Friday, December 25
We've been showered with love and miracles, large and small.
Right in this second, though, I miss Ammon. I miss him so much my heart is pounding sadly in my chest, and I'm fighting away tears.
He should be here. He should have been here to see the kids faces this morning as they opened gift after gift. He should be holding me on the couch right now.
This Christmas is infinitely better than last year, but it's still not right. I'll take time, soon, to write about the many blessed things that have happened this year, but for right now I'm giving myself permission to mourn.
Merry Christmas, sweetheart. We miss you.
Thursday, December 17
...made an omelet, and ate half. Kadon and Brooklyn at the other half.
...watched my landlord install a new sump-pump in my basement.
...did spinning at the YMCA for 35 minutes.
...attended the first half of yoga, after spinning.
...made a quick phone call to my sister, en route to a playdate.
...had lunch with two friends while the children ran rampant around the house.
...took Kadon to preschool, where I signed up to provide a game at the Christmas party tomorrow.
...took Brooklyn to Wal-Mart, where I was able to get a few groceries, gifts for Kadon's teachers, and a few things for the kids stockings.
...drove home, tried to put Brooklyn down for a nap, put the groceries away, and finished watching the movie I rented from Redbox two days ago while she chattered in her crib.
...got Brooklyn out of her crib, asked Jeremy about his day, and drove to preschool to pick Kadon up.
...made a drive-by the location for Kadon's preschool Christmas concert, so I wasn't groping for directions in the dark.
...fortified my reserves during Happy Hour at Sonic.
...stopped at Kroger to return the Redbox movie, and picked up the Kroger-specific weekly sale items, along with a few more things for Christmas that were a better price than what there was available at Wal-Mart.
...drove home, unloaded the car again, and made the kids put all the cold groceries away.
...yelled instruction from the bathroom for Jeremy to make Ramen Noodles for dinner.
...helped prepare Ramen noodles.
...helped serve Ramen.
...blow dried my hair.
...threatened children to either "eat quickly, or go hungry!".
...skipped dinner, applied makeup, and jumped back in the car to go to the concert.
...crammed 4,000 people into a room meant to hold 400. Strained to see Kadon, who refused to sing.
...chatted briefly with Kadon's teachers.
...drove to Sonic to get myself a sandwich. Skipping dinner wasn't such a great idea.
...drove to the church to attend choir practice.
...accompany the choir, since I am the only female that was able to stay and sing, and the accompanist didn't show up.
...left choir practice when the accompanist finally got there, loaded cranky, screaming, exhausted children into the car.
...drove home, again threatening all manner of punishment if the children didn't go immediately and quietly to bed.
...kissed each child, and tucked them into bed.
...shut the doors, breathed a sigh of relief, and picked the house (mostly) up.
...sat on the couch, able to breathe for the first time in 13 hours.
I meant to do more of an update tonight, even posting pictures. As you can see, I'm exhausted. It's not going to happen. Maybe tomorrow will be better?
Sunday, December 13
*Brooklyn briefly attempted potty training, which was an absolute failure. No worries, she's still got plenty of time.
*Brooklyn discovered how easy it is to remove her own clothing. No worries, I'm mellow, and I don't mind her wandering around naked as long as I keep the heat high enough.
*Brooklyn discovered poop. This one made me worry. More on that story later, but I'm guessing you'll want to read that particular one on an empty stomach.
*I finally finished school for the semester, and grades were posted this week. I got an A in both my classes, which gives me my first-ever 4.0. I'm pretty excited about that!
*I set up childcare for next quarter. The kids are finally starting at an actual daycare, and I have mixed feelings about that. I'm looking forward to the continuity of who is watching them, and I think they'll probably do well when they're all divided by age. Grief-wise, daycare is yet another tie that has been severed. It's been a tough one, but not as tough as I had feared it would be.
*I've officially decided to stay home for Christmas this year. Again, a tough decision, but one I'm feeling comfortable with right now. I've invited the missionaries over, but other than that it will be just the kids and I.
*The ward Christmas party was last night, and some friends and I were able to put together a few pieces to sing. It was a lot of fun, and reminds me how much I have missed singing with friends! Wish I could make time for it in my schedule more often...
I know there's more. Things that have been rolling around in my head, and I'm past due to sit down and write a really deep post, but it's not going to be tonight. I'm starting to feel a bit of the holiday blues, and although they aren't as depressing and heavy as they were last year, I am still stuck trying to figure out how to get through it all. I wonder if Christmas is ever going to feel happy and carefree again, or if there will always be an undertone of sadness and loss to this time of year?
