was, "We've Only Just Begun" which is the creepy song in 1408. After saying that, she had to see the movie. I succeeded in scaring her. And, as I remember her doing so many times when we were younger, Amber talked to the main character throughout the entire movie - "Don't do it!"; "Just go to sleep!"; "Stop doing that!"; "Just leave, you idiot!." It was great - just like old times.

Sadly, I had to take her back to her Uncle's this morning, which is her old house from when we were kids. So, we walked around the house, remembering how things once were. It was like we were kids again. Here we were, the dynamic duo, walking in to find her parents and grandparents and uncle....much like we would have if we were 20 years younger. I miss the days when things were so simple....when we didn't have a care in the world....when we set out in reckless abandon....testing our limits and knowing no boundaries. Then, we grew up. Such is life, I guess.

As I said in the post I wrote about Amber - we all need an Amber in our lives. I'm glad I have the original.


Slowing down

Deep breath.

I've been taking a lot of those lately.

It seems like the past few weeks have flown by...especially with the whole break-in craziness. No new news on that, by the way. Still hoping something will turn up.

Other than that, I just haven't felt much like writing. I'm usually good about updating the blog, but I just haven't felt like doing anything on my computer recently. I've been reading a lot, so I guess I was way into the books I was reading. I wasn't going to confess, but I will....I have been reading the Twilight series.

I'm so embarassed.

I started reading the first book just to see what the big deal was. So many of my students LOVE the Twlight saga, but I just laughed....I mean, really, vampires? So, I shrugged it off and decided I was too old for it. Then, I saw the first movie. It was okay...I liked it....I saw the appeal. I understood why my high school students love it. When the 2nd movie came out, I saw it, too. I had already seen the first....might as well. I actually laughed out loud at the end of it. It was so melodramatic, but sadly, it did draw me in.

So, I bought the first book.....read it in a week. (I know, many people read them in a day....I'm not a quick reader, plus....I have a life)

I skipped the 2nd book...first because they didn't have it at Target, 2nd....I had seen the movie, so I got the idea behind it.

I started reading the 3rd book, read it in a week.

Moved on the the 4th book.....read it in 4 days. It was by far, the best of the series.

So, I became hooked. I see why people like it so much. I'm not going to be crazy about it like a lot of people are. At first, I did not enjoy the writing style. The author used a lot of the same adjectives....I got tired of that. However, the writing definitely got better with each book. So, now I'm am expectantly waiting for the next movie. Sigh. Now my students will want to talk Twilight with me. That's okay, though. I'm just glad they're reading. It's much better than some of the other trash out there. I picked up the novel, Precious, the other day in Barnes and Noble. All I'm going to say is that I will not be reading that book. As an English teacher, I can't bring myself to do it. First, the language is too much for me. Second, the "writing" is made up on sentence fragments and slang. Now, before people think I'm being all judgemental. No, I'm not. I get what the author is doing. Again, I'm an English teacher. I have a bachelor's degree in English and a Master's in Library Science. I know a lot about writing styles, and it's just that - this author's chosen writing style for this novel. It is written in first person, and the language and writing is relative to the character speaking. I just can't bring myself to read it....the content, language, all of it....just not for me.

Like you really care to have my opinion. Just "thinking outloud".

We are in the process of getting our house on the market. We went and looked at the house I posted on a week ago. I was hoping that I would hate the inside so the decision would be a little easier. Sadly, no. Loved it. It was super cute, and it has SO much potential. We could add a master bath to it, finish the upstairs...which would give us another 700+ square feet, and we just love the location. However, our house has to sell first....and we'd have to be sure we could handle in incurring costs that come with an older house.

I have faith. It'll all work out....whichever way it's supposed to.

Hope you're all doing well. I promise not to stay away as much anymore. I do have another book to read, though, but this one is for school. I assigned Pygmalion for my seniors' as their independent reading, so I need to re-read that and get my assignments together for it. I'm thinking about having them act out a scene and do a character analysis. Many of my students read my blog, so let me answer a question for them real quick. YES you HAVE TO act out a scene. YES you may have a partner, but only ONE. If I have an odd number of students, someone will have to go solo. You can do it. I know how creative you guys are....I'm looking forward to it!

Okay. We're having a movie night, so I'm off for now.

