Thoughts on Newtown

Like most parents around this country, the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday has really impacted me.

My heart breaks for those parents who no longer have their little babies to hold. I can’t imagine what they are going through.

The town where 27 innocent lives were tragically taken is more than 2200 miles away from my home. Yet I have a sinking pit in my stomach when I truly contemplate what happened and accept the fact that things like this can happen to anyone, anywhere.

Life is so fragile.

I’ve been thinking of Luca a lot lately. Although I realize that my 37-week stillborn son’s natural death in no way compares to losing a child to horrific murder, his death two-and-a-half years ago made me realize that life is so short.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that again lately.

So many of us think that there will always be a tomorrow; that we can give our best next hour; that we can show our love next time.

Sometimes there is no next time.

It was torture packing up and putting away the small stack of baby items we purchased for Luca – little onesies, binkies and pajamas that would go unused. I can’t imagine going through my older kids’ things. What would I do with the wrapped presents that sit under my Christmas tree waiting for them to open Christmas morning?

Yet there are dozens of family members left imagining that very thing this very week.

For those families I am going to try with all my might not to take my three living children for granted.

I have been guilty far too many times of snapping at my boys. I have shed tears late at night for losing my cool and not showing them more love. You would think that since I lost a baby I would appreciate my boys more. But life gets busy, crazy and stressful and it is so easy to become impatient.

I have been thinking a lot this week of my oldest son who is in the first grade. Many mornings I drive a little too fast to get him to school on time after I have hollered at him for more than an hour to get his clothes on, breakfast eaten, teeth brushed, etc.

It’s crazy at our house in the mornings.

I have once again vowed to myself to calm the heck down. Getting to school before the tardy bell rings is not worth losing my cool and nagging my boys all morning to hurry up.

I have hugged my 6-year-old extra tight this week before letting him walk into his classroom.

I love my boys with all my heart and am scared to death of losing another one.

Life is short and death comes for all of us.

That is why there are some things I have changed since we lost Luca. I try to savor the small things I might have taken for granted before.

Things like the smell of my boys’ hair after it’s just been washed, or the sound of their breath going in an out while they are sleeping.

I love the way my two oldest both stick their tongue slightly out when they are concentrating and my heart melts each time I see my baby’s toothless grin.

My children eat much more candy, watch much more television and get far more toys than they would have before we lost Luca.

When they beg, I let them play “one more game,” eat “one more treat” or steal “one more (slobbery) kiss” from their baby brother. For all I know, the three musketeers will grow old together, but life can be unexpected. You never know how many chubby kisses you have left.

That’s why I sneak extra kisses after they have fallen asleep at night — even if I risk waking them up. And I read to them one of my favorite stories “Love You Forever” — even though they laugh at its chorus.

And I tell them I love them over and over and over again — even though they roll their little boy eyes at me and say, “I know mom. You tell us that all the time.”­

Thanks

Today is my least favorite day of the year, and yet this year feels different.

Usually I don’t even want to think about the turkey-day festivities I despise – like cooking too long, eating too long and watching TV too long.

But this year I’ve tried to block those things out of my mind.

Rather than dwell on the fact that a majority of the people in this nation are going to gorge themselves beyond their own physical capabilities, I have tried to focus on what the day should really be. Not a day of feasting, but a day of thanks, a day to remember all of life’s blessings.

As many of my friends have posted thanks daily on Facebook this month, I have felt a little guilty for not doing the same. I have several things to be grateful for that I don’t want to take for granted.

For example, I am extremely grateful that I didn’t go completely insane while carrying my fourth child this spring. Many times I was on the brink on insanity, ready to jump off a cliff into crazy land, but somehow I made it through.

Not only am I grateful that I didn’t go nuts while pregnant, I will be forever grateful that my fourth little baby boy came out kicking and screaming.

After losing our third son at 37 weeks, I know that pregnancy doesn’t always end with the mother holding a living, breathing bundle of joy. Yet, for me, this time it did!

And although I complain about how little sleep I get these days and how my baby’s diapers are too expensive, I couldn’t imagine my world without him. He has brought more joy into my life than I ever thought possible.

I am thankful I get to raise three beautiful boys here on earth. Even though sometimes I wish it were four, three is so nice.

Sometimes they drive me batty, but other times my little boys are tender-hearted gentlemen. They know just what to say and do to put a smile on my face and melt my heart.  They are the reason I get up in the morning.

