Friday, August 29, 2014

Pain and Loss

Life sometimes has a way of throwing some pretty nasty curve balls.  Unexpected and tragic events.  Events that make the next breath something you have to think about since you don't realize you are holding your breath hoping things will pass quicker.  We have walked through and are currently walking through difficult times.  Things that make sitting down and dialoguing with your children necessary.  Things that you can't answer because they don't make sense. 

Eleven months ago we got a phone call that sucked the air right out of my lungs.  Someone in our family had taken their life.  Screams of disbelief came pouring out of my mouth into the air. Guttural sobs knowing two little girls would grow up without their mama. Instantaneous spiral of emotions.  Darkness so thick in the moment that you aren't sure how anyone will stay standing. Has time stopped? Tears, why's, confusion, anger giving way to glimpses of redemption, hope and peace.

Fast forward eight months to this spring.  In the quietness of the night, as our children were sleeping again we received devastating news.  This time the life our nephew who was being knit together in his mothers womb was not expected to experience life outside of the womb. Tears, whys, confusion, anger again giving way to glimpses of redemption, hope and peace.

I walked into the hospital this week with anticipation that we finally would see this little miracle, Josiah Emmanuel Holsing, who defied the odds and made it to term.  Anticipation at what God might do.  Emotions so varied you can't even put them into words that will make sense.  How can you feel anticipation when you have been told his little life will be so desperately short? 

I'll tell you how I had anticipation:  my beautiful heavenly Father is how.  I was able to rest in Him.  In knowing that God had worked a miracle in allowing Josiah to be with his parents all the way to week 39 when they were told he shouldn't have made it to week 20.  I was able to celebrate His life knowing it isn't over.  Eternity becomes almost tangible in those moments.  The moments where you feel suspended between here and there - earth and heaven.  So close you feel like you could almost step into it.

I have cried more tears this past year than I have in a very long time.  And this week? So many tears my eyes hurt. My heart aches.  I cannot begin to fathom holding my baby only to let them go so soon. There really aren't answers to give my children.  We talk, we process, we talk some more.  In our finite minds we want to figure everything out.  But sometimes you just can't.  And in those moments you can still proclaim with absolute certainty that God is still good!! In the midst of it all He never changes! He is our steadfast hope! He is our salvation! He is the one who scoops us up and holds us tenderly. 

As one person so beautiful stated to Mark and Hannah: "Because of your hearts, Josiah got to be held in the hands of his mommy and daddy before being handed to the Hands that shaped the world."

Mark and Hannah, I have said it over and over and I will continue to say it:  Josiah was so blessed to spend these months knowing your love!  You allowed him to experience life.  He climbed Mt Nittany with you, went to see fireworks with you, was in countless pictures, spent time in our home with my girls talking to him asking him to move for them. We are so grateful you chose life for him!  And Josiah, I could not be prouder of you!  We love you forever and always!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Real Life

How has nearly two months passed since I have attempted to sit down to upload new pictures?  I somehow always mistakenly think that life will slow down after whatever seems to be consuming my time passes.  It was baseball season, then it was end of the school year hoopla, then it was sports camp, preparing for the cabin and on and on.  I am determined to write more regularly so we have record of what life was like during this stage of our busy lives.  I find having children that span over the course of 11 years to be challenging.  My older kids are wanting to go, run, be spontaneous and I find the work of gathering what is necessary for the younger ones to be a hassle most days.  I determined at the beginning of the summer that I wasn't going to plant as large of a garden or expect as much out of myself this summer so that we can do more things to create memories.  Whether that be something as simple as having smoothies on the deck for dinner, surprising them with root beer floats for lunch someday, going to the pool, to the park, for a hike.  We made a list of things we want to do this summer and are starting to cross things off.
 Of course the highlight of every summer for all of us is the cabin! Every year we come away feeling more blessed than the year before.  And every year everyone comes home completely tuckered out from playing their hearts out.  My girls slept almost the entire way home this year which gave me a nice quiet ride.
 We still have managed to make it to some sort of appointment (doctor, dentist, eye doctor) 7 times over the past 3 weeks.  Just a part of keeping my kids healthy I guess.  This picture was taken outside of the pharmacy this week. 
 Judah was utterly dismayed to learn glasses were necessary.  Poor guy is getting glasses and braces all within a week. 
 Some of my crew waiting on the sidelines of the 4k race on the 4th of July.  Awaiting their siblings to cross the finish.
 Tristan coming to the finish line with Aunt Hannah!
 Eden and Aunt Joyce getting near the finish.  Judah and Shane came up to fast that I missed getting a picture of them at the finish line.
 The whole crew after the race with Heidi make a complimentary appearance.
 Someone had her seasons confused!
 Naomi and I ended up in Heidi's bed after a particularly rough night a few weeks ago.  Heidi came over to our bed so I swapped beds with her.  Naomi snuggled in bed with me and I snagged a picture in the morning.
 Enjoying the sunshine!
 Eden turned 6 at the end of May and was sick for a few days afterwards.  She was such a trooper even though she missed 4 days of school and ended up with a ruptured ear drum from a yucky ear infection.
 He thinks he looks like Harry Potter with these glasses. 
Eden on her graduation day with her friend Bailey.  We are so proud of how good she did in school this year and thankful for her wonderful teacher.  Hard to believe we will now have a 7th, 5th, 2nd and 1st grader. 
 These two are so sweet together.  How I love watching them play!

