What I Know Today

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Are you scared?

Here is Jackie at 19 mos in a cute little shirt his grandma bought him for Halloween. In case you can't read it, it says, "I may be cute but I still bite." Darrin snapped this picture of him, and I just love the face he's making. Totally works with the shirt, don't you think?!

Poor little guy is living in a padded world right now. We're so sensitive to every little cough or sigh with him, but he sure has done a lot for us both in terms of keeping us both sane over the past month.


Friday, November 20, 2009

The Legend of the Dragonfly

One of my childhood friends sent a gift to me after Henry's passing. Included with the dragonfly themed gift (she said this photo was her inspiration), there was a sheet of paper enclosed. The story on that paper has brought me so much comfort over the past few weeks, I wanted to share it here with all of you.

The Legend of the Dragonfly
In the bottom of an old pond lived some grubs who could not understand why none of their group ever came back after crawling up the lily stems to the top of the water. They promised each other that the next one who was called to make the upward climb would return and tell what had happened to him.
Soon one of them felt an urgent impulse to seek the surface; he rested himself on the top of a lily pad and went through a glorious transformation which made him a dragonfly with beautiful wings. In vain he tried to keep his promise. Flying back and forth over the pond, he peered down at his friends below. Then he realized that even if they could see him they would not recognize such a radiant creature as one of their number.

The fact that we cannot see our loved ones or communicate with them after the transformation which we call death is no proof that they cease to exist.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Henry's Memorial

The night before Henry's memorial service, I printed and put together photo boards to share at the service to give people a glimpse into his little life. I thought I'd make a Smilebox to share them here, too, for those who were unable to attend due to distance or other commitments. There are 142 photos in the slide show, so it will probably take you some time to go through if you're interested. I tried to get it in chronological order, but I think a few are out of order still. Also, note that these are only pics we've taken since we got a digital camera (plus a few early ones that had been scanned). There were additional pictures at the service that had been taken with film that I don't have here:

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We chose three songs for the funeral. The congregation sang Children Of The Heavenly Father, and then we played two contemporary songs. The first was Brad Paisley's When I Get Where I'm Going. I chose that song specifically for the opening lyrics. The part about how he lands next to a lion and runs his fingers through its mane. I could just visualize Henry doing that - he loved animals sooooo much! The second song was Chris Cornell's I Promise It's Not Goodbye. I just loved that song the first time I heard it. It was as if it was written just for us. Be sure to click over and listen if you're not familiar. I find myself humming the first verse often when I'm feeling down, and imagine Henry singing it to me.

In addition to the songs, we shared this poem:

They say memories are golden well maybe that is true.
We never wanted memories, We only wanted you.
A million times we needed you, a million times we cried.
If love alone could have saved you you never would have died.
In life we loved you dearly, In death we love you still.
In our hearts you hold a place no one could ever fill.
If tears could build a stairway and heartache make a lane,
We'd walk the path to heaven and bring you back again.
Our family chain is broken, and nothing seems the same.
But as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again.
Author unknown

Hubby and I also each wrote a letter to Henry that the minister read during the service. I'll close with my letter below:

My dear, sweet, Henry… my little Bug…

There are so many questions I have and so few answers. So many dreams I had for you and for all of us that will never come true. So many games we haven’t played so many zoos we’ve yet to visit. I had grand plans to take you to every zoo in the country, one by one until you tired of them. We’d walk hand in hand as we always did, and you’d giggle and say, “Run, Mama! Run with me!” while tugging at my arm. At first I’d resist, but then give in as I did every single time. Your smile was incredible, and I spent the last three years doing whatever I could to bring it out. I will never forget your laughter or your smile, or your kind soul that was so mature for a child your age. I promise you I will never forget how to be silly, and will one day run and roll and tickle and play with you in Heaven just as we did every day here on earth.