Sunday, December 6
This video is just for fun. I have been trying to use my video camera function on my camera more. Since most of you (namely grandparents clear across the country) would get a kick out of Brooklyn and her cute little voice, I've been just itching to share it. Enjoy!
Saturday, December 5
Then came the revelation that I'm not a big fan of ice cream. Oh, I like it alright, and before Ammon died the in-laws had no reason to know of my secret apathy--our freezer was always stocked with the creamy stuff, courtesy of the man of the house. After he died, though, my secret was out. I never have ice cream in the house, and I don't miss it.
There is my dislike of puzzles, a favorite Fellows Family pastime.
There is my basic ineptitude for household tasks, and ignorance of how to use tools correctly. I can't Spackle, drive a nail, or build a bookcase.
All of these things, they overlook. They accept my various failings, and love me regardless.
This time, I think I'm going to lose my membership card.
You see, the Fellows take their food traditions very seriously. I already mentioned ice cream, but I left it's partner in crime out of the mix--popcorn. It works in my favor that I love Fellows Popcorn, but I'm unable to duplicate it. It's a very specific recipe, and it's never to be varied. There is Grandma Fellows' Pecan Pie. Again, a delicacy that I fully appreciate, but have never made myself. Near the top of the food list is New Hope Mills Pancakes. I've eaten New Hope Mills for the length of my marriage, and considered myself a faithful follower. This morning, though, I broke the mold.
I tried this recipe. And y'all? Best. Pancakes. I. Have. Ever. Had. No joke. Beats the pants off of New Hope Mills.
I'm not sure The Clan will be able to overlook this one.
What do you say, guys, is Cornell Chicken enough to hold us together?
Friday, December 4
Sweetheart, I'm thrilled that you have a zest for life that woke you up long before dawn this morning, but Mommy wasn't as thrilled as you were at 5:30 am. Thank you for getting me up early enough to be able to get in some extra study time, but now I need you to take a nap. Please, before Mommy gets any more grey hairs.
Thursday, December 3
Wednesday, December 2
I think I have officially decided that the beach-any beach-is my favorite place in the whole world. There's nothing like endless water and sunshine to put life in perspective.
The 30 or so minutes we spent on the beach this afternoon made the entire trip worth it. All the planning, all the driving, the sleepless nights--all of it. I'm so glad we went, and so glad my kids got to experience my favorite place in the whole world.
Monday, November 30
After a few quick stops for gas and food, we made it to Dothan, Alabama by 11:30 that night. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and crawled in bed with my boys to snuggle with them until about 6 am on Thanksgiving--at which point they gleefully decided it was time to be wide awake. I was a bit bleary-eyed, but happy to be on vacation and spend time with family, so I pretended not to be grumpy.
Thanksgiving day was good. There were a lot of people--and after a few intense grief-related moments, I was able to enjoy the holiday. Nobody knows how to lay out a spread of food like a Southern family, and I'm thrilled and surprised to report I'm up a measly 2 pounds from the trip--I had braced myself for much, much more than that.
Thursday night I headed even further south with Kadon and Brooklyn, and spent the night at Ammon's sister Lisa's house. I collapsed on the couch early, and got about two hours of sleep before Brooklyn decided that the hours between midnight and 2 am were not for sleeping.
Huh. Nobody informed me. I didn't do so well pretending not to be grumpy that time.
By the time the rest of the clan arrived on Friday afternoon, we had time to eat lunch and dinner. Then, the girls got pretty-fied and headed out for an evening at the mall and a showing of New Moon. Then, Lisa and I took the old(er) people back to her house, and headed back out to the local Howl at the Moon. It was great--and I can verify that they have tasty Diet Coke in stock. I know, because I drank a fair amount of it between choruses of 'Sweet Caroline' and 'Great Balls of Fire'. Good times.
Saturday, oh Saturday. Saturday found us at the beach. And the mall, again. I have pictures, some of the only I took on the trip. When my camera stops being spooty and agrees to play nicely with my laptop, I will post them.
Saturday evening after dinner, the troops de-barked from Florida. Angela, Mary, Angela's kids, and Jeremy traveled until late Saturday night, then stopped for a hotel. Russ, Kadon, Brooklyn, and I made an intrepid journey through the night, and arrived home at about 6 am Sunday morning. Notwithstanding the head-shaking and arm-pinching I engaged in just after 3 am in an effort to keep myself awake and driving safely, it was a good trip.
