What. A. Day. {or....lesson learned from a scary situation}

I had one of those Mom moments today - one of the scary ones. One of the moments that make you feel like the absolute worst mom in the whole world.

Collen takes most of his daytime naps in our bed. And almost every time, I lay down with him. (The perk of being a stay-at-home mom) Today, I had to get a shower because we had plans for the afternoon. Normally, I would have taken my shower earlier in the morning while Collen was playing, but he decided to take an early morning nap, and seeing as I was pretty exhausted, I napped with him. So, as he was napping, I decided to take my shower. I've done this many times....pinned him in with pillows...and he's been fine. I know this is not the smartest of decisions, but up until now, he hasn't been all that mobile. Well...today...he got mobile...and he took a tumble off the bed. :(

I was in the shower and heard this thud, then a sound...that I thought was the dog barking. But my intuition said, I don't think that's Tucker. I rushed out of the shower....to find the bed empty and Collen on the floor crying his little heart out. I was crushed...and just terrified, but somehow, I managed to stay very calm because I knew I needed to calm him down to check him out. I picked him up and sat him on the bed, wiped his tears, and hugged him close to me to make him feel safe. He calmed down, and I looked him over. Nothing broken....nothing hurt, except for a little bruise on his cheek bone. A few minutes later, he was back to his normal self...being silly and sweet. I put a cold cloth on his bruise and proceeded to stare at him for the next hour...haha. Seriously, I just sat and held him or watched him play and just stared at him...waiting for a sign that something was wrong. I called my sister, who is a NICU nurse, and she came over and checked him out.

He seemed fine, but with our history being what it is, "seems fine" wasn't enough for me. So, off to the ER we went (it would happen on a holiday!) to get him checked out just in case. Jeremy met us there, and I imagine that the three of us were experiencing a lot of deja vu we did not want to remember. I had avoided the ER for almost 2 years....because this was where I last held Ayden and had to say goodbye. It was hard to walk through those doors and remember it all....having it all come flashing back. But, I was on a mission....so that helped keep me distracted.

Collen went in to see the triage nurse pretty quickly...they weighed him and checked his vitals. Then we sat down for the loooong wait. We ended up being in the ER for 4 hours total. Collen did fantastic!!! He played, watched people, made loud noises (hehe), drank a bottle, took a nap (at this point, I was pretty sure he was okay...), and woke up and played some more. We went back, and he was checked out by a nurse and 2 doctors, and word spread about the cute little baby in the ER. The doctors checked him out, and reassured us that he was going to be fine. So, I went home feeling a little better.

I feel awful, and I'm trying not to beat myself up about it. But, it's hard after we've experienced....because in my mind, I'm supposed to be overly cautious....I'm supposed to keep him from ALL harm and ALL possible accidents. I know that isn't possible. Believe me....I know it isn't realistic. But, after losing Ayden, I try to keep Collen as safe as I possibly can...even it if seems like I'm being irrational or paranoid. And then, I let him sleep on our bed....unsupervised. ugh....all I've been doing all day is shaking my head and thinking, "How stupid can you be?!" He has napped in our bed like this for months, and the thought has occured to be every time...that he could fall...but he hasn't, so I assumed he'd be okay. So mad at myself right now. And what makes it worse is that I almost put him in his crib. I had my hands out, ready to pick him up and put him in there, but I decided not to since he was already sleeping so well. ugh...

So, lesson learned. If he's going to sleep in our bed, I'd better be laying down with him. If not, he goes in his crib. I know it happens to all of us....but when it really happens...it's so scary.

Since I didn't see it happen, I have a theory. I think he woke up and sat up (he has JUST started doing this...like in the past day or two), and I think he was trying to get the remote on the night stand. Then I think his hand slipped, he hit his little face ( ugh...makes me sick thinking of it), and then fell...but he would have fallen onto a pillow that was on the floor by the bed...and then rolled off the pillow. So, I'm going to go with that scenario and be convinced that he fell on the pillow....because it makes me feel a little better.

Okay....I took a loooong time to tell this story. Needless to say, it has been a long day. I'm so glad he's okay....and as the days go by and I'm assured that he's okay, I'll begin to forgive myself. A big thank you to my sister for dropping everything and coming to check on him and then going with me to the ER. She's so awesome. And thank you Lord that it wasn't worse....



Collen was almost an Owen. I loved that the name means Little Warrior. I needed my 2nd baby boy to be a fighter.....because we sure were fighting to keep him with us. We were determined not to lose another child, which is foolish, really, because that decision isn't up to us. But we still needed to feel that fight within us. Ultimately, we decided on Collen, but I still love the name Owen. Perhaps if we have another boy someday....

