Tuesday, October 20

Off-Kilter

I had a disturbing dream last night, or sometime this morning. In my dream, Ammon was alive and well. I knew, somehow, that I had just imagined being widowed, but I was the only one who remembered it. Ammon had no sense the turmoil that my heart had endured, but he was alive. Strangely, I felt no joy at his sudden presence in my life. My heart didn't lift on seeing him, or hearing his voice--in fact, I was filled with terror. He wanted to go ride his motorcycle. He was trying to tell me goodbye, and he was going to run a quick errand. He wasn't expecting to be gone long, and I knew he wasn't planning on wearing his helmet. In my dream, I was horrified. My throat closed up with fear, and I remembered-all too well-the agony that I had endured when I imagined that I was widowed. I knew beyond a doubt that if he climbed on that motorcycle without a helmet, that my imagination would become reality and I would have to endure the agony of losing him a second time. I pleaded with him. I was completely hysterical, beyond all reason, screaming and crying-begging him to please, just wear his helmet.

I'm pretty sure he agreed, if only to placate me. In victory, though, instead of feeling relief-I felt an even greater sense of impending doom. Have any of you ever seen the movie "Final Destination"? Ammon and I watched it together many years ago. The basic plot is a group of high school students that are scheduled to fly to Paris for an educational trip, only to have the plane suffer a tragic accident moments after takeoff. One of the students, a male, has a flash-forward of this accident while sitting on the plane and waiting for departure, and panics. He begins screaming that the plane is going to crash, that everybody is going to die, that they need to get off the plane. He is escorted off the plane, along with a teacher and several other students who respond to the disruption. As the handful of students and adults, including some airline personnel, stand at the gate as the plane takes off, the unthinkable happens: it explodes, killing everybody on board instantly. The students are all horrified, of course, but an even greater danger is waiting for them: because 'death' was cheated out of their lives, it begins coming after them one by one. They each die grisly deaths, in the order that they would have met their demise on the plane had they remained in their seats. Near the end of the movie, it becomes obvious that death will not be cheated--and every life must be accounted for.

It was this sense of impending doom that haunted me in my dream last night. In saving Ammon from a second death in a motorcycle accident, I only managed to cheat death. In my dream, I was certain that it would find him some other way-and I was powerless to stop it. The terror, the agony, the absolute soul-crushing sadness--it has stuck with me throughout the first half of this day. Losing Ammon once was unspeakably difficult. To be threatened with losing him a second time was so awful I can't even begin to formulate sentences to describe the loss.

I know it was just a dream. But it was awful.

*********************************************************
Jungle Jim's was a lot of fun. It was overwhelming and delightful, and I'm grateful to have spent a few hours perusing the aisles with the sister missionaries. It's labeled an 'International Market' for good reason, and specializes in carrying imported food from every imaginable culture--and some that you wouldn't have imagined. The brochure boasted over 6 acres of aisles--and I don't doubt it. It was foodie heaven--if I didn't have a firm grip on the fact that Ammon is in heaven, I would have been looking for him within the aisles. If there is bliss for souls who are departed, my husband would find his there. I'm sorry we never got to experience it before he died--seeing his eyes light up at the 12 dairy cases full of cheese of varying types would have been a lesson in joy. There was an entire aisle devoted to hot sauce. There were 3 aisles devoted to Indian food alone. There were 6 aisles that held only organic food of every type. The produce section was nearly the size of the Kroger I shop at. Next time anybody comes to visit, THIS will be where I take them. It was truly an incredible, one-of-a-kind experience. I would have taken photos, but they aren't allowed in the store.

Sunday, October 18

Baptism

I'm finally becoming a true, baptized Cincinnati-ite. I will return and report tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 13

Birthday Two

The night before we rode the Pumpkin Patch Express, the kids and I drove to Dayton for the dual purpose of celebrating Brooklyn's birthday with family, and for Angela and I to attend a party together. Traffic ended up being horrific between Cincinnati and Dayton, and the kids and I arrived about an hour later than we had anticipated, so a birthday celebration that was in a time crunch anyway ended up being an extremely rushed affair.

Angela and Mary worked together to prepare a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings, then we proceeded to quickly unwrap the gifts:
She received a new winter coat from me, along with a couple of sweaters, some socks, and a denim jacket.

Mary made her a delightful fleece shawl with lace trim, and a matching hat. She also found several costume-style necklaces and put them in a cute tin, which Brooklyn has had a fabulous time wearing.
My Mom sent a pair of dress shoes.
Angela gave her bath crayons in homage to her penchant for drawing on the wall, along with a purse, necklace, and earring set. The large gift from me was a Fisher Price Princess castle, which everybody in the house has enjoyed playing with.
After the rushed presents, we quickly sang happy birthday, cut each child a piece of cake, and Angela and I rushed out the door to arrive late for our party.
All in all, even rushed and hurried, it was still a great birthday celebration, and Brooklyn had a wonderful time. Happy birthday, sweetheart!
video

Monday, October 12

Pumpkin Patch Express

Just for the record, Blogger has a new format for uploading pictures onto my blog. I don't like it. I had the old system worked out, and knew how to get my pictures in order. This way might actually make more sense, but it's backward from what I'm used to.