 Naomi was in hot pursuit of grabbing Mittens tail and was successful!
 I love her!
She loves her bubbles! 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Snapshots of Life

Turns out adding baseball to the schedule on an almost daily basis has pretty much kicked my butt! There is so much snack planning, preparation, sweatshirts to pack, blankets to grab, homework to get done, dinner to eat and still get to the field on time.  We are mid-way through the season and while there are aspects I will miss I will not miss the busy aspect that goes along with loading all the kids up 4 nights a week.  I will miss the community feel, the families spending hours together and cheering each others boys on to do their best.  I really do get very excited watching my boys friends have a good game!
 For a family that has always been pretty happy at home and content to play alongside each other we are finding our Saturdays even more special now.  Endless messes (sigh), lots of squabbles, plenty of laughter but equal amounts of screams.....this is the season of our life.  The girls found this big box and decided to make it the place to play for probably an hour.  I thought it was marvelous because it kept them contained.  Especially Naomi.  The girl knows the second the bathroom door hasn't been latched and quicker than you can imagine is splashing toilet water everywhere!  But you cannot keep her in a box all day.
 Heidi spending time in the sunshine and trying to feed some ducks that had a nest in the little creek next to our house.
 Eden sitting in a tree while Heidi was trying to feed the ducks.  Notice how Eden has a winter coat on and Heidi has a tank top? 
 Judah showing me his catch of the day!
 Naomi playing with Mittens on the back deck. 
 My lapse in getting Mittens spayed resulted in 6 sweet little kittens arriving much to the delight of my children.  The immediate pleas of "can we please keep them" started with the equally immediate resounding "NO!"
 These kittens have been very loved and we are now hoping to find them loving homes to go home to soon.
 Our pirate Heidi with her hula-hoop!  Pretty cute pirate if you ask me.
 An equally cute pirate with a bit of an attitude about something in his life that was not to his liking.
 My Shane boy pitching for his first time.  He has enjoyed every single minute of playing baseball!
 Playing doctor while waiting for the doctor at a well check.
 Judah bagged his very first turkey this year.  A huge thank you to my cousin Logan for taking the time to take Judah out so early on a Saturday morning.  One of the best phone calls ever!  Answering the phone early and hearing an excited, "Mom? I got one!"  I think I was almost as excited as him!
 Birthday date with Heidi at her favorite place - Chick-fil-A!
 Another trout Judah  caught while Shane had practice.  This one came home, was cooked and eaten a little after 9:00 that night. 
 Tristan snuggling with two of the kittens.  Seeing his sweet little face makes me second guess my rapid "no" to adding another kitten.  I mean really!  Look at him!
And one more baseball picture!  He is such a cutie!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Quandary

It's time I divulge my ongoing quandary I suppose.  While I enjoy immensely writing and sharing my humble thoughts I have come to a place of unrest. 

I was talking with a friend recently about what I like about reading blogs but also what I don't like.  This friend is kind of anti-blogs because of the difficulty of seeing the whole picture.  Everyone likes the upbeat, pretty pictures, artsy, funny, leave me feeling inspired blogs but most of my life is the daily pounding out, cleaning up both physical and emotional messes, falling flat on my face kind of days.  And who really wants to read about those?  I had to laugh though as we talked about the pretty instagram, soft and fuzzy pictures you see all the time.  My friend said, "Yeah, well look at life through my glasses and they are foggy all right.  From little fingerprints!"  So very true.

