Wesley Turns 7!

This middle child turned 7 on Sunday. SEVEN. 

This guy had his actual day of celebration all planned out. I convinced him to pace out some of the fun, so we still owe him a dinner at Olive Garden. 

We did take him to get the coveted “Birthday Pancake” as seen on TV from IHOP. Turns out those specific pancakes were no longer on the menu, for it was a limited time special that he saw and desired months ago, but all it is really is sprinkles and whipped cream so they made for him anyway. 

HHe actually didn’t eat but one pancake from his kids meal, cause he ate the eggs and bacon. It sure was a lot of food!

We then went to church and after I taught our youth, I came home while the rest of our crew stayed for the second portion of church. Because Wesley’s birthday always seems to get lost in the end of school, our anniversary, and our church VBS, we didn’t decide to celebrate his birthday on his birthday until three days before. For better or for worse, he has had his “theme” in mind for months, so he didn’t have to think about things much. I had heard his plan for some time but hadn’t done anything about it. 

Regardless, we were able to pull off a fun celebration, complete with an anti-gravity “Reese’s” themed cake and cupcakes, family, pizza balls, silly string, and tons of fruit. 

He enjoyed his day, he loved all his gifts, and he’s another year older, just like that! 

 So that’s his day!  

 Side notes: I didn’t take any pictures with our good camera, just my phone, and I regret that. Also, as I’ve typed this on my phone, I’ve had to stop about 34 times thanks to Hazel, so now I suddenly remember why this blog isn’t updated much anymore ūüėĚ).

Growing Up, The Wesley Version

Our middle child is growing up, as most kids tend to do. Of late, he done some new and awesome things that I figured needed to be recorded in digital form!

Wesley just finished his first ever organized sport participation. His first venture into basketball was a fun one for our family. Even though he never even attempted a single shot on goal, he showed a true knowledge grasp of the sport. After a game ended, he would provide commentary that was wise, especially considering this was his first year playing. “Momma, #7 was big, so everyone wanted to pass to him. I always knew he was going to get it, so that was how I stole the ball” or “If you ran fast past Greyson, you could get open and make a good pass” were the type of phrases common from him. He hustled big time, always fighting for the ball but never being mean. He never got comfortable shooting, which was disappointing, but as one of the youngest in the league and also one of the smallest, I could see his reservations. I’m looking forward to what my future baller might be able to accomplish.

 After nearly three full years, Wesley has graduated out of speech services. Thomas and I are very proud of him, for learning how to say words and sounds correctly was at times a big struggle for him. Being such a fantastic and far above grade level reader that sometimes dropped middle sounds or struggled with blends was very frustrating for him. After lots of practice and support, it has been determined by his pathologist that he is improved enough and self corrects enough to  end the extra help.

¬†Recently he’s shown some great focus and concentration in way of building with Keva blocks. Let me just say, these stress me out, and I lose patience quickly. ¬†The boys, however, both have enjoyed building with them at the local children’s museum that their uncles got them a membership to for Christmas. With Wesley having a personality more like mine, I was impressed with his adeptness, and obviously he took some pride in himself as well. ¬†¬†On school picture day, the boy dressed himself with precision and care. He was most certainly one of the best dressed (read likely over-dressed) kiddo in his 1st grade class. ¬†¬†For Valentine’s Day, he crafted his own box for the classroom party, all based off his ideas. Those people on the box are his “puppets” that he creates regularly. He is the founder of an unofficial school “puppet club” where they fold, design, and theoretically sell their puppets. Sometimes the purchase price is a pencil, even though the hope is for a nickel. He’s got classmates working for him and his big buddy Ganies to assemble a great stockpile of puppets for all of mankind, apparently.

The army of clone trooper puppets crafted by the puppet club in the matter of a few days. Send all your nickels now!

¬†The amount of love and concern Wesley has for his little sister is quite incredible. As he grows older, you can tell he feels a sense of responsibility to her. He wants to make her laugh when she is sad, help her learn how to do tasks, even ones that are above her capabilities. He just adores her, and honestly the feeling is pretty mutual back at him (and Daniel too of course!)¬†¬†So, there you go. A tiny update on the growing middle child. See, here’s proof they don’t always get forgotten ūüėĚ

Hazel’s 2nd Birthday

Our sweet Hazel turned 2 last week!

