June 28, 2014

Cale's 4th Birthday

Cale was born four years ago today. I remember wondering what it would be like to be years out from my loss.Years intimidated me. It seemed so distant and hard to comprehend. But I love him no less today than I did four years ago  and the fact that he should be turning four today doesn't bother me so much. What bothers me is that he should be alive. Age really is just a number. Four years, or forty, I will always wish he were here. 

Each year my friend Molly has a family picnic on the birthday of her stillborn son. I thought it was a lovely idea, and since we we move around fairly often and don't have a spot dedicated to Cale in which we could spend his birthday, it seemed to be the perfect way to start a tradition that we could partake in each year. So this year we went to the beach and brought a picnic lunch. Then for dinner we grilled out at home and enjoyed a small birthday treat. It wasn't much, but it was something.

While at the beach, we were eating when Finn said, "ders Cale right der." Miles and I looked at one another wondering if we heard what we thought we did so I asked him, "what honey?" and again he said, as he pointed out in front of us towards the ocean, "ders Cale. Right der." Yet, there wasn't anyone directly in front of us. 

I asked Miles if while playing in the water with Finn, he saw Cale's name in the sand that I had written earlier. He said he saw it, but didn't say anything to Finn about it, nor did Finn comment on it. And he may have been a little confused as we were right next to a little boy's birthday party (because of course) and maybe he thought the party was for Cale since we had told him we were going to spend Cale's birthday at the beach. So it may have just been a three year old not being sure what he was saying. Or maybe it wasn't. Maybe it was something.

Death is a hard concept to explain to children. But I'm glad we talk about Cale and glad that Finn and Mary will grow up knowing he existed and that he still matters to his family. I'm glad we can spend some time at the beach as a family and celebrate our boy. It's not what it should be, but it's something. 


"I love the boy with the utmost love of which my soul is capable, and he is taken from me….yet, in the agony of my spirit in surrendering such a treasure, I feel a thousand times richer than if I had never possessed it." 

William Wordsworth

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June 24, 2014

Blessed

When we moved to Georgia and met with the leasing agent to sign for our house, she looked at Finn and Mary, commented on how cute they are (I agree!), and told us how blessed we are. It's one of those comments that I smile for, nod in agreement, and yet cringe inwardly. After she left I asked Miles what he thinks when people make comments like that - saying how "lucky" we are our how "blessed" we are. We agreed that those comments are well intentioned, and true, and yet they are still just a little hard to digest. Because on one hand, I want to say, "if only you knew." If only you knew that we actually have another child who died at birth. That eight months after his son died, Miles' brother was killed in Afghanistan. That we had a miscarriage in between Finn and Mary, that the two cute children you see before you - it's not that we don't think we are lucky to have them, it's just that you don't know just how insanely lucky we are to have them in spite of all the bad luck that has come our way.

Several months ago I read this article which really resonated with me. The author argues that Christians should stop saying how blessed they are when it comes to materialistic possessions. That the definition of a blessing, or being blessed, according to the bible is pretty much the opposite of what modern day society depicts.  (eg - Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted  - Matthew 5:4).

But because of the way the most people view blessings, it's equally hard to digest the fact that the Bible says I'm blessed because I mourn. It seems counter-intuitive. But I'm trying to get better at not cringing when I hear people tell me how blessed I am, or how lucky we are. Because the fact of the matter is - we are blessed (both in the biblical sense and the modern sense). We have two adorable and healthy kids. I was able to carry and deliver three children. It really is amazing and I'm trying to handle those comments a little more graciously and let go of some of the bitterness. When someone tells me I'm lucky, I can't look at these faces and disagree.


Cale's death was unlucky and awful and heartbreaking. But it doesn't make Finn or Mary's presence any less wonderful. In fact it has the opposite effect.

It's just that even when I have some clarity and I can accept at face value how lucky I am, I wish I was even luckier. I wish I was even more blessed. I wish I had a nearly four year old who also needed a story and a snuggle before bed. I wish being blessed didn't feel like it had an asterisk next to it.

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As we round the corner to Cale's fourth birthday, we are raising funds for The Zoe Foundation, a local non-profit that helps newly bereaved families who have lost an infant by providing resources, support and funds to help cover memorial expenses. We will be running a 5K in July which benefits the Zoe Foundation and felt raising funds for their worthy cause would be the perfect thing to do in honor of Cale. If you would like to help us by making a donation, you can do so here. Any amount is greatly appreciated.

