Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas 2014

We had a pretty quiet, calm Christmas over here. Just the way we like it. We didn't put any presents under our tree until a few days before Christmas so that we could start telling the boys they were going to get to open them soon. This year we went with the "something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to need" for gifts. And the boys didn't even need anything to wear so they just got a couple things each. 

Christmas Eve we had some hot chocolate, read "The Night Before Christmas" and the Christmas story out of their little Bible. Then we made peppermint hot chocolate and let Cohen open one present before bed. Once they were in bed we turned on a Christmas movie and set out to put their trampoline together (which was harder than we thought it would be). 

Christmas morning the boys woke up and wandered out to see their presents. Cohen was excited about the trampoline and wanted to open his presents on it. They were probably most excited about the chocolate kisses they found in their stockings (which had to be confiscated until after breakfast).

We had our traditional "coyote" breakfast (fried bread dough with powdered sugar on top) and just had a quiet morning at home. Later we headed over to my parents' house to have Christmas with my side of the family.

The trampoline has been a big hit and Cohen has been getting lots of energy out (and it's supposed to be good for building core muscles and coordination too - bonus!) And no one has fallen off and broken their necks either (another bonus!)

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Real Life Christmas Card

We have so far been unsuccessful at sending out Christmas cards since having kids (and before). This might be part of the reason...Just keepin' it real.

At least they're cute!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Family Update

I keep meaning to update the blog and it just keeps escaping me! I took a temporary position at the hospital and was working 2 or 3 days a week, which was a lot for me. I have switched back to just working one or two which is much more manageable. We have been busy getting ready for Christmas, and both boys are coming off of sicknesses - a cold for Cohen and croup for Ezra. Cohen is off at preschool and Ezra is watching Barney so I don't have to try and keep his little fingers off the keyboard. So here's an update...

+Cohen is going to preschool and loving it. He loves his teacher and riding the bus. He is getting physical therapy while at school and has also started OT at a new facility. We got him a new swing, similar to a trapeze bar that he can spin on and he loves it. I don't know how he doesn't get sick, I get dizzy just watching him! Cohen's latest fascination is keys. He wears about 5 keychains around his neck at a time and is constantly taking the keys and keychains (and whatever else he can find) on and off. We have to hide our keys or they end up on his keychains and go missing. He also loves to pretend to cook "pake pakes" (pancakes) and loves to help us in the kitchen.

 Ezra is now 18 months old (eek!). He is all over the place climbing, jumping (off his rocking horse), rolling etc. He's still working on talking, he says "yeah" and "uh oh" regularly. He loves play doh and eating (sometimes eating play doh). Ezra gives the best hugs, he will come up and throw his arms around your neck and squeeze. It's about the sweetest thing ever. It's a nice balance to his rambunctious side.

The Christmas season is always hard as we juggle the joy of the season with the hurt of not having Carter here. The tears come easier and the "it should have been different"'s are close by. I still see that empty space in the pictures by the tree and wish I was getting one more matching sweater. I feel the hole in my heart more deeply. I usually end up finding a project to throw myself into and this year it has been making and selling Lego crayons. It seems silly, but it gives me something to focus on that isn't just missing my boy.

We have all of our Christmas shopping done and now we are just waiting for Christmas! We went with the "something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read" so shopping was actually quite easy! The boys are getting a little trampoline with a handle, which I know Ezra will love and hoping Cohen will too, it will be great for coordination and movement if he can figure it out. Danny and I had a night away from the kids to finish our shopping. I came home with a new saucepan, bathroom mat and kitchen towels. You know you're getting old when your Christmas presents are things for the house! I am excited to get to watch the boys open their presents. I was nervous about what they would do to our Christmas tree but they have been suprisingly well behaved and I usually only have to put a few ornaments back on at the end of the day, however, the presents will wait until Christmas Eve to go under the tree.

Whew! And that's where we're at. Thanks for checking in on us and we hope you are all enjoying the Christmas season.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Out to Play

It is definitely fall around here, but we still try and go outside any chance we get. Sometimes when it's raining, sometimes when it's windy but we are trying to soak up any last glimpse of "nice" (not rainy) weather. The boys need to be outside. They need to jump in puddles and run and play with sticks and go down slides and swing. So we do our best to get out when we can. Here's to hoping we keep our sanity over the next 9 rainy months!