Thank you all for continuing to remember us in your thoughts and prayers. I wish I could say so much more than just thank you, but it's all I can give. We have been so blessed by you all. We are continuing to hang in there....still having good and bad days. We just want to live as we would have taught Ayden to live, so we're focused on that and living to make him a proud little boy.


People continue to amaze me

So, today, I did my first ever news interview. Had I known I was doing an interview today, I would have dressed much differently. This morning, I got up and got ready. I babysat today, so I knew wearing something really nice probably wouldn't be the best idea for comfort and cleanliness reasons. So, I threw on an old sweater and put my hair up. I did, at least, put makeup on. I was right about my clothing choices because the baby just let all of his bodily fuctions go today. I had to laugh... He pooped on me, spit up on me, drooled on me, and then sneezed on me quite a few times. He definitely thought it was funny, so how could I not join in. I asked him if there was anything else he would like to share with me today. I think he's saving it for another day. If he wasn't so darn cute.... He makes the day fun, so I'll take all of it anyday.

Anyway, I got a voicemail this morning from the local news station. They wanted to do a story on the recent break-in in conjunction with the bigger picture of Ayden's passing. I was touched that they would want to help us in this way. We are very humble people, so we never expect help or this kind of kindness in anyway. So, over the past few months, as help continues to come or provisions continue to be made, we remain in awe of the kindness people have so graciously shown. It has truly been a blessing. So, whoever called the news station about us and our story - thank you. Thank you for allowing us to tell Ayden's story one more time. And thank you for giving us an opportunity to get the word out about the break-in.

You would think that since I'm teacher, I wouldn't get nervous about speaking in front of crowds or on camera. With students....no, not a problem. I'm in total control. With peers or parents, or a large viewing audience, I'm a total wreck. So, when you see the video and see that my voice is trembling throughout the whole thing, you'll see my nervousness. Nerves combined with talking about my sweet Ayden....I'm surprised I was able to keep my composure at all. Here is the link to the story. You'll see a video camera icon - you can click on that to see the actual video. Please ignore my southern accent. You always sound worse to yourself when you watch yourself on video. I never realize how southern I sound until I watch myself.


This week has been a better week compared to most. I have felt hopeful and encouraged. I know that this is not a turn for the "better" because I know that bad days will return. There is no "better" or "easier" with this, but I do believe the days will begin to become more tolerable. But it has been good to experience a more "up" week. I think the break-in forcing me to rebuke satan inflicting fear and panic has brought about this uplifting spirit I've had this week. I refuse to let him win by making me afraid and unsure. I know where my ultimate protection lies...protection from ALL things, and even in the midst of suffering, I know God is with me. He may have to deal with my doubt from time to time...especially on the bad days....but on days like today, I know he is glad to see me fully trusting Him.


Facts about Ayden...

I received an email recently. Thank you, by the way, to those of you who email us and share with us your thoughts, emotions, ponderings, kindness, compassion, sympathy, prayers, etc. I'm not good at all at getting back to people. However, please know that I DO read every, single email, and then I mark each one as "unread" so I can go back and respond. Sadly, it takes me a while...sometimes a long while. But, I promise you, I read them ALL, and they all bring comfort.

One email in particular struck me. First, I was just humbled that during her busy day, we came to mind, and she went on to make a mental list for me. Many of you share with us how often we come across your minds and how often you pray for us. Again, it humbles me so much because I know how hectic life can be and how hard it is to think outside of our own selves...our own "box." I know, I do it all the time. So, thank you all so much. This person included her list, and I wanted to share it. She called the list, "Facts about Ayden'"

Facts about Ayden:

--Ayden can see God clearly now, face to face. He can hug him, and kiss him and follow him around. How wonderful it must be!

--Ayden is lacking nothing!

--Ayden is completely whole.

--Ayden has lots of company and new friends to romp around with and he gets to meet people who have never met him before, but always wanted to. For example, great-great grandparents and such.

--Ayden's family misses him...terribly

--Ayden's death left a hole in many lives, and at the same time, perhaps, has made many lives whole by bringing people to God.

--We believe in God's plan....always

--God is up to something......always

--Ayden's death has brought the image of God into greater focus and caused the rest of us to examine our own mortality and time with our children and family.

--God is keeping his promise to you...eternal life WITH Ayden.

--Ayden will be invited to the most awesome birthday party ever in a few days (the birthday of Jesus.)

--Your baby is home....right where he should be and where you will get to join him sometime in the future.