This is about another sweet baby boy named Owen. Owen is a new friend of Ayden's (I imagine all the children in Heaven are best buddies). Owen is the brother to 3 other little boys...two of which are a part of his threesome. Owen is part of a set of triplets. One afternoon, Owen was laid down in his crib. He rolled to his stomach, and was found unresponsive. His heart was able to be revived, but he wasn't waking up. Owen has fought a long, hard fight for the past week or so, but he is now sitting at the foot (or perhaps in the lap) of Jesus.

When I first heard about this story, my heart broke and tears flooded my eyes. I hate this. I hate that some parents have to experience the death of their child. I hate that death touches children. It hurts most when I think of that....that my child experienced death....and that someone elses's child experienced death.....and someone elses's child WILL experience death. It's one of those things I grapple with so much. I still ask "why"....all the time. I never expect an answer, but I just can't wrap my mind around it. I try...but it's hard to be 100% resolved to just say, "God knows why...so just let it go and trust that He knows best." It's just so hard. I want my son in my arms. I want Owen to be with his parents and brothers again. I want Caden to know her brothers. I want Mark to know his sisters. I want Julius to smile at his Mommy again (happy birthday to Julius tomorrow!) I want all of the people I have met through my blog and our experience to have their children back with them.

Please, please take time to pray for the Bissing family. Here is a link to Melissa's blog. http://bissingfamily.wordpress.com/ She write so eloquently and is able to bring words to feelings I couldn't even begin to express. Her tribute to her son is beautiful. Owen is beautiful. His story is reaching and touching so many. His story has touched me deeply. Please lift up their family as they are facing funeral arrangements, having just held Owen for the last time, and now facing the service that is coming up. Pray that they can find rest....even when the last thing they want to do is to stop moving because once you're still, the pain is just too much to bear. Pray that they can find peace...the peace that only our Father can provide at this time. Pray that they are kind with themselves and allow themselves to grieve....in their own way, and in their own time. Pray for Owen's brothers as this has to be confusing and difficult for them. And continue to pray for families who have lost a child. Years can go by following the loss and it might seem like things are better....but that's only on the outside. The pain doesn't fade. The loss leaves a gaping hole....a void that can never be filled. Life is never the same after this.

Collen goes to the mountains

This past week, Collen and I tagged along with my parents to the mountains of NC. My dad had to go up for business, so my mom and I (and Collen) came along to do some sight-seeing and shopping. Jeremy and I lived and worked in the foothills for a year, so we have friends up there that we like to visit whenever we're there. I was able to go back to the school we taught at and visit with a few people. It was an exam day, so I couldn't visit too long, but it was so nice to give hugs and introduce them to Collen. The last time we visited was right after we lost Ayden - there were a lot of hugs on that visit too and a lot of well wishes and kind words. It was nice to go back with Collen and share our joy with our mountain family.

Collen did very well with the travelling! I was impressed. He got restless from time to time, but once he settled down and took a nap, he was fine. He ended up taking most of his afternoon naps in the car, or in his stroller, and he did so, so well. At night, he slept with me. I bought a bed rail/guard as a precaution, and it turned out to be a smart purchase. He rolls all over the place, so if he wasn't bumping into me, he at least had that guard to prevent him from meeting the floor!

It was nice to get back home to Jeremy. We missed "da da" so much! And I missed my bed....and Collen's crib. I love sleeping with him and getting those middle-of-the-night snuggles, but I sleep so much better with him in his crib. :) It was great to get away for a few days. Staying home...every day can seem like groundhog's day...the same thing over and over again. It was great to be able to get a shower without worrying about what Collen was doing. I was able to eat a meal while it was hot! It was nice to have some help. I love doing it all for Collen, but Mom needs a break sometimes, too.

It was nice to spend time with my parents. We definitely had some laughs and have some fun stories to tell...over and over again. We made some fun memories. :)

Here are some pictures from Collen's first trip to the mountains!

One of many "car pictures"

At the park with Grandma "Ya Ya"

Hi Mom!

Playing with a football from one of the ladies at school!

The dining area in the restaurant was reserved, so Collen had his first "bar meal."

It's not east to fit 4 people into one frame...but here we are!

Checking out the toys at the general store

He wasn't too sure about these bears...

Sweet boy....just love him to pieces!

Sink baths are fun!

9 Months Old

Collen turned 9 months old on May 22! It's so hard to believe we're already at 9 months! Collen is doing so many things these days....