Today, I got the tree up. Seeing as how the Christmas tree was such a sore subject last year, I'm proud of the accomplishment this year. It's erect, has lights strung on it, and ornaments hanging from it's branches--and all of this accomplished without a meltdown.
Now, to finish the last week of classes for this quarter strong, and the season can truly begin.
Tuesday, November 24
I don't handle the threat of danger or accident well. My children wear helmets religiously, aren't allowed in other people's houses, and will be in car seats and or boosters until they graduate from college. Whenever they fall, I hold my breath. The nurse at Jeremy's school called a few weeks ago, to let me know he had fallen on the playground. "He's fine, back in class" she assurred me. "I just wanted to let you know." I had to call her back, I had to know if he fell and hit his head. Once I knew that the wounds were only to his knees and the palms of his hands, I didn't give it a second thought. Once, Brooklyn fell off a small bench on the kitchen floor, and landed face first, where she laid still for just a moment. It felt like eternity to me, and I spent the rest of the evening trying to calm my racing heart. I am on edge when my children aren't with me, I'm terrified something will happen and I won't be there.
Add to my safety issues a control problem and, and you have a recipe ripe with the possibility of disaster.
I just buckled my children into my sister-in-law Angela's truck and kissed them goodbye. Her three children, my three children, my mother-in-law Mary and Angela are going to spend the next two days driving from Ohio to Alabama, where we will celebrate Thanksgiving with Mary's side of the family on Thursday. I have a class tomorrow morning, and am unable to leave much before noon, and during the planning stages of this trip the adults decided it made more sense for the children to leave today and break the trip into two days, while my father-in-law Russ and I will leave late tomorrow morning and drive through in one stretch.
I've been growing more and more apprehensive about this trip. I do well with my children being away from me, especially when they're with family members--Mary in particular. I also do well when my children take trips in the car, but only as long as I'm the one doing the driving. It's not that I'm the world's greatest driver, and I don't trust anybody else to keep them safe. On the contrary, I'm actually probably one of the worst drivers in the family. It's more the fact that they aren't with me, and my grief-addled brain sees endless miles of interstate, with endless possibilities for tragedy. It doesn't matter that Angela drives an enormous Suburban--built like a tank and nearly as safe as one. It doesn't matter that my children are all buckled in car seats, where they will remain for the entirety of the trip. It DOES matter that I'm not with them. That I can't see them to KNOW that they are buckled in correctly. As I helped Angela secure Brooklyn's car seat in the Suburban, I begged both Angela and Mary not to loosen the straps on her car seat.
"I know they're tight." I said. "I know you think I'm silly and maybe even crazy, but they're set exactly where they should be. Please don't loosen them."
I'm sure they think I'm silly. I'm sure they get frustrated with my incessant need to be in control of my children, ensure for myself that they're safe at all times. The thing is--I know that sometimes things don't work out. In an instant, my life could change. I try to keep my brain from rolling over the possibilities--that I just kissed my children goodbye, waved from the driveway, and may never see them alive again. I try not to see the Suburban; on the interstate, flipping in the air over and over again, before it comes crashing back down to the ground and destroys my will to live. I try not to imagine that somebody will get run over in the parking lot at McDonald's, or that a door will open on the road and somebody will fall out. I try to be optimistic, and believe that I will meet up with my children in Alabama tomorrow night, find them sleeping soundly, and that I will curl up next to them and look forward to Thursday morning when I can hear all about their travels. It's hard, though. It's hard not to imagine the worst, when the worst had already happened. When I have seen life end in a moment.
I cried as I hugged Angela goodbye today. "Please, be safe." I pleaded. "They're my babies."
It's just a road trip. I know that. I'm trying to convince myself it will be fine, but as I sit alone in my living room, everything in the world that means anything to me is miles away. They're traveling at 80 mph, on a road full of people who don't understand how much I have to lose. I'm counting the hours until we're reunited again.
Saturday, November 21
*Complete budget. Contemplate highway robbery in order to finance Christmas.
*Happen upon a steal of a deal for a new (old) freezer on Craigslist. Rationalize purchase, make pick-up arrangements, and gleefully patronize the frozen food aisle at Kroger.
*Damage phone, this time with an unfortunate (and accidental, obviously) dip in the toilet. Curse profusely.