I am also thankful that I have several good, true friends. The kind who don’t care if I wear holey sweats, no make-up and ratty old slippers. The kind who I dare open my front door to despite what my house looks like inside. The kind who’ll let my kids play for hours at a time, day after day so I can catch a break or cook dinner in peace.

I have friends I can always count on to have sugar, milk or eggs when I run out. And friends don’t look down on me when I sometimes snap at my kids.

Some of my best friends are in my own family. I can’t go a single day without talking to my mom at least three times. She’s there to answer my cooking, cleaning and sewing questions and will always watch my boys with just a moment’s notice. I am thankful for her endless love and support.

I am thankful for the love and support from all of my family. I have family members who would go anywhere and do anything for me. Family members who have laughed with me, cried with me and carried me when I didn’t want to go on.

Most of all, I am thankful for my best friend, my husband. I am thankful that he’ll love me no matter how crazy I am. That he works extra hard so I can sit at home caring for our babies and trying hard not to fail too many times as a housewife.

I’m thankful he’ll eat burnt grilled cheese sandwiches and ignore the thick dust layer atop our wooden furniture. I’m thankful he’ll help me fold laundry and bath our boys at night. Thankful he’ll mow our lawn and take out our trash.

We’ve been through a lot together and I am thankful he always stands by my side.

I know I could list many more things that I am thankful for; material objects or modern day luxuries I wouldn’t want to live without. But today I want to focus on the things that I couldn’t live without – my friends and family.

Thank heavens I don’t have to face this world alone.

This year I’m going to spend my turkey day appreciating those who surround me.  Today I’m grateful I get to spend a grand meal with the ones I love.

What Should I Tell My Children About My Past Mistakes?

I had flashbacks all last week to one of my most traumatic childhood experiences.

My son’s elementary school headed to the local aquatic center last Friday for a field trip party at the pool. The thought of him going swimming with his schoolmates flipped my mind back to the time when my elementary school did the same — and the time when I was a few seconds from drowning.

I was 8 or 9 years old when the experience happened. My school was heading to their annual trip to the local pool. We walked with a buddy and were to stick with that buddy while swimming.

Unfortunately for me, my buddy could swim and I couldn’t. My mom warned me for days to stay off of the donut-shaped floatation tubes. She knew I couldn’t handle them. She wanted me to stay in the shallow end where I would be safe.

But my buddy rented one of the tubes then headed to the deep end of the pool. Stupidly I followed.

Almost immediately I ended up under the donut floaty while waves splashed around me and I fought for my life to climb back up. The tube’s slippery plastic, along with other tubes slamming on top of me, kept me from climbing to safety. Luckily a sixth-grade swimmer saw my desperation and drug me to safety where I coughed up what felt like a gallon of water.

It was one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me. And I still haven’t learned to swim because of it.

Not only was I scared for my life in the pool, I was scared for my life at home. I don’t think I told my mom about my near-death experience for almost a week. I knew she would be furious. She had warned me not to float on a tube. I was terrified to hear her say, “I told you so.”

So with that experience in the back of my mind, I geared up to let my 6-year-old baby splash in the water with his friends. Despite the fact that the school sent home a note forbidding flotation devices, I was still terrified.

I didn’t want him to sense my hesitation in letting him head to the pool with the student bodies of two elementary schools and only their staff and a couple dozen lifeguards there to protect him. But how could I hide it? And I didn’t want to tell him about my experience because I was certain he wouldn’t go after that.

I tried to encourage him to go, but I was so scared.

He has taken swimming lessons for the past three years, but he is just starting to feel comfortable in the water, and he is definitely not a fish-like swimmer.

He ended up not wanting to go so I picked him up early from school Friday and he hung out at home.

Honestly I was relieved because I knew he would be safe with me, but it got me thinking about what I should share with my children.

I don’t want my children to know of all of the major mistakes I have made or will make in life. I don’t want my stupid choices to impact their decisions. But when they have challenges in life, maybe it would help them to know of my own challenges. Maybe it would help them realize that I am an imperfect human, just like they are.

Now I know that floating in the deep end of the pool when I knew I couldn’t swim wasn’t an immoral or illegal action, but it was something that was seriously stupid. Should I tell my boys about my experience?

Maybe if I didn’t completely scare him from the field trip, my oldest might have been able to learn from my story and use it as a what-not-to-do example.

Heaven knows I have other stories of stupid things I have done. Should I shed all of the skeletons from my closet and come clean with my children?

