Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Writing On the Wall

Well, it only took about 9 months but Howard finally got Hope's name up on her wall. We are planning on moving her into her bedroom soon (at least for naps) and he wanted her to have her name up, so here it is! When I posted pics of her nursery months and months ago I had promised to post again once we got her name up (since we weren't telling her name before her birth) so there you go! :) Now to get her crib cleared out (as it has become a bed for more stuffed animals than any child should have) and safety brackets on her flower light cords and she will be all set! :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Homesick is probably the best way to describe how I am feeling lately. For the past several days, I find myself on the verge of tears pretty much ALL the time. I have had some pretty deep conversations with my boys who are growing up before my eyes about their brothers in Heaven, and with each passing year, they gain a better understanding of death and Heaven and it brings me to my knees with each and every question.

I cannot count how many times in the past week that my prayer has just been "Jesus, could you just come back now please. I am growing weary of this life and long to be with you in is all just too much" I have been unbelievably tired (grief is HARD work) and I have been pretty irritable (a shock, I know.). We decided to take the weekend and focus on the kids. Isaac and Asher's birthdays remind us that life is brief and we just don't want to waste what we are given, whether it is 35 minutes, 6 days or many years.

I feel drained, I don't have anything profound to say except that this is hard work, even years in, it is hard. I feel like lately, everything brings back a memory that leaves me teary eyed and on my knees praying for Jesus' return. I have been feeling like I am just plain out of words. I fold my hands to pray and yet cannot find the words. I am not sure if it is because there just aren't words, or if it is because I feel like there are no words left to say that I haven't already said.

About a month or so ago a good friend called to see if we wanted to get tickets with them to see MercyMe and Aaron Shust at a local venue, and being HUGE music lovers, we said sure without putting much thought into it. We bought the tickets and then I realized that the event was tonight, on the eve of my fourth boy's second birthday. Last week when I realized what the weekend would likely be like, plus the fact that I STILL have not left Hope with a sitter, I decided we should find someone else to take our tickets.

Well, then one day turned into the next and the tickets remained in the glove box of our car. We decided we would just take Hope with us to the show and go anyway. THEN I checked to see about taking her and found that she would have needed her own ticket, so I froze. I honestly just wanted to throw in the towel and forget the whole thing, but being the frugalista (el cheapo) that I am, I could not bear to see the money we spent on the tickets go to waste.

My heart sunk at the thought of leaving Hope with anyone but then I decided to call a dear friend to see if she would keep her. She is one of those friends who was more of an acquaintance before Asher, but jumped right into the grief waters with me with both feet, never afraid to ask how I REALLY am doing or what she can do to help. I am so very thankful for her and I knew if anyone could love on Hope in my absence it would be her. She was free and excitedly agreed to take on the task! :)

I was a ball of nerves, but I knew she was in good hands and would be very loved. We dropped her off and headed over to the concert. As I sat in my seat before the music started, I sat there praying for the strength to praise God despite the fact that it was honestly the LAST thing I felt like doing at that moment. I felt like I had no words left. It had all been said. THEN...

Aaron Shust came out on stage and sang the words

Calloused and bruised/ dazed and confused
My Spirit is left wanting something more
Than my selfish hopes/ and my selfish dreams
I’m lying with my face down to the floor
I’m crying out for more
Give me Words to speak
Don’t let my Spirit sleep
Cause I can’t think of anything worth saying
But I know that I owe You my life
So give me Words to speak
Don’t let my Spirit sleep
Every night, every day/ I find that I have nothing left to say
So I stand here in silence awaiting Your guidance
I’m wanting only Your voice to be heard
Let them be Your Words
I just don’t understand this life that I’ve been living
I just don’t understand
I just don’t understand these lies I’ve been believing
I just don’t understand

Tears began flowing down my cheeks, after the first two phrases. I did all I could to hold back so as not to go into the UGLY cry. I am so broken, and yet I want nothing more than to glorify God with all I have been given. I have just come to a point where I am just not sure how to do that. I feel like all I do is fall short with each task I take on. I felt like God had literally brought me to this place tonight to remind me that sometimes when words fail me, I just need to shut my mouth and listen to what He has to say. Tonight this song is my prayer.