Two years ago, I was pregnant with your brother Jack, and as much as I was looking forward to another wonderful little boy to love, I was terrified that something would go wrong during his delivery, and I would pass on, leaving you far too soon. Never could I ever imagine that you would be the one leaving me. Two days before I gave birth to your brother, I wrote you a letter. Something I wanted you to have in case I didn’t make it through that c-section surgery. In that letter, I wrote, “From day one, you have meant the world to me. I’ve often told your Papa that you are my heart and it is the truth. All of the love I have is wrapped up in you. In your smile, your laughter, even in your cranky side! I am constantly amazed with you, and you have made every day of your life a joy for me, and I could never want for more. Thank you for blessing me with your presence, and as I’ve told you since the day you were born – ‘no matter what happens know that Mama loves you and she’s never very far away’.

I whispered those words – Remember, Mama loves you and she’s never very far away – in your ear when I had to lay you on the light table for your jaundice the day after you were born. I repeated the same thing time and again these past three years whenever I had to be away from you for more than a few hours. Whether you were spending the night at grandma’s house, or going on an adventure with Papa. Last weekend as I held your hand in the hospital and the Flight for Life crew prepped you for your first helicopter ride, I kissed you gently and whispered those words again. Mama’s never very far away. And then I got in my van and raced Papa and myself down to Milwaukee to be at your side.

Even though you are looking down on us from heaven now, I want you to know that I am still right here, not very far away. If you need me, you know where to find me, and you can snuggle up at my side whenever you need to… just like always. I love you every bit as much today as I did the day you were born – even more, if that’s possible. I spent nine and a half months carrying you in my tummy, and will spend the rest of eternity carrying you in my heart and in my memory.
I miss you like crazy, I love you to pieces, and I promise you I will see you again, and we’ll tell your favorite stories, over and over and never be parted again.

All of my love, kisses, and tickles, sweet boy.

As you danced in the light with joy, love lifted you.
As you brushed against this world so gently, you lifted us.
T.C. Ring


Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Sweet Angel

As you may or may not have heard, my hubby and I lost our three year old son one week ago. His death came quickly, almost without warning, and we're still at a loss as to what caused it (though H1N1 has been ruled out). We are absolutely devastated. Nothing is the same without our sweet boy, and it never will be again.

Please continue to pray for our family. To lift the pain and guilt (not because we caused the death, but more because we feel like we should have been able to prevent it) from our hearts, and for the ability to find some form of comfort in the years to come as we wait to be reunited with our little Bug.

For those who are wondering, we are doing as well as we possibly can be, given the circumstances. Jack is a godsend to us. Without him, I really don't know what would get us out of bed every morning. We are pouring our love and attention into him, and trying to keep the memory of Henry alive by talking about him daily and remembering all of the happy times.... which were basically ALL of the times, because he really was the happiest, most joy filled child I've ever known. Jack is obviously too young to understand. He looks for his brother every day. He waits by the back door for him, searches Henry's bedroom, checks behind doors, and stares out the window. All things he never did before.

Our little Henry was 3 years, 4 months, and 9 days old when he left us for Heaven. God bless him and keep him until we see him again.

Thank you all for your support during this difficult time. ((hugs))


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Jack's First Haircut

After nearly 18 months of growth, I finally decided it was time for Jack's first haircut a few weeks ago. We talked about taking him to Sport Clips where Darrin and Henry have their hair done, but the thought of me holding him down while trying not to get clipped myself just didn't appeal to me, SO... I did it myself. I've only cut hair one other time in my life.... it was Darrin's hair, outside at his parents house with an old electric trimmer. I don't think I've ever seen his Dad laugh harder than he did that day. Turns out that cosmotology is *not* my God given talent. But all things considered, I think I did a pretty good job on the little man!

For those who have followed my blogs for awhile, you may remember how my hubby gave Henry his first haircut.

I'm not saying we are in competition with each other, but if we were, well, I'd totally be winning. :)


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Copper Falls

A girlfriend and I took a road trip this past weekend up to Northern Wisconsin. Along the way, we stopped at little stores and antique shops, and we also decided to stop at Copper Falls State Park. We hiked the 1.7 mile Doughboys' Nature Trail (so named for the WWI vets, not the Pillsbury mascot. *ahem*), and at every turn we ran into a new Amish couple. At first we just kept seeing one couple, and we spent a great deal of time debating whether they were on their rumspringa but eventually we realized there were oodles of Amish at the park and they were just taking advantage of the Open House weekend the same way we were.

