Saturday, May 30

Fun With Color

Brooklyn has been experimenting with color lately. Some of her creations have not been so successful, as seen below: Luckily, the sheets needed to be washed anyway, so I quickly took them off the bed and soaked them in a little bit of bleach before I washed them. They came out snowy white again--at least, until I noticed the other day that she has since colored on my sheets again, but this time down on the edge of the bed where it wasn't as noticeable. I haven't tried to get that stain out yet, but I'm guessing that since I didn't see it right away like I did these stains, it's probably not coming out. I'm trying to tell myself it's just a mark of a healthy, creative child. Brooklyn has also learned about climbing on top of things to reach higher than she could otherwise. She has a small ride-on toy downstairs that i sconstantly being pushed over to the drawers where I store my spare markers and highlighters. To soem degree, I've given up trying to stop her, and simply tried to teach her 'no' when she reaches for the markers. It would probably make more sense to simply move the set of drawers, but I don't know where they would go. Pieces of paper left within her reach are not safe. She doesn't generally rip or crinkle because her favorite activity is to scribble. In a house where everybody likes to write and draw, a pencil is almost always nearby. The top of my computer desk has a myriad of faint scribbles on it. I suppose such is life with a busy toddler and two active boys?
Not all of her experiments have been in vain, though. A few weeks ago on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I piled the kids onto my bed to watch a movie and got out my nail polish. I thought to give myself a pedicure while the kids laid around and watched a movie, but Brooklyn wanted to get in on the action. I painted her toenails bright red that day, and since then have kept them painted various colors. She takes great pleasure in pointing to her 'pretty toes'.

Thursday, May 28

Li'l Brudder

It applies to li'l sistahs too.

Wednesday, May 27

Where is your...

Okay, crazy lady. I'll play. Show me what you've got.

I mock you, you and your 'where is your...' game!

Where is my nose? Are you kidding me? I've known that one for months!

See, I'm a multi-tasker. Nose AND ears all in the same round! Beat that!

Hair.......that's right. Nice stick-up, too!

I see you have acquiesced to my superiority. Life is as it should be.

Tuesday, May 26

Memorial Day

Yesterday our ward had their annual Memorial Day picnic. I went for the first time last year, but I was still in such a fog from losing Ammon about six weeks previous that I barely remember the event. In fact, I believe that the Memorial Day picnic last year was probably the first event we attended, and most people were surprised to see us there. Today, the day (along with most from that period) remain in a foggy haze of pain.

This year, I was looking forward to the picnic with great anticipation. My ward is fabulous. They are kind, cheerful, and wonderful. I feel like such a part of our ward family--which is a weird thing to say, since I AM a part of our ward family. It's impossible to describe. I think, among all the wards that I have been a part of (and there have been many!) this is BY FAR the most loving and the best fit for my family. I mean no offense to those readers who have shared wards with me in the past--but the experiences my familyhas had in this ward have tied us together, and I am so grateful for the people here. They are my family--and I love them as such.