Help Us Celebrate Asher's Birthday!

About 1 in 100 babies will die within the first week of birth

This may not seem like a staggering statistic, until your family becomes part of that statistic.

It is our dream that one day ALL babies will be born healthy. Unfortunately that is not the case for many families like ours. Please join us in memory of our son Asher on what would have been his second birthday by enjoying a meal at Max and Erma’s.

All you need to do is bring in one of our “Team Isaac and Asher” coupons to Max and Erma’s on February 22, and 20% of your purchase will go to the March of Dimes so they can continue to work toward making sure families don’t have to endure the heartache of losing a child to prematurity or birth defects.

Click HERE to download the coupon to take to the ERIE Max and Erma's

If you cannot attend our fundraiser, please consider donating to the March of Dimes by clicking on the March of Dimes button on the side of this page or join our team and walk with us in April! :) You CAN sign up and walk at a different location! We would be so honored to have you!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Today I am thinking about where I was two years and out of the hospital, waiting to meet this gorgeous face, yet feeling cheated out of my time with him. We have a weekend planned to celebrate the life that brought so much to our lives. I will share more details later, for now, if you can, please join us at Max and Erma's on Monday and print out one of our flyers to raise money for the March of Dimes, OR donate by clicking on the link to the left, OR join our team and walk with us in April in honor of our amazing sons!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sucker Punched

So, I made it through my mom's birthday. Actually, I was carried, Howard called in sick when he saw that I was just a little off and we took the kids to lunch. I breathed deeply and remembered to count my blessings not just my losses. I got a shower, and headed out for some bloodwork I had been putting off. I reminded myself that this life is not all there is, I held my head high, put on my big girl pants and did the "room mom" thing for Luke's Kindergarten Valentine's party, and all I could think of was that my most vivid memories of my own mom were of her in that very same place in that same role. The same school, many of the same teachers, the same events. It made me a little sad and also a little grateful. Grateful that my husband values my role as a stay at home mom and has made it a priority for our family. I GET to be a "room mom" and a "PTO mom" and because those are things I remember of my mom, I hope they are things Luke will remember also. I love the little school that Howard and I both attended and now our children will learn many lessons in. All in all, it was a pretty good day, despite the fact that my emotions ran a bit high.

I was claiming Victory over the first half of February, I made it through the first difficult date in one piece, that is until Valentine's Day hit. Now, I will be the first to tell you that we don't do much in our home for Valentine's day. I am not a fan. I think it is a cheesy holiday and we don't give it much thought aside from the fact that each year we take the kids on a date to Chuck E Cheese.

Typically our pilgrimage to Chuck E Cheese is delightful as we typically go at dinner time when all the adults are out and kids are with babysitters. For some stupid (don't tell my kids I said that word) reason we chose to go at lunch. UGH! EVERY. SINGLE. KID. in Erie County was there. It was ZOO for sure and was less than delightful. Kids were running everywhere it was chaos to say the least. Chaos makes me on edge as it is, but we figured we would make the best of it since we were there and leaving at this point would likely be more painful.

We got settled and met up with Howard's sister and her little guy and the kids started to play. As they were running, I asked them to pause for just a moment so I could snap a quick photo of all the cousins together on Hope's first Valentine's day. Then it hit. Like a tidal wave. I suddenly felt like I could not breathe. There through the tiny square on my camera I saw three boys and sweet Hope where there should have been five boys and Hope. I fought tears as best I could and sat down and shoved my face full of a slice of that stellar pizza. :) (I REALLY do love Chuck E Cheese pizza, weird I know).