Here are the 9 month stats:

Weight: 21 lbs 13 oz (75%)
Height: 29 1/8 inches (75%)
Head: 48cm (97%)

The doctor was a tad surprised at his head circumference because it jumped since last time. Why do the doctors have to come in and make you all nervous? She wanted to re-measure to double check because she was just a little concerned. Turns out he just has a big head. I went home and measured again, and I got 45cm. The doctor had me so worried....and it's still an afterthought...but he's healthy and developing well, so I'm trying not to worry.

As far as milestones and development go, here are the new things he is doing these days:

- He mimicks sounds and actions like clapping, nodding his head, making sounds.

- He is saying, "Ma Ma" "Da Da" "Naa Naa" "Ba Ba" "Wa Wa" "Ya Ya" "Dit" (?) We just recently have started trying to teach him "No" by shaking our head and saying, "No, no, no, no...". This is where the "naa naa" came from. He will repeat it over and over after us.

- Pointing at the light. He loves to find the light....wherever we are!

- Sitting alone and pulling himself into a seated position (woooo! So thrilled about this one!)

- He can pull up on us if he's holding onto one of our shirts, but he isn't pulling up on furniture yet. He can get himself up on his knees but then just sits back down on his bottom. He still isn't crawling, and I'm not sure if he will. He'll get into a crawling position and then just sit back on his bottom or flatten out onto his belly. He prefers to get around by rolling or scooting on his bottom.

- Feeds himself. He loves to feed himself his puffs, crunchies, anything we let him....

- Dancing/bouncing - I love when he does this! It's so, so cute. If the mood strikes him, he'll bounce and bounce to music that comes on the TV.

- His funny face - I wish I had a picture of it. He scrunches up his nose and pulls his upper lip up and breathes through his nose really loudly. We have no idea where he got this from, but it's hilarious! He has quite the personality, and he isn't afraid to show it.

- He can still wear some 9 month clothes, but we have to put him in 12 month pajamas because his legs are too long for 9 month. He's pretty true to size with most of his clothes.

- He is sleeping through the night, but he still wakes up 3-5 times a night. When he wakes up, it's only for a minute....long enough for me to find his paci and give it back (he is starting to figure out how to pick it up and put it in his mouth himself)...reposition him...pat his back/rub his head...and he's back to sleep. Last night, he woke up ONCE (woo!), then he was awake at 7am....played a little while, drank a bottle...then went back to sleep from 8-10.

He's getting so much better at sleeping and napping. He is still sleeping in our room, in his crib. I have no idea when we'll move him. I keep thinking I'm going to decide to move him within the week, and then a week goes by....and he's still in our room. He does well with the current setup, and so do we, so I guess that's why we haven't been in a big hurry. Plus...I still like being able to keep an eye on him while he's sleeping. I know I can't watch him forever, but I'm always going to be fearful. I'm getting better with each passing month....feeling less stressed and less worried...but it still creeps up.

I say it all the time, but Collen is such a blessing. I look at him and just can't believe he's mine. I watch him breathe and I'm so thankful for the air in his lungs. He is happy and healthy and has such a huge personality. We absolutely love being his mommy and daddy, and we're so thankful that God chose us for him....and him for us.

New Blog Design

UPDATE: Someone asked if I re-designed my blog myself. No...no, no, no. haha I like to think I'm good with a computer, but not THAT good. An anonymous blog-reader deserves the credit. He/she contacted Designer Blogs, and they, in turn, contacted me telling me that a blog-reader had purchased a gift certificate for me to change my blog up (after I posted about wanting to change it up and include both of our boys). So, thank you - anonymous blog-reader. :) I'm so humbled by your generosity!


Don't worry! You're in the right place! Don't close out your screen!

My blog has a new look, and I love it! I still need to work on the sidebar, but I really like the new look!

And I did change the name of the blog....so it's no longer "Keeping Up With the Joneses." With the turn that our life has taken, I thought a new name was in order. I wrote about this title a while back and how although Ayden is no longer with us here, we still see traces of him everywhere we go. Every day...in special moments....and passing glances...Ayden is always with us. There will forever be traces of Ayden in our life.

The verse that I chose for the top has become one of my absolute favorites - because through our grief and over the almost-2-years of learning to live life again....HOPE has been the one thing that kept us going. And I want to share that hope with every person I meet! Because of Christ and His sacrifice, we can live with hope...the hope of Heaven; the hope of meeting our loved ones again.

Thank you all for sticking with us over these past 2 years. I'm still in awe that anyone actually reads this little blog of mine. Thank you for sharing Ayden's story with your friends, loved ones, and perfect strangers! We are so thankful for you all....your prayers...and your encouragement on the bad days...and the good days.

Have a wonderful day!

I dreamt of you...

...and you were so beautiful.

You were out of that burden of a chair....and you were walking. WALKING! I haven't seen you walk for years....my first memories of you are of you walking, with so much spirit and courage, facing ALS like a warrior.