I was so touched by this. And she's right, and I loved that she called them "facts" because a "fact" is TRUE. To know that Ayden has touched the lives of so many, and hopefully for the better...and for an eternity's worth of change....that is so awesome. Ayden will share Jesus' birthday with Jesus himself....wow....wow. I hadn't thought of that. All I had thought of was that we were going to spend Christmas without Ayden; this brought me a new perspective. I continue to be so proud of the goodness Ayden's life spreads and brings about....even now. So proud of my sweet boy.

Our pastor spoke today about allow the Spirit to fill you to overflowing. He commented on how many of us let the Spirit in when it's convenient for us, or we just let Him trickle in here and there. He encouraged us to live with Hope because if we are believers and filled with the Holy Spirit, we should not be walking around as if we have no hope and no joy. I am having trouble with one of those two. Hope....I have in abundance. Joy....I'm working on that one. I know God understands, and I know He is preparing me for Joy that will astound me. I just hope it comes sooner than later.

I'll leave this post with a few new additions to Ayden's Name Gallery. Keep sending them in! You guys are creative! http://melissatsao.squarespace.com/
If you look hard enough, you'll find some photos from Ayden's newborn session. Melissa is my former college roommate and one of my best friends of all time. She does amazing work with a camera. She is a Christian, and she has a heart and a true talent for her work. Check her out.

Thank you all for these! They're great! They aren't in the official gallery yet, but they will be soon. Keep sending them in!


Quick update

We were able to get serial numbers for all of the electronics that were stolen: Xbox, video camera, and my sister's Wii. Hopefully, having the serial numbers will help. I'm just hoping and praying that whoever it was that was involved will slip up somewhere and give themselves away....somehow.

I spent a lot of time today trying to clean up finger-printing dust. For future reference: the stuff gets everywhere. We've had it caked on our feet, socks, and shoes since last night. I think I got almost all of it off the laminate flooring, However, when I tried to get it off the carpet......that didn't go so well. Dark black streaks started forming each time I pulled the vacuum cleaner over it. So, we tried using some carpet cleaner to get it up. That helped a little, but we ran out. So, we had to use what we had.....which was oxyclean. It helped a little also, but we still have some dark patches on our carpet. I guess we'll have to get a steam cleaner and see if that will work. Anyone else have any ideas?

Mentally...emotionally...I'm hanging in there. I've honestly tried to block a lot of the emotions that could have rushed in: fear, worry, anger, helplessness, etc. In four months, I've experienced two of my biggest fears, and I'm still left wondering "why?" I just don't get it. Jeremy commented that he felt like a modern day Job and that I shouldn't be surprised if his skin was covered in boils in the near future. It's funny, but it's honestly how we feel right now. We feel as if we're just waiting to get hit with something else.

I think I've tried to block a lot of the emotions mentioned above because I know that is what satan would love for me to allow to come into my mind. After all of the madness of yesterday, I got a moment to myself, and I spoke to satan, simply saying, "You will not win. I won't let you get inside my mind right now. I refuse to be afraid." I can't say I was completely fearless; I did sleep with pepper spray and my tazer sitting right next me on my night stand, and Jeremy had a box cutter with him. We had a scary moment last night. It was 2am, and all of a sudden, I hear the doorbell ring, and I sit up quickly....heart racing...and I grab my tazer. Jeremy didn't hear it the first time, but he heard me sit up. The doorbell rang again. He heard it that time, so he got up and went to the door to look out the peephole. In the meantime, I have my tazer in one hand ready to go....Tucker in the other....and I'm looking out our window to see if anyone is in the backyard. We left the lights on outside, and we left Gracie out of her pen. We thought that the burglar had come back to have some fun. It turned out to be our neighbor. She had seen that Gracie was out, which is unusual, and after everything that happened, she was afraid something had happened to us. Needless to say, we ended up sleeping late this morning because sleep was not so easy last night. I had actually stayed up until about 1:45, reading and watching TV because I just couldn't sleep. So, I hadn't been asleep long when all of this happened. We let Tucker sleep with us last night, which I believe he enjoyed thoroughly. He's hard to sleep with, though, because he likes to be right up against you, and if he hears any little noise he starts growling and barking. He did well last night, though.