When the tokens had been spent and the tickets had been redeemed I handed out the decorated red gift bags I had filled with small treats and toys for each child. Again, I found myself struggling to breathe. Two were missing. I couldn't help wonder what it would look like to see my four boys with their cousin. It would be a sight for sore eyes for sure. A six year old Luke, a four year old Andrew, a four year old Isaac, a three year old Ben, an almost two year old Asher and sweet baby Hope (yep, I am pretty sure she will ALWAYS be Baby Hope, and did I really have five babies in six years?).

It hit again once we got home and I took the photos of the kids on the couch, I again looked at the tiny square screen on my camera only to find two boys and a baby girl rather than four boys and a baby girl. I looked through that lens and saw only three of my five Valentines and my heart sunk. Their absence was so real. Between each of the kids, someone was missing and my broken heart ached to see five sweet children through that lens. That is not how our story was written though. This side of Heaven, two will always be missing.

Don't get me wrong, I count my blessings every day. I feel more than blessed to have held five sweet newborns, kissed each head, and breathed each one in. I know there are many women who desperately want children and may never have the opportunity to give birth to one let alone FIVE miracles. I know that and I am thankful, but it still hurts.

I have been doing this grief thing for quite some time now and honestly I never saw this coming. Valentine's day is not a holiday I expected to bring a fresh wave of grief and yet it did. I was sucker punched. That is the thing about grief. Sometimes you just don't see it coming and sometimes the anticipation of a date causes grief to remain at the surface for weeks. Asher's birthday is Monday, I expect that day and the days leading up to it to be tough, but Valentine's Day?? Really? A pretend holiday, made up by greeting card companies, candy companies and florists?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Be Mine!

The only thing that could make this photo more perfect would be an almost two year old and a four year old little boy.

3 of my Valentines
(yes, Ben pretty much always has some kind of crud on his face despite my chasing him with a wet wipe!)

Lovin' on baby Hopey!

Crazy Valentines! :)

Whoa! This place is NUTS!

Cousins having fun at Chuck E Cheese (along with every.other.kid. in Erie County!)

Doesn't she make a sweet Valentine!?

Ben won the jackpot! 100 tickets!

Luke LOVED the Monster Truck ride

Hello!? Hope you had a Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Corn Fairies, Day Seeing and Tooth Troubles

Mom: Ben please come here and pick up these toys if you are finished playing with them

Ben: I will play with them again, I am just done with them for now.

Mom: I would like to sweep the living room, so please come get them now.

Ben: Yeah, they really like it in the living room better mom. They HAVE to stay there.

Mom: Well, if I have to pick them up, you know what happens. (in the mommy voice)

Ben: Okay, okay mom, don't have a "corn fairy"

Mom: [ Exits stage right before bursting into laughter]

SO, I am pretty sure he meant "don't have a coronary" and I am not sure where he heard it but it has been making me laugh for the last 24 hours. It is now a real phrase in our house. :) Oh how I love that boy. He brightens the darkest day I swear!

Later that day...

Ben: Mom, I think we should put my red roller skates on me and go outside to practice so I don't fall down on them so much.

Mom: Ben, you don't have any roller skates. (Plus there is a foot of snow on the ground)

Ben: Oh, right, I must have been "day seeing" Roller skates sure seem like fun!

***On another note*****

Both boys have been complaining this week of toothaches. Luke already had one cavity filled (and I felt like the worst mom EVER then) and is now complaining of a different tooth hurting. I looked, flossed, brushed and gave him some motrin before bed.

Ben was complaining during dinner of a tooth hurting while he was eating. Tonight while brushing his teeth I did see what MAY be a small cavity. UGH!

My question is...what is a mom to do?

I limit juice to once a day and even then it is diluted and served with a meal, I limit sweets and sugary foods, I brush their teeth twice a day and floss in the evenings. WHAT ON EARTH AM I DOING WRONG!?


DO I call the dentist emergency number or do I wait until Tuesday (or are dentists open Monday ,Presidents' day?) Luke was in quite a bit of pain tonight and Tuesday seems like a long while away!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom.