* Encase phone in rice for 14 hours. When it shows no sign of life, commence slightly frantic search through various Internet venues to buy new phone.
*Find a steal of a phone on Craigslit, meet gentleman selling it that evening. Briefly contemplate his attractiveness, then become thwarted by the gleaming silver ring on his finger. Dang it.
*Learn to efficiently text on new (old) Blackberry. Not as easy as I thought it would be.
*Strenuously consider changing wireless and Internet providers. Make many phone calls in this vein. Remain undecided.
*Visit pediatrician. For the third time. Find another (0r same) ear infection. Ingest more antibiotics. (Not me, the baby)
*Sing. With friends. Enjoy it.
*Play new sheet music, gleefully printed from Sally Deford's free website.
*Have a missionary moment.
*Tell actual missionaries about missionary moment over Stephen's and popcorn.
*Attend class. Wash, rinse, repeat. Again.
*While you're at it, wash several other things.
*Melt down at preschool, in front of Kadon's teacher. This is fun, repeat again on Friday.
*Drive for 3.5 hours to attend a 2.5 hour New Moon Premiere party. Eat cake, enjoy.
*Attend New Moon with friends Saturday afternoon. Enjoy.
*Exercise. Wash, rinse, repeat. Several times.
*Manage general crankiness, fussiness, and fighting.
*Wipe things profusely. Including: Noses, butts, counters, and feet.
Monday, November 16
Update: It seems to be working just fine after spending about 12 hours in the rice bath--hooray!
Saturday, November 14
Thursday, November 12
Today, though, that icing got even thicker--and turned into chocolate. It was awesome.
We attended spinning this morning, the second time for my friend and many more than that for me. I have noticed in the past that this instructor tends to choose music that has swear words in it--a fact that I attribute both to the style of 'fitness' music that is available, and an insensitivity on her part to the meaning behind the words. I don't think this instructor chooses the music she does to be offensive, I think she simply doesn't realize that to some of us--it is. In the past I have been mildly irritated that some of the music choices make me uncomfortable, but I have never considered doing anything about it. I assumed myself to be in the minority, and let my desire to not 'rock the boat' win.
Today, my friend showed me what true commitment and true morals look like. About midway through the 40 minute class, a particularly offensive song started playing. I thought to myself 'Boy, this is really vulgar!', and kept pedaling. As soon as I finished the thought, I glanced to my left to see my friend dismounting her bike and walking out of the room. Chagrined, I wondered if her exit was a reaction to the song--a fact that was confirmed when a few seconds later the teacher followed her out in the hall to see if she was okay, and reported back that my friend had left because she couldn't stand the music. I was embarrassed--both for the teacher and the YMCA, but also for myself. I should have also walked out of that class. I should have made my stand weeks ago, before I brought a friend with me to experience it.
My friend stayed out the rest of the class. After we finished exercising for the day, I went to the front desk and politely but firmly requested that the instructors in general, but particularly this one, be made aware that their music choices are not acceptable. I told the manager that I don't choose to listen to that type of music at home, and I don't wish to be subjected to it at the gym either. They were apologetic, and promised to talk to the instructor.
I love this instructor. I have great respect for her, and even now I'm a bit worried that she will suspect the complaint came from either me or my friend--and I'm ashamed to admit that I'm embarrassed a bit about that. I shouldn't be, though. I stood up for what was right--but it took a friend of mine making a tough choice to show me I needed to do it. Today, I'm grateful for that friend.
I'll be especially grateful if the lyrics of the songs we listen to in spinning improve.
Tuesday, November 10
These are a bit out of order, but I don't want to take the time to fix them today. For this picture I'm actually standing on the mattress, taking the picture toward the door that leads to the rest of the basement.
Monday, November 9
This is how our October started out--the day after Brooklyn turned 2, Jennica Lynn came into the world. She's the tiniest addition to our extended family, and Brooklyn was pretty excited to get a peek at her. She's quite good with the baby, and asks to hold her every time we see her. With much supervision, she usually does a pretty good job.
This beautiful sister went home a few days after this party, and I miss her fiercely. Thankfully, now that she's home we can email, catch up on Facebook, and talk on the phone. I still miss her, and she threatens daily to move back and live in my basement. I promised to have clean sheets on the bed for her.
Well, that's it for today. After such an absences, there are many more stories and pictures to share. I'll try to be more on top of the sharing....