Tonight will probably be much like last night. We are already looking into houses that are for sale in the area. We know we won't be able to even look into new places to live until ours sells, but it's nice to know what's available. With the next house, here is what we want:

- Small, cozy, preferably a bungalow...cute farm house style (which means older)
- AWAY from town and the crazies that live in town (I know there are crazies out of town, too)
- Location: Close to the memorial park where Ayden is, or on the outskirts of the county (again...away from town)
- Not a lot of neighbors - preferably not even in a subdivision
- No fence because although they offer privacy, we now know that people can jump them and kick in a back door with no one in sight.
- An affordable price range

Here is one we LOVE (<-- click "love")If only it could stay out there for us long enough for someone to take our house off of our hands. It's everything we want. It meets every criteria on our list. It will probably be taken well before we can even think about it, but something like it is sure to come up. I'm still going to cross my fingers for this one, though. Something good has to happen soon right?

Well, so much for a quick update. Thank you all for your kind comments and continued prayers. We truly appreciate it so much.


When it rains......

Well, we walked into the house this afternoon to find out that someone had broken in.

The door had been kicked in:

They were kind enough to close the door back. How nice.

This is how some things were found:

Xbox, video camera, Wii.....all taken:

Emptied out my jewelry box and took all the jewelry that was sitting out on top. One of the small jewelry boxes on top had picture of Ayden in it, and they took that.

They stripped the pillow cases off of our pillows and stuffed everything in them.

The frame from the door:

I don't have much to say about it. I'm just disgusted. Disgusted with everything. I'm thankful that nothing of Ayden's was taken or disturbed. Our pets are okay. Everything they took can be replaced except for a few things. The did find some cash that we had saved up to help pay for our plots in the memorial park where we have Ayden. We pay for those monthly, so we had kept the cash around so we could have it available. The video camera had been used once, and it has a video of Ayden's arrival home from the hospital. I'm trying not to be upset about that because that memory is so clear in my mind. And now I'll be extra certain to keep that memory clear. We had been wanting to sell our house for this very reason. Our neighborhood isn't terrible, especially our section, but things like this have happened a few times. But they aren't common. We do have an alarm system, but it happened to be the one day we forgot to set it before we left. I'm honestly just glad neither one of us was here, our pets are okay, and they didn't do as much damage as they could have. Given our circumstances, I almost feel like, "What else can happen that hasn't already happened?" I guess that's why I haven't reacted as I would have expected.
It is creepy to know that someone, a stranger, has been in your house....seen your possessions....knows what the inside of your home looks like....knows of possible vulnerabilities. Just makes me sick.
I just pray conviction over the person/people who did it. If they only knew the home they chose and the circumstances behind the family they violated.....




That's what I'm doing right this minute.

I'm going to try to convey what I'm feeling, but words are not adequate. If I could put into words how painful this is..... I don't even think those words exist.

It's moments like these when there is no end in sight. It feels like this is going to last forever. Words like "never" pop into my mind, and I find myself believing that I will never see him again, never hold him again, never be his mommy again.

I just miss him so badly. What a simple way to express how much this hurts. Today everything just came rushing back. Our time with him, how much I adore him and loved being home with him. Then my thoughts went to "that day". I don't talk much about it because...well who would? But I can't get the images out of my head. I wasn't even there, but I can see it in my head, and that just breaks me into a million pieces.

I know (well, desperately hope) that we will have more children. But they will never be Ayden. I will love them just as unconditionally as I love Ayden, but they will never fill this hole in my heart. They will bring happiness and joy back into our home and our lives, but the happiness and joy he brought to us will always be missing. I miss how full my heart felt when he was here. I miss how happy our home was. I miss his beautiful face - how I would just sit and look at him....never tired of looking at him....just taking in God's miracle in this beautiful child. And now he's gone, and on days like today.....it seems like I will never have him back.

It's so easy to say that this world is not our home.....this isn't forever....but explain that to my heart when one day without him feels like an eternity. I know he is safe, happy, content, joyful, but I'm not....and the one thing that can make me feel whole again can't come back to me. It's just so cruel. To be given someone so special to you. To have everything you ever hoped for in your child. To have your dream come true right there in your arms. And then....to have to live without him. How do you live after that? What kind of existence can there be?

I've just really been struggling lately. And believe me, I know what many people would say in response. Just lean on God....give Him your burdens....let Him carry it for you. Yes, I know all of that. I'm trying. And that's the best I've got right now. That's all I can give. I'm trying the best I can.