The night of my dream, I was reliving your death and everything I wished I could have done. You told me you wanted me to be there, and I wasn't. I had a newborn and couldn't be there. I wish I could have hugged you and told you it was all going to be okay. I wish I could have held your hand one more time. I wish I could have seen you pass into glory and triumph over this life and meet our Savior in Heaven.

In my dream, you were walking around as if you were looking for someone. I found you and hugged you so hard! You sat in my lap (haha...you would have found that humorous) and told me how scared you were, and I just kept telling you everything was okay. That we were all okay. We cried together and I told you everything I wish I could have done for you, and you told me it was okay. I miss you, my sister. I miss you, my friend. I miss our talks. I miss hearing your voice. I miss feeling your strength by just standing in your presence. Someone was at church the other day in a wheel chair like yours - I did a double take because for a second, I forgot. I was sad for a moment....but I can never stay too sad for too long....because I know where you are - I know you are basking in the glory of the Lord - and I know you are whole. I've never known what it meant to rejoice in death, but Jill....the day you went home....I found the ability to rejoice for you. But it's still hard, and we all still miss you so, so much. Our human hearts hurt because you're missing from our lives, but our souls know we will be with you again.

Love you, Lady. :)

Beautiful friends

We met Lori and John at Nancy and Dave Guthrie's Respite Retreat. We've kept up with them ever since, and they will soon be moving nearby! Their story was featured on their local news. Please take a minute to watch and hear their story and read about their sweet Matthew and their precious Luke.
They are an inspiration, and through God they have touched so many lives with their story and the blessing of Matthew - and now Luke.

After 10 years, couple gets pregnant through IVF, ends tragically, they try again


Collen says "Momma"

I had to let him fuss just a litle bit to catch him saying it, but here it is - Collen saying, "Momma!"

Oh, how I have waited to hear one of my children say Momma. It was one of the things I most longed for after we lost Ayden....I would never hear him say "Momma" or "Da Da." Now, to hear Collen saying it...it's the best thing I've ever heard.

He only says "Momma" when he's getting sleepy or is fussy and wants to be picked up....so you can be sure that he was picked up and cuddled as soon as I captured him uttering that precious word!

And here are some more videos just for the fun of it!


Be on the look-out....

....the new blog look is coming SOON!

I've seen a preview, and I'm loving it! It looks very different, and I like that it's simple, clean, and elegant. I've really enjoyed the look my blog has had for the past year, but change is good, and it was time for a change.

To the mystery blog-reader who made it possible - thank you :) The new blog brings two times in our life together - life with Ayden and life with Collen and how we are living as parents to both of our boys while Ayden waits for us in Heaven.

Can't wait for you to see it!


Collen's Quirks

I was looking at Collen today, and I thought, "God's sense of humor shines through in this child." Because Collen is a goofball. Those who know me would say, "Umm...he's yours isn't he?" Excuse me.....Jeremy is quite goofy, too, I'll have you know.

As he is about to turn 9 months old, Collen's personality is really shining through these days. He makes us smile...and how can you not when that little smile is shining right back at you? He makes us laugh countless times a day. And he's showing us so much about himself.

He's quite the individual, and we're learning that he has some pretty interesting quirks. Here are just a few:

- No matter what is going on....playing, eating, crying, tantrum (yes, those have arrived..small ones)....if this commercial comes on TV, he stops what he's doing and watches - eyes glued to the screen and sometimes he will mumble like he's singing along.

JG Wentworth Opera

(Sorry you can't watch it here; for some reason, it won't let me embed it...)

We were having trouble getting Collen to take his bottle yesterday, so Jeremy played the video for him on the computer, and he stopped fussing....watched the commercial, and drank his bottle. I have no idea why he loves it so much.

- He holds his ears when he is sleepy and falling asleep.

- When he is sleepy, he has to be able to touch one of us....and keep his hand on us. If one of us moves, with eyes closed, he'll reach out...grasping for one of us. (This is usually in the mornings when he ends up in our bed or if I'm riding in the backseat of the car with him.)

- He has to hold my hand to be able to fall asleep for his naps.

- He is an incredibly light sleeper (I am also) and wakes up several times during the night. (Tons of fun....but it's okay. :) I don't mind being able to check in on him through the night)

- He finds amusement in the littlest things. This morning, he wanted to play with a pair of his socks. We watched as he yelled is absolute joy and glee about those socks! We walked out of the house on our way to church with him carrying his sock, in his mouth....like a puppy dog.

- Although he finds amusement in many things, he is not easily humored. He will laugh at something 3 times, then it isn't funny anymore. We'll try to introduce it again a week or so later...nope...still not funny.

