10 Years Ago

10 years ago.  

10 years ago I said hello to my first baby.
10 years ago I said goodbye to my son Aidan.

10 years ago I waited and waited to hear that first cry.
10 years ago I heard that cry after we told the Dr. to stop CPR.

10 years ago I watched my son breathe and heard his coos.
10 years ago I saw his breaths stop while he was in my arms.

10 years ago I counted six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot.
10 years ago I cut off a curl of his reddish hair to tuck away.

10 years ago my body had just given birth to a baby.
10 years ago I left the hospital empty handed.

10 years ago we planned our son’s funeral – tiny casket, songs, custom headstone.
10 years ago I sent my mother and mother-in-law to pick out a baby outfit for burial.

10 years ago my dad hugged me tight and no words were needed.
10 years ago my father-in-law told me “well done” at the grave site.

10 years ago we were given comfort from others.
10 years ago we gave comfort to others.

10 years ago I felt fear, relief, peace, joy, sadness, loss, love, laughter, tears.
10 years ago I fell more in love with my husband as we made the ultimate decisions for our son.

10 years ago.

It seems like yesterday.

It seems like forever ago.

10 years ago.

If you want to read more about Aidan, his diagnosis, and his story, please check out this previous blog post.

Second Grade Summary – Slice of Life

Every summer I try to create a little end-of-the-school-year blog post. As a virtual school/homeschool family, it can be hard to see the “positives” day in and day out. The end of the school year posts are my way of reminding myself and my son of how far he came in the previous school year.

Kory had to fill out a little form to share with his online class for their last session. Here are his responses.

– What I learned that I didn’t know before:  Vikings flick fleas out of their beards to go North.

– Favorite part of his online classes in Elluminate :  Writing on the whiteboard. Can I say I LOVE watching my son maneuver his way around his online classes.  I can only imagine where his technical astuteness will take him!

– One thing he would share:  We participated in a monthly homeschool art class at our local library.  The theme  one month was Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach.  Here is Kory’s version of it. His is titled “Candylane.”

– Name at least one thing you hope to learn about next year:  How do people make video games.

Kory has said the silliest things this year and the deepest this past year. Some I wrote down. Some I didn’t.  I have watched him struggle with reading and begging to stop after only a couple paragraphs. I have watched him endure hours of vision therapy sessions (makes great health time credit) and vision therapy homework sessions.  I have watched his reading transform into “Can I take this book into the office with me?” “Can I take this book in the van to read?”  “Can I get another book?” “Can I read before I go to bed?”

As I reflect on the year, I think of how I will remember second grade.

I will remember a silly boy, a serious boy, a tired boy, and active boy. Baseball, gymnastics, and swimming – yes some times they all overlapped on the same day. And yes, I will plan better next year. I will remember a boy who tried new things like piano lessons and sitting at orchestra concerts.  I will remember a boy who drove me crazy when he didn’t focus. I will remember a boy who tried his hardest and never gave up.  I  will remember a boy who was so very flexible when schedules and available programs changed. I will remember a boy who cheered when he started his weekly homeschool co-op fall and spring sessions. Best. Homeschool. Decision. Ever! I will remember a boy who was sad when co-op ended for the school year. I will remember a boy who has gone on so many field trips, waited in so many lines and learned in so many “real life” situations.

I will remember that he is only finishing second grade.  He has so much in front of him.

I will remember that I’m so grateful to be a part of his daily learning because sometimes, sometimes he becomes my teacher.

I’m posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.

Happy Birthday – Slice of Life

Today my son turns 8!

I can hardly believe it.  I still can remember the day he was born.  I was overdue and was scheduled to be induced on a Monday. My parents from Minnesota decided to come out early. As a little back story, they weren’t able to make it for the birth or short life of our son, Aidan, so they were determined not to miss any future births of our children.

My parents unexpectedly arrived at my house on Friday evening.  Throughout the evening as we talked, I just couldn’t get comfortable.  Finally later that night, I figured out I was in labor.  My doctor wanted me to take a bath at home and relax for  a bit.  Instead, we told her we were coming directly to the hospital. I don’t think she believed I was truly in labor.