I wish this whole world could have known him because he truly is such a beautiful, happy child. I wish the world could have felt the sincere love and adoration I share(d) with him. I wish I felt as connected to God now as I did when I was thanking Him daily....sometimes hourly....for the gift we were given in Ayden. I was completely and totally aware of the miracle we had in him, but God still allowed him to be taken. I struggle with that......that we KNEW, and know, how blessed we were. We didn't take one second for granted, but He still allowed it to happen. I don't understand that. I know God's will is perfect and good. I know he is sovereign. But I don't understand how I'm supposed to be expected to see good in this right now.

I didn't write this for pity or for people to have something to read or comment on. This blog is my outlet, and the rest of you are just out there...reading it....I guess because I'd rather know someone is reading it than no one.

Thank you all for sticking with me....reading on "good" days and then days like today....that are just ugly and sad.

I love you Ayden. I'm amazed at how my love for you continues to grow daily. Although you aren't here with me to receive it, I know it is being sent to you above. I long for the day when I am allowed to join you. All I can pray for is for my purpose here to be fulfilled in its time, so I can join you once that time comes. I'd be lying if I didn't say I hoped for that time every single day. I miss you....more than words will ever possibly express. I know you're safe, but I will always be your mommy, so I will always want to be with you and take care of you. Eventhough it may not seem like it to me, I know that when I see you again, it will be as if we had never been parted. I love you, sweet, beautiful boy.


Still here...

I haven't posted in a few days. Not much going on around here...nothing new anyway. The fact that nothing new is going on around here is sad in itself because we should have a 7 month-old here to keep things fun and interesting all the time.

I'm going to try to not make this depressing.

Friday, Jeremy and I went to see The Phantom of the Opera in Durham. The travelling group is here for about 3 weeks. I have seen Phatom before. I saw it in New York when I was 14, so now as a 26 year old, I knew I'd look at with a new perspective. Since seeing it the first time, I have seen the movie several times and I have worn out the soundtrack from playing it over and over. I was afraid that I would be bored seeing it again since I already knew what was going on. However, I was the opposite of bored. I was so pulled into it the whole time, I think I forgot to breathe at some moments. A little known fact about me is that I love musicals....especially broadway musicals. I'm no expert by any means, but I love the excitement of them. After seeing Phantom the first time, I had decided that I was going to move to New York, get a voice coach, and sing on broadway....and one day be Christinne in Phantom. My voice is actually well-suited for her part. In my adolescent mind, that was a simple task and one that was completely sensible. It makes me laugh, now.

Anyway, we went to Durham, had a nice dinner and then went to the show. It started at 8, and it didn't end until 11:30. We finally got home around 1am. Fine with me....that is usually when I start to fall asleep. I was still wide awake, so I decided to watch the movie version of Phantom so I could compare the similarities and differences. My opinion: the show is better...hands down. Jeremy couldn't hang with me, so he went to sleep. I eventually fell asleep around 3:30 after finishing the movie. Needless to say, I slept in on Saturday.

The one thing that kept going through my mind while we were gone Friday night was the fact that we shouldn't have the freedom we now have to just go and do. I was focused on trying to enjoy myself, but in the back of my mind, I was incredibly sad. I hated that we could just pick up and go....and stay out late....because we have nothing to rush back to. I would gladly give up a night out....even one as nice as that one....if it meant I could have Ayden back. I don't want this freedom. I just want my child. I want to be "mommy" again.

Lately, I've felt hit from all angles. I go out somewhere....and there's a newborn, infant, or pregnant woman. I check facebook....someone else has found out they're pregnant or has posted new pictures of their baby. We visit with family....and the constant reminder of his absence is there. His pictures are up, but he isn't there. It seems like everyone around us is so happy and carefree, and we're just stuck in this hole....trying to crawl out...trying to find light somehow...somewhere. And when I begin to be able to crawl out, just a little bit, someone/something pushes me right back down. It's absolutely relentless, and sometimes I'm just too tired to fight back. This month, we will have been without him for as long as we had him. 4 months. It's just not right...

I said I didn't want this to be depressing, so I'd better stop there. I have actually had some really good days recently. The past 2 have just been down days. I expect them, though, and I would think something was wrong with me if I didn't have them. I know I can't change any of this, and I know that if Ayden was given the chance to come back to us, he wouldn't. I wouldn't blame him. I know he is the safest of places and that he is happier than he could have ever been here. That still doesn't take the hurt away, though....