- He kisses me, but he will not kiss Jeremy.

- He LOVES the hairdryer. We have to dry his hair because it takes too long naturally, and he gets so excited!!

- He kisses himself in mirrors. :) "Kissing the baby..."

- When presented with a musical/noise-making toy, he has to look at all sides of it....and will most likely play with the back or bottom of it instead of the part that is supposed to entertain him.

- He will hold his bottle to play with it, but he will not hold it to feed himself.

- If we have a cup with a straw, he expects to be given some of the drink through the straw. We only do this with water....he loves it.

- He likes to put his mouth on our knees....and our toes. We highly discourage the toes, but sometimes he sneaks it in.

- When someones hand is held out in front of him, he will lean in expecting you to help him make a "wa, wa,wa,wa," sound. Then, he will do it himself because it's just so entertaining!

I'm telling you...he is an interesting child. He seems to learn something new every day. He's perfecting dancing these days, and he's getting so close to being able to pull up. He will get himself up on one knee while playing, but still no crawling.

He's a delight, and we love him more and more every day. :)


Just thoughts...

After we lost Ayden, I didn't think I would ever smile again. I didn't want to smile, laugh, enjoy the things I used to enjoy. For the longest time, I did everything outside of our old routines because I didn't want anything to feel comfortable. I had to feel the pain and the grief to feel alive....because it was the only thing I could feel. I had a difficult time with worship when we went to church because the words to the songs would just cut so deep....and I take worship seriously...if you don't mean the words, don't sing them. And it wasn't that I didn't mean them....it was just hard to find out where I stood with it all. The same God I was singing to and praising was the One who allowed my son to pass away....the One who allowed us to face such tragedy...the One who knew this would be my life before I was even thought of. It's a lot to process, so it took some time for me to come back into "normal" - whatever that is. I guess you create a new normal and life just pulls you along with it. And that's where we are now....moving along...living in the new normal but perfectly aware that our "normal" is not typical.

Pieces of the old Lindsay still come out....more with each passing day. I smile, laugh, and worship (still through tears a lot of the time....) and have come to a good place...a good balance. Time and patience and just letting God work on me brought me further than I ever thought I'd come. And a little boy named Collen...he gets a lot of the credit, too. Grief is still very much a part of my life. Ayden is a part of everything we do....he is always with us. The love and connection I share with him is still so real and alive....and it grows stronger every day.

Normal is no longer possible when you've experienced such a loss. For the first year, I walked around lost....feeling like I'd never feel like I fit anywhere again. Life has a way of pulling you along whether you like it or not, and as time passes, you develop new routines and new ways of making it through the day. I still deal with a lot of fear....especially when it comes to Collen. I am terrified of losing him. And it's hard not to bargain with God...to plead for Him to protect Collen even if it isn't His plan. But I know I can't do that. I know that I have to accept God's plan as His will. It's beyond my understanding, and it is not for me to question. Where we are now is where God wants us to be. Now, I may not always like that, but again....it's not in my control. And I'm at peace with that.....most of the time. It's still a work in progress....always will be I guess.

I didn't plan to share all of this. I actually came here to share some of Collen's quirks with you, but this just sort of spilled out. Check in to my next post for the intended information. :)

I pray that those of you who are experience loss and tragedy will be gentle with yourselves. There is no magic button that fixes it all. It takes time, and time can not heal this wound. It will be with us forever. But you find a way to live with it....you find a way to keep moving. Let yourself grieve. Deal with how you and your beliefs have been affected. Cling to hope, and seek peace. It's hard. It will leave you feeling beaten. You'll experience plenty of "one step forward, two steps back" moments. You have to let yourself go through the process and find your balance. And your "normal" is just that - yours. Hold on.....just hold on.


Collen's Easter Photos

We had Collen's Easter photos done a few weeks ago by our friend Lauren. She is a talented photographer and a great, great friend. Lauren did some photos of Ayden when he was 4 weeks old, and she also took pictures for us at his memorial service. She is a very close friend, and she was and has been such a comfort and reassuring voice through losing Ayden, the grief, and welcoming Collen into our lives. It's such a blessing to have such friends in your life...and we've been blessed with a lot of them!

I think the Easter photos turned out beautifully! We decided to do them in Ayden's garden at our church's playground. It's a place where we as a family feel more complete, and it's somewhere we want Collen to connect with his brother.

Take a look! I couldn't include them all, but these are some of my favorites. I can't believe how big he's getting! The little stinker is trying to pull up these days.....and he learned how to dance today. :) Never a dull moment, and I wouldn't have it any other way.


