Monday, June 19, 2017

Liam is 4!

My little Liam is 4! He loves strawberry milk, his sandbox, riding his bike, the ipad, playing with his girlfriend, going to school, playing trains, reading, reading and more reading, bossing his brothers around and snuggles. He still yells "Daddy!" or "Mommy!" when either of us comes home and runs and jumps to us. He loves his robe and wears it even when it's 90 degrees outside. He marches to the beat of his own drum and doesn't care what anyone has to say about it. He is confident, funny and so smart (too smart for his own good sometimes). He pretty much runs our household but we wouldn't have it any other way! We love our little Liam man and the joy he brings our family!
Our traditional birthday photo of the 3 of us

Wednesday was a rough day for me. I didn't realize how hard it would hit me. My mom had gotten a gift for him while she, my sister and I were all out shopping a few weeks ago. She had gotten a little gift bag for it and had me store it in my closet for her. Staring at that gift bag hurt my heart so badly. There were definitely some tears but I was able to keep it together in front of Liam the whole day. And bonus: I forced myself to actually get dressed and do my hair that day which actually helped. I'm celebrating the little victories each day (and yes doing my hair is considered a victory these days haha). I suspect most holidays and birthdays in the coming months will have a bit of a sting with them knowing how we had planned them to be this year versus what reality is but it's not going to stop us from enjoying them too. I let Liam open his gift from my mom first and he loved it! He yelled "Oh I love Grandma! I love it!" when he opened it. He wanted it so bad when we were at the store. It combines his two favorite things (bubbles and trains) into one amazing toy.  She'd have loved to see his excitement and without a doubt he'd have given her a giant hug.

Grandma's last gift

Had to send proof to my siblings

Liam's birthday on Wednesday started with strawberry milk from dad and a chocolate muffin, Kaid had gotten him, the night before, to surprise him with for breakfast. The other big boys wanted to do something special for him too so Karson took him to the dollar store and let him pick something out (he picked a box of powder donuts) and Logan told him he'd have a sleepover with him that night. It was nice to see the boys making his day special with thoughtful little things. We walked to the dollar store and then to free lunch (I offered to take him out but he just loves free lunch! lol). We had some quiet time and then Amanda and Sienna came by with cookies for him and Kelsie and her kiddos came by with a gift too (minion puzzles and pillow pet-both of which he loved!) It was so nice of them to stop by and make his day special since nothing was really planned for the day. After Liam's friends left, we let him open the rest of his gifts from mom and dad. Then Auntie and Brooklynn came by to give him a gift and then we went for Snocones.
strawberry milk from dad

Liam and Austin eating doughnuts outside of free lunch

Hugging his present

yes that is Christmas paper but it's blue so he didn't care

look at that face!

This was his favorite gift from Mom and Dad

He loves having a sleeping bag like the big boys

He loves his books

At the beginning of the week Liam was counting down to his birthday (his picture is on the calendar or I would've tried to postpone it probably lol) and he kept asking for a party. He had gone to his friend Hudson's party a couple weeks ago and has been telling everyone in the neighborhood that he's going to have a party too ever since haha. Given everything that happened the week prior I hadn't put any thought or planning into his birthday though. Monday I decided I needed a project anyway (and really lets be honest, regardless of how crummy I may or may not be feeling I'd do anything for that kiddo) so I jotted down some simple party ideas and headed to the dollar store. $10 bucks later I had my sack of decorations and sent a text to 3 of my neighbors with kids his age and asked if they could come Friday for a party. Yep the week of, is when I threw it all together and some how it all panned out! haha. 
Thursday night after work (I closed that day) I baked his cake and Friday before work (I opened) I frosted it, then I worked until 2:00. My mom was supposed to babysit but luckily Auntie came to the rescue and filled in for me. Once I got home we set up our last minute dollar store decorations to go with the beach ball theme and we just played water games. It was pretty low key but went fine all things considered. And most importantly, Liam had fun and was so happy to have a birthday party with some of his favorite people! I'm so glad 2 of the 3 friends were able to come on such short notice (the 3rd was out of town that weekend).
Food table minus the pizza (that came out later) fishy crackers, swedish fish and popcorn are in the different sand pails and we even found umbrella straws for our drinks

