Friday, November 04, 2011

Oh my goodness... I forgot to teach Sebastian to use scissors!

Okay, I didn't really forget to teach Sebastian to use scissors. And in my defense, he CAN use them - sorta. I mean he can certainly cut the top of an ice pop off with scissors. Does that all the time with not a single problem. So, I guess it is not has bad as it could be. How did this happen? Well - I will call it 3rd child syndrome. You see my first child went to school until he began 5th grade. He went to a fantastic Pre-K class when he was 4 years old. The very sweet and incredibly patient - Miss Mysliewick - taught my amazing first born son how to do things like cut and paste and color in the lines. She taught him a ton of amazing things. Then he entered the system and he regularly cranked out age appropriate art work. My second child - my only daughter has always been homeschooled. So, she must have the same teaching experiences as Sebastian, right? Nope! My beautiful little 3 year old girl started at a homeschool co-op and Daisy Scouts. She took preschool art with Miss Sherry and Hands On Science with Miss Susie. She did girl scout projects from the teeny tiny age of 4. I bought her a lovely crayon, glue and scissors box, tucked it in her bag and sent her off to these amazing women that taught her all these wonderful things. I sat quietly in some vacant room of a church while they enriched her life. THEN - I had my last and youngest son. When he was 3 years old and just getting to co-op age... I did the craziest thing. I MOVED to another state. For some reason, Miss Susie did not want to move from Florida to South Carolina to teach my son how to cut and paste. I have no idea why that wasn't at the top of her list. Well, as life happens, things got busy for me. I spent a good deal of time focusing on Savannah's school from grades 5-7. I had mini-classes at my house with friends. We all had little preschool boys and we just let them run around and play while we did stuff with the bigger kids. I reasoned that Sebastian pretty much taught himself to read and do math. He is super smart. He is well beyond his 1st grade scope and spectrum. Then - last year happened. I did my best to do school and we did accomplish a lot of the 3 R's. Not so much of the fun stuff though. So, THIS IS THE YEAR - I said. I am going to make crafts and sing songs and do the fun cutesy stuff with him. Savannah is working pretty much independent. I give her a schedule and she (in the same room as me) works through it. Finally, that youngest son of mine is going to get a whole lot of attention. I printed a Fruit of Spirit lapbook about 8 weeks ago. We painted ONE page of it. Then I don't know where it went to. I printed and cut out a Money Lapbook. He was unimpressed and let's face it - he already knows all of his money facts and can add or subtract money just fine. What was I thinking? You may be asking why lapbooks? Well, I did a lot of lapbooks with Savannah and her cousins. Sebastian genuinely showed an interest in them. I spent a lot of time telling him they were too advanced for him. My other reason is that I like lapbooks. I am the teacher - so sometimes I just pick what I like! So there! I also like that I can pick and choose what to add to them. For instance - take today - I decided to do a Thanksgiving lapbook with him. Now, I already have 2 ready made lapbooks for Thanksgiving or Autumn. I like each of them, but one seems a bit hard for him and the other is just so good and so full of info that I would prefer to hang onto it until next year. We will be out of town for 10 days in November - so our time is a bit limited. That set me on a hunt for a perfect blend of art, writing, and knowledge for a completely Sebastian lapbook. After hours of googling - I narrowed it down to several pages that had copy work involved. Sebastian is weakest in handwriting and super advanced in reading. I am trying to work in handwriting a bit more with each passing day. He loves his Handwriting Without Tears books, but is not so keen on just writing words out of the workbook. So, I make this adorable scarecrow book. It has the same scarecrow on each page - you just change the sentence under it on each page. The first page says, "My hat is orange." He then copies that sentence and colors the hat orange. The next page says, "My shirt is blue." and so on. Well, my brilliant child says, "Why do I have to WRITE this?" I tell him because he needs to practice his writing skills. He replies, "Well, YOU typed it! Why can't I just TYPE it?" Smart cookie there. I tell him very patiently that I typed it to give him clear idea of what is expected of him, but if I had to - I could, in fact, write. Then he goes on to say, "Why does each sentence say "MY" shirt, coat, etc? It is not "MY" shirt, it is his!" Well, he had a point there. So - we made it through half the pages, but I am not giving up! We will complete this stinking scarecrow book by the end of the week. We also pasted together a pilgrim boy and girl. I did the cutting and he just assembled. Savannah did this same project when she was younger. Somehow - not the same. Next up, was a simple book about the First Thanksgiving. It was 8 