Wonders, Worries &What-Nots

Wonders, Worries & What-Nots

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Fitting Room Celebrations

I was looking forward to time to myself today.  After lunch with the family, I stopped at the gas station and got a Diet Dr. Pepper.  Such a treat!  I drove to Old Navy because I had $50 in rewards to spend there (since the GAP closed).  It was so fun to go on a shopping spree and try on clothes.  I was grabbing two sizes, not sure what size I would fit in.  I don't mean to sound dramatic, (although it kind of is a dramatic change to lose 50 pounds), but when I was in the changing room, I got a little teary eyed.  Things were fitting.  I had choices.  I felt good about myself.  I did a dance in front of the mirror!  Some of you will never fully understand because you have never been there- that spot where nothing fits or looks good, where your confidence is non-existent and you hate shopping.   Before, I couldn't fit in the clothes I wanted to in stores.  I had to shop in the big girl section or at Lane Bryant.  Now, I can shop anywhere!  It hit me all of a sudden in that fitting room. Now, I know that this dress isn't the most flattering, but it is so comfortable that I really don't care.  I took this pic because for the first time in such a long time, everything fit and I felt good in everything!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Reclaiming My Confidence

It's crazy to me how carrying around a lot of excess weight, weighs you down in more ways than one.  When I gain weight, my confidence gets swallowed up and cowers in the midst of me.  I know it's there somewhere, but the anxiety, fear, doubt, and negative wonders overpower it.  I notice my cowering confidence in social settings, like when I meet new people.  Or, when i am in a restaurant wondering if i can squeeze between tables to get to our table or if I can fit comfortably in a booth.  I notice it with colleagues, wondering if I am hiding my rolls even a little bit and losing confidence in speaking up.  I notice it with my family, wondering if Jaely realizes yet that she has a "fat" mom and wondering if she is at the age yet where she will be embarrassed to have me meet her new friends.  I notice my cowering confidence when TJ wraps his arms around me for a kiss.  I especially notice it in front of my students as they stare at me all day long, wondering what they may say about me on the playground or if they will use me as an example of an adverb again and say "Mrs. Ellis walked fatly across the classroom." I know it sounds like I think people watch me and talk about me all the time.  I'm really not self-centered, at  least I don' think! I know that is not the case.  I know it is a mental issue, but whatever it is, it is real

The thing is I know that with the weight gain, my confidence suffers.  I know that i feel so much better when i eat better, but sometimes it just takes the right something to flip a switch in your mind and to do something about it.  I am so glad that happened. . . again, but this time, I am hoping to change and mold my mind and habits differently.

I cannot begin to explain the happiness and confidence i feel with 40 pounds gone.  I smile more.  I have more energy.  I have confidence, not cowering, but proud.  And, it's not the kind of confidence that thinks I am all that, it is the kind of confidence of being happy with who I am and knowing that what I say is important and matters.  It is a wonderful feeling to be able to slip pants on that you haven't worn in a long time, to go out to a store and try things on just because you want to see what new size you are, and to spring out of bed anxious to step on the scale or take measurements and start drinking water.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

I Cried

I cried this morning, rather expectantly.  It just sneaked up on me and caught me off guard while I was busily getting ready for the party today.  It hit me that 5 years ago today, I was carrying around 14 pounds of baby and anxiously awaiting their arrival.  We always said we were 'prepared not to be prepared."  How can you be?  Babies are miraculous, complicated, and emotion making responsibilities.  You can't be prepared for that.

And now, already 5 years later, here they are.  No more toddlers toddling around.  No more bottles, squishy diaper butts, high chairs, crawling, drooling, up in the middle of the nights.  It's all gone.  While in the midst of all that, the sleep deprived days were so very long, yet the years were/are so very short.  My babies have grown up.  No more babies. It makes me sad, but at the same time, so proud of their independence.  Five. years. old. 