Brooklynn, Logan, Kaiden and Karson decorated with the streamers

Water games


They didn't really get the concept

But they all finished haha

Cute kiddos

I promise the water isn't as dirty as it looks! haha It has a yellow bottom and the angle makes it look worse. It was only about an hour old water at this point

Present time. Liam genuinely loved all his gifts and thanked everyone after hugging each present haha

Even Shelli came and brought him a gift. Love that she is so sweet with all the kiddos and will come to their parties when they invite her. She is an amazing neighbor!

Chubby little Grayson looking so cute!

Shelli got him a stroller and baby so that he and Sienna can both run down the street with their babies without having to take turns. Everyone thought it was kinda funny but he loved it and even named his new baby "Baby Sienna" hahaha

My dad came by after the party to give Liam his gift and spent some time watching him play with the playdough he got him. We opened all the other gifts still in packaging and let him play with everything for a bit before calling it a night.

Liam is very creative and can play with playdough for hours at a time. He was pretty excited about another kit! He played with this one and the one Auntie gave him for probably 2 hours straight!

These tools are his other new obsession because they are "just like Dad!" He is "fixing" everything in the house now!

He told me "Mom, that was the best 4th birthday I ever had!" haha so I guess it was a success! Happy Birthday my Liam!
Birthday loot

Time marches on

Sacrament and Sleep

Oh the difference one sacrament meeting and a good nights sleep can make! Yesterday was stake conference, it was Fathers Day and I really didn't want to go to church. I had some anxiety about going too (last time I was there I got the call my had passed and then we had the funeral there) I had plenty of excused not to go but my family was going so I went too. That meeting was for me!
The first speaker had lost her dad just a couple months ago to Alzheimers. What a terrible disease! It gave me some clarity and made me thankful my mom didn't suffer and I didn't have to watch her deteriorate for years. I didn't have to make tough decisions about care homes or other things of that nature. I can't say that I'm grateful my mom left so suddenly but I can recognize it could've been worse too. Their were some other good messages as well.
The last speaker (our Stake President) lost his dad May 1 of this year. He talked about holidays on our calendars like Rosh Hashana and Yom Kipper. Rosh Hashana is a Jewish holiday roughly translated to the blasting of trumpets signifying "the beginning". Jews and Mormons are closely related and he talked about the history of it. Then he gave the date Joseph Smith was given the plates which happens to be the same day that across the world the Jews were blasting their trumpets signifying the beginning. That day picked to give the plates was not by happenstance. Things are done when they're done for a reason--there is a bigger picture! We forget or get frustrated when we can't see it or when we are in pain and missing somebody but things really do happen for a reason.
I cried. I had literally just hours before written a post agonizing about the timing of everything. My nights of worry and anguish were heard and I was reminded to trust in Gods timing. The closing song right after that talk was the same song we sang at my mom's funeral. Again--to much coincidence to be a coincidence. You know those people that say a certain meeting was for them? I've heard it. In the past I've felt enlightened but never have I ever been so certain something was for me as I was this particular meeting. This meeting was for me! I know I needed to be there. I know that I've been pouring from my own cup for so long without refilling it that it's almost completely gone. I need to take time to grieve but also recognize my blessings and the angels (both earthly and heavenly) that have been with me!

While I'm on my sharing high there are two other things I want to mention for my own memories sake.  

Justin has an Aunt (his dad's sister) who I swear has a direct phone line to God haha. When I posted about my mom on facebook she commented that on Thursday (3 days before my mom's passing) she was prompted to put my family's names on the temple prayer rolls. Then she texted me and told me the whole story. Here is her message.