I know the Amish aren't too keen on having their pictures taken, but I felt bad asking them to step aside for every shot I wanted to take (they lingered at the look out points... me thinks they were all on dates), so I snapped this from behind. I thought it would make a cool picture with them framed at the bottom. I kinda like the way it turned out with the falls between them.

Anyhow, I just thought I'd share this one.

More to come...


Monday, September 21, 2009

The Hobbies of Henry

This is basically how I find Henry every time I come into his room in the morning or after naptime:

After he wakes up, he entertains himself with one of his two favorite hobbies: Star Wars or Comic Books. Star Wars, by the way, is winning. He has dozens of figures from the movies, and knows them all - ALL - by name. Most of his collection is stuff that his Papa saved from his own childhood, and some is inherited from his older cousin. It's a family affair!

Every night, part of our bedtime routine is to clean the bedroom and put all of this away. There is a place for everything, and God forbid if I should mistakenly put Han Solo where Darth Vader belongs. Or give him a green light saber. Or forget to reattach his cape.

Aaaaand this is why clean up duties are Papa's responsibility. He knows better.

And here we have the best of both worlds. A Star Wars Comic! *gasp*

See that closet door behind Henry? My Barbie dolls are stashed away on the top shelf in there getting dusty. *sigh*

Friday, August 28, 2009

At Seventeen Months...

1. You are absolutely addicted to Thomas the Tank Engine.
2. Your giggle melts my heart.
3. You've gotten into more stuff than your brother has in over three years.
4. Your favorite snack is cinammon flavored Goldfish crackers.
5. You sleep like a champ... something I was fairly certain would NEVER happen had you asked me a year ago.
6. You always have something in your mouth... a toy, a sippy, a toe, your sleeve.
7. You are just starting to take a few steps. God help me if you walk faster than you crawl.
8. You know exactly what you want and exactly how to get it.
9. You are content to entertain yourself for what seems like hours on end.
10. You are just beginning to develop a love of books, particularly those involving Biscuit the dog.
11. You love your great-grandma to pieces.
12. You have mastered the downward dog pose and spend a great deal of time in position.
13. You have the most spectacular blue eyes.
14. You are fearless.
15. You have the cheesiest grin I've ever seen and can work your way out of anything by flashing that grin.
16. You light up when you see your mum or pa.
17. You are referred to as Jack, Jackie, Jackie P, JackJack, Bee, and Butterbean, but don't answer to any of them!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Confessions of a Stay at Home Mom

Believe it or not, I never really anticipated being a mom. As I was growing up as my mom's only child, I wasn't around children much and therefore never really seemed to enjoy the times when I was. I never enjoyed babysitting... In fact, I never even enjoyed visiting friends houses when they had younger siblings. I spent the majority of my time in the company of adults (mom and her friends) or senior citizens (grandparents, great-grandparents, and their friends).

When my husband and I decided to start a family, I was intent on returning to work after a short maternity leave. In fact, I accepted a promotion four months before Henry was born. Even after giving birth I was sure I'd be returning to work when my maternity leave was over. I wasn't stay at home mom material, and I didn't pretend to be. Then one day I woke up and it was as if everything had changed. Henry was six weeks old, and as I sat rocking him in his nursery it occurred to me that come hell or high water I could not leave that child and return to work. For the next month, hubby and I debated the merits of me staying home. He was against it, though I suspect it was more from the shock from my sudden change of heart than anything. Finally we decided I would stay home. After all, how hard could it be?


Back when I was working, one of my girlfriends (you know who you are!) was a stay at home mom and I teased her about her responsibilities. She was forever emailing me about how tired she was and how worn out she was and how much work she had to do around the house that never seemed to get done. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why any of this was happening. Surely if she was home all day she had plenty of time to do all of that and then some! I teased her when she joined a local MOPS group, making some comment about how she can't even keep her own house clean (mops...mopping... get it? Lame, I know), and she took it all in stride. I think secretly she knew my day would come and then she could giggle at me quietly while I floundered.