The day after her birthday we had a Hello Kitty party. Being allergic to eggs, she didn’t eat any cake, but she did partake in ice cream.

I’ve got more photos of the special day on the real camera, but, alas, I am figuring that I won’t get around to posting them and sharing them until after her birthday month closes out, so I wanted to share a quick picture from my phone camera.

All in all, I think she had a good day. She still doesn’t get the concept of birthdays and presents obviously, but she was able to see so many people that she loved, and that made her joyful.

Happy Birthday, baby girl. You’ve lived so much your first years of life. We are excited to see what other wonders are in store for you.

A Few Blog Posts Behind

  So this is my face when I think about how far behind my blog life is. I last posted in October, but yet I was behind well before then. In fact, I know for sure I haven’t talked about Wesley’s 6th birthday, complete with a rockin’ Mario theme, and that event was in June people. JUNE! 
I know a failure to update a blog isn’t a true failure in the grand scheme of things, but it’s sorta my collection of life. A digital and publicly viewable scrapbook of images and words, if you will.  I’m proving this “third child doesn’t get a filled baby book” theory. I probably take more pictures of Hazel than I ever did with the boys at this age, thanks to the acquirement of a smart phone and handy built in camera, which I didn’t have when they were little. She doesn’t have any cute saying written down though, and few of my digital timeline of memories have made it here, unfortunately. 

It’s not for lack of desire or content. It’s just for lack of time or for time focused towards this. (I most recently binged “Making A Murderer” like so many other Americans, so I can’t in clear conscience say I don’t have time!). 

So, while I sit in the room with a hesitant to sleep almost 2 year old, I thought I would not let another day escape me here on the ole blog. Have no fear: We’re all alive, and we are all mostly well (I say mostly, cause I’m still waiting to be 100% from my recent knee surgery ~apx 6 weeks ago to reconstruct my torn ACL). 

Here’s to a new year, complete with more blog updates perhaps? I’m not making any promises, but it sure does sound like a good plan! 

 Happy Halloween!            (2015)

We took advantage of several dress-up opportunities and made the best of Halloween this year. From a pink poodle to a ladybug, Hazel enjoyed holding all the candy she could at one single time, refusing to put any in an actual container. Turns out, the girl likes a good dum-dum sucker….or two.

Wesley wanted to be an Ewok this year, so I made his costume. It was a recycle from Daniel’s 1st grade Christmas play dog costume and I just added essential elements to give it the proper Star Wars feel. He wanted to wear it early and often, although a few tweens that chimed in with a “awwehhh, look at the cute teddy bear!” hurt his feelings a little. I told him they didn’t matter, cause anyone that didn’t know what Star Wars was needed to learn a lot more about the world. He seemed satisfied with that.

Daniel wanted to be Steve from Minecraft. We don’t own the game, so¬†he doesn’t even get to play it often. His obsession is only gratified when we visit a few friends and he gets to play while there. Steve wears purple pants and blue shirt, so I scrounged up those items thanks to Goodwill and a local consignment sale. We borrowed a pixilated sword from a friend, and his costume was complete. We didn’t have all the pieces until late, so he opted to be a Star Wars Jedi and later Darth Vader at events we went to before Halloween Day. I forgot to really take a pic of him on his own as Steve though, so you can barely see the costume.

They got more than enough candy, not to mention a few apples, pencils, stickers, a box of crayons, and some pickles and pudding. I’m not gonna call out who gave them pickles and pudding, but it just may be a family member of mine. Have fun guessing. Shouldn’t take long to figure out.

Happy Halloween! 

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Pretty Little Ladybugs

Kids loaded into the car, I began to back out of the driveway and head to my physical therapy appointment. I hurt my knee 12 weeks ago, and I am still not 100%, so PT has been on the life schedule for about 2 weeks. Looking over to my left, I see three ladybugs inside the van. Rolling down the window, I flip them outside, roll up the window, and drive.

Turns out, one didn’t fully escape, so a few miles down the road at a stop sign, I repeat the process of removal. That pesky ladybug just wasn’t giving up easily, so a third time, at a stoplight right before the PT location, I prove successful and finally vacate the animal from my crumb ridden mini-van.