I could attempt to spell this friend's name, but I would fail. Her first name is Martha, and her last name is something to the effect of: Vandemwere. Or something like that. I know exactly how to pronounce it: Van-de-mere. But spelling? I know there's a 'w' in there somewhere, and it messes with me. In my cell-phone directory, they are are simply shortened to Brother and Sister VDM. It's just better that way.
This is sister Richardson, the missing third sister missionary from my TOFW pictures.
Our ward sprung for I don't even know how many pinatas. The kids had SUCH a fabulous time knocking the candy out of them. Alas, my boys missed the event, as one of the other father's in the ward had taken them for a short hike. Regardless, here are all the kids that took part. They were listening impatiently to Brother Cass, who is our ward choir director and another good friend.
Sammie is one of my favorite primary kids. She and her sister Morgan dote on Brooklyn, and spent the better part of the picnic chasing her around and holding her. In fact--probably the best part of the entire picnic was the freedom that my kids had. They disappeared almost immediately when we pulled up, and I only caught brief glimpses of them the entire afternoon. Only at a church gathering can I be so completely secure in their safety that I can relax and let down my guard like that. I was assurred that they would eat, play, and be completely safe with whomever they ended up near. I don't know if every parent in our ward experiences this, or if it's simply a mechanism of our family and our loss, but the lovely people in our ward absorb my kids. They hug them, help them, and dote on them. I cherish that interaction.
These are some people who have been meaningful in my life since we moved here, so even though most of you will never meet them, they are important to me--and being that this is MY journal--I'm going to share them. On the far left here is Catherine, the primary president. Sitting next to her is David, my home teacher. Sitting next to him is Brother who's first name I can't remember and who's last name I don't want to share with cyber-space.
Steve and Rita. They are the parents of Sammie (the girl holding Brooklyn in the picture above) and more dear friends. Rita served with me in the primary presidency before I was released this winter, and exercises with me on Saturday's. She is wonderful.
These are my two FAVORITE missionaries ever, along with my visiting teacher and her husband. I've mentioned Brenda before, she still comes over every Tuesday evening that she is able to and reads the kids stories, helps me tuck them into bed, and do my dishes.
Elder Bevington, who has been in our ward for an unusually long amount of time, dotes on Brooklyn. All the missionaries who have come through our area since Ammon died have been in fairly close contact with our family, and I have enjoyed all of them. This companionship--Elder Park and Elder Bevington--have by far been my favorite. Last I heard they escaped transfers until July, but I know at least one of them will probably be leaving them. I dread it already.

There were several games to be played after we all ate. The kids were having a difficult time with the apple bobbing--they couldn't quite figure out how to put their face far enough into the water and capture the elusive orb.
At least, until Elder Parker decided to show them how it's done.
He's not afraid to soak himself for a good cause!
Shake it off, Elder. Shake it off.
The fruits of victory. So, so sweet.
There where wheelbarrow races...
and potato sack races.
By this time, the rain had started. We stayed as long as we could--sticky, sweaty, and exhausted, we weren't ready for the fun to end.

Soon, the rain began in ernest. I shot one last picture with the missionaries, grabbed children and a spare watermelon, and raced to the car.

Until next year, Cincinnati Eastgate Ward!

Monday, May 25

Truth in Advertising

Tonight I was watching cartoons with Jeremy before bedtime. During the commercial break, an advertisment for our local indoor aquarium came on. It showed a variety of the aquatic life that the aquarium houses, and urged a visit.

The very next commercial? An advertisement for Long John Silver's.

A seafood restaurant.

Friday, May 22

Opening Day

Tomorrow is opening day for the swimming pool at the YMCA. The kids have been anticipating the event for months, and I hear there will be some sort of grilling at the pool to celebrate. I'm sure we'll all come back sunburned tomorrow--and in a weird way, I can't wait. I'll try to take pictures.

Sunday, May 17

Time Out for Women

I wrote earlier today about the event that I was blessed and lucky enough to be part of this weekend--but I wanted to share a little more. I can't express how wonderful, how uplifting--how needed--this weekend was. I was in a huge convention center, surrounded by 1500 like-minded LDS women. We shared tears, spirits, and laughter hardy enough to make my sides ache. I feel re-charge and re-vitalized, prepared to take on my life with all it's ups and downs and make it my own. Make it a success. Make it something beautiful and worthy. I'll never be able to express to the presenters and the organizers, along with the women I worked with to help get the event set up, what an amazing experience it was to work with them. I'm forever changed for having attended this event.
The event started Friday afternoon after I got out of class, but when I tried to take pictures I realized my camera battery was dead. This was taken (early!) Saturday morning as Mary and I dropped Jenny Oaks Baker off at the airport. I heard her play such beautiful music on Saturday night that it brought tears to my eyes, and enjoyed chatting with her on the way to the airport. I'm sure she wouldn't thank me for this makeup-free picture, but I think she's still beautiful--inside and out.
This is myself with Julie and Heidi, two women that I was lucky enough to work with. Julie was the team lead for the entire event, and was responsible for bringing me on board. She's a good friend of mine from church and the gym (we Zumba together!), and I have SO enjoyed working more closely with her the last few months. Heidi I met for the first time on Friday night, but I already feel as though I know her. She lives in the area, and has started up a Mom's group for women who want to work together and do 5K and 10K races for charity. I'm looking forward to spending more time with both Julie and Heidi through this group in preparation for my 5K at the end of the summer.