So now here I am, a stay at home mom, and I will tell you this.... it is HARD. It is hard for many of the obvious reasons (lack of sleep, running ragged chasing two mobile toddlers, fighting daily over the benefits of vegetables over cheetos, etc.) and for the not so obvious reasons (lack of adult interaction, feeling removed from popular culture and society as I knew it, rarely ever traveling anywhere alone again, etc.) but despite it all, I love it. I love watching my boys grow and learn, and I love knowing that I have seen it all happen in real time. I love every temper tantrum and every wet kiss and every, "what happens now, Mum?" (which comes at about 2 minute intervals all. day. long.) Staying home has been the hardest, yet most rewarding, thing I've ever done and I treasure every high and every low.

The other day I was doing some web-surfing to unwind during naptime and I stumbled across this list of Confessions of a Stay At Home Mom, and wanted to share it with you. I can relate to so much of this, and I'm guessing some of you can, too:

The life of the stay at home mom (SAHM) is one that is often criticized and largely misunderstood. Ever wonder what we do all day? Delve deep into the confessions of a stay at home mom.

1.We clean sometimes, but not nearly as much as we lead you to believe.
Cleaning is a task that is seemingly never ending. There is always laundry to be done, dishes to be washed, beds to be made, floors to be vacuumed, and so many more chores. The stay at home mom does indeed handle all of these cleaning responsibilities. The secret is that we do not do all of these chores as often as we may lead you to believe. For the most part, chores can be done quickly even though we may hint that they took much longer. Cleaning is a task that stay at home moms must tackle, but it is not as bad as we let on.

2. We take naps.
Yes, it’s true. We take naps if we are so inclined. Those of us with younger children may sleep when they sleep. Those with older children who are in school have the freedom to nap whenever they please. The stay at home mom is on call at every moment of the day and so we are entitled to getting a nice relaxing nap in during the day.

3. We enjoy doing errands most of the time.
The life of a stay at home mom can be very stressful with a list of things to get accomplished while managing to care for the children. We enjoy running those mundane errands to the grocery store and post office because it gets us out of the house. We can listen to music in the car and chill out for the short ride. Sometimes it is taxing if the children are acting up, but for the most part it is a nice break to the day.

4. We would rather be working.
This is not true for every stay at home mom, but the thought passes through our heads more often than many people think. Being a stay at home mom is a very rewarding job but being in the workforce also gives a sense of identity and accomplishment that staying home doesn’t.

5. Contradictory to number 4, we want nothing more than to raise our children.
Raising a child is one of the most important jobs any person can do. These children deserve the love and attention of their parents and there is no better way to give them that then being with them all day. As a stay at home mom, we are responsible for the development of our children and we love doing what we do.

6. We have plenty of time for entertainment.
Yes, the average stay at home mom has time to watch television, surf the Internet, and enjoy all sorts of entertainment throughout the day. Many can recall an image of a woman laying on the couch eating bon bons and watching the soaps on television. While it is not so luxurious, we certainly do take time in the day to relax with our tivo.

7. We get frustrated.
The main job of the stay at home mom is to raise her children. This task can be very difficult. Staying home with a child who is rambunctious, tired, or sick can be very draining on our mental health. While we love our children dearly, it is easy to get frustrated with them. For this reason, we often need a break at the end of the day. We are often met with the attitude of “Why would you need a break, what did you do all day?” This is infuriating so do not assume that we have done nothing if we are feeling frustrated and need a break.

8. We feel entitled to a paycheck.
The stay at home mom does the work of caregiver, maid, nurse, chef, chauffer, and accountant. A recent study stated that if a stay at home mom were to release these duties and have to pay for all of these services, it would cost an estimated $70,000 a year. That is a lot of money. It is no surprise then that we would be deserving of a paycheck. While we know that this is not going to happen any time in the near future, we can cling to our belief that what we are doing is worthy of a paycheck.