pages printed on two standard sheets of paper. His goal - to cut out the 8 rectangles and staple the booklet together. Simple, right? Well, er, ummm, not so much. He didn't do a horrible job, but he was not happy. He was complaining the entire time. Why do I have to do this? When will I need to cut stuff? Why can't somebody else do it for me? I will get a job where I will have a helper to cut stuff out for me. Yep, that is my boy... he is already envisioning a personal assistant to do the mundane work for him. We pushed ahead and cut that pain in the bleep book out and then he read it with great ease and glued it down. I am glad we did all of this today. I am a little perplexed on how he got to be 7 and slid right by me on these little things, but I guess that is life. I am determined he will, however, learn to cut his own pages before he heads to the office and assigns that task to somebody! I want to know if he is stuck on a deserted island somewhere and needs to create a lapbook from scratch - that he will have the skills! I think I am going to need a lot of patience the next few months...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Breakfast for dinner

I have no idea why I am writing about this, but I am. This afternoon as I was driving home from picking Savannah up - I decided that breakfast for dinner sounded like a wonderful idea. We seem to go in spurts on this and sometimes it is a simple affair - just eggs and toast. Tonight, I felt like making homefries, pancakes, eggs and toast. Why I would choose this on a night where I needed to be somewhere - I have no idea. I just did. I was sitting at the table peeling potatoes and I started remembering my mom cooking breakfast for dinner. I could see her crystal clear in my mind standing at the stove in our house on Scarsdale. She would make eggs, pancakes, and minute steaks. Sometimes she would make homefries too. My mom was a way nicer mom than I usually am because she would make the eggs to order for each of the 6 of us. Most of the time when I do it - everyone is getting their eggs cooked the same. I moved from peeling those potatoes into the kitchen to make pancakes. As I stood there waiting for them to bubble - I could hear her telling me that the little bubbles let me know it was time to flip them. My mom has taught me so many things. It is strange to me how some of those things are like they happened yesterday. I guess breakfast for dinner is a comfort food for me because it reminds me of when life was so easy and the biggest thing I was facing was flipping the pancakes at the right time. It sure would be nice to go back in time for a visit to watching my mom cook breakfast for dinner and having all 6 of us sit around the table enjoying it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Little pieces of Sebastian's heart

Yesterday, I got a message from a woman at church - Kristen - about having Sebastian sing a song with another child for the Christmas play. That got my mind thinking and rolling around what has happened in his life in the last 17 months. I decided I should write it down because even though some of it is very painful, some of it is very much filled with hope. I guess really this post starts when Sebastian was just in my belly and had a few months until he was born. We had gone for an ultrasound and found out he was a boy! Timmy and Savannah were both with us. Savannah sat on the ground in true 5 year old behavior and cried because this new baby was not only a boy, but he was due on her birthday! The horrors of it all! Timmy, on the other hand, leaped into the air did one of those ALRIGHT moments of "I am having a brother!" Two completely different reactions. Time passed and we welcomed Mr. Sebastian into our world. His momma was still somewhat of a mess from losing her best friend a year earlier. As much as I love Sebastian and we chose to have him because of my hurting heart - there were days I thought this tiny baby was getting short changed because his momma was a bit frazzled at best. He did have an awesome big brother(and an equally wonderful big sister) that helped out when he was home. At one point, I even left my little 2 year old Sebastian with his brother and dad for 6 days while I took Savannah to Williamsburg. Everyone thought I should have worried about leaving my baby with my 17 year old... in truth I was a bit more worried about the days my husband had him all day! After all, Timmy had been home with Sebastian since the day he was born. He knew all his quirks and all of his routine. My husband, on the flip side of the coin, had been at work most days. Time flew by as it often does and Timmy was soon leaving for the Army. Sebastian was not quite 4 when he left. I remember telling Timmy over and over that if he joined the service - the kids wouldn't know him. I told him how I was so extremely close to my oldest sister, but when she married and moved away when I was 12 - our closeness fell away. I was worried about it and if you know me at all - that means I obsessed about it. Then there was my oldest son, wise and kind. He wrote letters and sent pictures and text messages and he called. Oh yes, he called. He would talk to me and he