Today I just want to kiss these sweet baby feet. I miss them so much. And I miss him....


Short but so sweet....

So, I haven't been so secretive about the fact that I have been using ambien to help me sleep. I can tell you, I am so glad I let everyone talk me into it. I have definitely needed the help falling asleep. However, I really don't like how groggy it makes me in the mornings. I will wake up around 9, but I won't get out of the bed until close to 11 because I'm so groggy. Well, I now have one ambien left. I didn't want to go cold turkey....take the last one and then the next night have nothing. So, I went and got an over-the-counter sleep aid, and I have melatonin in case I don't like the over-the-counter kind. I tried the over-the-counter last night, and it went okay. I woke up at 4 and I was wide awake, but I managed to get myself back to sleep. I woke up around 7:30, when Jeremy was leaving....went back to sleep....finally woke up around 10. From about 8-10, though, I was in and out of sleep....too groggy to actually get up. I need to start going to bed earlier; I think that will help. I'm not even going to tell you what time I usually go to bed....it's late.

I dreamt of Ayden all night long last night. I love dreaming of him because, in a way, I get him back for that short period of time. In my dreams, it was much like dreams I've mentioned before. I felt puzzled about why he was able to be there with me because I knew he wasn't supposed to be, but as with past dreams....I just went with it and took advantage while I could. I remember him being so happy.....and me being thrilled out of my mind. I just held him...the entire time....I never let go of him in my dreams. I remember a funny moment. I was holding him, and I looked at Jeremy and said, "When was the last time he pooped?" And then I looked at Ayden, and I said, "Well, I think you're going right now aren't you?" And it just came and came....and it was all over my hands. I remember just laughing and laughing, and Ayden was laughing too. At one point, we were around other people, and I remember them being so surprised to see him, but it wasn't an unnatural surprise; it was a super-excited, so happy that he's back kind of emotion. As I was finally waking up, I remember I wasn't holding him, but I could hear him....and as I woke up, all I could hear was his laughter. How sweet....but sad at the same time. I love having dreams about him, but they make me miss him more (if that's even possible).

Well, that's all for now. I have to start my day....


I don't want to do this....

Today has just been one of those days. One of those days when I get into a funk. One of those days when I'm up and down from one minute to the next. One of those days when my temper is short for the sole reason of just wishing my life was different, so I take it out on everyone else (they usually never hear me because it's all in my head). One of those days when I say to myself over and over, "I don't want to do this anymore."

The first part of my day was okay. I went to school for a little while to pick up some Graduation Project stuff to work on. I enjoyed seeing some of my students and colleagues. I'm getting better with "How are you" and "Are you looking forward to coming back", but I don't get "You look good." I get what people mean by that, I truly do, but I'm left wondering if they expected me to look terrible. It makes me a laugh a little.... Don't worry if you've said it to me - I really do understand what you mean by it. I've said it to people myself....but to be on the other side, it's just a little different.

After leaving school, I really didn't want to go home. I decided that since it was December 1st I would get some new flowers for Ayden's spot. It's funny - I have no desire whatsoever to decorate our house for Christmas. Last Christmas we were so excited. We had just found out we were having a boy, and we were looking forward to sharing Christmas with Ayden. How do you celebrate a holiday without your child? Especially this one? I figured that since I didn't want to decorate the house, I could at least decorate his spot. So, I went to the local pottery and picked up some silk flowers. As I was walking around, I just remember feeling so out of place....just lost. Here I am...26 years old....picking out a floral arrangement in memory of my child. I should be showing him the Christmas trees and the ornaments and the pretty lights. I was struck so suddenly that I almost had to leave the store. I took some deep breaths and just kept moving. I do that a lot. I picked out some really pretty red hydrangeas, some holly, and some small, prearranged bouqets. I looked for a "First Christmas" ornament to somehow put on it, but I couldn't find one. Want to experience depression? Look for a first Christmas ornament for the child who is no longer here.... I want him to have one, though....from us, and if it means putting it on his arrangement, so be it. I tried so hard to push the thoughts out of mind - the thought/reality that he has to experience his first Christmas away from us and that on days like today when I really just need to hold him and kiss him....I can't. Sometimes, when I'm buying things like I did today and I see the people around me laughing, buying decorations, smiling with their kids, I just want to scream at them.....and make them all stop and realize that it isn't that easy for some of us.