This is Bobbye, and woman who touched me deeply at the temple a couple of months after Ammon died. She was in the right place at the right time, and recognized my terrible burden of grief without me saying a word. At the end of the temple session almost a year ago, this woman whom I had never met wordlessly held open her arms and held me while I sobbed. We shared some tender moments, and then I left. I thought never to see her again--but on Saturday morning, there she was. I pulled her aside and reminded her who I was, and we again shared tears. I'm so grateful for the people who have been placed in my path throughout the years. This woman is one who touched me deeply--she had no idea at the time how much.

This sister missionaries in our ward were able to attend the event, and sat near us. Sister Hovik leaves our area this week, and I'll miss her!

More friends from our ward--Joanna and Heather. They're sisters, and both dear friends of mine who have been there for me since Ammon died.

Laurel Christensen. Laurel, I know you're going to see this eventually, since you were kind enough to request (firmly!) my blog address. You touched my heart, Laurel. Your smile and kindness made a difference to me, and I wished we had time to sit and talk and talk. You're an amazing woman, and though we may never see each other again, you'll always hold a special place to me. Thank you, for everything.
This is S. Michael Wilcox. He was a presenter, and was so uplifting and comforting. He quoted the scripture that has meant so much to me over the years--the one that I had printed on the back of the funeral program for Ammon. His message, along with his sharing of that scripture--touched my heart, and I was grateful for it.
Hilary Weeks was amazing, kind, funny, and sweet in person. She's not what she appears to be from her albums--she's better! She had such kind words to say to me, words that nearly bowled me over coming from her. I'll share them later when I'm ready to share the story that brought her words on, but she was amazing and I'm grateful for the chance to meet her and spend a little time talking with her. You're an inspiration, Hilary!
Tailgating--Cincinnati style! The only way to eat lunch at TOFW? Tailgate style! We marshaled the troops attending from our ward (most of them) and shared some awesome food, and even better company. Even Chrislyn Woolston joined us, one of the head-honcho's in the TOFW world. What a great way to spend an afternoon!
I think one of the neatest talks of the whole event was this one by Kim Nelson. He was absolutely hysterical in a completely down-to-earth approachable way. Here I took a photo of his 'doily power'. He was trying to figure out a sure-fire way to connect with women, and decided a lacy, frilly doily was the best way to do so.
By the time he declared he was going to leave the doily crooked to irritate the 'doily nazis' and pulled out an enormous centerpiece of glass fruit to complete the look, we were all collectively rolling in the aisles. Later, he played rock music that he had recorded for his wife, and again made the tears roll. Interwoven throughout his hysterics, a touching message was given. I promise, Brother Nelson, to try to be kinder to myself. The whole time he spoke about being kinder to ourselves, I kept thinking about my Virtual Vent post.

Time Out

This weekend was the much-anticipated Time Out For Women event, sponsored by Deseret Book, that I have been on the local staff for for about the last 6 months. I can't believe after all this time the event is come and gone. It was uplifting in ways I can't even fully describe. It was tremendous fun, and a beautiful experience I will remember forever. I have pictures, and will try to get them posted possibly later today. To all of you who read this and were there--I love you, and am grateful for your presence in my life. Thanks for making it a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, May 13

Virtual Vent

Based on an online conversation with a good friend tonight:

Victoria: So what do you do when you feel like the worlds worst mother?

Friend: that happens to me almost everyday...why what happened?