would talk to Sebastian. Not as much as I would have liked in hindsight, but that is a different post. Don't ask me about my lack of using SKYPE - I literally and I do mean literally have a mini panic attack when I see it on the screen because I am so sad for not using it more. Time will heal that as it does other things. Anyway, I am getting off track. My point is that Timmy stayed connected to his siblings. He let them know they were important to him and that they loved him. When Timmy died, Sebastian had the unfortunate event of not getting told in a gentle manner. He was in the van when I pulled into the driveway that day. He saw me, my mom and my sister completely lose it as we saw the two soldiers standing there. He saw me beat on my steering wheel and scream. He was just 5 years old and he did not deserve that. Savannah was not at home. I was able to take her aside and hold her and tell her. Sebastian spent time away from me that day and I remember at some point telling my friend April that she needed to bring him home right now. I guess in my haze it hit me that HE needed me. When she brought him home - he went to his room and he began kicking his wall as hard as he could. Then he fell into my arms and he cried. Not his usual "I am being a pain in the butt kid" cry, but the kind that was he had just lost his big brother cry. For weeks, he would kick that wall. For the next year, he had meltdown after meltdown. I mean crumbling in to what I call snotty fits - where the tears are rolling and the snot is flying. Not pretty and sometimes frustrating. Enough to make me insane at some times. I just wanted to sit at the park with my friends and heal a bit, but my Sebastian was crying over everything. We tried lots of things and lots of people had "advice". Tim and I talked about it over and over. All at once it hit me. I was crying everyday. Sure, most days, I did it quietly, but not always. Some days I cried so hard and there was nothing that was going to make it stop. I was 38 years old and I was crying and having snotty fits. I just had the sense to go sit on my closet floor to do it. Why on earth would I expect my 5 or 6 year old child to do better? When I realized that - it changed how I dealt with it. I knew I couldn't allow him to just get angry and throw fits, but I also knew that it had some reason to be there. His anger came from pain in his heart and that is real. I thought about how I sat alone in my closet and cried until I felt better. I began sitting him alone when he had a meltdown. If we were at the park - I would open all the van doors and sit him in the van. Pretty soon, he actually knew the drill and sometimes would tell me he just needed to be by himself for a bit. I am happy to say that today we are not having nearly as many trials with him. There are some people that helped along the way and that brings me back to the very beginning of this story. Last winter as I was walking through Walmart, I saw our youth pastor, Oakley and his wife, Kristen. Now, they don't know this, but they will now if they ever read this. I actually saw them and I walked through the clothes aisle to avoid them. WHY would I do that, you might be wondering? Well, because Tim and I had taken Sebastian out of church for that time. Too many meltdowns at church was very trying on both Sebastian and me. So, I didn't want to come face to face with them. Then it happened. Kristen called over to me, "Sebastian's mom... Sebastian's mom." I stopped and turned. She came over and very sweetly told me how much they missed Sebastian at church. I explained the above. I worried she would think I was a bad mom taking my kid out of church and all. She didn't act that way at all. She was very kind and continued to be kind each Sunday when I did NOT bring Sebastian back to church. A couple of months passed. We decided it was time to give it a try again. I would love to end the story with something like Sebastian never had another meltdown again at church, but that would be a fairy tale ending. He had and continues to have some good days and some bad days. Not nearly as many bad days anymore. People like Kristen, and Anne Marie another great woman that helps at the church and Margie head of the children's department were patient with him. And there are others inside and outside of church that love him broken and all. They didn't expect him to be all fixed and perfect. They understood that his heart was broken into a lot of little pieces and it was going to take a lot of time to try to fit the pieces back into place. When I got that message asking him to have a specific part in the Christmas play, it was just fitting one more of the pieces in place. It is just a tiny verse that he gets to sing, but the fact that they love him enough to know that this may be a challenge and that they are willing to take it. That says something. I know his heart won't hurt as bad forever and I am glad of that. At the same time, I will always be sad that as his heart heals - it means he will miss his brother less. It is bittersweet. With the pain comes little pieces of joy when you least expect them.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Finding good in the bad...