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June 20, 2014

Mary's Baptism

Several months ago a friend informed me that the Priest who baptized Finn when we were living in Columbus, Georgia had been reassigned (promoted?) and was now on staff at the Cathedral in downtown Savannah. This was wonderful news to me and I contacted him to see if he would be able to baptize Mary as well. After sending off some paperwork, we were able to schedule her baptism before even leaving Texas.

We wanted her baptism to be the same weekend as Finn's third birthday to really sucker the grandparents in to coming (though I don't think it took much convincing), however, when scheduling it I did not realize it would also fall on Father's Day. But this ended up being special in that both my dad and Miles' dad were with us this Father's Day.

Miles and I decided to ask our dear friend Danielle to be Mary's Godmother. She is literally one of the kindest people we know and will make a great mentor and role model for Mary. Danielle was Miles' classmate at West Point and coincidentally enough was also his kindergarten classmate - what a small world!

For the baptism Mary wore the same dress I was baptized in, which my mom sewed. This was special to me for not only that connection to my daughter, but also because Finn was baptized in the gown that Miles wore for his baptism (which, according to his mother he screamed though the entirety of. I somehow am not surprised).

Mary, unlike her father, could not have been better behaved. She was calm and happy and did not have a blowout in the beautiful gown, but would save that for much later that day - thank you, Jesus!


June 13, 2014

Finley Turns Three

Today our little boy turned three years old. On some days he is equal parts sassy as he is sweet, but most days the sweetness wins out. Listening can be really hard for three year old Finn, and time outs happen almost every day (sometimes multiple times a day). He sits at the bottoms of the stairs until "I'm ready to listen, Mama" (or until mama is ready to let him out of time out). If he wants to do something all by himself, don't do it for him and not expect some backlash. But on the other hand, if he needs help he is good about asking (sometimes whining) for help. Kiddie utensils are a thing of the past as he wants to eat with a big fork "like Carson" (his cousin who also eats with a big fork). He can now completely dress and undress himself and seems to finally (knock on wood) be the one to continually initiate when he needs to go potty and go without any prompting.

He loves his Daddy something fierce and often tells me that "dadda not want to go to work" which translates to "I don't want daddy to go to work," and when I say that Daddy has to go, he proceeds to tell me that he then wants to go to work, as well.

He builds a forts around/near/over Mary most days and likes to snuggle up to her at least a few times a day. He still gets an A+ in the big brother department and when Mary is crying or fussy he will go over and say, "don't be sad Mary, it's ok." He also will play with his toys near her (or jump on/off the couch near her) which delights her very much. When she laughs at him he says, "Mary thinks I'm funny," and often calls himself "silly" when he is in fact being very silly.

He wears 18-24 months shorts and 2T-3T shirts. He weighs in at a whooping (sarcasm) 26 pounds, but what he lacks in height he more than makes up for in cuteness.

He loves water - loves to play at the beach, go swimming, or play at the splash pad. Even bath time is still very fun for him.

His imagination is expanding which is probably my favorite part of this age. He will stir some toy nuts and bolts in a pot and tell me that he cooked eggs for me, or hand me a wood-chip from the playground and tell me it's a cheeseburger. He likes to put a blanket over his head and ask "where did me go?" despite my constant correction of, "where did I go?" He will also put the blanket over our heads and tell us to be a ghost, and loves it when the ghost tickles him.

He is adamant that he does not want to be a pilot or a scuba diver when he grows up, but does want to ride in a garbage truck or be a Soldier like Dadda.

He still loves books and could sit and be read to all day. His favorites now (still) are anything digger/construction themed and Curious George.
 
Speaking of diggers - the love affair continues, and today for his birthday, per his request, I made a cake with a digger on it.

He is a joy and a handful - sometimes at the same time. He's our little and our big brother and we cannot imagine the last three years without him.

Happy Third Birthday, Finn - We love you as much as you love diggers. And then some.

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June 8, 2014

Blue Bonnet Family Picutres

I recently got back the pictures we had taken when the Texas Blue Bonnets were in bloom and wanted to share. Miles had literally been home less than 48 hours when we had family pictures taken (his favorite thing to do!), but I'm so glad he was home for them and we were able to get blue bonnet pictures before moving away. The blue bonnets are definitely something I will miss about living in Texas (family, friends, and blue bell ice cream being just about the only other things I'll miss).


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June 2, 2014

Roscoe's Weekend Getaway

Last weekend we drove down to St. Augustine, Florida, Since Roscoe travels well in the car and all he wants in life is to be with his people, we figured he may as well come along. We booked our stay at a cute little B&B as it was near a dog friendly beach. We were also able to bring Roscoe along to dinner and some tourist attractions in the area that were all pet friendly.

Dog-cations for the win!


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