October 31, 2015

Halloween, Hallo-Whine, Hello Wine

Mercy, this Halloween felt like it would never end! Our Halloween festivities started on Wednesday when Stroller Strong Moms had our Halloween class. Finn goes to school on Wednesdays and his school also allows two and unders to come that day so instead of bringing my kids to the Halloween class, I sent them both to school and then left after class to get a massage! I felt a smidge guilty when all the little kiddos were enjoying the stroller treating and potluck, but that guilt was short lived. Besides, they got more than their fill of Halloween. Yesterday we also had another themed class in one of our other locations we offer Stroller Strong Moms and Mary was with me for that while Finn was at his Halloween parade at school. I was Mary's sidekick for that:

Finn at school with buddy Peter Pan
Then after naps yesterday we went to Trunk-or-Treating hosted by Miles' unit. Even though Miles is away right now, many other Soldiers are not and the event really is for the families anyway. Because I wore the Robin get-up earlier I decided to wear it again and decorate my car as the Bat mobile for trunk-or-treating. Because of this, Finn didn't want to be a fireman anymore - that we was last year and that he's been saying ALL YEAR he was going to be again, but no, now he wanted to be Batman. Thankfully we have a shirt with a cape that Nana had sent him several weeks prior. But he wore his fireman attire for a quick pick with real fireman. They gave him a radio to hold and he was so quiet and kinda star struck. It was pretty cute.

After trunk-or-treating Mary just plopped herself down
and went to town on her candy.
Today we went to the Halloween party in my neighborhood before heading out for trick-or-treating.

Batman scaling up the side of the bouncy slide
Mary wanted nothing to do with her costume, but I forced her to be spirited anyway:

But seriously, Mary was supposed to be a cute Little Lamb, but instead had a little cow and this is the best picture I have of her in her costume:

No joke, because the only other picture I bothered to take was this:

Didn't even attempt the cute hooves that came with it.

Anyway, Mary was "Boo-tiful" because the "Bat Shit Crazy" onesies are hard to find and Finn was back to being a Fireman.

I left a bowl of candy on our porch with a note asking people to be kind and only take one or two pieces (and was pleasantly surprised when I came home to some remaining candy), and set out with the kids and the dog for some trick or treating. 

I thought I should bring Roscoe because he freaks out every time the doorbell rings and I didn't want to leave him home alone. BIG MISTAKE. He was overwhelmed and kinda a pain while out walking, Mary eventually started to whine and didn't want to walk, but Lord help me if I attempted to put her IN the stroller. I forgot to bring a binkie and couldn't keep her happy with a lollipop (probably because the girl has had at least half a dozen in the last 24 hours), she wanted to trick-or-treat with brother who was not in the mood to wait for her, etc. We went to one house that had a puppy and I usually was fine parking the stroller and Roscoe at the sidewalk and walking up to the house with the kids, well Roscoe saw the puppy and took off, tipping the (empty) stroller in the process causing the people nearby to sprint over thinking there were kids inside. I appreciated their concern and quickly yelled, "there are no kids in it!" then went to smack Roscoe and hustle my kids out of there, one who was back to melting down. Mary agreed to sit on the front of the stroller and was fine for awhile until she fell off, cue more meltdowns at which point I called it a night and we headed home. I should have just drugged Roscoe and left him in the bathroom. Lesson learned.

Made it home, gave the kids baths, now Roscoe is passed out from exhaustion and I'm grateful we made it to enough houses my kids have decent stashes of candy for sift through. Though can we just agree that this nonsense has no business being passed out on Halloween:

When I'm raiding my kids' candy I don't want this crap!

Hope you all have had a happy (and slightly more enjoyable) Halloween! 


October 24, 2015

Army Ten Miler

Two weekends ago I went up to Washington D.C. to run the Army Ten Miler which was seriously the most enjoyable ten miles I've ever run! I highly recommend this race to anyone who is ever in the DC area or who is able to pawn their children off on a really awesome Nana and fly up to DC without kids!