At PT, they did a reassessment of me, to see how I have progressed in the past few week. I’m asked those dreaded questions about the pain scale ¬†and give the best number I can. As the therapist works, I begin to see his face turn. He then proceeds to do movements that hurt more pointedly than the previous ones, and it’s almost like he is “onto something” as he asks me to perform move after move that is troublesome.

“I don’t know how Blake missed this,” the therapist speaks aloud, although seemingly not to anyone in particular. I sit up from the exam table and support myself on my elbows.

“Miss what? What do you mean?”

Before answering, he asks me to recant my moment of injury, and at the close he says, “I think you tore your ACL.”

Dumbfounded, I seriously say, “What the what?!?!” to him while I scrunch up my eyebrows, like some tween that is completely astounded but too afraid curse in public.

As we talk more, I hold back tears. He confirms that PT is still a good plan, but I will need to see an orthopedist. ¬†“I am gonna need a pity moment for a second,” I eek out, and the tears begin to fall.

“I’m not 100% sure. We’d have to have a scan first to know” he states, trying to assuage my sadness and frustration. It wasn’t successful.

Before we head home, I text Thomas and tell him to call me as soon as he is done with his sessions for the day. Loading back into the car, I fight back more tears.

Once home, it’s a rush for dinner before church. Wednesday nights are always a little hectic with the later bedtime and drop-off and pick-up of the kids to their classrooms. I no longer had¬†an appetite, so as the kids chowed down and Thomas began his commute home, I began sweeping up the past week’s worth of crumbs from under the table. Crouched down to be certain to get all the food bits in the dustpan, I also knowingly coddle my injured knee, being sure not to bend too much or turn the wrong way and create too much sudden pain. I thought about the repercussions of a potentially torn ACL, the complications of a surgery, the down time to heal that I really don’t have, the time I’ve already spent in recovery attempts, how not having mom’s help with the kids if I do have surgery will be hard, and the list goes on and on and on….

“Look Wesley! Another ladybug” shouts Daniel in a cheerful tone. Mid-sweep, I pause. It hit me right then.

Mom always had a thing about ladybugs. She once gave me and my brothers each a little ornament to display, in way of letting us all¬†know she was thinking of us. Ladybugs are supposedly good luck in some cultures, and she liked that concept. Her house, for some reason, was the random nesting ground for the little insects. They would pile up in certain outside corners of her house and just make an active lump of moving, flying insects during certain seasons. She would sometimes huff as she swept them all out of her house and off of her pouch. As she noted, them always being in such massive amounts at her house was¬†just another reason that her little ladybug ornament would make us think of her. Once, when she was fighting cancer¬†and the bugs were active, one traveled home with a friend that visited her. A vagabond, the tiny red dot went from inside mom’s to Bridget’s car, all the way to Bridget’s house. When the animal fluttered off 30 minutes away from “home,” Bridget texted my mom about the hitchhiker. It gave them both a good chuckle.

It was comforting to me, thinking about the ladybugs. Three earlier in the day that made no mental connection to me, all seen moments before I received some sad news, were there to precede the painful news (or potentially sad news–it very well might not be torn….positive thinking for the win, right?). When I got home, defeated, another bug showed to help me make the connection. It’s like God knew I would miss my mom even more on a day like this, and he sent a few of his creation to soften the blow.

Then I thought of how my friend gave Hazel a hand-me-down ladybug costume to wear for Halloween. Mom was always a blast this time of year, and I remember last year being surprisingly difficult for me celebrating Halloween without her. Funny how even in these random gifts from friends, the Lord is good to let me know he has not forgotten my sorrow. He sees and understands my pain, and he wants to give me little nuggets to help me in my grief journey.

Who doesn't sit her daughter on the washing machine to take a picture? It's not the best picture, but we were in a hurry to make an event, so I snapped it quickly.

Who doesn’t sit her daughter on the washing machine to take a picture? It’s not the best picture, but we were in a hurry to make an event, so I snapped it quickly.

Right now, I don’t know what will become of my knee. I am hopeful that I can continue on in therapy and recover all my mobility and strength. All I know, is that I am certainly feeling weak, in knee and in spirit.

