Monday, November 30, 2009

before and after week - (Ma)Hannah

Hello to all!

This past couple weeks at Chez Angie, I have actually taken my camera from its bag and used it for its given purpose a few times. I was noticing that I have a few before and after shots of some things you probably couldn't care less about important events. So, I am dedicating this week to a before and after theme.

Today's Theme:

Me and Hannah. I call her maHannah, as if she were mine, even though TECHNICALLY she belongs to my sister and Matt. She was born in July of 2008 just before Brian took his more drastic decline. She was a breath of fresh air for me in a dark time of my life. When she would come to visit, as so many someones did during Brian's illness and dying process, (by the way so many someones? - the door is still open and the roads to Peoria are still in tact) she was a reminder of life and development and future - mmmmm..hahhhh, did you hear that? That was, again, that breath of fresh air. Also? She was the first girl born into my family after 5 grandsons on Brian's side in 14 years and 3 boys on my side in 11 years. So, again, Breathe it in and Breathe it out. That is fresh air - GIRL air!

Today's before:

Today's After:

Anyway, the before picture is on Thanksgiving Day. Me and maHannah. The after picture is me and maHannah after her face met the springs of the trampoline in the 2-1/2 seconds someone let go of her to get on the trampoline herself. Seriously, folks SPLIT SECONDS. Still, accidents happen, and beautiful little girls look like they get in bar fights and have liquid stitches, but still look beautiful. Just slightly mangled.

By the way, do you like my shirt I am wearing in the after pic? My good friend, Michelle, designs and sells those shirts. Happy Family Creations. You can get them to represent all the people in your family. I'm gonna get a new one that has just two boys on it since that after picture shirt is actually now my before shirt.


Friday, November 20, 2009


A few random thoughts and events.

1) My van has fruit flies. I know fruit flies need some sort of feeding/mating/breeding/hatching ground. The thought of finding whatever in my van that is their feeding/mating/breeding/hatching ground is more disturbing to me than the fruit flies. So, I live with the fruit flies now.

2) Grant lost his front tooth yesterday - the one that has been dangling from one side for two weeks, but would not fall out. A neighbor popped him in the mouth with a toy gun. Wish I had thought of that. Or that it was legal. I KID. I KID!

3) My kids awoke at 5:30 today. Well, one did. He was crying that his lost tooth was gone from his pillow, but nothing was there. I told him to check again. Turns out, when he turned on the light, he found a huge pile of fairy dust that looks a lot like glitter leftover from his last project and $2. His squeal woke up Gavin. Neither fell back asleep, but Grant laid his head back down very happily on the other side of the bed. That fairy dust was too messy. Now I am washing his stinkin' sheets that I just washed 3 days ago. Damn tooth fairy!

4) I miss cooking. I am no longer good at it. Groceries rot in my fridge.

5) Lately my kids are driving me nuts. They are whining and fighting and seem to have a severe case of cabin fever. And it is only NOVEMBER. Thanksgiving at my mom and dad's with room to roam should be proper medication for this fever.

That's it for now.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

guy time

Gavin and Grant recently had some opportunity to spend some time with this amazing thing called THE SAME GENDER.

Here is a bit of what they did.

Nothing warms my heart more than seeing my boys get to be boys when I don't have to pretend to be one myself. Although I am very willing to do so for their sake, there is great comfort for them in the company of other males leading the way.
Thank you to our friends for teaching them a bit about testosterone. I won't mention who the friends were because the photographer is embarassed he used his phone camera instead of a real camera and doesn't want the credit for the poor quality of photos. I am just ecstatic to have the photos as proof the boys are being boys.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

just a general update

I got nothing. Really, I have been feeling so uninspired to write lately.

I thought I would just give you a general update on our lives.


Second grade is going okay for him. He isn't showing as much interest in reading as he needs to as this is really the last year they "learn to read." Next year, they "read to learn," so he needs to start picking up the pace on this. Getting the kids to read is a constant challenge. He is right at state requirements, but a little low for the class. Not the bottom, though, so he won't get any extra school help. Math is getting harder as they have started borrowing in subtraction. Gavin isn't great at subtraction - he always has to use the number line or his fingers. Brian's aunt, a dear, sweet, wonderful, lady who also happens to teach first grade, has offered to start coming over on Wednesdays to work with boys boys on school work a bit. I think this is a great idea to give them a fresh look at homework and to give me a break. And they really like Zach's grandma Deb.