My Mom's senior picture

Our family

Many of you know as I have posted before, that today marks what would have been my mother's birthday. She took her own life when she was 34 years old. I have been working through a lot of feelings in the past few years since becoming a mom myself and am trying HARD to let go of my anger. My life is different because of her life and because of her death and in some ways that makes me terribly sad and in other ways I am grateful. Grateful that she taught me the traits of a great mom and what matters, and also what doesn't and when it is time to let go of the perfectionism. She was never able to do that, and because I see her mistakes, I can. I can be different.

I don't remember much about her. I remember her perfectionism, I remember her being involved in my school and being a "room mom", I remember a clean, well organized home and fantastic birthday parties. I remember her laugh and I remember her cry. I remember her holding my nine year old self as she cried the night she died. I want to understand. I don't. I try, but I doubt I ever will.

I wish she was here to hold her grandchildren. I wish she was here to hold me when I had to say goodbye to two of them. I wish she had been there the day I said "I do" and I wish she had been there when HER mother got sick. A lot of things died along with her. A lot of hopes, dreams and wishes.

Today, I wish she were here so the kids could give her kisses and homemade gifts.

The reality is....she is not. :(

Sometimes life just hurts doesn't it? I am so thankful I know this is not all there is. I have to admit that in the days since having Hope, I have found myself spread thin, and falling short of pretty much everything. I have had to back away from childrens' ministry, realizing my ministry is here at home right now, I have stepped away from my part time job until next school year to care for Hope. I fall short as a mom, a wife, a cook, a housekeeper, and accountant. I cannot do it all. My floors that used to be washed by hand daily are now lucky to get mopped once a week. My intense need for organization and nickname of "label girl" have all but died. Some days I find myself in tears because I so desperately want to do better. I want to live up to all of the potential God intended. I want to be the super mom and wife.

As much as it hurts to be without her, she taught me an important lesson. Though I fall short, my best is better than nothing at all. In the end, that was what I got as a kid, no mom. Even in my frustration and failure, I know that just my being here for my kids is something. My best is not perfect, but it is good enough. I was chosen for my children and them for me. I adore Howard and want nothing more than to be the best helper I can be to him and even when I fall short and lose my temper or snip at him, he loves me, and having me as a wife is better than going at it alone.

I fail. Every. single. day. I fail. My mom wasn't well enough to see that her presence was all that was needed, but because of her colossal mistake, I can. I can see it. Despite my shortcomings, my presence matters in this family. My kids love me, my husband loves me and my God loves me and that is enough. So for that lesson, I thank my mother.

Happy Birthday Mom. I wish you could have seen how much you matter. I wish your mind was not so clouded that you could barely get out of bed in the morning. I am sorry we didn't see it and we miss you. Thank you for this important life lesson. Thank you for helping me be the mom my kids need.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Funny Story? TMI? Maybe Both.

Little did I know how this germ sharing was nothing compared to what was about to take place.

He STILL loves to hold his little sister! (Don't mind the missing sock, she REFUSES to keep it on)

Could he be any happier!??

Wonder where she learned to stick out her tongue?!

AAAAHHH Sharing Siblings...

Heard earlier yesterday at my house "Mom I love sharing with Hopey!" "That's nice buddy." I replied...I had no idea how this sharing with Hope would play out later...

So, my younger kiddos are battling some kind of upper respiratory/coughy/ear infection kind of thing (I am certain came from the McDonald's Playland Howard insisted on, that skeeves me out! ahem...) and when I called the doctor yesterday he asked me to take Hope's temperature, you know, the not oral, not under the armpit kind of way? So anyhow...I went ahead with one of those tasks no parent ever wants to do but eventually must just do, once I got the reading, I undressed her and got her into the tub.

Benjamin then enters two minutes later telling me that he "doesn't feel well". I told him to go lie on the couch and I would take care of him as soon as I got Hope out of the tub and dressed. Then he says, "Mom, I am pretty sure I have a fever" as I hear the beep, beep, beep. My eyes widen and my heart sinks. I turned toward him and YES ladies and gentlemen he had Hope's thermometer in his MOUTH!

