Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pretty Little Liar

Corny title, I know. But it's how I feel this week going through the motions; trying to choke back the tears at every turn. I want to let it all out, but while part of my world was frozen in time on August 23, 2012, the rest of it still spins.

I want to cry. I want to scream. Sometimes I feel like, maybe if I scream loud enough and long enough, the heaviness I feel in my chest every time I realize how close his birthday is will go away; maybe I'll be able to breathe again.

As a child you hear people tell you sometimes "life's not fair". That's true. It's not. 

It's not fair that instead of planning an adorable birthday party for Barrett on Saturday, I'm trying to decide what kind of flowers to take to his grave and deciding on a memorial to do this year. 

I spend every day wrestling with emotions. I go from being so overcome with joy from the time I was given with him to being angry that he is gone. It will
make you question your sanity. But burying a baby isn't sanity. And it doesn't get easier.

I saw a quote from Carley Marie that has resonated with me this week. "I will never stop grieving because I will never stop loving". There is so much truth packed in that statement.

I have three more days of pretending this week. Three more days of choking back tears with a smile. Then Saturday will come and the mask will melt away. 

I can't wait to visit you Saturday sweet baby boy.

Where We are Today

It's been over a year and a half since we lost Barrett. In that time, not one day has gone by that he hasn't crossed my mind at least a dozen times.
To most, it probably seems that I am "over it". They don't see me post about him every day on Facebook. I no longer burst into tears when I think of him. In fact, I talk about him a lot without crying now. I can now tell his entire birth story without shedding a tear. But that doesn't mean I'm over it. It means that I have learned to live with the pain and I am incorporating him into our life as a family in different ways.
I post pictures of our rainbow baby, Cate, a lot. And when I do, I feel as if I am posting Barrett too. For me, he is part of her. She is here because he isn't. If Barrett were here, it would be physically impossible for our precious Cathleen to make me laugh every single day. She is my gift from God and her brother. I imagine that his looks and personality would be so similar to her, my little goofball. She will always carry a part of him with her just as Audrey will.
I smile when I talk about Barrett and when I think of him. I smile every time I finish a blanket for Barrett's Blankets. I smile because I am so blessed that he is mine. But the truth is, I miss him. A lot. I miss him every time I think of what milestone he would be hitting right now had I carried him to term and had a 15 month old baby boy now. I imagine him running alongside Audrey in the yard and fighting over toys with Cate.
I love that Barrett is buried in a family cemetery, but I admit that sometimes I wish the drive wasn't so far. It's just not possible for me to make it to his grave as often as I'd like. So I bought apple trees for each of the kids and planted them. Barrett's has a plaque and when it gets bigger, I plan to put a bench under it where I can just sit with him awhile.
I have not forgotten. Spreading his name is still just as important to me. It's being done through Barrett's Blankets (which is slow right now due to having Cate, but I fully intend to hit the ground wide open again in a few months...but I am still slowly but surely sending out blankets). I wear a ring every day with a tiny footprint that says "You are with me every step of the way". I love having the ring since I haven't been able to wear my necklace with his handprint with his little sister being so fond of pulling on necklaces.
When Barrett died and there were so many days that seemed impossible to get through, I often wondered where I would be a year from then or ten years from then. I wondered if it would always be this hard. Here is an answer to those of you who are freshly experiencing loss: No.
I'm going against the norm here. So many people say "It always hurts just as much" and so on. And that's true. Oh man, is that true. Sometimes I think it hurts worse the more I think about it. But everyday living is easier for me now than it was in August 2012. Not just because of Cate, but because I am adjusting.
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A Closer Walk with Thee

I've spent a lot of time this week reflecting. Reflecting on my faith, where I'm failing in my walk with Christ, and spending time in His word. I wanted to share with you what He has really shown me this week.

Consider this your warning if the topic of breastfeeding is still taboo to you and makes you squirm in your chair. I'm going to talk about it because it relates.

1 Peter 2:2 

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—
I've read this verse a lot. But this week I did more than read it. I began to understand it. God gave me a better understanding of this verse through my relationship with my own daughter. 

Cate gets pumped bottles while I'm at work, but other than that, she is completely breastfed. And she LOVES her momma. When she wants me, you better make it quick because she will get fired up very quickly.

So as I read this verse, I thought about Cate. I thought about her desire to nurse. But she doesn't just nurse for nutrition. She nurses for comfort, she nurses to sleep, and she nurses because she enjoys it. When something is wrong in her world, she wants me. When everything is right in her world, she still wants momma. She desires to be with me.

As I compared that to my spiritual walk, my toes got a little, well actually a lot, sore. 

Do I run to Him for comfort and peace? Do I run to Him for spiritual nutrition? Do I run to Him in the bad times? Do I run to Him in the good times? Do I long to be close to Him?

If I longed for Christ with the passion and determination that Cate has for me, I would never set my Bible down. I would pray without ceasing as the Bible instructs. Because Cate wants to hang on me all day. She just wants to be close to me.