9. We are envious of our counterparts.
The stay at home mom generally has a partner who is out working and bringing home that enviable paycheck. There are days when we would gladly trade positions and go work while our partner stayed home. We want the freedom to leave the home, knowing that our children are in capable hands. Again, I digress; this is not all of the time, just on those rough days.

10. We love our children more than anything in this world.
We make sacrifices as a stay at home mom. We make this life our identity. We do this because we are madly in love with our children and want the best of everything for them. This love makes being a stay at home mom the best job in the world.

Disclaimer: While this article is told from personal experience, there are stay at home moms who differ in opinion. Not everyone is the same. Yes, there are some who strive for perfection and the immaculately clean home at all times. There are also stay at home moms who stay at home simply because they can or because they don’t want to work as opposed to having their children’s best interest in mind. There is a broad spectrum of stay at home moms, but these confessions apply to many.

So, there you have it. What do you think? Can you relate?

Friday, August 14, 2009

2009 County Fair

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Here are a few pictures from the recent County Fair that we went to. Henry and I rode on a few rides, and if you look closely in the picture of us on the bumper cars, you will see grandma and great-grandma in the car directly behind us. Check out the look on great-grandma's face (she's right above Henry's head). bwahahaha! My mom (a professional driver, by the way) had NO idea how to operate the bumper cars. It was hilarious. She got them jammed in a corner and then spent the duration of the ride yelling, "WE NEED A TOW!" She is such a nut. :)

Papa and Jack had fun looking at the animals, and Henry ALWAYS loves animals, so he was just in heaven. A few days later Henry said, "Mum... I don't like those bumping cars..." hehehe.

Ah well, hopefully he'll forget that by next year!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Splish Splash!

My mom called today and asked if I wanted to bring the boys over after naps for a little time in the swimming pool. Henry lurrrrves him some water play time, and Jack is usually game for just about anything, so I told her we'd be there. Henry was so excited when he realized he was going in his "fwimmin' pool." hehehe.

Here are a few shots from he afternoon. First we have my pale little man sporting his new trunks:

And Grandma trying to stay dry (which, by the way, totally did not work!):

Henry's big thing was filling the bucket and dumping all of the water onto the grass. Good to know he's mastered the whole concept of "bailing" just in case we're ever at sea... heh. Jack's primary interest was pulling and eating grass. It was fantastic (note the sarcastic tone to my voice):

It's a good thing he's so stinkin' cute!

Being that their Grandma (or "Vwamma" as Henry puts it) is the coolest in the whole world, the boys also had the option of this fun little sprinkler. The only thing is that the pool was filled with warm water from the house, and the sprinkler got f-f-freezing cold water straight out of the hose. Henry felt the hose water once, and that was all it took... back in the pool he went. lol. Smart kid!

Here I am foolishly lured in by an innocent, "Mum! Watch me!":

And here we are clearly able to see that Great-Grandma is the smartest woman of the family, as she remained a good ten feet away from all of the action the whole time. :)

As always you can click on any of the pics to see them larger.
I have more stuff to blog, and will hopefully get it up soon! If I don't, feel free to badger me. Oh wait, some of you already do. (*cough*Chris*cough*) hehehehe.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Henry!

Three years ago today, at 3:23 a.m., we welcomed our oldest son Henry into the world. :o) It was love at first sight for the two of us, and I can't even believe three years have gone by already!

We celebrated Henry's birthday on Sunday with his grandmas, godparents, and Aunt Jena, and here are some highlights of the day:

Henry lurrrves him some Spiderman. Here he is saying, "Oooooooo!" (too cute!) as he opens his new Chutes and Ladders game:

Here's the birthday boy in his cowboy shirt:

And here's the awesome cake that my friend Steph made for Henry's big day. I sent her a picture of the decorations, and she used that as inspiration for her design. :) Check out more of her work on her cake blog HERE.

Here I am with my sister, Jena:

And helping Henry blow out the candles on his cake... pretty much doing it myself to avoid having it slimed by a three year old. ;)

And here is Henry with his favorite part of all... the "ah-bawoons"!