My third Mother's Day

My first Mother's Day was May 2009 - Ayden had just been born and was only a few weeks old. Needless to say, I was in heaven! Having a healthy, sweet, perfect baby boy to share my first Mother's day with was the cherry on top of the perfect little life we were living. Ayden taught me so much about being a mother....in 4 short months....he taught me so much. The connection between mother and child is indescribable. I remember the moments Ayden and I shared...just me and him...when I would get lost in those moments...almost like we were one person existing together. That's the best way I can describe it. Being a first-time mother is very different than subsequent children. The connection is still there, and it is still strong, but doing it all for the first time....feeling it all for the first time...it's amazing. I knew what he needed; I knew how to soothe him, comfort him, make him feel safe, and I knew how to make him smile, laugh, and coo away. That first Mother's Day was so, so special, and I'm so thankful that I got to spend it with Ayden.

Me, my mom, and Ayden - Mother's Day 2009

May 2010 - My second Mother's Day. Last year was a hard year...to say the least. Ever holiday was our first without Ayden. This was my first Mother's Day without him. It seemed so cruel to face a holiday meant for mothers when my child wasn't there to share it with me. I found comfort at that time in my pregnancy with Collen. I was 5 months pregnant with him, and feeling every kick and jab was a happy reminder of the joy to come....a reminder that I was still a mother. I was a mother to a beautiful baby boy and his little brother on the way. Still, it was difficult to face that day without Ayden, but I spent that time so thankful for him and the joy he brought to my life as a mother. Ayden changed me in so many ways. Losing him changed me in many more ways. In his life and his death, he has taught me so much. Last Mother's Day was a time of reflecting on it all...the good, the bad, what was to come....and trying to see goodness beyond the grief and the tears.

May 8, 2011 - My third Mother's Day. This year, Mother's Day was definitely bittersweet, but it was so much better than last year....emotions-wise. This was my first (technically second) with Collen, and boy did he make it such a great day. I spent a lot of the day (amidst the rushing around and visiting with family) reflecting on the past three years and how thankful I am that God blessed me with my two boys. Mother's Day will always bring with it a sting of pain...as most holidays do. I look at pictures of me and Collen, especially our Mother's Day picture, and I always see the little boy who should also be there....the big brother whose blue eyes should be shining back in those pictures.

But then I wonder....would his little brother be with us if God's plan had not been carried out. Very complicated to think about. I try not to ponder it too much, but it's a reality we can't deny.....

I feel a lot of guilt at times when the happy days far outweigh the sad ones. When I get so caught up in our present and how happy we are again.....that I don't break into tears when I think of Ayden. But I think that has a lot to do with time....and understanding the loss and working through the grief....and living in hope rather than dwelling on the loss. There are still hard days, plenty of them, and I know the guilt is more of my own doing than being true to what should be.

Who knows what next Mother's Day will bring. I look forward to sharing many, many more with Collen...telling him all about his brother and the day he made me a mother for the first time. Telling him about everything his brother taught me about being a mommy...so he can understand why I love then both so, so much.

My mom, me, and Collen - Mother's Day 2011

"Mother's Day is a day of appreciation and respect. I can think of no mothers who deserve it more than those who had to give a child back ~ Erma Bombeck


Another day further....another day closer

I'm not sure if I used further in the right context there. I know, what kind of English teacher am I? I also don't use lay, lie, and laid in the correct context....always having to look that one up. And apparently, I end my sentences with prepositions....

The other day, we had a scare with Collen. It was nothing....I think, but it terrified me. We were driving home; he was asleep in his carseat; all of a sudden, we heard this gasp and then a loud, scared cry afterwards. Whatever it was, it scared Collen terribly. More than likely, he had a little too much saliva in his mouth (he was sucking on his paci), he swallowed it while breathing....it "went down the wrong way" and it caused him to gasp. But....we don't know for sure. My first thought (fear) was that he had stopped breathing for a moment, realized it, and then gasped for air. Needless to say, I went into silent panic mode. I tried to hide it, but images of Ayden flashed in my mind, and I was re-living August 25th all over again.

Some nights, we don't put Collen's apnea monitor on because he falls asleep before we can get it on him. That night, oh....he wore that monitor, and he's worn it every night ever since. We're slowly phasing the monitor out because he is moving around a lot more in his crib, and I really don't like that cord being in the crib as he's becoming more mobile. Most nights, he stays away from it, but some nights he gets turned completly around to the end of the crib that the cord is on.


I went to bed that night watching him like a hawk....wondering what had happened....was it just
"one of those things" or was it somethiing that I really needed to be concerned about...something we needed to watch? When you've lost a child to something that is such a mystery....there's no such thing as worrying over nothing.

Since then, he has seemed fine. He has slept fine, and he hasn't had any more "episodes."