So, I cried.  I cried in remembering their squishy diaper butts and the smell of their sweet hair.  I cried thinking about all the milestones they have already reached- walking, talking, riding a bike, writing, and dreaming of the ones they will hit in the future.  I cried because my mom should have been at this party celebrating her grandsons.  I cried because there are two of them and wanting to make it special for each boy.  I cried with an overwhelming feeling of being so incredibly blessed- a husband who is a true partner and teammate and doesn't roll his eyes at an idea like a monster truck watermelon, two daughters who are so unbelievable, and two boys who make me a better person and a better mom.  I cried out of guilt, knowing that I was a little harsh on the little monsters that were making messes faster than I could clean up.  I made it a goal for the next get together to be more aware of that and a little less uptight about it.  I cried out of joy, out of letting go, and out of blessings.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Seeking Balance

The definition of balance is "a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions."

As school begins tomorrow, I am striving to keep balance in my life.  There are so many "different elements" I have in my life and keeping them in the right proportions is a tremendous feat.  School tends to disproportionately take my time and my energy, leaving little left for my family and my health.  Recently, about seven weeks ago, I made health a priority.  Before, it wasn't even considered.  So, although I am thankful that my health is getting great attention, it means there are even more "elements" to keep in check and keep balanced.  Thankfully, the program I am on is easy.  There have been many back to school seasons where I am on a diet or a program, and as soon as the stress of school presents itself, I struggle.  When I struggle, I make mistakes.  When I make mistakes, I give up.  When I give up, I gain 50 pounds.  Not this time.  I am learning that it's not about perfection, but about the process.  This year, some things at school are just going to have to be okay.  And, I hate that.  I hate not giving it my all, but my all is never enough anyway.  My kids, my husband, my health deserve attention as well.  I am trying to accept that there are deadlines I may not make.  There are best practices I might not be able to do.  There is feedback that might not be as timely as I would like.  I am going to do the best I can with the time and energy that I can give to school.  I am going to be mindful of balance.  I am going to take care of myself and my family.  I refuse to get sucked into the stress.  If you see me, ask how I am doing with my goal of balance.  Better yet, ask my kids how they think I am doing with it.  That will be a truthful perception.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Realization while Running

I am going to try to capture my emotions and thoughts into words, knowing that I will fail miserably, but knowing that I need to at least try.  I owe it to myself to get this in writing, to make it more imprinted on my brain so when I need it again, it will be there.

I was almost done with my jog.  This was the first time I have run with music, and I have to say it makes such a huge difference.  It pushes me and takes my mind off of it at the same time.  Anyway, I was heading into my cool down walk, when the music changed.  It is picking at random from my playlist.  The song that came on right as I was beginning to walk, was one of the songs that we played over and over and over again eight years ago when we were in the hospital giving birth to our first born child.  We played this album while my contractions were getting closer and closer together and more intense.  We played this album as I was pushing and getting ready to meet my Jaelybug.  We played it in the days following her birth in the hospital as we adjusted to this parenting thing and learned how to take care of a newborn.  I remember this song playing as I held my first child and studied her eyelashes, her fingernails, and her perfect mouth and nose.

As I was walking, with the sun setting and lighting up the sky with pinks and oranges, I began to cry.  The day I had Jaely was the day that I felt the most accomplished I had ever felt.  I had succeeded.  I had done it when I didn't think I could.  I had shown myself my strength, and I was far stronger than I ever knew.  I felt like I could do anything.

So, this is my realization- If I can grow people, and push them out (all 9 pounds 4 ounces of Camryn). . . if I can grow two people at once, and push one out breech while holding on to the other boy I just birthed, then I am strong enough for this journey.  These kids are my why.  They are my inspiration.  They are my motivation.  They are my why.  If I was strong enough to bring them into this world, then I can do this.  I can get healthy for them . . . for me.  I am strong enough to run.  I am strong enough to say no to seconds.  I am strong enough to have control over my portions.  I am strong enough to take care of me.  I am strong enough.  I had forgotten just how strong I am until that song played and it all came flooding back.  I am a person who deserves health.  I am strong, and somehow, I had lost sight of this.