UGH! I keep a "special" thermometer in the drawer of the changing table and have put a sticker on it so we know what "kind" of thermometer that one is, but apparently Ben did not get that memo. He is sick today...instead of hand, foot and mouth, perhaps he has hand, hiney and mouth? :) lol

Monday, February 1, 2010


Oh February,

How you have come out of nowhere. How did it get to be February so quickly? When I realized it was February my heart sank. February is a loaded month for me. You know how more often than not, the anticipation of an event is worse than the actual event itself? Yeah, that hasn't much been the case for me when it comes to February.

Most people look forward to February as a month of romance and love, hearts, flowers, and candy. I see it as a reminder of what isn't. A reminder that I grew up motherless and that my arms are still desperate for the little four pound boy that graced my life on a cold February 22, 2008.

Aside from the fact that we might as well live in the North Pole this time of year and seasonal affective disorder reigns with many folks, and the fact that we are currently a one vehicle family and cabin fever is at its peak, the month holds many emotional dates. Dates that unless you have experienced such losses you couldn't really understand. Once you have suffered a great loss, often times just the mere sight of a specific date is enough to knock the wind right out of you. Sometimes it sneaks up and sometimes the anticipation lingers for weeks beforehand.

February marks the birthdate of my mom, who, if you have been reading this blog for long, you know died when I was nine years old. She was in her mid thirties when she died and with each year as I approach that age, I find myself struggling just a little more. I have made quite a bit of progress in the past year in dealing with my anger toward her (she committed suicide). As I settle more and more into my role as a mom I see her pop up in me from time to time and though it scares me I am thankful I recognize the characteristics that put her on the edge all the time and can take steps to be different. I pray daily for the Lord's grace and guidance so that I become the wife and mom He wants me to be not the June Cleaver, I wish I was.

February also marks the time we had with Asher. The 22 will be his 2nd birthday. The 35 minutes he was with us were 35 of the most amazing moments of my life and though my soul literally aches for him, I am thankful he will never know this kind of pain. I rejoice because he lived. The Lord granted me 32 weeks with him in the womb and 35 minute in my arms. He surrounded me with love and comfort and I have never experienced anything so beautiful and yet so heartwrenching.

I have some big plans for this month to remember my fourth boy. I will share as the details fall into place. Many of you sent cards for his birthday last year for me to put into his memory book, and we welcome you to do so again this year if you like! Just email me for the address to send those to.

PS if you run into me this month and I seem in a fog, or if you just don't know what to say, a hug will do...there are no words...just love

Happy 8 Months Hope!

Hopey and her Birthday Lamby

"YIKES! I am 8 months old already?"

"I am as cute as they your hearts out!"

"Mom, I am pretty sure I am outgrowing this tub...please just admit I am becoming a big girl and let me sit all the way in the sink!" PS Could she look any more like Ben than she does here?


I can hardly believe it, but my baby girl is 8 months old today! She is doing great and we love her to pieces!

Here is a little bit about what Miss Hope is up to these days:

She is sitting up all on her own and only topples over occasionally

She still pretty much rejects ALL baby food, despite the fact that Mommy even tried making her own.

She could live on Cheerios. :)

She still refuses to take a bottle.

She is still TOOTHLESS, but I am convinced she will be popping six teeth through all at once!

She can wave bye bye and it melts my heart.

She says mamamamamama and dadadadadada

She LOVES to stick her tongue out!

She is finally loving her baths most of the time.

She has NO interest in crawling since she has two little boys (and two parents) trained to jump at her beckon call. (and let's be honest...I am in NO hurry to chase her AND Ben!)

She is wearing 6-9 month clothes (except for the few FAVORITE 3-6 month sleepers mommy keeps stuffing her in)

She definitely prefers her cloth diapers.

She no longer will keep a hat or bow headband on for long but doesn't mess with the bow in the hair.

She has started sleeping in her crib for naps!

She spends the majority of each day in a sling on mommy's hip! (so why am I not buff?)