And when I think that I’m tapping out, I get a text from a friend, the same that gifted the costume, that tells me her grandmother¬†is entering her final days, but that her mother has been clinging to some words that I wrote ¬†on my blog to give her comfort. I read it, and I cried. Cause all I know is that at times life hurts, and things are confusing, and it seems too much to bear. Your knees are weak and you just can’t take it anymore.

But then, when it seems too much, you’re reminded that you matter and that He hasn’t forgotten, cause a pretty little lady bug shows up in your car, sits on your washing machine, and flutters quietly onto your kitchen table.

After All the Firsts……

“How long will this last?”

I remember asking Thomas those words as we brought mom home to be welcomed into hospice. We had brought mom home to die, and even though I knew that, there is nothing that could really prepare me for it.

My family flooded in and we all filled her house with bodies and comfort food. At times, we filled the home with laughter. Other moments, her home was filled with tears. The day time was busy, the night time was quiet, but the anguish was there 24/7, sun up and sun down.

2014-08-12 15.05.37-1I knew she was dying. We all did. But as she battled those final days, I couldn’t help but wonder how long she would have to fight such a gruesome fight, struggling to breathe, frequently moving to try and find the most comfortable position in which to rest, only to find nothing of the such existed.

“How long will this last?”

Turns out, there is actually a little book that exists that can help families gauge and discover that answer of “how long.”¬†“Gone From My Sight”¬†is the offical name, but my memory recalls it to be “Fading from my Sight” which I think is actually more appropriate. Fading……still present, but not….fading from the ones that love you.

I remember the hospice nurse coming in to talk with us. We sat down at mom’s kitchen table, mom¬†in her room, a few family members in the living room. I sat down on a stool, which really didn’t make much sense, cause there were vacant chairs, and it made me higher than the dining table. I hovered above the nurse and my brother John as we began to talk. I remember it being an odd feeling for me, cause at barely 5 foot tall, I rarely look down on another adult. It was like I was perhaps trying to float above the reality before me.

She was pregnant, the hospice nurse. And she had a big, sparkly wedding set on her finger. She was kind.

She slid that blue booklet my way, showing us some stages that are listed in the back. And by stages I mean the stages of dying. I was asked to tell her what mom was doing/feeling.

Immediately I realized that mom was exhibiting most all of the “days or weeks out” behaviors. While telling the nurse of mom’s “burst of energy,” she nodded compassionately. “Can you tell me a little more about that?” she asked. I began relaying how mom had said the night before, “Maybe they are wrong!” in a somewhat hearty voice. “Maybe who is wrong mom?” “The doctors. Maybe the doctors are wrong. I feel great right now. Maybe they are wrong.”

That didn’t fit what she thought was the “burst” but she listened to my point of view. I shared a few more tidbits while my brother nodded in agreement. The nurse asked a few questions, some which I didn’t know, so I texted my other brother, Damien, telling him to hurry up and get to mom’s to speak with the nurse. He had stayed the night at his house while my brother John and I spent the first night home from the hospital at mom’s.

The questions were done, and the nurse left to check on mom. I sat, hovering on the stool, grabbing my phone to text my husband about the blue book and the nurse. Soon, the nurse came back, sitting down at the table.

“So, after looking at your mother, I believe she has hours, not days, left to live.”

I can’t even type those words above without my eyes filling with tears, my hands are trembling.

“How long will this last?”

Turns out, it is hours.

Hospice can be sent into a home up to 6 months out. Mom made it back to 250, her house number, on a Tuesday afternoon. She died in the wee hours of Thursday morning. Hospice didn’t even send in a caregiver until Wednesday lunch, which is when they told me hours. Just hours left with my mom. Hours.

The next time a hospice care nurse showed at mom’s would be to confirm her death and destroy her high level pain narcotics.

“If you have anyone that needs to say good bye they need to come now.”

I remember barking an order to my cousin immediately after the nurse said those words. I had been so cool and calm, matter of fact, information sharing. Now, I was emotional, scared, shaking. “Ann! Go get my boys from school now. You are on their pick up list. Go now and get them.” And with that, she left out the door.