Gavin is home sick today with a fever for the third time in about 7 weeks. He seems to get sicker these days than any of us. He still eats terribly, so I swear that his immune system is weakened. Sometimes he scares me because he always looks a bit peaked and gray to me.

Gavin is continuing counseling for a while. When I told him we were wrapping up our sessions because counseling is not supposed to be forever, he freaked out and started carrying stuffed animals around all the time and sleeping with Daddy's things again saying he can't stop because he is still sad. I explained it was okay to be sad and he will FOREVER be sad some, but he was okay. The counselor and I agreed that despite losing our insurance coverage and going to private pay, we will continue until it appears the decision comes more from Gavin. Also, the group where we attend counseling is introducing a support group for 8-12 year-old's who have experienced a significant loss. I think this will be great for Gavin.

First grade for Grant is going about the same as second is for Gavin. He doesn't love to read, but needs to do more of it. I have been very concerned about him academically, but have noticed in the last two weeks, he seems to be making great strides in his printing and some decent strides in his reading. His teacher informed me that is common after the first quarter. In the end, I did not do much academically with the boys all summer, so it is no wonder they would be a bit lost when school started again.

Grant is doing well with his grief. We all had a hard week the week of Brian's birthday. Halloween, the announced end of counseling, Brian's birthday all falling together took every one of us to a bit of a melt down stage. We all three had some crying episodes. And we were all there for each other. We all understand this need for each of us to express this in any way we can at often very random times. Grant is finished with his counseling, but he still sees the school counselor.

Grant is my protector. When he sees me crying, he sniffs, puffs up his chest, comes to me and immediately hugs me gently and firmly. After he does this for a while, he THEN asks me what is wrong. Do you have any idea how WISE and comforting that is?? To not have to explain why you are crying when you sometimes don't KNOW why you are crying anyway and to just have an unconditional loving pair of arms there to hold you and allow you to cry? I tell him he is never more like Jesus than when he is like that. Anyway, he usually waits til I calm down then gets me a tissue or asks if I need some water or writes me a note and brings it to me a few minutes later. He is so incredibly sweet inside that very rough outer surface. I love that boy.

I have been good. I struggle with creativity and motivation. I don't cook much anymore as I have stated in the past. I have been working out a lot trying to lose some of the 15+ pounds that I gained since 2008 that I had lost in 2006. I am making strides suddenly with that. I often forget to eat. Seriously, some days it is 2:00 and I realize I am starving because I have not eaten since yesterday at 2:00. I am trying to get better at eating at least little bits all day if not full meals.

I am leading a Bible Study now to my group of women from my Mom's group at church. I am very excited and we will have our first discussion on Thursday. Please pray for me. I have never led a Bible Study from beginning to end. It is called Wisdom for Mothers. It concentrates on your relationships in life starting with God, your spouse, your children and your service - IN THAT ORDER. I am super passionate about your relationships being prioritized IN THAT ORDER and especially a mother's relationship with her spouse. It seems we as moms often fall into the trap of putting our spouse on the back burner and focusing on our children.

I have been doing well in my grief. Not sure what the holidays will bring. I may attend a seminar this weekend put on by Hospice about tips on how to handle the holidays. As my wonderful dear wise counselor has stated, this year is my road map. I am figuring out what moments in time are difficult, what events or situations remind me of Brian, and what works for handling it all.

I have been doing a lot of reflecting on "what was I doing this time last year." My counselor says this is very normal. I have been a bit flooded with emotions around this time. It was last October that we found out the tumor had been growing despite the second chemo. It was this week last year where I had the worst, then best, then worst, then best week of my life ever.

It was the first week of November last year when we thought Brian was dying. He had excruciating headaches, loss of balance, little blackout spells and confusion. He had pressure in his ventricle and after a whirlwind 3-1/2 day stay in the hospital, he had a shunt installed and walked out of the hospital a new man who lived over 4 more months.

It was during this hospital stay that my mom took the boys to her house for the weekend because Gavin had a fever and we didn't want to risk his getting Brian sick while we were so unsure what was happening in the hospital - making this horrific decision to spend time apart not knowing how much time Brian had left. Brian got home from the hospital on Saturday afternoon. I picked up the boys on Sunday morning. Gavin was still so sick - going on 4 days now with almost no food or water intake. Then, at 2:00 am, I could no longer handle watching him moan and shiver with a 104 fever. I was not waiting for the 8:30 am office to open. I knew he needed more. We went to the ER and he was admitted a few hours later after he kept nothing down and his fever could not easily be controlled.