I have spent months and month thinking about and replaying conversations I had with Timmy. We talked a lot on the phone each day and to be truthful... most of those conversations were forgettable. They were just the typical - I need to run to Walmart and why won't Savannah get her school done and I wonder what we should have for dinner types of conversations. Timmy would call just about every weekday morning when he woke up. It would be around 10am our time. Then he would call again around 4pm and then usually again around 9pm. We talked a lot about nothing at all and sometimes about everything. I wish I had paid more attention. I took it for granted. Tim told me something awhile back that may be the sweetest and kindest thing he ever said to me. He said he firmly believes that because we homeschooled Timmy that he was used to talking to me everyday. Afterall, when you are 11 years old, in the 5th grade and are home all day with your 1 year old sister and your mom... who else are you gonna talk to? Tim says he thinks it got our kids in the habit of sharing their thoughts with me. It just continued when Timmy moved 3500 miles to Alaska and even when he went to the other side of the world in Iraq. Only in Iraq instead of phone calls in was im's. It was a gift. A gift that sometimes I didn't even realize I had. I know it now and it is painfully clear from the silence of my cell phone.  Anyway, that wasn't what I was really coming here to write about - but I got sidetracked. In one of our conversations, I remember complaining about Savannah and Sebastian. Something I probably did a lot. To be honest, the last few years were HARD in a lot of ways and I wasn't feeling all that great about the world. So, sometimes I was just plain and simple an Eeyore. So, Timmy asks me, "Why do you always complain about your kids... the ones you wanted so much?" It was pretty darn blunt... that was my boy... just like his mom. I sorta stopped and I said something to the effect that I was tired and stressed and did I mention... tired? He laughed at me. He said something about me getting old. Yep - that would be correct. I am older and more tired and more busy. So, I complained a lot about really nothing at all. Just to be complaining, I guess. In all the months I have been thinking about things, I try to find whatever good I can in this horrible journey I didn't ask to be on. One of the things that came to my mind was that I needed to enjoy Savannah and Sebastian more. The way I did Timmy. When we had Timmy - our lives were much, much simpler. We had pretty easy jobs, very little bills, not a whole lot of stress. Our life was predictable. For 9+ years we lived that way. I don't know why it changed, but it did. The day I found out Timmy had died, I did something that I still don't quite understand why or how. I went to the bookshelf and I got a book for Sebastian. I hadn't read him bedtime stories nearly his entire life. I am not exactly sure why I didn't, but I didn't. I had always read to Timmy and I read to Savannah until Sebastian came around. I didn't understand exactly why that came to my mind on that night. I was beyond numb and not thinking at all, but I thought enough to do that. Since then, I have been reading to him most nights. Earlier this week, I had some clarity on that when I remembered him asking me, "why do you always complain about the kids?" There IT was... the simple good that comes from the bad. When you lose a child you love more than your very own life, you need to make some sort of sense of it. I think that I have learned to enjoy my other kids more. That is not to say that I don't complain about them. Just ask my mom - she will tell you I still complain plenty. I will always have Eeyore deep down in me somewhere. I just try to do it less and less and I try to focus on what makes them the best gifts I could have ever received. That is finding good in the bad.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Soaking it all in...