Tonight at dinner, the kids got really into hearing stories about when they were babies.  TJ and I enjoyed reminiscing over what each baby was like- they were all so different.  We joked how our rule follower was the most difficult as a baby.  And, I thought how fun it would be if my mom were able to tell my kids about how I was as a baby.  These kids are my why.  I will be around to tell their kids about what their parents were like as a baby.  I will be because I am strong enough for this journey.  It is mine, and I got this.  Just look what I've done so far!
Jaelynne gail

Camryn Elizabeth

Tobin and Bryson

Before Weight Watchers
After joining Weight watchers- October 2015

During and before Weight Watchers

Monday, April 04, 2016

Today I Fasted

Today I didn't eat a thing.  I found it almost easier than eating and staying in points.  I am such an all or nothing girl.  I have been off of the plan for a little over a month.  It all started when I got exhausted and sick and stopped exercising and I just couldn't get back on.  I ate horribly and everything in sight.  All or nothing.  I guess I didn't go back to all of my old habits, like a 20 oz of Dew a day, but I went back to plenty of them. 

I fasted today to remind myself that food doesn't control me.  I control it.  I fasted today as a reminder that I don't need food to celebrate, to help with stress, or to watch a movie with my husband.  I have given it too much power lately.  I can enjoy a movie with TJ without eating.  I am not saying that I will never eat for those reasons again, but today, I chose not to at all.  It was a great reminder.  I put leftovers away without taking bites (and it was my favorite rice).  I threw the food away on the boys' plates instead of picking at it.  I made lunch for the family and didn't eat.  Take that food!  You don't control me!

Tomorrow, I will eat, but I am going to eat veggies, fruits, and lean meat and stay away from the other stuff for a bit longer.  I am not strong enough for any trigger foods yet (crackers, honey nut cheerios, tortilla chips).
I can eat anything on the plan, but I need to be strong enough to limit portions and to limit points, and I am not there yet.   I am tracking and exercising and hoping to turn this 13 pound gain around.  I am not giving up.  I am not stewing in my failure.  I am looking ahead and getting excited for warmer weather and a healthier me.  I feel so much better when I take care of myself, so I just got to get there. 

When I look at this picture, I am reminded of how far I have come.  I can do this!  I will not go back to this lacking confidence, unhealthy, uncomfortable mama.

I have my eye on my goal- losing 50 pounds by June 13th.  It's a hefty one, but I know I can do it! 

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Thirteen years ago today, life was going about its normal ways.  I was a long term sub in a third grade classroom for a teacher who had passed away unexpectedly.  TJ was teaching at Muskegon.  I was hoping for a snow day the next day.  I am sure we ate "TJ's chicken" for dinner, had my almost daily phone conversation with my mom, and graded papers until bed time.  No kids. No house, just a tiny apartment in Whitehall, where the kitchen was so small it wouldn't fit our microwave.  Such a normal day where I took everything for granted. . . especially my conversation with my mom.

The next day, my first call of the day was to tell me I had a snow day.  I was so excited!  I did my snow day dance, and tried to gain a little composer in front of TJ who still had school.  Muskegon never closed back then.  I went back to bed.  My second call of the day will be forever etched in my mind.  It was a call that changed everything.  I remember everything about it, from where I was standing to what I was wearing to what words were said.  It was George, my step dad, in a frantic, scared voice telling me that something happened to my mom and they were going in an ambulance.  He had to let me go because they were leaving.  He hung up.  I paced.  I worried.  I made some calls to family to have them pray.  Then, I called the hospital searching for some information about my mom.  They put me in touch with George and I remember him saying, "She didn't make it."  I had to have him repeat himself.  I was in complete disbelief.  How can such a normal, average day turn out to be so horrible?

I remember all the details that followed, from trying to get a hold of TJ at work to throwing up, but I don't need to go into all that.

Today, I am reminded of how fragile life is, how it can change in a blink of an eye, with one phone call.  I will forever have a sort of emptiness in my heart, a spot that can never really be filled.  I still reach for the phone to call my mom- I did when I got offered a permanent teaching position, when we closed on our first house, when my thesis was published, when I found out I was pregnant all three times, and losing 44 pounds
.  Thankfully, the tears have been less and now I smile at memories, instead of cry.  I have so many good memories of her.
I hope I dream of my mom tonight.  I so do miss her.  I miss our phone conversations and dancing in the kitchen.  I miss her sauteed mushrooms and the sound of her laugh.  I miss her lingering hugs and shopping with her.  I miss her fuzzy slippers and everything pink.  I miss her.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Inspire- (V) to move someone to act, create, or feel emotions

I have a favorite shirt that I wear when I do a work out.   It is a dull gray with purple and pink letters that spell out "Inspire."  I often chuckle in my head as I grab it to put on.  The word inspire is so close to perspire, which I do a lot of lately.  I never thought much about that shirt, until recently.  Last night when I grabbed it, instead of laughing, a smile spread across my face.