My husband rushed through red lights on our way. Since it was after midnight, the only open door into the hospital was the ER.  I don’t think the ER staff believed me that I was truly in labor. They took their sweet time. Even asked if I wanted a wheelchair.  And we slowly made our way up to the maternity floor.

I don’t think the nursing staff on that floor believed I was truly in labor.  Instead they had me get changed and asked for a urine sample, which I nicely gave.  I was hooked up to monitors and put into the bed.  My husband kept prodding the nurses to check me.  They took their sweet time.

Finally they checked me. “Oh, um, what time will the doctor be here?” The nurse who was getting the infant stuff ready asked if she could do her rounds on the other babies. “Um. I think you need to stay here,” she was told. “What time is the doctor getting here?” the first nurse asked again with a bit more force.

Yes. Finally someone believed I was truly in labor. Finally the doctor showed up. She checked me and told me to push. A full twenty to thirty minutes probably passed from when I entered the ER doors to when Kory was born. No drugs – even though I told my mother I wasn’t going to have my baby “old school.”

After Kory was born, my parents and some friends arrived. I remember our friends had made sure to stop by a local store to stock up on chips and goodies for them to have in the waiting room. We all laughed, and my dad offered to move our car that was parked in such a funny way in front of the ER doors.

At my six-week check up, my doctor said, “Well I am glad I got there in time to catch your son.”

Of all the things I have been through with having kids, I’m thankful for short labors and deliveries! I think Kory’s was around four hours looking back.  Aidan’s was six from start to finish even with being induced,  and Cade’s was about that too. Let’s just say with Cade, my doctor told me at what point during regular appointments that I should demand to go to the hospital. Don’t hate me for short labor and deliveries – it truly has been God’s way to bless me with everything else we have had to go through with pregnancies and births!

And I’m so thankful that Kory was born healthy and strong. He continues to inspire me. He continues to surprise me. He makes me laugh. He makes me cry tears of pride and fear. He makes me a better me.

I love you Kory!  Thank you for being a part of my life! And happy birthday!

I’m posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.

Teachers Write! – Describe a Specific Place

As part of the writing prompt for today’s yesterday’s Teacher’s Write, we were encouraged to pick a place and write a description of that place. Here is my paragraph(s) written within the two minute time frame and then additional time to rewrite with more details.

The prairie grasses stand tall in the deep road ditch. They gently sway with the wind. A hidden treasure waits. Wild asparagus. “I found some, mom. Over here.” The mom rushes over while pushing away the dew-filled cattails. Her two siblings run toward her. More wild asparagus for supper.

She can almost taste the tender stalks melting against her tongue. She sighs, though, realizing that before the asparagus can be cooked, they all will have to be checked for wood ticks. She runs her hands over her arms and legs quickly just in case she can feel one trying to crawl into her skin now.The thought makes all her muscles cringe even more than usual after pulling the fresh vegatables.

The siblings get ready to cross the gravel road. First they look to the right. Dust billows in the distance of a few short miles. Is it a green tractor moving between fields or the large slow orange road plow making its daily trip to even out the gravel that gathers into ruts? Maybe it is one of the fast-moving semi trucks moving livestock or grain for the farmers. They hope it isn’t the semi truck. It kicks up so much dust. Dust that will cover the laundry hanging out to dry in the yard. dust that will hang in the air as if in slow motion as it returns to the ground.

They will wait until the dust-maker passes before attempting to cross again. Finally, One more look to the right. Grandpa is checking his mail box. The wind across the prairie muffled their high-pitch excited screams to get his attention. Instead of waving at them, he turns around, shuffles through his mail, and disappears into the grove of trees that hides his driveway and protects his homestead.

Maybe they will walk down to their grandparents later today. They know a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies waits for them.  Their dog barrels out from the slough that sits in front of their grandparents grove of trees. She is barking nonstop. Her growls mean she is mad. She never growls like that at the kids. Her coat is drenching wet. She must have gotten into another fight with a muskrat. She will probably win the battle later tonight and drag the wet carcass in front of the house.

They look to the left. They see a farmer drive his tractor across his field. They are glad it is the smell of fresh black dirt that floats through the air instead of the manure from the farmer’s livestock being spread to fertiilze the soil.