I could barely see to text the words to Thomas. . I couldn’t hold the phone still to hit the right words. I told him to hurry back to mom’s. John came over and hugged me. I couldn’t believe the clash of emotions I was feeling. A wave, tossing me down suddenly, not allowing me to get back up, when only moments before I was watching the tide roll in on me, floating up with each wave rather than being at its mercy.

There was no part of me that thought I had long, but hours? Where do you even begin when all you have is hours?

We sang hymns to her, ones which she requested. She made fun of us for forgetting the words to one. “You did real good with that one!” she told us after “Amazing Grace.”

Damien had a hard time being around her; he had been there at all the appointments and all the visits previously, but this was too much. John took the role of being present and available; he had been unable to be at all the other events. I am not sure what role I took. I remember, however, that I felt like I was the one that had to call the shots.

“Summer, if you want everyone to leave, tell me and I’ll get them all out.”

“Summer, where do you want me to put this cake from Mildred?”

“Summer, would you like for me to hold Hazel?”

I didn’t know. It was too much. Most of it didn’t matter anyway. I appreciated the do-ers during this time. The ones that just took Hazel, shoved food around in the fridge to make room, and any matter of the like.

With all the last minute good byes, mom hung on a little longer than we initially thought. I think there was too much energy and movement for her to settle, rest, breathe fully, and welcome in her new home. All three of her children, my sweet Hazel, and our God-sent helper during the darkest time, our cousin Shelia, all stayed the night.

Apparently, mom tried to get up in the middle of the night, and my brothers had to convince her it wasn’t a good idea.

Around 430 or 5 in the morning, I heard shuffling and mumbles. Next, I hear foot steps on the stairs. John opens the door to tell me what I already know.

“Mom’s gone Summer. She’s gone.”

It may seem like the most absurd response, but I put my hand in the air, right level to my face. I closed my eyes, lifted my face toward Heaven, and uttered the words, “Thank God.”

Cause knowing she wasn’t feeling the pain she had felt was a relief. Knowing she didn’t have to fight any more was peaceful. The earthly end meant a heavenly beginning.

Next, came the days of life without her, and all the firsts without mom were quick to follow.

First Christmas without her excited gift-giving.

First birthday for me without the woman who gave me life.

First steps of my baby that couldn’t be enjoyed by her.

So, so many firsts. And as the day that she went home comes creeping in on me, I wonder what comes after all the firsts have happened and the first year anniversary hits? Do you keep track of seconds? “This is the second Thanksgiving without mom.” Or do you just morph into a person who is less and less impacted by the grief?

I don’t know yet. Maybe I can tell you in another year. Alas, after this year of the grief journey¬†I don’t know if I really have anything figured out. After talking very recently with a friend that lost her mom several years ago, she told me about how at a year after the loss she remembered thinking, “Why am I not doing better than this? I should be so much farther!”

True words.

Why am I not farther healed? Why do I now not have a better grip on grief and sadness? I know it will never be okay, but when can I walk comfortably in the new normal?

“How long will this last?”

I don’t think there is an answer, and even if there was a little blue book to tell me, the hours will feel like years, even after all the firsts I suppose. The years will feel like seconds. Until then, I’ll cling to what is good, looking for what can build me.

“Sometimes the darkest times can bring you to the brightest places, your most painful struggles can grant you the greatest growth, and the most heartbreaking losses of relationships can make room for the most wonderful people.¬† What seems like a curse at the moment can actually be a blessing in disguise, and what seems like the end of the road is actually just the realization that you are meant to travel a different path.¬† No matter how difficult things seem, there‚Äôs always hope.¬† And no matter how powerless you feel or how horrible things seem, you can‚Äôt give up.¬† You have to keep going.¬† Even when it‚Äôs scary, even when all your strength seems gone, you have to keep picking yourself back up and moving forward, because whatever you‚Äôre battling in the moment, it will pass, and you will make it through.¬† You‚Äôve made it this far, and you‚Äôve felt this way before.¬† Think about it.¬† Remember that time awhile back when you thought the world was ending?¬† It didn‚Äôt.¬† And it isn‚Äôt ending this time either” source

That’s what I am looking forward to now, after all the firsts.