My mom had her fall break and graciously offered to come out to watch the kids. I was planning to drive up to DC, but due to the recent flooding in South Carolina there were some major detours making the long drive even longer and more miserable to do solo so I jumped on a last minute deal with Southwest and am SO glad I flew - not only was it relaxing (I almost finished an entire book!) but it gave me more time to spend in DC with my West Point roommate who lives there now while she attends grad school. 

Katie took me around the monuments after I got in which was really nice - I hadn't toured them since a middle school trip in 1998 so have never seen some like the World War II memorial or the MLK monument. 

The race itself also went near some of the monuments, but that was only part of what made it special. There were SO many runners - over 30,000 (the race literally sells out within hours of registration opening up each year), and so many spectators, the Army band, a really awesome support crew, tons of water stations, etc. The entire time I was running I was surrounded by lots of other runners which really helps keep you motivated and moving! After the race I got to link up with a lot of friends - some of whom I haven't seen in far too long.

Picture on the Right are of the stars along one of the walls of the WWII monument. EACH star represents 100 American lives lost in the war. There are over 4,000 stars. Middle right picture is with a WWII Vet who was on an Honor Flight from Wisconsin.  

Fellow Stroller Strong Moms. Lots of these ladies are from Stroller Strong Moms DC, but a few of us made the trip up from Savannah and one Columbus Mom came up as well. The SLAM Fam is pretty tight. The top and bottom left pictures are with the first two female graduates of Ranger School. Since then, a third woman has graduated - a 37 year old mother!

Top Left: With my friend Dan who was a groomsmen at our wedding. At the start of the race I ditched an extra shirt I was wearing to stay warm - I threw it to the side and my friend Dana said, "that's probably going to hit someone" and sure enough it lands on a guy who catches it and throws it off to the side for me. The guy who caught it was Dan! Over 30,000 runners and I accidentally throw my shirt on a friend who I was hoping to see at some point anyway! Small world!
Top Middle: With my good friend Dana who was my high school classmate and also attended West Point
Top Right: With a friend and West Point classmate, Julia who is running the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend - she also is attending grad school prior to going to teach at West Point and a mother of two little ones. So basically a Superhero.
Bottom: With some of my dear friends from the parachute team. 

October 20, 2015

Five Years Ago Today

Five years ago today my friend Nicole lost her first child when her daughter Caroline was stillborn. For Caroline's fifth birthday she has asked others to put a little love and kindness out in the world. It's been really special to see how others have done this - from random good deeds, to donations, paying for someone's coffee, or just leaving something beautiful for someone else to find. If you are on Facebook or Instagram you can see many of these at #KindnessforCarolineR.

Five years ago today also marks the anniversary of when I learned I was pregnant for the second time with the babe who became our marvelous Mr. Finn. 

I did a track workout tonight with some friends and Finn wanted to run with me. He hung out with his buddies until the end and then we "raced." His batman sunglasses were a must even after it got dark and he's all about his baseball hat of late - he's quirky and funny, yet if I tell him he's silly he corrects me and says he's crazy. He's mostly a really, really great kid. Of course he has his moments, but he's a sweet "bruber" and loving boy who makes me a better person. 

Five years ago today he was just a glimmer of hope, but what a gift he's been since that very day. He reminded me, even before he was born, how very intertwined our joy and our sorrow are. The very fact that I learned I was pregnant with him the same day my friend Nicole lost her Caroline is just a reminder of what a brutiful world we live in. Of course I didn't know Nicole at the time - Cale and Caroline brought us together - but it both warms and breaks my heart to have any connection with what is such a sacred and special and difficult day for Nicole's family.

Finn's life has been such a gift to my own. I can't help but think back to five years ago and be reminded of how even then, I loved him so very much.

October 15, 2015

October 15, 2015

Yesterday I taught class for Stroller Strong Moms. I had spoken with my friend who is in charge of the Savannah Stroller Strong Moms and she was more than on board for a class specific to acknowledging Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. So we asked the moms to wear pink or blue to class and had a balloon release afterwards for anyone interested. There were 26 moms at class and all 26 stayed after for the balloon release. They all sported pink or blue and while many of them are affected by pregnancy & infant loss, I know several who have had miscarriages, not all of them are personally affected. Yet time and time again this group of women uplift and support one another and I'm really lucky to be a part of this community.