Maybe, for now, I’ll keep the skeletons locked up, but not forgotten. That way when my sons make mistakes or do stupid things I’ll be able to sympathize. Hopefully all of my stupid mistakes will make me a better parent, a more understanding parent.

Because as the mother tasked with raising three boys, I am sure I will parent through my fair share of their mistakes.

Quadruple Bypass and a Pacemaker

Life can change in an instant. I saw that again this week.

Saturday afternoon I went to my grandparents’ house for an Easter party. When I got there I found out that my grandpa had fallen, cut his arm really bad and was taken to the emergency room.

They stitched him up, attributed his fall to dizziness from medication he’s on, and sent him home. No big deal.

Until he kept passing out Saturday night and Sunday morning.

On Sunday we found out he needed emergency bypass surgery. His heart had some major blockage. And on top of that, it would stop beating for several seconds at a time.

Four bypasses and a pacemaker later he is finally out of ICU.

It has been a long, stressful week. One in which I’ve thought a lot about life and what keeps us here on earth. A vital organ the size of a human fist tried to control my grandpa’s fate this week.

We are lucky he is still with us.

I’m sure the fact that I will celebrate my stillborn son’s birthday in less than two weeks also has me pondering life.  I drove to the hospital late Sunday night to meet my grandpa’s ambulance.

I couldn’t force away the flashbacks from two years before when my husband and I drove in the dark to the hospital in the middle of the night. Only to find that my intuition was dead on — Luca was gone.

Now my grandpa is on the cardiology floor. The same floor I was moved to after my baby died. He is healing a few rooms away from where I stayed after my loss.

Life has some crazy coincidences.

I know I have written before that I need to not take life for granted. But I can’t help think that my experiences keep reinforcing that fact. And yet I keep taking so many things in life for granted. I’ve got to change.

I am so glad my grandpa is still here.

It is a miracle. A miracle my entire family has been praying for. I am sure it will take him a while to regain his strength, but it looks like he is going to make it.

Boogers 2011 Recap

In case you missed them, this week I decided to post Boogers On The Wall’s 5 most popular blog posts from 2011.

1 Problems Getting Pregnant

2 Reading Babies???

3 Living with the Elephant 

4 My Angel’s Story

5 Words of Wisdom

I find it very interesting that four out of the top five were posts I wrote about the death of my baby boy.

What do you guys think? What were your favorite posts of 2011?

Thankful Thoughts from the Turkey-day Hater

I am probably the only person on earth that hates Thanksgiving. It has always been my least favorite holiday. Not because I am unthankful by any means, but because of what the holiday has morphed into – A day of overstuffing your face ‘til your pant button pops and you can’t keep your eyes open anymore.

I’ve never been a big eater, and I have this feeling deep down that Thanksgiving shouldn’t be all about the food.

Think about it. When people ask you about Thanksgiving, they normally ask you where you are going for dinner. Right? I bet very rarely do they ask you what you are thankful for.

The poor holiday has turned into a food-focused frenzy.

With that said, I would like to change my focus this year. Before I get to eat anything, I want to share with you a short list of random things that I am thankful for. I say short list because I couldn’t possibly ever think of everything to include because I am thankful for more things than I realize. I think we all are. If you get a chance today, let me know something you are thankful for!

Here it goes:

1.    Life – everyday I have here on earth is a miracle
2.    My husband – who puts up with more crap from me than he should
3.    My babies – the two I have on earth and the one waiting for me in heaven
4.    My mom – I can’t make it through a normal day without talking to her at least once
5.    My religion and my Savior who made it possible for me to be with my family forever – all of them
6.    My grandparents  – they are the most selfless people I will ever meet
7.    My entire family – brother, sisters, mom, dad, aunts, uncles, etc.
8.    Food on my table – even if sometimes dinner is just corn dogs and french fries
9.    Heat in my home – and a new furnace
10.   Money in my bank – even if it’s only $5 some days
11.    My college education
12.   My awesome work-at-home job
13.   A home to call my own
14.   A van that I love
15.   Clothes on my and my family’s back
16.   Health and energy
17.   Love – including hugs, kisses and cuddling
18.   Music – the scream-your-heart-out-in-the-car kind
19.   Books that are so good I can’t put them down
20.  Movies that make me laugh, cry or both
21.   Flowers and weeds
22.  Ice cream
23.  French fries
24.  Blankets
25.  Sunshine
26.  Friends
27.  Notebooks
28.  Birthdays
29.  The internet
30.  Captain Hook

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