To make matters worse, it seems like everyone we know has kids these days or is pregnant or just had a baby. I know that isn't the case. However, it's hard to feel any other way. I look at some of our friends our age who have 2...3 kids, and here we are....our one and only child is gone. I don't in any way feel anger or jealously towards them. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't look at them and say, "Why? Why can't that be us? It was us....why did it have to change?" My cousin and his wife just found out they're having a boy. I'm happy for them....I really, truly am. But I would be lying if I said it wasn't hard. And I know they'll read this, so I have to say that I am in no way upset with them. I'm just upset with life and how unfair it can be sometimes. My cousin and I are really close, and we've always reached many of our milestones together. We are 6 months apart in age, so we are more like siblings. I hate that we both have to live with this now. They found out they were pregnant around the same time we lost Ayden. They didn't know how to tell us. I was proud of my cousin for calling me and telling me....and keeping it together. I truly am so happy for them, but I know they feel a little guilt. And I hate that. I hate that he and I will always have this memory......that he will look at his son and think of the one I lost. Christmas this year will be happy and hard at the same time....and probably a little awkward. Everyone around us tells us that they feel guilty that they have their kids while we have to endure this. I know I would feel the same way if it were someone other than myself.

I've spoken before about how isolating this is. On days like today, I feel so alone....as if I'm in this bubble....looking at the world from the outside looking in because I no longer fit into "normal". I walk around as an observer.....taking it all in and feeling every sting as I'm comfronted with what used to be my life. It's days like today when I forget that Ayden is in Heaven.....that he is where we all hope to be someday....that he will live in a perfect world and we will see him again. On days like today, I just want him back. I just want my baby back. I feel so weak and insignificant on days like today. Just beat down. I feel God trying to remind me....trying to push through, but I let the pain block Him out.

Have I mentioned lately how much I really dislike all of this?

Well, I do.


An accidental artist

My sister and I were recently visiting the Christian bookstore and stumbled across a new little place called The Accidental Artist. Shops have been opening and closing in this shopping center, so we just looked past this one. It's a place where you can go and paint pottery. You pay a studio fee and you pay for the piece you paint, BUT the piece I painted would have easily cost twice as much if I bought it already painted in the store. This one has my personal touch to it, which you can't buy in a store.

I hope they are able to stay in business because I think they have an awesome concept going here. My sister and I started on our projects around 3, and we stayed until closing time - 6pm. In that 3 hour time span, so many people came in to look around, inquire about birthday parties, work on projects, finish projects, etc. I will definitely be going back. I found it very therapeutic, which is great for me these days.

I have had a better few days. It seems that when I have a "bad" week, a "good" (as I say, define "good") week follows. However, I can quickly feel my spirit beginning to lower as a few good days go by. It's inevitable that I will have bad days. I just take them in stride and let them come. I'm learning to live with grief and be okay with the way it affects me. I know it's okay to have bad days. And I know it's okay to have good days. I just take them as they come; it's all I can do.

Take a look at my first piece of painted pottery. I was happy with it, and I think I've found my "signature" for all future projects:

I chose a bowl - this is the inside. I got a little off with my polka dots, but it was trial and error, and it was my first time, so now I know how to fix it in the future...

The outside of my bowl
The bowl will be glazed and fired in a kiln and available for pickup in 4 days. I'll show you the finished product once I get it.

My "signature"


7 months


7 months ago, this was our life.....

7 months ago, as of Friday the 27th, we became a family of 3.

He would be 7 months old.

7 months later, our little family is broken because someone is missing.

The 25th marked 3 months without him.

He is missed every day.

We will miss him with each passing second, minute, hour, day, month, year, milestone, holiday, and tradition.

He should be here, with us....his parents...as it's supposed to be.

The three of us will always be a family, but we will never be whole again until we see him again.

Thank God we know we'll see him again.

Happy 7 months Ayden. We love and miss you more and more with each passing day.

-Mom and Dad

26, 27, 28


Happy Birthday to this guy.......