Therefore, I don't like it.

Moving on.

Last Saturday, the kids and I went on the Pumpkin Patch Express, a historic train about 40 minutes north of Cincinnati, with Russ, Mary, Angela, and her kids. We caught the train in Lebanon, rode 45 minutes, and spent an hour at a small farm. Then we hopped back on the train and rode another 45 minutes back to the station. It was a lot of fun, and I'm especially grateful that the kids got to experience riding a train, something I've never even done before!

Because I couldn't figure out the new picture system, these pictures are all out of order. This is actually at the farm, halfway through our trip.



The kids each got to select a pumpkin to take home, and though Jeremy lobbied for this one, he was declined.
I asked Angela to take this picture of Kadon and I, thinking he would smile sweetly for the camera and I'd get a tender shot of the two of us. The child foiled my plans with his snarl, and I think it turned out pretty cute anyway. That's my Kadon, always a ham. He was actually pretty cranky on this trip, but only to the other adults. He was fine with me, but was quite surly to Angela and Mary. I've noticed he does that sometimes, and I'm not quite sure how to combat it because generally I don't notice that it's happening until somebody else tells me.

There was an open air car on the train that we all enjoyed riding on for at least part of the trip. It was a bit chilly, and that car ended up being crowded both directions, but the sunshine was lovely after several days of rain in the area.

It has been so lovely to have family near, with kids that are close enough in age to enjoy spending time together. Thanks for the lovely day, guys!

Thursday, October 8

Visitors


Ode to Fleas
Oh, how I hate you.
You make my dog itch
and my kids see black specks
You get in my carpet.
and infest my dog.
I hate your little bodies
and your legs that jump high.

I dropped too much money
on ridding the house
of your infestious presence
and I'm kicking you out.

We're fogging,
we're spraying,
we're washing,
we're soaking.

If you know what was good,
you'd just leave today.

Tuesday, October 6

General Conference

I know I have many readers of this blog that are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Many of you are aware that I am a member, but I'm sure there are a few that aren't. I have tried to remain carefully non-confrontational when I discuss my faith here because I feel it is more important to share my journey with grief honestly and openly, than risk losing readers by making my personal blog a missionary tool. I still feel that way. I don't wish to alienate the loyal non-member readers I have by preaching about a gospel that has sustained me through the worst loss of my life. To have each of you know that it HAS, in fact, sustained me is enough.


Most of the time, that is.


This past weekend was a glorious spiritual feast for me. Every six months, the leaders of our church-including the living prophet-gather together in Salt Lake City, Utah, and broadcast five meetings. They are each two hours in length, with two each on Saturday and Sunday, and the fifth session being held Saturday night. The fifth session is focused on the men in our church. The weekend before General Conference, there is a similiar meeting focused for the women in our church, which I attended. To Latter Day Saints outside Utah, conference can be viewed either in a broadcast at their local LDS church building, or can be accessed on the Internet. I was grateful to be able to enjoy the inspiring talks from the comfort of my couch, and thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in my faith for two days.


When I heard this talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, it made me squirm in my seat. He gave the single most powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon that I have ever heard. I have embedded a clip here, and I hope that whatever your religious stance-you will take the time to view it. It's a powerful testimony, and even if you don't feel the same, his faith is a beautiful thing to witness.

The reason for my squirming?  Have I done the same?  Have I gone forth, before the world, and declared my testimony not only of this book, but of this church? 

I know that posting this video, and this testimony, on my blog is not declaring anything before the world.  But it's a start, and it's a reminder to myself to be more open about my faith.  I think oftentimes I don't want to be seen as a zealot, or alienate my friends and neighbors by 'pushing' my faith on them, and that hasn't changed.  I do feel the need to declare this, though:

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I believe with all my heart that Joseph Smith went into the woods to pray, and God and Jesus Christ appear to him.  I believe that was he was directed to find and obtain the Plates of Brass, and that from those he was able to translate modern day scripture-the Book of Mormon.  This book, these words, are true.  I base my life around its teachings, and find unspeakable comfort in its passages.  There are now true ways about it.  Each of us has the right and the obligation to make our own religious choices, and I would be remiss to remove that choice.  It doesn't change the truth of this book, or the truthfulness of this church. 

I know it. 

Now you know that I know it too.

Sunday, October 4

Two

My baby, my angel, my sweet little girl. Today, you turn two. At this time two years ago, your brothers were getting ready to meet you for the first time. You were a much anticipated addition to our family, the finishing touch on our beautiful portrait of love. I cherished my pregnancy with you. Amidst the nausea, the insomnia, the fatigue, and the general aches and pains of pregnancy, I knew it would be my last. I held you close in my womb, and was simultaneously reluctant to part with you, yet undeniably eager to hold you in my arms and to feel your warmth against my chest.