Ezra - 16 Months

Hard to believe this kiddo is 16 months old! He is the sweetest little guy but also has a mind of his own. He still doesn't have many (any) words, but he knows what he wants.

He has the "point and grunt" nailed. If he wants some he points his little finger and grunts repeatedly. If you guess wrong he shakes his head "no" and if you guess right you get an enthusiastic "yeah!" (Okay, he does have one word). 

He still loves to eat and eats constantly. He has swooned his way into having the nursery workers at church feed him endless amounts of crackers.

We have been enjoying some one on one time while big brother is at school and I think it's been so good for both of us. It's still so foreign to me that he sits and plays with toys or reads books. Sometimes I panic when I realize it is quiet only to look over and see him sitting and playing with something. He also enjoys eating crayons, taking baths, and anything outside. He is a little daredevil and likes to climb on chairs and tables and will even go down big slides by himself.

Cohen Goes to School!

Cohen started preschool a few weeks ago and so far I think it's going well. When I ask him what he did at preschool he generally says "nofing". He goes Monday, Wed and every other Friday.

 He didn't shed a single tear, which I expected, and I held it together until I got in the car. I had to work that day and Danny was off so we were both able to drop him off and then I went off to work. I may have cried the whole way in. We are so proud of this kid.

Last week he even got to start riding the bus to school which I think was a dream come true for him. He was asking us constantly to ride the bus, so finally I told him it was time! We stood outside and waited for the bus and he got so excited when he saw it coming. There are only a couple other kids that ride the bus and the bus driver is pretty great. She had the music on and handed him a bucket of toys. Although now he keeps telling me he wants to ride the big bus (he rides the little bus to school).

Waiting for the bus!

Here it comes!

He seems to be doing well in school and he enjoys going. The transitions between school and home have been a bit challenging, but we were expecting that. I'm so happy for him because I think he really does enjoy it. One day I picked him up and he told me "Mommy you fogot to pack my snack but my fwiend shared a granola bar with me". He gets Physical Therapy at school once a week so I will be interested to hear how that goes as well!

Parenting for the End Goal

Things have been a little quiet over here, we have been busy and in a challenging season of parenting. Raising two toddlers, both pushing and testing to find the boundaries. A three year old going on 16. Lots of changes and adjusting and trying to figure out how we deal with all of this as a family.

Parenting is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It's also one of the most rewarding. I have been struggling to know what is the best way to raise our boys, when to let things go and when to teach and help them grow. I get caught up in the daily challenges, the screaming, the fits, the big feelings. Toddlers have lots of big feelings. Especially toddlers with sensory processing problems.

I have been feeling weary. Worn out. Like maybe I'm just not cut out for parenting toddlers. We have been doing a Beth Moore Bible study at church. (If you ever have a chance to do one, take it! For real!) Yesterday we watched the video that was all about relationships, the highs and the lows and what God calls us to in these relationships. I found myself scribbling down quotes and nodding my head vigorously. Relationships require vulnerability, the ability to put ourselves out there with the potential of being hurt. We have been there. A relationship with a child we don't get to raise, so much hurt. Raising a child that we don't always know what he needs and what is best. She talked about how facing the depths, the deep hurt also allows us to know the joy of the good times, the gladness. This is a lesson that we have learned over the last few years. Without the deep pain of losing Carter, I'm not sure we would have the same perspective about what a gift our children are (a challenging gift, but a gift).

And then she said this: You can only know the joy and the gladness when you have been in a relationship you thought would kill you. This may sound a little extreme to some of you, but honestly, there are days when I feel like I am going to pull all of my hair out. I love my kids to pieces, but it is a challenge. There are days when I don't know what Cohen wants or needs. Where he screams for an hour over something that he can't put words to. Where I have to put him in the stroller naked and screaming (with a blanket on) because he won't put clothes on and it's the only thing that will calm him down. But when the good days come, they are so much BETTER because of the hard days that we face. The hugs and kisses are that much sweeter after the fits.

The turning point was when she talked about the ultimate goal - to have kids that love Jesus. This was a huge change of perspective for me. So often I focus on the day to day, because it feels like I just need to get through the day. It made me really think about what I am doing to show Jesus to my kids. Am I living in a way that they will see Jesus in me? As they grow up will they know that a relationship with the Lord is the most important thing? Am I teaching them to act like Jesus and be kind and loving to others? Is my end goal to have kids that love Jesus? Whew. That was a pretty big perspective change for me. It has been rolling around in my head and making me think about my decisions and the words that I say.