They run across the road, losing their balance here and there as they go across the uneven gravel. Laughter of the children erupts. Their arms swing. Their heads are pointed toward the sky. The wide open sky that tonight will be as black as black can be and full of endless stars and a large glowing moon. If they are lucky, they just might see the northern lights ripple through the sky.

Home. Our destination across the gravel is my childhood home.

View from my home in Minnesota:

The prompt started with writing for two minutes. Then taking a minute for each sense. I was amazed at how much I still needed/wanted to write when my two minutes were done. I actually didn’t set the timer on my phone for one minute per sense. I just started to rewrite. I know more work can be done, but for now I am pleased with my description and I think I might be able to fit it into my WIP.

my dad, a dead mouse and a fraction kit

  • My dad likes to tell this story.
  • He had an art project due.  He remembered the hour before it was due.  He was in shop class. The same teacher I would have years later thanks to a small town school.  He and his friends literally threw together a cityscape with left over wood pieces.  Throw in some saw dust for good measure. And the best part, he and his friends found a dead mouse.
  • The perfect accessory for a “well thought out” art project.
  • He turned in the art project to rave reviews. “Oh Glenn. The time and thought you put into this” he likes to tell us while he chuckles.  He reminds us that he and his friends stifled laughter as the art teacher went on and on and on.
  • His art project got a prized location of display. The school library.  The entire art project – even the dead mouse – was on display.  He likes to share how eventually the librarian said, “Glenn, can we at least get rid of the mouse?”
  • I love this story my dad shares. It reminds me of all my dad has done.  How he has built homes for himself as he and my mom build their second house together. How he has built a successful business. How he has recycled materials before it was the “cool” thing to do.
  • If I could give you a tour of the first house they built. The house I grew up in.  The house my sister and family now live in.  I could tell you where each piece of wood came from. Each accessory. Especially the water fountains that used to work.  The doors. The staircase. The light fixtures.
  • And now they are doing the same with their new home.  How cool that their fireplace has the exact same slate that used to be a school chalkboard.  The very school where once my dad was throwing togehter pieces of wood, dirt and a dead mouse.
  • What prompted this memory?
  • My goal for the summer is to purge though “stuff” I’ve collected over the years with a promise to finally organize them.  What did I find yesterday?
  • A fraction kit with my dad’s name on it in my grandma’s handwriting. A reminder that my dad was once a little boy using his creativity in unusal ways – complete with dust, wood and a mouse to the rave reviews of his instructors. A reminder that he became a strong man who has created and valued every person and thing around him. A reminder that I want my boys to grow up like that too.
  • Kory will have a lesson on fractions today.  A lesson that includes his grandpa’s fraction kit along with a story about his grandpa and a dead mouse.

Mother’s Day without Children

Happy Mothers Day people cheer all around.

You stand there without children.  All the moms are getting flowers. Do you go up for one?  You are a mother.  A mother without a child. Your child is buried in a little cemetery. All the other moms have kids running up with them. Do you walk up alone?

The mothers are invited up to the altar at church for special prayer.  It is awkward standing there deciding. Do I go up. Don’t I go up. Oh what do I do. Will I have to explain. I’m not really a mother. But I am a mother.  My child lives in heaven.

Happy Mother’s Day people say as you walk in the building.  They are all smiles. But you are faking the smile. Inside you are grieving. Your mother died years ago. This day of celebration breaks your heart. If you could only see her one more time.

Happy Mother’s Day you hear. Yet you are struggling to have children of your own. Maybe you have miscarried more than you want to share.  Maybe you have been told you could never have children. Maybe you are still holding out for the miracle.

You watch moms being loved on. You love on children. Your nieces, nephews, maybe “adopted” children in your life. You never married. You married and never had children.  You chose to not have children. You didn’t have a choice in not having children.  When is your special day of honor?

These women deserve a mother’s day just as much as the ones who bore children, adopted children, raised children.  They are all around us on this day of joyful celebration of mothers.

I’ve been one of these moms. After I lost Aidan, we skipped going to church on the first Mother’s Day. I couldn’t imagine the pain of sitting there and hearing all about how wonderful mothers are knowing that I, as a mother, had made some of the most difficult decisions ever for my child. Decisions that went beyond which was the better apple juice to buy, whether I should buy organic/non-organic or whether to either breastfeed or use formula.