In two years, you have grown into a beautiful, charming little girl. You are still my baby. Perhaps you will always be my baby. Your tiny stature doesn't help your case there, today you tip the scales at slightly less than 26 pounds, and still fit comfortably in the curve of my arm and on my hip. You have recently started running, and trying to jump. Your words are getting more plentiful, and have been strung together many times into sentences. You're passionate. You make your wants and your desires known. Loudly. Emphatically. Theatrically, at times.



I delight in your emerging abilities and independence, and mourn the passage of days past. For so many reasons, leaving your babyhood behind means leaving behind a life that used to be ours. I wish, so much, that your Daddy could see you today. I wonder what kind of relationship the two of you would have had. I wonder if he would have been able to be tough with you, like he was with your brothers when they warranted it, or if he would have been putty in your capable hands, leaving me to mete out the discipline. I search within you for glimpses of him, knowing that if they are there, they will be present purely through the genetic link that you share with him.



You are right handed, my angel. I hoped against hope that you would pick up my recessive gene and join the ranks of lefties, but you foil me. Your eyes share the same gorgeous blue of your oldest brother, your hair the same golden shade. You are undeniably beautiful, but the spirit shining through your eyes intensifies what your body has given you.


I'm so grateful to have you, Brooklyn. It look me a long time to decide I wanted a daughter, so immersed I was in all things boy, but you have been a balm to my soul. When the ache of missing and longing, wishing and dreaming, in the last 18 months has become too intense, I have gathered you closer to me. I hope I haven't placed too heavy a burden on you, sweetheart. You glisten with happiness today. You shimmer with promises of greatness, and the possibilities of the life you have ahead of you.

Thank you for letting me mother you. Thank you for coming into my life and enriching it. We are all blessed to have you part of us. Watching your older brothers interact with you has been an education in tolerance and love. They are alternately irritable with a pesky and meddlesome little sister, and tender of her feelings and desires. To watch you gleefully wrap your arms around them when they get home from school, and the concerned look in your eyes when they walk away from you warms my heart from top to bottom, and back again.

I love you, Princess. Happy Birthday.

Saturday, October 3

Basement-Midpoint

This picture was taken as I stood at the top of the stairs, in the doorway that leads into the kitchen.
At the bottom of the stairs, I stopped and took a photo straight ahead.


Then, I turned around and maneuvered so I could get a shot of my food storage area. There is a utility sink that you can barely see along the bottom edge of this picture, and my washing machine is directly underneath the stairs.
For this picture I stood a little bit further out in the room, and took a picture of the same area. On the right edge you can see the water heater, with the furnace next to it. The washer and dryer are separated in this basement, which took a bit of getting used to. The strip of carpet is nice when the basement is cold and I have to do laundry late at night!
Okay, for this shot I basically turned around and took a shot of the right side of the room. Over here I have my little 'office' of sorts.
This is the bookcase that you could just see the edge of in the previous picture.
For this picture I stood against the far the wall and took the long shot to the other end of the room. To the left you can see the furnace, and along the right edge of the picture are the toys that were in the picture I took at the bottom of the stairs. The stairs are just beyond the left edge of this shot.
For this picture I stood basically where the green rug was in the previous picture. My food storage is the other side of the wall that the tall bookcase and microwave cart are. That wall didn't exist before, but my landlord decided to put it in the break up the space a little bit. I didn't like the idea at first, but now that it's in I'm grateful for the division between my laundry/storage and the television area.
This is a shot back toward the other end of the basement. For some reason, I don't have pictures of the spare bedroom down here. You can see on the right side of the far end of the basement that there is obviously a room next to the laundry area, the bookcase that I pictured before is on the wall of the bedroom. I'll try to get some pictures taken and posted soon.
At the point these pictures were taken, the walls had been hung, the ceiling drywalled, carpet laid, and everything primed. Since then, I have painted the walls and ceiling, and am extremely pleased with the homey feeling it created downstairs. I haven't decided yet what to do with the bedroom area that is in desperate need of some color, but the budget for paint has run out. Maybe in the spring...

Friday, October 2

Basement-Before

To really, truly appreciate the 'after' pictures of my basement, you must first appreciate that this is the before:Everybody banded together to get the job done, including my landlord (in the khaki's) and one of the young men in the ward that my landlord hired to do some work at the house.
Another man in the ward, brother to the young man, did a large amount of the work, including painting the entire upstairs in colors of my choice, along with odd jobs that are too numerous for me to mention.

I literally couldn't picture myself living here with the basement in this state, and may not have taken the house if the landlord hadn't agreed to let Russ hang drywall before I moved in.

I'll try to post the 'middle' pictures tomorrow. It's a transformation I'm proud of, though I had little to do with it other than request that it be done.