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy!!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

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Boy, I've really been slacking on the blog lately! Yikes! So sorry for the lack of posts. Here are some pictures we took a few days ago at Grandma's birthday celebration. :)


Monday, May 11, 2009

They're baa-aaaack...

Every year, for about a week in May, our lakeshore area is plagued with these pesky little bugs called Lakeflies. They look like a big mosquito, but (thankfully!) they do not bite. They just fly around in huge swarms, and then die off. It's really all very pointless, and annoying. When I was a kid, we had a TON of lakeflies. I mean, I can remember driving through the park with my mom, and they were so thick at times that we had to have the windshield wipers on! The houses on the lakeshore were totally covered with the bugs - white house especially. There were so many bugs on those houses, they actually appeared grey from the street. Then in the late 90's, something happened, and they were gone. We went through about five years with very few bugs at all. But then they came back, and now it seems to get worse every year (though still no where near as bad as when I was a kid).

Henry and I went to the zoo on Saturday, and the lakeflies were out, but they weren't too bad. They mostly stuck to the bridge and buildings, and weren't really swarming. I knew it would be worse yesterday (Sunday), but decided to risk it, and took my camera with me. The lakeflies were HORRIBLE! The entire time we were there, you could hear a hum in the air around you, because there were so many bugs buzzing around. And before you think I'm crazy for even going, you should know we weren't the only people there! Everyone had their hoods up and their noses and mouths covered (well, except us, because we're strong.... or stupid... lol!). The animals HATED the bugs. They were all hiding in their houses for the most part. Here are some pics of our annoying little friends in case anyone is interested. Here's a close up of a few on the fence. There were literally hundreds on the fence, this just a small 3" square space:

This is what the sky looked like:

I know what you're thinking... why did you go? And I don't know. I didn't think they'd be as bad as they were, so we drove over. When we pulled up, I knew it was going to be horrible, but Henry started to cry at the idea of being there, and not getting out. I tried to bribe him with all kinds of things... ice cream, McDonalds, etc. No luck. He wanted to go in. So, we went. But we went fast! The bugs didn't bother him in the least... typical boy!

Here is one of the zoo buildings, and more of the fence. All of the little black spots are lakeflies:

The cafe (appropriately named) was open... Blech. Who wants to eat with all these things flying around?! All of those black spots on the sign are lakeflies:

Look at all of the dirt on the side of the road....

But guess what? It's not dirt. It's dead lakeflies. They live for about 24 hours, then die, and collect in the side of the road (and smell like fish - it's fabulous). When I was a kid, they piles of dead lakeflies were so thick you had to shovel them to clean up. Nasty. This is nothing compared to what it used to be like!

So, I don't think we'll be going back to the zoo for about a week. They only stick around for about 7 - 10 days, then we'll be in the clear again. :)

Aren't you glad I shared?!


Friday, May 8, 2009

Goal #1

I just wanted to give a little update on the Pound for Pound challenge. If you remember, I pledged to lose 28 lbs between January 5 and May 5 this year as part of the PFP challenge that was hosted on The Biggest Loser. I was doing really well until I hit a plateau mid-April and couldn't get past it for the life of me. I finally did end up breaking through the plateau, and just in the nick of time, too!

I am so proud of the work I've done in the past four months, and feel sooo much better! I have way more energy, am winded a lot loss frequently, and don't have ANY of the pains I had been having in my heel, knee, and back! I am planning to continue losing weight and exercising (Bob Harper kicks my arse on a nightly basis via DVD!). Click the pictures to see a larger image... and ignore my eye in that bottom pic. It looks like I have a black eye, but I don't! It must have just been the shadows... I now weigh less than I did when I got married almost 10 years ago. Another 5 lbs, and I'll weigh the same amount I did when hubby and I met back in early 1998. So, that little (or not so...) five pounds is my next goal. Then I'll set a new one from there and see where it all takes me.

Thanks so much for the encouragement here and on my other blog, and a big thanks to all who joined the challenge with me. You guys rock!

As a side note... I actually weigh 70 lbs less right now than I did at my highest (albeit during pregnancy) weight... and 28 lbs less than I weighed before I got pregant (both times). Woot!!