As I said, that one little moment took me back to Ayden and everything that happened. It seems like so long ago, yet it hasn't even been 2 years. I wish I didn't feel so distanced from it. Sometimes it all seems like a dream....as if I dreamed it all....as we move farther away from it, it becomes less real. And that makes me so sad....so, so sad. It's difficult, at times, for me to see myself as Ayden and Collen's mom. It's almost like it was two different existences.....two different lives. One life was really, really, incredibly happy. The other is still very happy, but not so innocent anymore....bruised and painful amidst the happiness.

It's hard to put all of that into words that really explain what I'm trying to say. Don't misunderstand me....I'm not forgetting anything....and I'm not becoming desensitized. But time keeps moving forward and as much as I don't want to sometimes....we keep moving with it. What happened is now left to memories. Vivid...hard...intense....memories. I don't relive the memories every day as I once did. They flash in when triggered by a comment...a question ("is this your first Mother's Day" being the most recent)....or news of another loss. Joy is back in our lives, so the hurt isn't a constant anymore. Most people would be glad of that, and I am...so happy to have joy back in our lives....but with grief becoming less intense, it feels like I'm letting it all slip away...letting the pain fade. I guess I just have to find the balance. I want to keep some of the pain because it helps me hold on to what we've been through....and it helps me feel connected to Ayden because joy and pain are intertwined with our memories of him.....but I also realize it's okay to let myself feel happiness again....without feeling guilty about it.

We have come a long way in 21 months. We have learned how to keep moving, even when we didn't want to. We have learned how to rely on our faith even when we felt betrayed by God. We have taken a leap of faith in trusting God to bless us with another child....and balancing ourselves between fear and trust as we let God fulfill His purpose with this child as we asked Him to do with Ayden....even though we had no idea His purpose would mean living life without him. I still think of Ayden every day. I still hurt and ache in his absence. I still wish he was here. But I have come into the mindset of hope.....and living with the promise that with each passing day, we're one day further from the hurt and one day closer to Heaven and holding our baby boy again.

I am the proud mother of Ayden Brooks Jones and Collen Brooks Jones. I have two separate memories of motherhood with both of them, but they are forever joined as brothers. My boys have brought me joy beyond belief. Motherhood is a privilege and an honor. It's a hard job, and to have been chosen to take on the task is quite humbling. God entrusted me with the well-being of two beautiful boys (and hopefully one or more children to come), and I will, in turn, do all I can to be a mother who lives her love for the Lord, showing her children what it means to walk in faith.


Job Search

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to go back to work after the summer. After we lost Ayden, I told Jeremy that I couldn't put another child in day care. So, when we found out we were pregnant again, we started saving up. We had to save enough to get us through a year, and somehow....we did it. We saved up enough to keep me home for a year.

Well, that year (and that money) is coming to an end in August. :(

So, I'm on a job search. The this is, though, I have no idea what I want to do. I have a bachelors degree in English Education (grades 9-12), and I have a masters degree in Library Science, and I am a licensed Media Coordinator (school librarian). I would LOVE to use my masters degree, BUT finding a media position is very difficult. It's one of those positions that once you get into it....you stay in it....until you retire. There are two openings in our county for next year, but I will more than likely NOT be considered for them. Why, you ask? Our county is cutting positions for this coming school year. Some of those cuts will be current media coorindators, and they have to place them before considering a "new employee"...which I completely understand.

So, my next option is to find a teaching position. But....with the cuts....do I really want to be faced with a classroom of up to 45 students?? The job cuts are going to drive up classroom sizes, and as much as I love what I do....with a pay freeze and being one person responsible for 45....it sounds incredibly daunting to me.

I've sent my resume to several principals....in our county and surrounding counties. I probably won't know anything, teaching-position-wise, until August because principals don't even know their budgets or allotments, yet.

I've also applied for other positions....one with the NC Department of Instruction (long shot, but I thought I'd give it a try). I've applied for a public library position as well as a position with the library at our local university. And I applied for a job in the city clerk's office as deputy clerk. I think I would actually like this position; I hope and pray they at least consider me. It would mean a 12-month job (ooohh...no summers off....hhhmmmm) but I like the idea of doing something different.

Really, I'll be happy to find something...anything with a salary that will help support our family. I wish teachers' pay was enough to allow me to stay home, but it isn't.