Little did I know when I left that hospital at 1:00 on Saturday, I would be back 19 hours later for another 3-1/2 day stay WITH MY SON and I would once again have to decide which family members to spend time with. You can't imagine how incredibly painful that is for a mom, a wife and a caregiver. Just thinking about it right now floods me with tears. My counselor says this is so normal. She likens it to a soldier's post traumatic stress disorder. At the time, you are in survival mode just doing exactly what you need to do to get through the day and take care of those that need to be taken care of. Then, you think back on it and can't believe you survived it. It haunts you.

Anyway, other than that, things are going well. Still building my road map. Still figuring out trigger points. Coming to terms with moving on, but with little guilt. Praying for guarding of my heart as I consider dating again. Trying to rekindle friendships and family relationships. Starting some new friendships. Beginning to think about what to get the boys for Christmas and what new traditions we can begin. Contemplating. Analyzing. Playing. Praying. Living.


Friday, November 6, 2009

is this how it is supposed to work?

Dear Brian,

It seems as though people are starting to forget. Ever since September, the phone call, email, random text, letter and card influx inquiring as to how the boys are I are faring has slowly faded to nearly a complete halt. A couple random texts or contacts every other week or so occurs. At first, I was very upset by this. How could people forget you so quickly? How could the fact that your physical presence is no longer with us allow everyone the opportunity to so easily go on with their lives and slowly erase you from their memory?

Lately, though, I have been a bit, actually, a LOT conflicted regarding my own thoughts and you. It seems I am thinking of you less. At first, as is in my nature, I tried to analyze if it was truly less or just differently. I have come to the conclusion that I am actually thinking of you LESS. And I don't even feel that bad about it. Strange?

Sometimes I WANT to think of you more. But lately, it has been occurring to me that continuing to focus on you to the extent that I was focusing on you is living in the past. Brian, you NEVER lived in the past. In fact, when I had a hard time forgiving myself for sins of the past and wallowing in regret, you often would help me snap out of it calling the past exactly what it was - OVER. You did like to playfully and fondly recall past stories as we all do, but you didn't live there.

But calling you my past and calling the past over seems so strange. In the end, though, Brian, you are never coming back to me on this earth. I cannot continue to focus so much of my energy and my emotions into thinking of what WAS. Just as you made it abundantly clear to me that you wanted me to move on with my life someday, I have to start thinking about what MAY BE. And one of the only ways I find to do that is to simply think of you less. The only way I can prepare my heart and mind to open to the possibility of someone else is to simply free some space.

I still think of you and what you would think of this or that decision with the boys.

I still think of you as I try to determine how to let these little boys turn into big kids.

I still think of you when I develop a woeful attitude quickly snapping out of it.

I still think of you when I lie in bed at night.

I still think of you when a certain song comes on the radio.

I still think of you when I look at our bathroom in the basement that you built with only one working arm.

I still think of you a lot, but just not as much.

I think this is how you would want it. I THINK.


Monday, November 2, 2009

New Birthday Traditions

Happy Birthday to you....

Happy Birthday to You....Happy Birthday Dear Brian/Daddy....Happy Birthday to you!!
Today, You would have turned 37, dear Brian. THIRTY-SEVEN. And I would have reminded you 10 times in the last month how old you were because HONESTLY you had a terrible concept of years. You had no idea how old you truly were even when you were healthy.
This morning, the boys blew out candles on a package of cinnamon rolls. Grant got two candles to blow to balance the fact that Gavin found the only remaining green - your favorite color -candle.
Yesterday, we started a new Daddy birthday tradition. Since we can't buy you gifts, we bought ourselves gifts. This is a sampling of what the boys picked out:
Aside from being dreadfully alarmed that this is what Timothy McVeigh's childhood pictures may have looked like, I am pleasantly reminded from friends that boys are boys are boys are boys.
On another note, Mom got jewelry!
Isn't it lovely?

Seriously, though, I couldn't justify buying myself a gift when I have been spending plenty of money on house projects, painting, a few new articles of clothing, etc.
Anyway, Brian, we wish we could celebrate your birthday here with you today. I miss our own little private.... ahem.... birthday parties. The boys just want cake. I wish I just wanted cake.
I would think there are no birthdays in heaven. Not sure about that. From what I understand about heaven, there is no concept of time. How do you measure time in a place of eternity? So, while we know you are blissfully enjoying heaven, we remember you today. We celebrate you today. We miss you today.
And everyday.