Back in June, we took the kids on a vacation to St. John Virgin Islands. Now if you have read my blog since the beginning, you know that Tim and I went there two other times without kids. We loved it both times. We spent a lot of the time saying things like, "Wow, Timmy would love this stingray or Savannah would have a blast feeding the iguanas!" Sebastian was just a baby the other times we went. It just didn't seem reasonable to take all the kids with Sebastian still being so small. So, we did what a lot of parents do... just talk about how great it would be for the kids to see it. And... there is nothing wrong with that. Nope, not one tiny little thing. BUT... for us that has changed. For a long time since our life got on a financial roller coaster in 2006 (trying to sell a house that would not sell, moving, layoffs, new job, etc) - I would dream about selling that darn FL house and taking all of us to St. John. That dream included Timmy too. I envisioned this great peace that would come from all the uncertainty we had been living in since late 2006. It was becoming clearer to me by the end of 2009 that we were not going to sell the FL house anytime soon, so my dreams of that vacation were quickly fading away. Timmy did something amazing though... he took us all to Walt Disney World. And we really did have a magical vacation as corny as that sounds. I had no idea that would be the last time we would spend with him. It is etched and soaked in my memories so deep. Lots of details I hold so close to my heart. Sometimes when my grief hurts so much, I think about how much fun we had walking around Epcot trying out all the different beer. I think about running to Splash Mountain with my kids. I try to grasp on so tight to the good memories and not the horrific ones of losing Timmy that flash through my mind. So, what does all this mean? Well, after some of the fog wore off and Tim and I started to see a bit more clear - we both felt very strongly about a time to relax and heal with our kids. One thing led to another and the next thing I know... we are off to St. John. Now, I firmly believe that you can enjoy your kids at a pond in your backyard or a tent at the local campground. It isn't where you are, but who you are with. Remembering back to traveling to Oklahoma when Timmy was in Basic Training... that was one of our best trips EVER. I think it was just because we were all so happy that the icing on that trip's cake was Timmy was at the very end of it waiting for us. Lawton Oklahoma is NOT an exciting place, but I think of that trip with the best and warmest of memories. But, somehow, taking our kids to St. John - a place we loved. A place that just clears your mind and soul. It was just what we needed. I sat on the beach many days and just watched my kids and my husband. I sware I memorized every inch of them. I would close my eyes and I would stick it away in the part of my heart that hurts so much. I wanted to just hold them in that moment for as long as I could. I sat and I talked to God - in my mind - lest you see a crazy woman on the beach talking to herself. I just told Him that I was trying my very best to understand that I will NEVER understand why Timmy had to go away, but I am going to trust that He had a  reason beyond all imagination. I thanked Him for giving me the years and memories I had with Timmy and for giving me two other children to hang on to. I asked Him to help me keep going and doing the best I can. And when I was calm and rested, I sat back in my chair and I just watched quietly... I just soaked it all in...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Be a Tabitha...

This is our Tabitha with Timmy!
Huh? What does my title mean? To some people in my family - they really are wondering because we have an amazing family member by the name of Tabitha. And while I do think it would be great to be like our very own Tabi - that is not what my title is talking about. Several months ago I heard a message at church about Tabitha in the Bible. Now, these days and most days - my memory is not that great. That day this message touched me and I wanted to blog about it then. I have no idea what keeps me from my blog now. I used to crave writing on it and even now - I write blog posts in my head. I just never sit down to type them up. Here I am many months later - cleaning the kitchen - and in my mind I am rolling that "Be a Tabitha" sermon in my head. Okay, I will get to telling you what it means now if you don't already know. I sure a lot of you already do know the story, but I sure didn't. So here goes... Pastor John was talking about Acts 9:32-43 - Calvary Chapel Lesson. He was talking about how this woman, Tabitha, had died. There were people gathered around her and they kept her with them. They did not take her to a tomb. They wanted to keep her with them and they begged Peter to BRING HER BACK! Tabitha was described as an amazing woman. She made clothes for the widows. She loved people and was just beautiful inside and out. When she died - it just tore these people apart. They could not believe that she could be gone and they WANTED HER BACK! Pastor John goes on to say that we should be the type of people that when we die that somebody WANTS US BACK! As I sat there listening to him, I thought about how many people want Timmy back. How many people has said this to me over and over. We just WANT HIM BACK! We didn't just want him back a year ago when he died, but we still want him back right now. I also thought a lot about my sister-in-law, Debi. Again - over 7 years later - if you talked to the many, many people she touched - they would say they WANT HER BACK! There are many people that have gone before me that I want back, but my mind stuck with them. I kept thinking that they were truly "Tabithas". They were beautiful on the inside and out. They loved people and gave anything they had to them. When people tell stories about them and all the good times they shared, they smile and they remember joy. I remember when Debi died - there were so many people at her memorial service. I sat in that church and just looked at all the people she had touched. I thought about that for awhile after - thinking I don't reach out to that many people by a long shot. Then when Timmy died - again - I sat in the limo at the cemetary and I watched. I watched as car after car drove into the cemetary. I watched all the lives he had touched in his short 21 years. A year later - the people that talk about him - they are spread from Alaska to Afghanistan to Florida to Illinois to South Carolina and a whole lot more places in between. So, what am I saying... I am saying that I want to be a "Tabitha". When I am gone - I want people to want me back. I want people to miss me and not because I have a big ego. I want them to important to me and I want to be important to them. Now, back to our very own - Tabi - she was named very well. She happens to be one of those "Tabithas" too. So, my question for today is "Are you being a Tabitha?" Are you teaching your children that no matter what their difficulty is that they can still be a good and kind person? There are a lot of days where I would like to give up and give in - hey my kid died - I want to lay down and die too! BUT and this is a BIG BUT - I CAN'T - because that would not be teaching my children how to be a "Tabitha". That would be teaching them how to be alone. So, I keep thinking about this and I hope you do too. Go out and be a Tabitha and find and give JOY even when you feel like you can't. Make somebody WANT YOU BACK!  I love you Timmy and I will always want you back.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Joy, weddings, tornadoes, and choices...