The second Mother’s Day was easier.  I was pregnant with Kory. I could at least “look” the part of the mother without extra explanation.

My heart still cringes on Mother’s Day. I think of all the women I know.  All the women I don’t know. The women walking among us every day. The women we casually bump into. The women who are hurting on this day of celebration for “Mother’s”.  So yes, you will hear me wish a Happy Mother’s Day, but you will also hear me applaud the women out there who are mothers in so many ways.

The ones who are not mothers by choice but deeply involved in a motherly role.  The ones who have tried for years to have babies of their own. The ones who never married – whether by choice or not. The ones who face the day without their own mothers.  The ones who put on a fake smile.  The ones who tear up not out of celebration but sorrow.

Those are the ones who really deserve my tribute today!

love of music

This weekend we interrupted our baseball life for some music.

My oldest son, Kory and I went  to a community band concert. We didn’t randomly pick it. Kory’s former piano teacher plays in the horn section and had a featured piano solo. Since we hadn’t seen her for a few months and she was hoping for some familiar faces in the crowd, Kory and I decided to drive the hour or so to see her concert.

It was amazing. As I sat there with my son listening to the various parts, I had so many things rush through my head.  All the piano practicing I did through 10 plus years of lessons. Accompanying school choirs and ensembles. Playing the clarinet and oboe. The music appreciation classes focusing on concert etiquette. The concerts my parents and grandparents attended to listen to me play. The early morning band class at college that I only did for one semester. That first college concert when I looked out into the crowd and realized my parents, siblings and grandparents weren’t there anymore to watch me because I was 12 hours from home. It just wasn’t worth it when it had nothing to do with my major. I stopped playing clarinet. I stopped playing oboe. I only tinkered on the piano.

As I  sat in the middle school auditorium turned concert hall, I felt my eyes tear up at the beauty of the notes and rhythms. The beauty that someone created this music from nothing. I thought of my grandfather’s explanation of tears as a little boy when he heard the music in church, “sometimes the music just touches me.” It was touching me.

The concert was a perfect time to snuggle with my son who had kicked off his flip flops and curled up in his chair.  We listened to the music together. We tapped out the beats and rhythms. We softly whispered how pieces sounded like they belonged on an episode of  Tom and Jerry cartoons or featured in a video game. I whispered explanations on why the lady with the black straight horn came out to tune everyone up before the concert started. I whispered how to tell when the conductor was done and we could clap. This is one of the reasons I love to homeschool. He wasn’t learning about music in a classroom with a textbook. He was learning it in real life.

I watched the lady next to me close her eyes and sway to the music. I watched the boy in front of my gently play with his mother’s hair. I saw the lady in the row in front of me win a cash prize in the concert’s raffle.  I saw her generously and discreetly decline the winnings and instead hand them over to the featured music organization raising funds that night.  I saw the organization’s spokes lady gush with “thank you. thank you. thank you.”

I saw my son close his eyes and absorb the music through the night. “It is okay if you feel sleepy. The music is relaxing, isn’t it,” I told him. I felt him snuggled up next to me and tap out the beat. I watched him clap at the right times. I watched him pretend he was playing the horn.

“Mommy, I really liked that,” I heard him say at the end.

“Me too, Kory. Me too,” I responded back.

That night he didn’t beg for more snuggles at bedtime. He didn’t tell me his snuggle-meter was only registering to his ankles.

We got our snuggles in earlier as we both further developed our love of music.

I’m posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to my youngest today. He turns four.

Oh the memories of those first few days of his life. The memories he has helped me create since then. And today on his birthday, we will make more memories.

We are getting our “mud boots” ready to search for tadpoles and frogs with my real-life friend Pamela.

Later this evening, we will celebrate as a family by going bowling.

Today, we celebrate Cade with frogs and bowling balls.

I love you Cade, and happy birthday!

I’m posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers

Easter – Spring Break Recap Part2

Easter egg hunts and ham. We had the traditional Easter fare in an untraditional way – on the beach and at a resort.

Easter morning started with an egg hunt for the boys in the resort lobby. When we called the front desk the day before, we were told the hunt was at 10 am. When we made it to the lobby a bit before 10, we were told the Easter bunny wasn’t showing up until 10:30, so we wandered outside near the lobby area. Not all families did. Some of them went back to their rooms.

