Here's what's been going on. Little bit of updates...little bit of random rambling:
*My new job is going great! It has definitely been a learning curve, but a good one. I feel like I'm finally gaining a grasp of my position and the duties that come along with it. Friday, we (myself and the other 2 coordinators I share an office with) conducted meetings with students who will begin their internships in the fall. It was such a breath of fresh air to be back in "teacher mode."
*Jeremy and I have started Weight Watchers. Normally, I would keep that secret, but y'all...losing weight is hard. I've never been super skinny nor do I expect to ever be super skinny. I would, however, like to fit back into my clothes a little better. After having 3 kids in 4 years, my body is just not how I would like it to be. More than appearances, though, I want to have energy to keep up with my kids and run around outside with them. I also want to instill healthy eating into our daily routine. So, I'm putting it out there! We're going to try our best to stick to it. I'm not one to exercise. Never have been. I'm sure I could jump on the 5K train and love it, but I just don't have time (I know...make time...believe me, I know). The only running I do is running after Collen. That counts for something, right? I've already used some great recipes from Gina's blog over at http://www.skinnytaste.com/! I've told Jeremy he has to at least TRY whatever I cook. He is a pickier eater than I am, so I'm hoping he will be a good sport. ;) If you've never seen her site, go check it out. She provides WW points with the recipes, so you know how it fits into your plan. Her skinny taste chocolate chip cookies are WONDERFUL and GUILTLESS!!
*I want a new camera. I got a new digital camera for Christmas, and it's good. I really like it. But, it just doesn't capture those crisp, sharp, "professional-looking" pictures that I want. So many of my friends have DSLR cameras, and I see these beautiful, sharp pictures of their kids, and then I see my grainy, amateur-looking pictures that I take. It's a trivial thing - at least I have memories to capture. I just wish they could be nicer. I keep searching EBAY for deals....I haven't been successful.
*My 30th birthday is coming up. Oh. My. Word. 30! It wasn't freaking me out until now. I have a month and 22 days left of 29. My twenties were memorable, and so much is held in my twenties. College, losing my first grandparent, marriage, moving away, moving back home, got my Masters Degree, met some wonderful, lifelong friends when I became a Charger at AGHS, at 26 I became a mommy to the sweetest, most beautiful baby boy and then said goodbye 3 months and 28 days later, and then I went on to become mommy to two more beautiful children. I also said goodbye to my Daddy long before I ever expected to. My twenties have been a time of wonderful memories but also heart-breaking ones. Turning 30 seems like the beginning of a new chapter as I look behind at my twenties. I don't know what to think about my thirties. I'm praying they are good to me. Life, though, happens, and all I can do is roll with it.
*Griefshare is going well. I think we're a little over halfway through. I'm discovering that I am at a healthy place with my grief, which is good. However, Griefshare has allowed me to get some new perspectives on how I've handled loss. Last night, we talked specifically about guilt and how we deal with the manner in which our loved one passed away. I haven't dealt so much with guilt. I've definitely played the "what if" game...over-analyzing every aspect of the situation with Ayden. I finally got to the point where I realized I couldn't change it. And if I could get the answer to those questions I kept asking, it still wouldn't bring him back and it wouldn't make me feel any better. I have struggled, though, with the manner in which Ayden and my dad passed away. I tend to dwell on their last moments. It runs in a loop in my brain. Although I never saw them in their last moments, my imagination takes over, and I imagine what it must have been like. That in itself is hard on my heart. Then, I begin to think about what was happening at that moment. Were they scared? Did Ayden think of me and want his mommy? What was the last thing my dad thought of? What went through his mind as the heart attack hit? Did he think of us? He was always so ready to meet the Lord, but I can't help but wonder if , in that moment, he said, "Not now, Lord. I need my girls....they need me."