just went for a walk this morning. Amazing how I can get better clarity by leaving the house and walking around the block. Before I left for my walk, it was weighing heavily on me that it has been 50 weeks since I last talked to Timmy. 50 weeks since he died. Yes, I keep track of weeks. I guess as mothers we naturally keep track of weeks - like when we were pregnant. 50 weeks ago this morning, he called me around 10am - as he did a lot. It was his wake up time there and he would call to chat for a bit before his day started. He called me later on that afternoon to chat and I will forever regret that my last words to him were that I was busy and that I would call him back. The thing is that I know that there is not a DAMN thing I can do about that. So, I can continue to torture myself for that or I can choose something else. This morning, I am choosing something else. There is a lot of hoopla about the Royal Wedding that happened earlier this morning. I taped it on the DVR. Honestly, before now, I never paid much attention to William or Kate. Yesterday, the kids and I watched lots of shows about the wedding and history of the past. Savannah painted my toenails while I clipped coupons and Sebastian played with legos. It was a quiet and peaceful afternoon. Today, we are headed to the zoo with friends. Before we go - we are going to go take a peak at the wedding dress, but will have to watch the rest of it when we get back. It may seem silly since there are so many other things to think about. Here is the thing for me... I can choose to be sad. Lord knows my heart hurts all day everyday. I wish for a moment I could let people who don't know what it feels like to just feel it. It is this physical pain that is deep in your chest. It does not go away. So, as I was saying, I could give into it. I could sit and watch all the horrific news stories and wallow in how awful the world is and how life is not fair - afterall - my Timmy is dead. Or I can get up and take my Sebastian in my lap, hug him and say "Good Morning Bubba Luka". I can go walk around my neighborhood and be thankful that I live in a safe place and I have a body that carries me. I can watch the Royal Wedding with my daughter and giggle about what it might feel like to be a real live princess. It really is a choice to choose joy. That doesn't mean I won't continue to pray for tornado victims. I will, I do think about the fact that nearly 300 families have lost a loved one. I realize that means that there is another mom out there - just like me - feeling like her baby is so far away. My best advice for those people is to find joy and seek joy. Now, I need to get a shower and take a peak at that wedding dress and go to the zoo. Always missing my son, always wishing he were here, but choosing to find the JOY where I can.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Kissing Hand

The Kissing Hand
I know I haven't written a blog post in months. My heart just hasn't been there. Tonight, Sebastian did something that I don't want to forget. These days, I couldn't even remember my phone number tonight. I worry that I will look back on this time and it will all be some fog. I will just remember the pain and not the happiness. A few months back, I read Sebastian a book called The Kissing Hand. Tonight, I was laying in bed with Sebastian. He asked if he could have my hand. He kissed my hand and said, "You'll have my kiss in your hand for when you are sad and missing Timmy. I love you so much momma." Then he just hugged me and kept giving me kisses. I do not know how I would survive if I didn't have these kids. Savannah is always there to hug me and hold me when I cry and then my sweet boy. I love these kids so much.