And the third experience that stands out is very personal. When I first got the news I didn't believe it. How could she be gone so fast? How could I not have felt it? The prayer I didn't dare say out loud but carried in my heart that whole week was to feel my mom. There is an after life right? So just let me feel her! The day of the funeral I had to run home to get a pin I wanted to put in her hands before closing the casket. I had just fixed her hair, gotten everything ready and needed to hurry back before the viewing started. It was the first time I was alone. I was driving home and I felt my mom. I felt her gratitude. I knew she wanted me to hear that she was grateful and saying Thank You I knew she wanted my siblings to know as well. It was the first time I felt her and hopefully not the last. It's nice to have that reassurance that yes, our loved ones are aware of us and are routing for us!

I know this post doesn't really flow and is weird. But these three moments stand out to me over the past two weeks and I never want to forget them. I never knew you could feel so strong when also feeling broken and I'm grateful for these experiences during this hard time. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Getting off the crazy train

Here we are again. Another sleepless night. I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever be not tired again. The week you lose somebody is so incredibly exhausting. The emotions and ups and downs you feel in one day physically take a toll. I guess I was hoping after the funeral it would calm down. I still have surprise stings that make me burst (or want to burst) into tears. I get angry. I get trapped in thought. I forget. I laugh. It's still just a roller coaster. Then night comes and I'm exhausted and drift off to sleep easily only to awake after a couple hours to my mind racing. Sometimes 1:00AM today I made it clear to 3:00 before checking the clock.

Here is the thing. When my mom was mom. She was AMAZING! The best of the best! I worshiped her and wanted to be just like her. My teenage years were rocky. I was rebellious, she divorced my dad, remarried a jerk and divorced again all in a short time span. But sometime close to graduation (you know, when life is about to hit you in the face and you start to think maybe your parents might actually know a thing or two) things started to improve again and got to a point where they were great again.
I moved to Arizona and she was down there visiting almost every month and at least every other month. We talked daily on the phone and I counted down to the next visit. We road tripped together and I finally moved back to Utah and shortly after she did too. Then we still road tripped together (to see my brother) and on top of that I was at her house almost daily. She fed me and my family dinner probably half the days of the week on any given week. She babysat for me, ran errands with me, went to functions with me. Life was normal and sometimes hard but good. I loved my mom. I didn't realize how lucky I was to be in a good spot with her.

Things got rough again a few years ago. We had some tough times consecutively for several years. That is a long time to go through what we went through.  My mom dealt with some demons and it definitely strained our relationship. It got to a point I told her she couldn't babysit my kids. I crushed her. A few months after that she ended up moving out of state again. The past year (probably more actually but I was so harsh and closed off to her) my mom had made huge changes and huge strides. She was getting it together. Our relationship was on the mend. I was getting my mom back! She was an amazing grandma and Liam was her best friend. She moved in with me in March and was so helpful with babysitting, laundry and just talking. I was still so cautious though. I didn't give her the credit or even encouragement that she deserved. I have so much guilt. Over the 3 months she was here we made memories and had some good times. But there was also so much wasted time. And I still probably made her feel like some what of a burden for being here. There was so much unsaid and unresolved on my end. She had always been loving and kind and helpful regardless of my attitude towards her. I don't feel like she feels like she left anything unsaid. I wish I could say the same.

The thing is I know logically guilt is natural thing when it comes to grieving. And I think if she could speak to me she'd tell me not to feel guilty. But logic is over powered by emotion especially in the dead of night and I can feel myself getting crazier. I can't help but not only feel guilty but start to question everything. Did she know I loved her? Is she mad at me? Is she okay? Is she okay that she died? She sent me two texts Saturday, both of which I ignored. Regret is a tough thing to live with. The first text said she wasn't babysitting for my brother that weekend so if I wanted to spend time with her she was free (and of course finished with "I love you") but she had just left my house Friday and I was going to see her Wednesday and she was staying with me through Friday again. Since I had things planned already I just went about my Saturday. Her last text to me was asking for a fan because the AC at my brothers house wasn't working. I ignored it because I was right in the middle of doing primary assignments for the next three months (it takes me about 2 hours and I was right in the thick of it). I even picked up my phone to respond but decided it could wait until I talked to her next (again taking her and our time for granted). A few hours later she was gone. No warning. Just gone.