One part of last night's study really hit me...one of those moments where I'm nodding saying, "Been there." A lady was talking about trying to understand her son's suicide. She said she read book after book. One book went through all of the symptoms and profiles of suicide victims only to end by saying, "But we truly don't know...." and she threw the book across the room. Anytime I read about SIDS or hear someone talk about "SIDS risk factors", I have that same reaction. No one knows what SIDS is. I used to get so angry when I would read about SIDS and search for answers, and continued to be bombarded by the "back to sleep"...."no bumpers"..."be sure it isn't too warm"...."no stuffed animals"...."breast feed your baby"..."let them sleep with a paci." and to go on to say, "These are just suggestions/tips to help prevent SIDS, but SIDS cannot be prevented." Then why make suggestions when it can't be prevented? Sure, those are good suggestions, but most of those would prevent suffocation....not SIDS. So much of the SIDS literature out there leaves parents believing, "If you follow these guidelines, you have nothing to worry about." We did all of those things and more, and it still happened to us.
I have spent a lot of time reflecting this week. A nearby military family lost their 8 month old last week to a tub accident. I had followed the story all week holding out hope that the baby would wake up, but Thursday they were told there was no brain activity. My heart hurt so badly for them. I spent the majority of the week reliving a lot of the moments we experienced leading up to Ayden's death and then afterward. I knew the fear they were feeling....the agonizing pain. I went back into the "what ifs" and "if onlys." Then I remembered something. A couple of months before he passed away, I noticed a trend with Ayden. When he would fall asleep, and get into a deep sleep, he would sometimes gasp for air. It would scare me so badly. This happened on multiple occasions. I am a light sleeper, so I would always hear, and then snatch him up as quickly as possible. When Collen was born, I made sure I was diligent about watching him when he slept...looking for similar signs. He had one episode like this. Just one. Charlotte, in her 6 months of life, has never done this. Remembering this made me wonder if it could have happened at those moments. There is a theory about a misfiring in their brains...where the baby gets into a very deep sleep, and that one time, something doesn't trigger them to breathe, so they never take that next breath. I have thought that theory was the most likely since I first read it, but now that I've had time to process and really reflect, I'm beginning to think that that must have been what happened. I will never know 100%, and I certainly don't NEED an answer, but having an idea of what could have happened gives me at least a small understanding.
I've been doing a lot of "loss processing" over the past few weeks. Even processing our losing Tucker....it has taken up until the past couple of days to turn the "loop" off in my mind. Every morning I would wake up reliving the morning he was hit. The fear in his face and the absolute helplessness I felt. I was hysterical, and I just kept telling him, "I'm so sorry, buddy. I'm so sorry this happened." Beating myself up. Wishing I had insisted that I let him out, but I knew if my mom let him out it would save time. Beating myself up again about not getting him a collar to keep him in the yard. I've seen myself go through the same grief process with him - denial, the anger...."Why did he have to go in the road. He knew better! He knew he wasn't supposed to do that!" ....and then the explanations you give yourself, "He's a dog. There's only so much you can do. A dog is going to do what it wants to do." I miss that dog, and his loss is so painful because it could have been prevented. We know that. And those who want to point fingers and send me nasty messages please know I'm pointing the finger at myself. I'm punishing myself enough already...please don't add to it. But again, he was our dog and we knew him best. We did all we could to keep him safe within the limitations he gave us with his nervous nature and small stature.
I wasn't sure Griefshare was going to be good for me. I felt like it had been too long since the actually losses to jump into a study about grief. But it has proven to be really helpful. It has given me a clearer understanding of grief, and hearing other peoples' stories has helped me feel less alone (and crazy). More than anything, I have been able to feel more closely connected to God in these losses. I had begun to separate my faith and the losses because for so long I wasn't sure where my faith stood within them. I knew I believed in God. I knew I trusted God. I knew I loved God. I knew that He was in control and that His purpose and plan are good. But, it was hard for me to fit all of that into these losses that completely turned those beliefs upside down. It has been healing to bring the two back together.
Now that I've digressed...