Victoria: I just had a really bad day. Brooklyn is cutting her two year molars, and was up half the night screaming. She whined all day, and I had to miss my aerobics class, personal-training session, and two classes. Then I made dinner, and Kadon refused to eat. He has this infuriating habit of making himself throw up when he doesn't want to eat something, even if it's something he likes. It sends me over the edge even on good days, so today when he did it I completely erupted. I forced him to eat about half of it, but before that I ended up slapping him a couple times because he wouldn't stop crying, and then I screamed some um...pretty foul obscenities. It was just a really, really bad day. Days like today are the ones that make me feel all squirmy and uncomfortable when people approach me and tell me what an 'inspiration I am'.

Friend: I can totally sympathize. They just send you over the edge and you just end up doing things you regret later. I assure you, it happens to us all. Not that it makes you feel any better....

Victoria: I just.......I don't know. I should have been able to handle today better. Other Mom's do. It wasn't Brooklyn's fault that her mouth hurt all day, and that she couldn't sleep. And it wasn't Jeremy and Kadon's fault that I was tired and stressed about all the things I was missing to stay home with her.

Friend: No, other mom's don't...these are the kinds of things a lot of moms just don't talk about

Victoria: I should have been patient, and just spent the day enjoying not having to run everywhere for the first time in weeks--instead I spent the day being a bitch.

Friend: you have A LOT on your shoulders right now....yeah maybe you "should of" been a lot of things but you know, you are still mortal and days like that just do that to us.

Victoria: I feel like I should be better than that. They deserve better than that. If I had just changed my attitude earlier in the day, it probably could have resolved a lot of the tension. I spent all day being stressed about not exercising and some assignments I needed to do--and yet I did nothing to fix it. I could have done an aerobic video. But I didn't. I could have worked on my history paper or my A&P flashcards. But I didn't. Crap, I could have done housework, but I didn't.

Friend: well, there is always tomorrow. Kids are pretty forgiving I have found too.

Victoria: I know. But they shouldn't have to forgive me. I'm supposed to be the adult here.


Victoria: The worst part of it is--today isn't even that unusual! I mean, it was slightly worse than usual, but I'm tense and irritable SO OFTEN. I hate it!

Friend: hummm, I wonder why?

Victoria: BUT THIS IS MY REALITY! BEING TENSE AND BITCHY ALL THE TIME WON'T BRING AMMON BACK! I need to figure out how to deal with it, and stop using it as a crutch for being a crappy Mom. It's just.........a sore spot, I guess. This whole 'you have a reason to be a rotten person' thing. I'm all they have left, you know? And their childhood--these years--they're FLYING by. And I feel SO OFTEN like I'm screwing it up. They have this horrible, stressed, grieving pile of a Mom to deal with, instead of what they should have had. And it's NOT FAIR. Not to them, not to me--not to anybody--but it is what it is. And I SUCK at dealing with it.

Friend: You can only do the best you can and that changes every day, several times a day. I'm sure you've heard this a million times but pray. He wouldn't just take Ammon and leave you stranded.

Victoria: It feels that way sometimes. Actually, it feels like that most of the time. I feel SO much pressure. Everybody keeps telling me 'stop beating yourself up, it takes time, you're under a lot of pressure....', but they don't get it! They try, and I love them for it. But there's no TIME! I have to get it right, right NOW! They're growing up, and this is NOT what I want them to remember. I'm a mess, and I'm not there for them, and I hate myself for that!

Friend: I can totally understand why you feel that way. They do grow up too fast and I think we all look back and think I should of done this different and that different. So, yes, you're are absolutely right. But what else can you do?

Victoria: I don't know. Just be better, I guess.

I'm not sure why I'm even sharing this. Laid pretty bare for the 'net, is one of my darker days of parenting. I guess I post this in the hopes that someday, my kids will read it. Not so they can recall the days (far too frequently) when I'm like this--but so they can see that I hate it. That I WANT to be better. That I'm beating myself up at 10:30 at night for completley losing my shit today.

It shouldn't be this way, but it is. I'm sorry guys, and I'm going to try to do better. You deserve so much--and I want to be the Mommy you deserve. I love you, even on days when I'm a rotten person.

Saturday, May 9


Today turned out to be a good day.