Did heat play a factor in her death? What if I would have texted back? What if I had called? My sister and I spent that Saturday together, why didn't we go get her? What could have been different? We got rec center passes together and I'd been making her go walk while I ran and I made her walk the mall with me, that on top of babysitting and the stress of moving from a different state with little support or help from me, did that all play into it? Even as I write that, logically I can hear how dumb it is but I can't help but wonder what I could've or should've done different to make a difference!
Was she trying to get up for help or had she sat down when whatever happened happened? Did she feel or know something was happening when she died? Was she scared? Was she in pain? Will we ever know what caused her death or will I be haunted with questions forever? I'm so sorry she had to die alone.

I replay the last weekend. I replay the last 3 months. I replay the last 5 years and I replay my whole life. So many good memories. So many regrets. There were so many blessings the last 3 months. But that weekend. Why that weekend? Why so fast? Why so unexpectedly? Why right when I got her back and my kids had gotten used to having an awesome grandma around all the time.

I realize this post is probably a little depressing. But the sun will be up in a few hours and my house will get noisy and busy and I know I'll be fine. Believe it or not, every day since she's been gone I've still overall had good days and I think I've even laughed every day but I've also had lows and tears. I'm still tired all the time and still feel like I'm just surviving. That is somewhat normal. I think. But I'm trying. I'm doing normal things and trying to get back into my routine, sitting around feeling sad isn't going to get me anywhere, so I figure if I want to feel normal again (or find a new normal I guess is more accurate) I've got to get up and start moving. It's hard to get back to normal when somebody who was such a big part of your normal day is gone but I'm celebrating the little victories and trying. I just can't seem to get off this crazy train at night so hopefully putting a few of the random thoughts in writing will help me sort through everything. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Run Away

I can't write about the past week yet. I'm still digesting. I am still feeling so many emotions at once. Among the many emotions I have regrets. And oddly one of those regrets is getting so bad at blogging the past 6 months. My mom had moved back to Utah and lived with me and I didn't write a single thing down. I knew a couple weeks ago that I needed to get better (I couldn't have guessed why) and wrote a couple posts but just never got back into the groove. I know I need to write about last week before I forget and have more regrets for not doing it. Writing is usually therapeutic for me too but right now I just want to post about our weekend getaway.

Sunday morning (the morning my mom passed away) we were looking at booking a cabin at a KOA for the following weekend so we could go to Shoshone Falls. For some reason I hesitated to click the "book" button and decided we should wait until after church and look more closely at it. Within a few minutes of getting to church my world was forever changed and flipped upside down.

We survived the week somehow. Josh packed up and left first thing Saturday. Everyone had to get back to their lives and I was expected to jump back in myself. I looked at the calendar for the upcoming week. I saw the day my mom was supposed to come back from Brandon's and stay at my house. I thought I was going to have a panic attack just thinking about life starting back up but not being normal. It was overwhelming. Not having the funeral to plan and family and friends around to distract me was terrifying. We loaded up and ran away. Literally.

We drove to Twin Falls, Idaho like we had planned to the week prior (just a day later). We decided to stay in a tent instead of a cabin. We set up camp and hung around the KOA. The drive down wasn't bad, but it was off. I think we all just felt heavy instead of carefree like normal.
That night our neighbors in the tent next to us had two toddlers who were screaming and crying all night. It was a long night. Finally at 4AM they started packing up to head out. I had to potty so Justin walked with me and the guy apologized to us when we were walking past and mentioned his daughter has leg aches (kinda funny because me and my mom get them so badly and Justin swears we're nuts and says they're called "growing pains" and we're done growing so we can't have them. So it was nice to rub that in his face a little that somebody outside my family has them and calls them what we do). Super nice people but not who I want to camp next to again any time soon. I've gotten used to little to no sleep over the past week but it was discouraging to have another night laying awake trapped in my thoughts.