I should have that same desire for Him. I should seek to be closer to Him with that same determination because I NEED Him like she needs me. She cannot thrive without me and I cannot thrive without Him.   

Now, every time she cries for me, it is a reminder to me of how I should be pursuing Him. Every day. All day. Constantly and consistently. 

Not What I Thought it Would Be

As I sit here on this Saturday starting Christmas festivities with my girls, I think about this journey I'm on as a parent. Motherhood is not what I imagined it would be.

I imagined motherhood to be picking out my favorite names and always having perfectly groomed children in adorable monogrammed outfits. I'd feed them perfect meals and never lose my temper.

I never imagined I'd clean so many bodily fluids, and some of the smells that come with motherhood, well you can't possibly imagine unless you've been there. I never imagined I'd be scrubbing poop off the wall (thanks Cathleen) or doing a last minute hair wash in the sink because my four year old got sucker in her hair right before school. 

I never imagined that we would have cereal for dinner some nights because by the time we got home from school, work, ballet, or riding horses, no one would have enough energy to even say the word cook. I never imagined that I would be so tired that I would have the same bed time as my four year old and have days where I felt like I could go to bed at 6:00.

I never imagined that I would have an awkward looking Christmas tree because my four year old can only reach so high and so the bottom is ornament heavy. I never imagined that I would leave my house in sweat pants, no makeup, and a pony tail with a nice accessory of baby drool because some mornings it's all I can do to get my kids ready when we have important things to discuss like who Big Moma lived with when she was a little girl.

I never imagined that there would be days that my house was a mess because those minutes were better spent on the floor coloring pictures or curled up in the recliner reading Fancy Nancy.

I never imagined that I could love anyone as much as I love my kids. I never imagined that any person could light up my life like they do every day. I never imagined that things like going to the zoo would be even more exciting as an adult because I get to see the excitement on their faces. I never imagined that I would be anyone's superhero. I never imagined that someone would be so fascinated by little things I do that go unnoticed by others. I never imagined that a crayon covered, construction paper card could be more valuable than gold.

I never imagined that motherhood would be this fulfilling. I never imagined that it would be this good.

Jolly Bunny *Review*

*Disclosure: I received this product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and may differ from yours.
I shared in an earlier post HERE about the Kickstarter campaign for Jolly Bunny slippers.
The brand, Jolly Bunny, was first introduced in 2013 in Ukraine to help keep your feet toasty and warm. The slippers are made from soft fleece and come in a great variety of colors that you can choose from.
The first slippers were made as Christmas presents for friends. They were so popular with their friends that they decided to make more and from there they began to receive their first orders.
The idea grew from there and now Jolly Bunny is hoping to have their slippers on every person's feet keeping them nice and warm.
For this review, Audrey tried the pink Jolly Bunny slippers for children. First of all, she LOVES the way they look. When I showed them to her, her face lit up as she said "BUNNY SLIPPERS!" with her mouth wide open. They instantly went on her feet.

She couldn't stop telling me how warm and comfortable they were on her feet. I can tell you from holding them that they are made from incredibly soft fleece. So, not only are they cute, but they feel good too! They have a sturdy sole on them which I also liked. Audrey wore them all around the house on our wooden floors and she didn't slip at all which is a problem we have with a lot of slippers on our floors. The Jolly Bunny slippers were perfect though.
Anytime Audrey gets something cute like this to wear, my biggest fear is it getting stained and ruined because, let's face it, four year olds make messes! But I don't have to worry about that with the Jolly Bunny slippers because they are machine washable. That is a MAJOR plus for me! I love something I can easily wash in the machine--it makes mommy life easier!

They are definitely a hit with Audrey! She never wants to take them off!
These are adorable slippers would make a great gift for any occasion. Jolly Bunny has these warm and adorable slippers for everyone on your list as they come in sizes for Men, Women, and Children.
You can get these bunny slippers at a discounted price of only $25 by visiting the Jolly Bunny Kickstarter Campaign HERE. FREE SHIPPING in the US!
You can connect with Jolly Bunny on the following social media sites:
*Disclosure: I received this product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and may differ from yours.
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23 Days of Giving: Day 2

The Christmas cards for the hospital were a huge hit and Audrey had a blast making them. She worked extremely hard on them and was so proud.

We were so excited to see what Buddy had for us to do today! Let me introduce you to our giving jar:

I can't wait to see who Audrey chooses to donate to each time she fills it up!

A New Tradition

As I've watched my daughter get caught up in the material aspects that Christmas has become, I decided that we needed to start a new tradition.

So I had a heart to heart talk with our Elf on the Shelf, Buddy. I had asked him to help me remind Audrey what Christmas is really about.

After our talk, Buddy left this note for Audrey:

I'm so excited to start this tradition with our family and I can't wait to see what all Buddy comes up with this year. I'll be sharing them each day on the blog, so I hope you will join us for 23 days of giving.