I'm not perfect and never will be. I will still stumble, lose my wits, maybe even pull all my hair out. I will still wave the white flag and call Gramma to see if the kids can spend some time at her house. But I hope that someday when my kids are grown, they can look back and see how much we love them and that even though we aren't perfect and we make mistakes, that they will have seen Jesus in us.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

3 Years at Home!

Happy Home-iversary Cohen! After 130 long, grueling days of ups and downs, we finally got to walk out the hospital doors with our son as OURS. Those last few weeks were tough, not some of my finest moments we wanted so badly to be out of the hospital to finally start our lives as a family. It felt like we were stealing Cohen as we packed up all his things, said goodbye to our best nurses who had become like family, took down all of his momentos and packed up our hotel room that had been our "home". We got home to find the house decorated by mom Carol and Karen, and Cohen's room decorated which was much needed since we had basically just up and left over 5 months before. It was bittersweet as we had left our house back in May, having the room set up to bring two babies home, but we were SO excited to bring Cohen in and show him his house (he was thrilled). Everything was exciting...his first diaper at home! His first bottle at home! His first nap at home! Danny and I were laughing the other night about how much easier it was to bring Cohen home, even with his oxygen and feeding tube, than Ezra. We already knew Cohen, he was 4.5 months old, we could just hook up his feeding pump at night and he never cried. (We should have known he was just storing it up for when he turned 3  ) Cohen James, we love you so much little buddy! You amaze us, challenge us, and make us better people. We are so very thankful for you and can't wait to see what God has in store for you!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Friend's Baby Died, How Can I Help?

I get contacted frequently about someone who has a had a friend or family member lose a baby and they want to know what they can do. It's heartbreaking how often I get asked this, but I am so glad that people are asking how they can help. Pregnancy and infant loss is real and those friends and family members need support, so thank you for reaching out!

What Can I Say?

So often we want to be able to fix or explain away the pain. In the situation of losing a child, you just can't. There's no reason or answer that is going to make the heartache stop.

- I'm so sorry.

- I don't know what you're going through but I'm here for you.

- Tell me about him/her (use the baby's name)

- When/if you want to talk about it, I want to listen (don't force, just being with someone in the silence is okay too)

- I know how you feel (Unless you have lost a child and truly do know how they feel)

- I'm thinking of you/praying for you

Things that are better left unsaid...
- "God needed another angel" or "God needed your baby"
- "You can have more kids"
- Anything that starts with "At least..."
-  Be thankful for the other children you do have
- Try to refrain from telling your own story (or your brother's aunt's second cousin's), just listen and be there. This is about them.

What Can I Do?

Be present. Listen. Even if you are listening to silence or tears. Probably THE most important thing you can do is to just be there. You don't have to have the right words and you can't fix it.

- Don't judge. Grief is impossible to explain to someone who hasn't been there. Don't judge words, actions or reactions. There may be anger, sadness, laughter, or happiness. Every journey is different.

- Give a small gift (see below)

- Use the baby's name, remember the important dates (due dates, birth dates, date they passed away)

- Instead of saying "call me if you need something", offer to do practical, specific things. For example, "I'm coming over Tuesday to do your laundry", "I will bring you dinner Saturday evening", "I will call you tomorrow". And follow through!

- Keep checking up on them. Baby loss is very lonely. The rest of the world keeps moving while your world has stopped and it's a LOT to deal with. Other people get to go on with their lives while we struggle to figure out our new lives.

I want to give a small gift, do you have any ideas?

- Anything with the baby's name (a small handkerchief, blanket, stuffed animal or personalized necklace)

- Willow Tree angels

- Christmas ornaments with baby's name

- Personalized necklace with the baby's name or all of their children's names (on etsy search "personalized necklace")

Do you have any resources I can point them to?

NILMDTS - An organization that will come and take photos of the baby and family, all FREE. The photos we have are some of my most treasured possessions.

The TEARS Foundation (Specific to certain states) - Helps with financial assistance for funeral/burial expenses

This is an awesome little card that I ran across here. I've never seen anything else like it, but I think it's so wonderful.