In the last few days, I have had a number of people tell me, message me, write to me on Facebook, and text me that I am inspiring to them.  What? Who, me??  The first person that told me, I just smiled and said thank you and went on with what I was doing.  But as I heard from more and more people (friends, family, Facebook acquaintances, co-workers, former bosses, etc. )all in a short amount of time, I began to listen. . . and think. . . and reflect.

I am being quite verbal about my journey, probably annoyingly so to some, but I am realizing that being vocal about my journey and sharing my successes, my frustrations, and my goals, I am inspiring some to become healthier. . . to become happier.  Wow- what an amazing feeling!  What really made me smile was when people told me specifically how they were inspired by me-  everything from taking a picture of their daily mii character to drinking more water to exercising almost everyday to giving up half of their Coke intake to eating healthier and with smaller portions.  I even got told that I would make a good weight watcher leader some day.

It also made me realize that more people need to tell their stories and their journeys, so that we, too, may be inspired by them.  We all have so much others can learn from and be inspired by.

I have a long way to go on this journey.  It's not a diet, it is my new lifestyle.  It is for life.  I could use a little inspiration too along the way, and I just got a ton by different people telling me that I have inspired them to become healthier.
Thanks to those of you who shared that with me.  I know for some, it was a step out of your comfort zone to let me know.  It is greatly appreciated!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Power of a Picture

I LOVE this picture-
The way Jaely is standing
The smile on her face that is just a hint of excitement she had on this day
The way we match
The reminder to me of when I used to go into my mom's classroom on Take Your Child to Work Day.  I loved going in with her and seeing how she taught and interacted with her students.  I loved helping out in her classroom, doing her bulletin boards, cleaning, etc. 
Brought back a flood of so many wonderful memories.
I hope to have a picture every year on this day, eventually having Camryn come too.
Our smiles

I HATE this picture-
I knew I have gained a lot of weight, but this picture shoved that reality in my face.
My chubby little arms, round face, multiple chins, pregnant looking belly, thick legs. 
It has inspired me.

Now I have this picture on my refrigerator and on my phone.  Because of this photo, I used some tax return money to join weight watchers.  I can do this.  I will do this.  Now that the boys are older, sleeping through the night, walking, etc, I have no excuses.  I am exhausted, but it isn't like it was.  I must do this for my kids and for me. I will do this.  I will get healthier.

Wish me luck.  Pray for me. Encourage me.
Thanks! (and a special thanks to the person who took this picture, for so many reasons.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Letter to my Mom

Dear Mom,

If I really could write you a letter, stick a stamp on it, and run it out to the mailbox knowing you would read it in a couple days, I would.  I would write you all the time.  But, this is going to have to do, and I am going to pretend, if just for a moment, that you are completely up to date with all the changes that have taken place since I have last talked to you- you know the stuff like getting a teaching job, buying a house, getting my master's degree, and being the mother to FOUR kids.  If this was just another letter, I would stick to one topic, so here I go with the one topic.

I am sorry.  I am sorry for all the times I teased you and laughed at you for all your nap taking.  You have to admit Mom, you were a professional nap taker- anywhere, anytime, thru anything (kind of like TJ).  Remember you would come right home from school, get into your pajamas and slippers and take a nap, a long nap?  Looking back, I can't believe you even took your bra off that early.  What were you thinking??!!  Even though you drank coffee through the entire day, you were exhausted enough to take a long nap.  I remember on the weekends, you would wake up about 9 and sit in your chair.  Then you would shift to the couch and read the newspaper and look at the ads.  Then, you took a nap.  That was the nap I made the most fun of you for.  Seriously???  Reading the newspaper made you that tired?