Justin built that trailer and this was it's maiden voyage!

boys tent set up

Mom, dad and Liam tent set up

first campsite all set up for Saturday night

Liam's smile just brightens everything!

twinlets and their souvenir hats

trying to warm my blanket and body before sprinting to the potty haha

There was a dock and some paddle boats at the campsite

freezing before breakfast in the morning
Sunday the kids were all up early and we were off to Shoshone Falls. The falls were gorgeous! We spent the day hiking around them and enjoying nature. We also stumbled upon the Evel Knievel jump site. Very fitting for the group text with me and my siblings. Anyone seen the movie Hot Rod? It's stupid, hilarious and probably inappropriate. The main character also happens to look and act exactly like my brother did at age 16. My siblings and I all stayed up late Friday night to watch it and laugh together. I didn't realize the jump site was right next to the falls so when we stumbled across it I couldn't help but think it was more than a coincidence that we decided to run away to that spot. My siblings were all struggling after we'd all gone our separate ways too so it was nice to chat and laugh through text about that.
Pictures don't do it justice! So spectacular!

There was a double rainbow at the bottom of the falls after lunch

We hiked up and around to this small (in comparison to the other falls) waterfall

Amazing views and different angles of the falls as you hike up the canyon

Hulk Smash!

This is above the smaller waterfall looking down at the river

And the falls are off to the left when you reach the top

Liam rolling down the hill and then we had a picnic lunch

trying to capture the rainbows

This is crossing over the snake river to get to Shoshone falls

The bridge is massive!

Justin and the boys are on the bridge to the right in this photo


We watched them jump off the bridge

Making me proud!

All the look outs jut out over the cliffs. Amazing views but slightly terrifying haha

Pond at the park next to Shoshone Falls

climbing up what's left of the steep hill

the canyon he attempted (and failed) to jump

Liam loved this little sign and kept telling us "this was his plan! Look at the plan!" lol

Sunday afternoon we went back to camp and I went into the clubhouse to work on thank you cards. I realized that I hadn't really run away at all. A heavy heart will follow you where ever you go. I enjoyed our time at the falls and even laughed a little but I feel disconnected somehow. Like I'm not really fully enjoying things and part of me is gone or something. Probably doesn't make sense to a lot of people but I just can't fully feel joy right now. I had prolonged and procrastinated getting back to life long enough. I was actually looking forward to getting back home and back to life just to try to feel a little more normal and try to pick myself back up. That alone felt like a huge victory to me.
Playing at the little camp park

Liam found a frog

backflips into the pool

As I had come to this realization the wind kicked up and blew the boys tent away. A branch from a tree fell and crushed a neighbors boat they had at the campsite. The weather was wild and it looked like a cartoon of chaos. It was the kind of thing my mom lived to hear about! Every trip or outing I can think of with my mom has some sort of ordeal or craziness involved (like when we drove to California by mistake trying to get from Arizona to Utah-true story!) but she just always laughed! She loved sharing the crazy stories with others and she loved hearing the ones her kids encountered without her. Turns out I'm not much of a tent camper anyway so I was grateful for the bad weather because we were able to get a killer deal on the cabin we were originally going to book for the second night.
running through the wind to catch the tent pinned up against the car

tree on boat

double set of bunkbeds in one room

queen in the other. Nothing fancy but so much better than the tent!

cute little cabin

s'mores for breakfast since it was too windy the night before

drove past the temple on the way home

We got home Monday and I did well and tried to stay busy. The boys went to a play that night with RaeLene so I was home alone for the first time and had to do laundry. Laundry is my least favorite chore to begin with. It happened to be my moms favorite. After every trip (including Disneyland from just a couple weeks ago) my mom would always say to me on my way home "Save your laundry for me and show me your pictures!" She would come and do laundry and look at the pictures from our trip. I can't tell you how many times I woke up and it was like the laundry fairy had come. As I rotated laundry that Monday I had a full on meltdown. I didn't think it was possible to hate laundry any more than I already did but apparently it's possible as I full on ugly cried and wished I had more time or at least knew that her leaving was coming! I was fine again within 10 minutes. I'm sure it will be the little things like that, that pop up and make it hurt all over again.

Moral of the story is I tried to run away. I'm glad I did. It got me to the point that I was ready to try to get back up. I'm glad I'm back home. It's different. It's hard. I'm trying. I hope my friends, family and most of all my kids can be patient with me as I get back into a routine and deal with those little heartaches that pop up.