. . . . . . . . . .

A few months ago a man reached out to Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope and asked for audio recordings to play on his radio show for a segment on infant loss that they are doing throughout October. I wrote him back and said I was interested in sharing Cale's story and he asked that I record part of my submission to Faces of Loss. So I did and it was aired a few days ago. The recording, if you want to listen to it can be found here (6th one down). It also can be found by going to "topics" and then "Faces of Loss." It felt a little awkward to read, I worried it didn't portray the emotion I feel, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness and to share Cale in any capacity.

. . . . . . . . . .

Tonight my candle is flickering on the mantle next to the sketch of Cale. I find myself gazing up at it from time to time and truly am confronted by all the family and friends who have lit a candle with me not just for Cale, but for all the babies who are so desperately loved and missed. My friend Allyson, who took our family pictures back in June, posted a picture and said one of the candles she lit was for Cale and another was for her big brother who waits in Heaven. Allyson has a brother who was stillborn and I teared up seeing her picture and knowing how much that gesture undoubtedly meant to her mom. I can only hope that Cale's siblings show the same love for him that she showed for her brother whom she never even got to know. It gives me hope that even after I'm gone, Cale will be remember and loved and missed as he deserves to be.

. . . . . . . . . .

I hope that today has been gentle to all of you with an ache that is a little stronger today. Missing and remembering your babies with you.


October 5, 2015

The One Who is Always Missing

A little over a month ago my youngest nephew turned two. He is from the family we were fortunate enough to live near when we were stationed in Texas. I texted my sister-in-law Jenny and commented that for a few weeks, before her eldest turned six, between her kids and mine we had a one, two, three, four, and five year old. She wrote back and said that even after Carson turns six we should have a one, two, three, four, five, and six year old. I love that she thought, so effortlessly, about where Cale should fall in the mix. It was one of those comments that meant a lot because it reminded me that I'm not the only one who is missing him and thinking about him. Jenny has always been a really great Aunt to Cale. He's lucky to have her even though he never really go to.

A little over a week ago the kids and I flew out to Texas to visit our family. The kids did great on the trip and on the way out there we even had the row to ourselves which was really nice.

Finn was coloring on the airplane and I asked, "are you coloring that for Aunt Jenny?" as we were just talking about her and he replied, "no, I'm coloring it for Cale." 

It breaks my heart wide open in the best way possible when he says sweet things like that all on his own. I'm so sad for the relationship Finn and Cale do not have, but grateful for the one that somehow even exists at all.

When we arrived in Texas Finn and his cousins picked right up where they left off, as they always do. I just love their sweet little cousin relationship and friendship. We had a wonderful time with them and squeezed in a train ride, a splash pad visit, a high school football game (Lordy those Texans don't mess around), a trip to Target, several stops at Starbucks, trips to the playground, lunch visits at school, and just lots of play time for the kids.

One day we were getting ready to walk to their neighborhood playground and the kids were waiting patiently to walk down the driveway and cross the road. A couple of them stood against the garage so the rest followed suit and I thought it was cute so quickly grabbed my phone. But my heart skipped a beat when they stood in birth order and there was a space that so clearly should have been filled by my should-be five year old.

6, (5), 4, 3, 2

My loss friends and I often talk about the space in pictures were our child(ren) should be. It's always there, but not always this glaringly obvious. 

Shortly after I snapped this picture Carson scooted closer to Finn and Mary hopped in, but there still was a space. And while in some regards these pictures are almost painful to look at, they also are brutiful reminders of the person, the entire unique and amazing little being, who is missing and always will be. 

We had a wonderful time in Texas. It was fun and made me miss living near family and I anxiously await going back. But that space will always be there. There may be chaos and joy and far too many little creatures needing something or fighting over something or making a mess of everything, but as exhausting and wonderful as it all is, that space, that void can never be filled. 

The Middles and the Littles