I am reminded of this often as I pull into the driveway after a long day at school, wanting so badly to take a nap, but knowing I can't.  This Saturday after giving the kids breakfast and playing with the boys, I got an overwhelming tired feeling, like I just had to sleep.  And I laughed.  Knowing I couldn't sucked, but at that moment, I totally understood your need for a nap at that time.  It's call catch up.  Now I know that as a high school teacher, you were exhausted, like me.  You corrected your little heart out every weekend.  You parked yourself on the couch in your pajamas with your pink gradebook binder, your pink pen, and your pink coffee mug and corrected mountains of Shakespearean Essays, persuasive pieces, grammar tests, news articles for the school paper, and narratives.  You worked endless hours, made countless lesson plans, corrected mountains of papers, and built relationships with hundreds of kids.  That is exhausting.  That is nap worthy. 

So, I wanted to write you this letter to apologize, to let you know that I get it.  I understand why sometimes when your head hit the pillow, you audibly moaned with glee.  I now understand why you raced down the hall to get your pajamas on because I now race down the stairs to get my sweats on (i keep my bra on though.  You really should have too!).  I now understand why you took naps on the weekend, sometimes two a day.  Teaching is exhausting.  Being a parent is exhausting.  I can imagine that being a single parent is even more exhausting.  You did it all.  And you deserved those naps.  So, i get it. 

Let's pretend that I write you all the time, but I just had to send this to apologize.  So, I don't need to tell you how full my life is, yet there is still a hole from your absence.  I don't need to tell you how amazing it is to be a mom of four and of twins.  I don't need to tell you that TJ is the most incredible partner on this journey that I could ever ask for.  He loves me for me.  He loves our kids. He sees this as teamwork and gives 100%.  We dream of growing old together and being a grandma and grandpa together (after we get to experience an empty nest, of course!).  I don't need to tell you that I love my job and my students, but sometimes I feel like I am not going to make it.  I don't need to tell you that I miss you incredibly because every letter would have said that.
I love you.
I appreciate what you did for us.
I get it.

I think i will go take a nap!
Love Always,

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hi mom! It's Me.

I wanted so badly tonight on my way home from work to pick up the phone and call my mom.  It had been a very long week, full of added stress at school.  I just wanted to talk to her.  To hear her voice.  To laugh.  I was wondering what she would think, as a high school English teacher, of this ridiculous m-step test we are to give our students.  Would she be just as stressed as I am?  Would she worry about how her students would react at its ridiculous, unrealistic demands?  Would she stay quiet and just do as she is told?  Probably not.  It would be fun to bitch about it with her.

I wanted to talk to her about being a mom, specifically being a mom of twins.  I wanted to tell her that we're doing it, this parenting thing. We are so tired, but we are doing it.  Our kids are amazing.  Our kids are healthy and beautiful and smart.  There are nights where i just want to cry and collapse.  There are times when TJ and I look at each other and know, without saying a word, that we are so very blessed.  I wanted to tell her that one of my favorite times is going in to watch the kids sleep- Bryson with his booty in the air and his legs tucked under him with a loopie by his cheek, Tobin flat on his tummy with his ankles crossed and one binky in his drooling mouth and another in his hand, Camryn with her booty in the air and her hair covering her face to the point it is difficult to tell which side her face is on, and Jaely sprawled out with her robot blanket and her mouth hanging open.

I wanted to share motherhood with her.  I never got a chance to compare stories, to ask questions. . . about anything major in life really.  I got my first teaching job just two months before she passed away.  We bought our first house, our first car, had our first child all after she had passed.  So much in life as changed, but I still want to call her.

I want to share so that someone will begin to understand how difficult having twins is.  How when you really think about the nitty gritty, you begin to see how everything can be a struggle.  It is a wonderful, exciting, interesting struggle, but it is a struggle.  Two trips to drop them off at daycare, two trips to pick them up.  Two winter jackets to put on and zip up, two lunches to pack, two pairs of shoes to try to put on feet, two outfits every day that need to be washed, two boys at the doctors office and running around the room, two teethers who need to sleep, two baths to give and diapers to change and buy, two carts when you go shopping, two hungry boys demanding food at the same time, two daycare bills, two high chairs to clean, two crying at the same time and wanting to be held. . .