Jeremy turns 27 today. He keeps talking about how close to 30 it is. I don't feel like we're that close to 30, but 3 years is pretty close. We have celebrated birthdays together since we were seniors in high school, so this marks the 9th birthday I've celebrated with him. He's definitely worth celebrating. And although neither one of us feels much like celebrating anything these days, I hope he enjoys today. He deserves it. Let me share some things with you about Jeremy.
1. He appears quiet and reserved. Those of us who know him best know better....
2. He loves football, and he is an awesome coach. He knows what he's talking about.
3. He loves kids. He is so good with kids. When I first saw him interact with kids, I knew right away that he was going to be a wonderful dad....and he is.
4. He is very patient with me. I can't say he is patient in every area of his life (driving.....), but when it comes to me, he is patient, kind, and compassionate. I love that about him.
5. He is corny and sappy. He laughs at his own jokes and will buy the sappiest card in the store for me. I love both of these traits.
6. He's a thinker and a ponderer. He is married to an impulsive woman who doesn't think much before she does anything. Imagine how that goes sometimes....
7. He loves his family and mine. He truly cherishes the family he has around him.
8. He is protective of my sister.....so watch out.
9. He has a big, tender heart and is willing to help anyone who needs it.
10. He loves his son....so much that I can see the pain in his eyes. I know when he is thinking of Ayden; I can see it. We may not talk about it much because we are both reserved when it comes to grief, but we know each other so well that we don't have to talk all the time about it. This affects him just as harshly as it affects me, and although he may not be as vocal about it as I am, it's there.

There is so much more I could tell you about Jeremy. He is a great guy, and I'm so blessed to have him in my life. I've thought a lot about "what if things had been different." Would this have happened IF..... and then I realize, we were brought together for this reason. God knew it 9 years ago when we met. He knew it when we were both born. He knew we would need each other. I can't get angry at God for his timing and for giving us Ayden when he did because if it had been any other month, we wouldn't have been given Ayden. It would have been a completely different child. We couldn't have asked for a sweeter, more perfect baby.
Jeremy is an awesome dad. To see him with Ayden just lit up my day....and Ayden's. Ayden had a connection with Jeremy that he and I didn't have. It was just different. I was his source of comfort and that sweet, cuddly mommy/baby love. Daddy/baby love is different but just as sweet. They had a playful relationship. Jeremy could get Ayden so excited and so happy. He could make him laugh and smile like I never could. Ayden would sit in Jeremy's lap and just "talk" to him....babbling on and on.....and Jeremy would just listen and talk back. Ayden thought it was the greatest. People tell me all the time that Ayden looks just like me. He may look a lot like me in the face, but everywhere else....he's Jeremy. He has big hands and feet (he never wore newborn size shoes...his feet were too big from the get-go) just like Jeremy. He has a long torso and high chest, just like Jeremy. He is laid back and easy going.....like Jeremy.
Jeremy and I have been through so many ups and downs together, and we've always pushed through together. This isn't something we ever anticipated, but we know that together, we'll make it through. I don't tell him enough how thankful I am for him, but I hope he knows. I love him more every day, and I truly don't know what I would do without him.
I titled this post "26, 27, 28" because those are our birthdays - mine is April 26, Ayden's is April 27, and Jeremy's is November 28. When Ayden was born, we realized that our birthday dates have an order....with Ayden in the middle....as he should be. We love that we share this with him.

Happy Birthday Jeremy! I love you and am so thankful for you. Ayden loves you, too and is so proud of his Daddy!


Fondant Cake: Part Three

Well, my fondant cake-making venture has come to an end. A successful end. It's not perfect by any means, but it's my FIRST try, and I'm proud of myself. I can't say I didn't get frustrated, but I didn't get as frustrated as I might have normally. It was hard, but I have to say I enjoyed it. Below are pictures from today and then the finished product. Next time around, I will practice my writing skills before decorating a cake! That's the only part I don't like.....

Jeremy is happy with it, and he can't wait to eat it. I could have gone out and bought a cake, and it would have been close to perfect. But I did this for him...for his day....and I did it by myself (well, I had a little help....). As long as he likes it, I'm happy.

Prepping for rolling out the fondant

Rolling - MUCH harder than I thought it would be

Didn't get a picture of me actually putting the fondant on the cake. That was the hardest part. It tore a little, but I was able to cover it up pretty well.

Pretty yellow dots :)

Starting to come together

Finished product - a girly football cake

Thank you to my mom for helping me with this part.....definitely needed more than 2 hands!

And a special touch on the back.
He will always share every holiday, birthday, celebration with us....