When the hunt started, it was over in a flash. It is amazing how quickly kids can find the “hidden” eggs. As we were admiring the boys’ stash of plastic eggs full of sugary things, in walked a family with two kids. They were only a few minutes late, but that was all it took for the Easter egg hunt – a few moments. I later found out they had arrived at the earlier time to only go back to their room until the hunt started.

The two kids looked devastated. They had missed the hunt. I leaned over to the boys and whispered, “I want each of you to give an egg to those little kids who missed the hunt.”

Kory immediately gave one of his biggest eggs to the little girl around his age. Cade wasn’t as willing to part with an egg, but he eventually gave one to the little boy.

I heard the kids and the father say, thank you. I heard the father say to his kids, see what happens when you don’t get somewhere on time. We were both teaching our kids life lessons. He was teaching them to be responsible with time. I was teaching mine to give out of our excess.

But the best part. Later that day we ran into the family again. You should have seen the little girl look at Kory. I know that look. I have given that look as a little girl admiring boys on vacation. Oh the silly memories that flashed before my eyes when I saw her eyes. And no, I’m not going to share them here. 😉

She said hi to him. She told her mom, that is the boy who game me the egg. Kory bashfully said hi back. Oh, he had become some little girl’s vacation memory, which clearly embarassed him when I said something to him about it later.

The rest of our Easter was full of beach time where we saw a church having a water baptism. It included a full ham meal courtesy of take out from Bob Evans – along with a great aluminum container we used the rest of the week when we grilled. The day also included an outdoor Easter egg hunt my parents had for the boys.

It was an untraditional Easter at the beach – the perfect way to celebrate the day!

Dog Poop and Salt & Pepper Shakers – Spring Break Recap – Part 1

We had our spring break this past week!  Our destination was Ormond Beach, Florida near Daytona Beach.  We were so looking forward to a break from our reality! What made it even better was knowing we would meet my parents in Florida as they would be joining us for our vacation!

Our vacation didn’t quite start the way we expected it to when we started our drive.

It started with traffic. Now we love to travel and have a great system in place to travel. Our boys are pros!

This time, however, the expected 15 hour drive became even longer when we met a big traffic construction project along I-95. Yikes!  We sat in traffic at 11 pm at night while three lanes of traffic merged to one. Then to have that one lane go back to three to immediately merge back into one.  We were tired. We were just wanting to get to our hotel.  Keith even called the transportation offices of that state to complain – while we were sitting in traffic. How nice they were to call him back later this week to follow up with his complaint. 🙂  Who plans these road construction projects anyway?  Have they ever driven on the roads they are detouring, blocking and merging together?

Anyway, we finally made it to our hotel for the night.  Keith checked in, and we moved our sleeping boys into their beds.  By 1 am, we were settled and getting ready for bed. That’s when we saw it. We closed our bedroom door in the suite. And there it was quietly behind the bedroom door that had been open.

A pile of dog poop!  Yes. Dog poop! And we don’t even have a dog!  Ick. Ish. Ick.  How I wish I would have taken a picture of this gross pile from someone’s pet.  Yes. It was a pet friendly hotel. And obviously, the friendly part did not include making sure the dog poop behind the door was cleaned up.  We were too tired to complain that night. Too tired to have housekeeping clean it up right then. Too tired to move to another room.

Instead we waited until the morning. Complained. Received a small discount. Ate our measly breakfast. Checked out. And then I did what any “normal” person using social media would do. I tweeted about it and made sure to include the user name of the hotel chain. 🙂 Promptly customer service tweeted a request for details with the promise of a formal complaint. Got to love twitter.

We continued on our way along 95, and I saw trees, and trees, and trees. But that I’m saving for another post.  Instead, just know that we finally made our resort destination. And instead of being greeted by dog poop, we found these adorable little salt and pepper shakers in our kitchenette.  They were so cute that I had to take a picture.

Our traveling that started with traffic and dog poop ended with these adorable reminders of the comfort and luxury we would have for the rest of our week.

And check out this beautiful view from our balcony.  Worth the traffic and dog poop!