Many people don't think of all that.  They think of all the good stuff- and there is PLENTY of good stuff.  I don't mean that, but I think my mom would get it.  I think she wouldn't keep telling me how "cool" it would be to have twins.  She would get the struggle along with the good.  Because Camryn still needs so much, she would get why going places would be so difficult.  One boy for me and one boy for TJ, but then who is with Camryn?  This goes for everything from going out to eat (if we had money!) to going sledding to going to the aquatics center for open pool time. 

I would also share the pure joy that fills my heart to hear both boys laughing as they crawl over TJ, to see them both smile when I see them for the first time in the morning, to hear them both babble to one another, to watch them give hugs and blow kisses, to watch them learn new things every day, to watch them love their big sisters, to tickle both their tummies, to watch their "firsts" be experienced together, to watch their personalities develop. . . . such joy both bring!

I know as the girls get older too, I am going to keep wishing I could just call me mom.  I am sure I would roll my eyes at the stories she would tell me about when I was their age (and rolled my eyes back then, too).  I would love to her the stories.  I don't have the best memory, like my oldest brother Jered.  I have always been so jealous of his clear memories.  Jason just makes up the stories, but Jered really remembers with great detail.  I got nothing!

I would also share how I am getting fatter every day and feel so out of control with it that i am sick about it.  I know with my mom's history, I have to be get my weight down.  She struggled too, but never this badly. . . . but she didn't have twins, two older kids and work full time, either.  Ugh!

My heart just aches so badly and there is nothing that can be done.  I can't talk to her.  I can't hear her voice and listen to her advice or listen to her complaints about school and this dumb test.  I really miss having "that person" to call.  No one is like my mom was on the phone.  TJ comes very, very close, but i couldn't call him because I knew he had a car full of our kids.  And he is in the thick of it with me.  I needed an outsider!

So I came here.  My computer doesn't hug like my mom.  It won't take me in its arms and dance with me around the kitchen while wearing pajamas and fluffy slippers.  It won't even laugh.  Or even nag.  I would even take a mom nag right about now.

This will pass.  Tomorrow, may be better and I may not feel the ache.  I haven't in awhile, so maybe it will go as quickly as it came.  One can hope.  Until then, thanks for listening in a weird sort of way, Mom.  I love you and miss sharing this journey of life with you.  Now to go grade papers on this Friday night. . . just like she did.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Closeness of Dad

My parents got a divorce when i was three.  I remember it pretty vividly, or maybe i just remember the story that was told over and over again.  I remember all 5 of us gathered in our dining room on Echo Drive.  Looking back and knowing other children's stories now, I am thankful that my parents came together to let us know together.  In front of us, they were very civil to one another- going to our parent teacher conferences together, orchestra concerts, improv shows, musicals and plays, and basketball games.  When my dad moved out, it felt like he moved across the state from a three year old's perspective.  In reality it was 10 minutes away, in the same town.  We would visit every weekend and have buttered noodles (that is something we all ate), watch TV, play game systems, build forts, or play board games, and go swimming. 

When I got older, my dad moved up north.  It was difficult keeping the same relationship that we once had, especially since neither one of us like the phone.  In the summer, I would go visit him, but it was hard not having a constant connection with him. I, too, was busy- with school, church youth group, a boy named TJ.

When i got even older, summer visits continued with a few hours here and there at holidays.  We both still hated the phone.  My life got even busier with marriage, teaching, and then children.  Jaelynne loved going to visit my dad up north.  Although when the girls were babies, they would cry at the sight of my dad.

Today, my dad gave up his job, the rolling hills, and his quiet country living and moved close to me.  I am shocked what a difference to me it makes.  It is amazing to have day to day connections.  Instead of talking about the big stuff during summer visits, we can talk about the day to day stuff.  My girls love seeing their Beepa so much and are getting used to just having him around and stopping by or seeing him at the farmers market.  The boys haven't cried at the sight of my dad. . . yet.  And i don't think they will.  They know him.  They know his voice and they know that he feeds them.  We can borrow things from each other and pass them back and forth.  He can stop over with amazing lemon blueberry bread when i am having a rough day.  He can get weekly snuggles from his snuggle bunny and snuggle bug and attend things like gymnastics, the girls' school events, swimming lessons, graduation, sing-a-longs, or soccer games.  He can listen to Jaely read a book, play babies with Camryn or push the stroller weekly.  He can meet us at the park, pizza hut, Lewis Farms, or school.  And the roles have seemed to switch a little.  I can encourage him to get out and meet people by pointing out different activities and events that are happening around us.  I can keep an eye on him and visit or check in on him if I haven't heard from him in awhile- instead of him being stranded alone  in a snow storm without power or a charged cell phone and down trees blocking his driveway.