As far as childcare goes for Collen, we don't have anything lined up....yet. I would LOVE for my mom to come keep him during the day. She is still working, but could retire....if offered a lay-off package from her job. She's actually hoping for that (and me too), because she would love nothing more than to keep Collen for us. She would have an hour-long drive every day, but we'd work something out. She has her own room at our house as it is, so she could just sleep over a few nights a week. ;)

I know that everything will work out. God has a plan, and He's working on it right now. I'm trying not to stress too much. I'm so going to miss being home with Collen. If I did the online tutoring full time, I could still work it out, but it just isn't possible to do it full time. Collen requires too much of my attention. Plus, that pay would have us breaking even each month. We really need to be putting money into savings and having extra for emergencies.

Looking forward to seeing where God leads me next and being prayerful for His will and my obedience!


I was hesitant to post my thoughts, but I figured....it's my blog....and I've felt strongly about it since the news came out, so here I go. Short and sweet.

When I first heard the news....that Osama had finally been brought down....my reaction was not one of excitement, rejoicing, or celebration. Yes, I might have felt a bit of relief....who wouldn't? But I kept hearing the word "jubilation" being used (a word I use and love in relation to God....seemed so unfitting in this situation)....news about people gathering to celebrate Osama's death. All I could think was, "God must be shaking his head at all of this.....saying, "When are you going to get it?"

I understand that I have my own beliefs that may not necessarily be someone elses's beliefs, and that's perfectly fine. I'm happy to agree to disagree and go on as if nothing happened. This is just how I feel about it all.

I feel hesitant to celebrate the death of a man who more than likely didn't know God. A man who, as evil as he was, was loved by God just as I am. It saddens me.

Yes, I know what Osama Bin Laden did. I remember every moment of September 11, 2001. I remember the fear I felt and the anguish on the faces of the families who lost loved ones. Osama's death brought justice and closure to the lives of those families.

I can't really word everything I want to say, and I know that a lot of probably don't see my point of view. And that's okay. :) These are just my thoughts. A friend of mine posted two scriptures today that I'd like to share. They struck me - they are verses I've read so many times, and as soon as I read them, I thought, "This is just what I was looking for to put words to what I was feeling."

"...I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live..." Ezekiel 33:11

"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls." Proverbs 24:17

I am proud of our troops. I am proud of our country. I am proud to be an American. I am proud to be a child of God.

My prayers are with our troops, their families, our country, and our freedom. My prayers are also with foreign missionaries and christians abroad who could be targeted as a result. Retaliation is a looming fear....

I've been trying to grasp my beliefs and thoughts on all of this since I heard the news, and as a Christian, this is where I stand.

Here's a blog that I thought worded it all so eloquently: http://www.johnstumbo.org/blog/index.php?/archives/243-Obama-Gets-Osama.html

"That's all I got to say about that."


Ayden's 2nd Birthday {In Pictures}



8 Months Old (a little late)


Collen is EIGHT MONTHS old!!

It's so hard to believe we're already at the 8 month mark....and getting closer to one year old every day.

At 8 months old, Collen seems to be learning so many new things! Here are a few of the new things going on with Collen:

- He will clap his hands when prompted to.

- When we say, "Where is the light?" He looks up (even outside) for the light.

- He will give Mommy kisses....and sometimes Daddy. :)

- Collen can feed himself puffs, butterbeans....pretty much anything that fits in his little hand.

- He's getting closer to crawling, but I'm thinking he may just skip it altogether. He'll get on his knees but quickly go down to his belly.

- Sometimes he will "wave" bye-bye.....it's still kind of random.

- He is experimenting with all kinds of sounds. He hasn't put "da-da" together, yet, but he's saying - da, ba, aahh, ooo, wa, ya.....pretty much any vowel sound and he likes to add a "t" sound to the end of a lot of his sounds.

Collen is still a good eater when it comes to solids. We've worked out a good routine for formula, and I'm getting him to take about 20 ounces a day (woo! That's a triumph!).

He has recently started sleeping much better at night. Most nights he wakes up once or twice just for a paci replacement and to have his head rubbed, then he goes right back to sleep. He usually goes to bed around 8pm, and then he wakes up ready to play at 6:30! He used to sleep until 8.....these early mornings mean a struggling mommy.....but I love our morning playtimes.

This week, Collen has really begun to show his individuality. He can throw a tantrum in a second if you take something away that he shouldn't have....or if you lay him down when he doesn't want to be laid down (ie - diaper changes). Whew....the kicking and flailing and throwing that head back.....I'm left saying, "Where in the world did this come from???" Hopefully, he'll get it out of his system now, and toddlerhood will be nice and cooperative. ( I know....wishful thinking) We're taking all of this in stride, though. He has to learn that there are boundaries, and that he can't have everything he wants. I just never thought he'd express himself so soon! :)

Collen is silly, friendly, and so loving. He makes our life so incredibly happy!! We love watching him grow and learn and grow into his little personality. We thank God every day for blessing us with this sweet little miracle. :)