I do have some pictures to share. I'm finding this is the easier method of updating everyone on the kids and what has been going on in our little part of the world:
Collen is such a happy boy! He's smart, too! He will be starting preschool in September. I'm interested to find out where he stands within his age/peer group. He amazes us every day with how well he is talking and communicating. He is very contemplative, but he gets frustrated very easily. We work with him a lot on patience and being calm. Most of the time, he is compliant, but we have had to do some time out sessions. He is quite the mannerly fellow - saying, "Please, Thank You, You're Welcome, Excuse Me, and I'm Sorry" at appropriate times.
This boy loves his sister. And she thinks he is the best thing ever!
Charlotte is 6 months old today!! She loves her daddy!
Sweet, sweet baby girl
I never, ever imagined my heart would be so complete by the presence of this little darling. She has brought more into my life than I imagined another child could. Ayden and Collen brought me more joy than I thought possible, but she has just added to it in such an amazing way! I can't put it into words, but you can see it in my face. She is such a light in my life. She is definitely a mommy's girl right now, but I know that will change. I'm going to soak it up as much as I can! I love the bond she and I share. It is truly remarkable.
I was napping with her the other morning, and she reached over and put her arm into mine. So sweet.
We don't get much snow, so when we do, we play in it all we can! Collen LOVED his first snow (it actually snowed the year he was born, but he was much too young to play in it!).
His gloves were too big, so he had to wear little sister's. hehe
Even Scout enjoyed the snow!
Charlotte got to come out and play for about 5 minutes, then she and mommy went back inside to get warm.
"May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace in believing, so that the power of the Holy Spirit may abound you in hope." Romans 15:13
My dad was a huge fan of genealogy. He had quite an extensive family tree put together for our family. It was daily thing for him. He would study and read and research our family lineage on both his side and my mom's. Some people saw it as a quirk, but he loved it, and I loved listening to him talk about it. Since he passed away, his ancestry information has kind of sat stagnant. I was looking at his Ancestry.com account and answering some emails, then I came across these photos. I love them!
This is my dad as a baby. I see a lot of Charlotte here...especially in the eyes.
These are my mom's parents, who are both still kickin' in their 80s. My grandmother caught that fish!
This is my dad's dad, my Papa. He grew up in a farming community (which is where I also grew up), and local farming has always been a part of our lives.
This is my mom at about 18. So many people tell me I look just like my dad, but I see a lot of myself in my mom. I thought this picture was just stunning. She has always been absolutely gorgeous!
This is my dad's mom, my Mama. We have been spending a lot of extra time with her lately. She has been in a nursing home since Christmas after she fractured her back from a fall. We try to take the kids as often as we can. It's definitely hard seeing her there, but she is doing great! Getting stronger every day!
Mama and her girls
This is Jeremy's grandma. We've been spending a lot of time with her, too. As we get older, we see the losses we are sure to experience in the coming years. We want to hold on to them as long as we can, but we know that that isn't the nature of life. So, we choose to make as memories as possible to hold on to. We especially want our kids to know their great grandparents and have pictures to look back on. These are precious moments and memories. Such a treasure.
This was taken a few weeks before my dad left us so unexpectedly. I just came across this photo the other day. I love this man. Those 4 words don't do justice at all to the dept of love I have for him. And with that love comes such a deep, deep, aching loss. He understood me more than anyone else in this world. He was my confidant and my hero. Many days, I feel so very lost without him because in our family unit, he was my other half. With the 4 now being three, it has felt so uneven. Thankfully, me, my mom, and my sister share a strong bond. We stick together and hold each other up. Daddy did that for us for so long, and through his example, we are continuing to do so.
And this baby boy is missed more and more every single day. We see him so strongly in Charlotte. She looks almost exactly like him. And they share the same quiet, gentle, sweet nature. I consider it a blessing to be able to see her grow and get a glimpse at what he might have looked like. My heart aches to have this sweet boy back in my arms. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.