I am so thankful that my children are really going to know their Beepa and are creating fond memories with him. . . and I am glad that he is a part of my day-to-day life.
 I love you Daddy-O!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Visit to My House Growing Up

I thought it would look different than how i remembered it.  I had lived there for 20 years, but have been moved out of it for 15 years.  Besides the oxygen tanks, medical supplies, oven, and a few minor changes, it looked the same.  The dishes were still stacked the same in the cupboard.  Tooth pick holders, table cloths, napkins, and the big ceramic turkey still were in the china cabinet.  The pink bathroom counter and the harvest gold kitchen counter were still there.  The Sweet Violet salt shaker had salt and was by the stack of Sweet Violet bowls that were used for our bridal shower.  The same rock and brick were used to keep the shed door closed and the patio furniture was all stacked outside.  The Japanese Maple was the same size. The green carpet going downstairs seemed just as worn out as when I moved out.  The house, especially the kitchen, seemed smaller, but clothes were still hung in the closets and commonly used phone numbers and addresses (from 12 years ago) were still taped to the inside cupboard by my mom's captain chair in the dining room.  It was surprisingly the same.  Time seemed to have slowed down in that house.  Part of George seemed to have just stopped living when my mom died over 10 years ago.

Of course, some things were different.  Her gardens were taken over by weeds, the pond was all filled in, Sammy wasn't there, the deck railing was wobbly, the picnic table was rotten, the arbor's paint was peeling, and the trellis was broken. 

It always amazes me too, how when someone dies, everything is just left in its place.  Cell phones are still plugged in getting charged, cups are in the sink, mail continues to be delivered.  It was like George could have walked in at any time, but he didn't.  He won't.  Ever again.  There was a worn picture of my mom sitting at the spot that George spent his days- at the kitchen table, across from the TV.  Mike told me that he would switch the picture out every now and then, but he always had one near.  Her purse was just tucked away in a drawer, with her things still in it.  Her wedding dress still hung in the closet with her denim jacket that she had decorative pins on the lapel.  Life just continues on. It doesn't even seem to pause.  When I heard about George and was trying to wade through my feelings of grief and regret, I had four kids trying to play with me.  Life didn't even pause to let me process how I felt.  And now Mike, as he tries to figure out what to do with his dad's estate, is left with dealing with the responsibility of his life that just keeps going and dealing with the responsibility that comes with the death of his father and a life that has ceased. 

I am grateful for a chance to walk through my childhood house once again.  Jered, Mike,  and I talked about many memories, smiled at the same ol' same ol', and a few random things got me choked up.  Things that took me off guard.  I hope I can help Mike if he needs it.  Clearing out the house will be quite a chore.  It is packed full of stuff.  And, as i walked around it, i reminded myself that it is just stuff.  I don't need everything that belonged to my mom.  It isn't her.  It is just stuff.  A few small things, like part of her wedding ring that she absolutely loved and stared at all the time, will be perfect.  It is small, but brings me so many fond memories of my mom and George.  Perfect.  Pictures don't take up a lot of room and a few sweet violet dishes will be great.  We are going to try to get the arbor that George built for their wedding back to our house.  That will make me smile and remember them as well.  Otherwise, it is just stuff- old, smokey, smelly stuff that won't bring George or my mom back.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Saying Good Bye to George the Best Way I Can

 I am going to try my best to write as I have four children running around, causing havoc.  I need to try.  My step dad, George, is being taken off his ventilator today and he can't survive without it.  It would be easier for me to move mountains than it would be for me to go there to say good bye.  I racked my brain trying to figure out a way, and couldn't.  As I was falling asleep last night, I thought of this- looking through pictures and blogging a letter to George.  And, I feel pretty good about the closure it will create for me.  I just so wish i could be there today to support my step brother and sister.  I grew up with George.  My mom and him dated and then lived together a very long time before they got married.  He was a big part of my life growing up, but sadly, not so much of my recent life.  Life got busy and I have regrets.  Sorry, George.  Before I start my letter, here are a few pictures i had time to find while watching my four children.

 This picture is the day my mom and George got married in our backyard.  In the background, you can see the arbor that they would be married under. George built it for the wedding.  My mom got George a "Groom" mug to drink his coffee in.  They both smoked and drank coffee non-stop.  He also had a mug that said "What a Guy" because that is what we said all the time to him, especially after he built something or fixed something, which was often.  I remember he made the unity candle holders for my wedding and he would send me Polaroid pictures of their progress.  One had a caption that said "perfection takes time".
 George always had a huge to-do list from my mom.  He handled it well and did wonderful work.  He was a bit of a perfectionist and took his time to do things right.  He totally redid our backyard with a beautiful, huge deck, a huge garden, a pond, a bench he made with birdhouses on it, fencing, trellis, paths, hammock, etc.  My mom and him made our backyard a beautiful sanctuary by which I hold every other backyard up to, but nothing ever comes close.  Here he is building a box for a plant that grows up a trellis.  My mom wanted it on wheels so she could bring it inside for the winter.  Jasmine grew on it.  George was rarely seen in shorts, but often without a shirt and in jeans.

The day my mom and George got married was a perfect day.   George surprised my mom by getting out his guitar and playing her a song.  So thoughtful.  George made my mom very happy.
 When i worked at Petsmart, I told my mom that we had a border collie puppy there.  George had always wanted a border collie.  My mom surprised him with his own dog (he wasn't a big fan of our cats) and George named her Samantha because he always wanted a dog named Sam.  She was the best dog. . . a little hyper and jumpy, but a great companion for him. 

This is the image of George that i will hold in my mind- wearing a v-neck sweater (i think he had them in all colors) with a dress shirt and perfectly trimmed hair.
Another favorite picture of mine-

 My mom took all of us white water rafting.  I was in her and George's boat.  I remember this was the first time I had seen George in shorts!  I also remember when a rapid threw him over the side of the boat and my mom and I couldn't do anything to get him back in.  Our guide came and helped us and just lifted him right into the boat.  My mom and George had their cigarettes and lighter in ziploc bags. 
 My mom and Aunts threw TJ and I a wedding shower that was also a rib cook-off.  It turned out to be one of the best backyard parties.  It had a theme of sweet violets, and although George always rolled his eyes or scowled at my mom's themes, he loved it deep down and would add to the theme in his own way.  He built extra tables for us to eat at.  He was always at work- helping us garden, building stuff, mowing the lawn, repainting, remodeling, etc. 
My mom, as a high school teacher, often dragged him to school functions like dances and Homecoming dances.  He rarely grumbled about it, but had to get all dressed up for the occasion or make something.  Here is when they chaperoned a dance.

Dear George,
I am sorry I can't be there today to say good bye, to hold your hand, and to support Mike and Jen.  I am also sorry that you only got to meet Jaelynne.  Life got busy and crazy.  If you met Camryn, you would see a lot of mom in her.  She is CrAzY, like mom was.  I want to say good bye to you, but i also want to say thank you.  Thank you for making my mom so happy all those years.  You made her laugh so hard and be so happy.  Thank you for loving me and my brothers.  I remember the first Christmas you and mom were together.  You bought me Troll pajamas with funky troll slippers that had purple and orange hair.  I loved those things!  I remember you always drinking coffee from Christmas mugs, making ham and cheese sandwiches,  eating ice cream with ruffle potato chips, eating Stroh's chocolate marshmallow ice cream, watching the Tigers from the recliner, building bunk beds for my brothers, remodeling all the bedrooms, salting all your food, your sense of humor, your laugh, and your smile.  Since my mom passed away, I have missed you.  I have missed you because I haven't seen you much, but I have also missed you because a part of you seemed to die along with my mom.  I know you loved her beyond words.  I know she made you laugh and smile, too.  I have greatly missed you for a long time, but now this is different.  You will be missed.  Good bye George.  Please say hi to my mom for me when you see her and give her a hug for me and tell her I love her.  Maybe dance with her, like you did when she grabbed your arms in the kitchen and danced with you. Give Sammy a big pet too.  Thank you.

I love you,
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