As I have struggled with often feeling like my blog isn't very artsy or pretty I have come to realize that I am much more simplistic in nature.  Therefore it would be natural to reflect that in the cyber world.  This doesn't mean that I won't be contacting my dear friend Katie to help update things and give my blog a much needed makeover.  It just means that my more simplistic approach to life is going to come through - even here.

So bear with me as I start trying to sort through thoughts, feelings and daily life.  You can help us celebrate when we have a week of no explosive angry fits from our daughter who is working very hard to not let her anger consume her! You can celebrate birthdays and other fun milestones with us - like first baseball games and first turkey harvested! You can laugh at my daughters dismay when finding out her sister and friends didn't want to have a butt party with her after she had already completely disrobed and sat naked with tears streaming down her face. 

Oh yes!  Life is never, ever dull at this house.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Still Kicking

We are in fact still alive and kicking around here.  This week has been the first week that has felt "normal" since mid-February.  And by normal I mean that we haven't been to the doctor more than once this week.  This means I have been home more which makes me very happy.  I am perfectly content to not have to start up my car and go anywhere for 3 days in a row.  That will be ending next week as Shane will be starting baseball.  Not sure how we agreed to an organized sport except that we experienced a moment of weakness.  Not that we are opposed to having them in sports.  We really want them to play organized sports.  Its just the carting around a lot of small children to accommodate the practices that have me feeling moments of anxiety.  But we will somehow get through it.  Hopefully with smiles on our faces. 
I do believe its safe to say we are on the upside of all the illness.  Although the last time I dared utter those words the school called within 30 minutes to say Eden was throwing up.  So I say "we are better" with fear and trembling.  Tristan had 2 ear infections and is on antibiotics again since at his recheck this week his ears were filled with fluid and getting red again. Eden has had bronchitis, an ear infection that was resistant to antibiotics and had the pukes, Heidi has had 2 ear infections and Naomi has had 2 ear infections.  All within 5 weeks!  It has been loads of fun at our house!  I keep thinking surely spring will come but seeing snow flurries again yesterday has me second guessing. Never have I craved spring like this year!  I really need to feel the warmth of the sun and see my kids running out the door in their bare feet.  Hoping that is in the near future!
 One of the nicer and warmer days recently found all my children outside traipsing around collecting things to make a small "fairy garden". 
 I found their various states of dress pretty funny.  Some thought the 40 degree weather was warm while others still needed their winter coats! 
 Working together to assemble their garden.  This morning was a rare treat as I watched my children work together and talk respectfully to each other.  Moments like these are not the norm so I tuck them away and treasure them. 
 Of course our free spirit had to take a break from collecting sticks and acorns and try her hand at the hula-hoop. 
 And then she had to grab a stick and mess in the water for a bit.
 Eden hard a work collecting moss for the grass in the small garden. She is typically the one who is eager to help!  And she is finding great joy in helping others.  As our therapist explained to Eden her heart is growing.  She used the analogy of the Grinch whose heart grew 2 sizes.  I have so much to learn about the impact of early childhood trauma on the neurological development in a child.  But we are making strides in the right direction. And how I love this girl!  She is working so hard right alongside of me!
 Someone else is discovering babies!  So cute!
 One of our many trips to the doctor but they were still happy.
 Always finding new places to tackle his homework.
 Playing with her favorite Ellie the elephant.
And Naomi had her first pom-poms in her hair last week.  It made her look so grown-up!  This week she is deciding to walk half way across rooms until she falls giggling to the floor. I honestly thought she would be walking before now but now that she is figuring it out I am sort of worried about keeping tabs on her.  She takes busy to another level!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Year Later

 Last year, on this day, our beautiful and unexpected baby girl arrived on our doorstep.  Forever changing us.  In only the best ways possible. I will never forget the feeling in my stomach as we waited for the caseworker to pull into our driveway.  I couldn't eat.  My stomach was in knots.  So excited! And terrified! And then she came through our doorway and straight into our hearts!
 I still look at her in wonder. I sometimes forget she didn't grow within my womb.  She is so much a part of me!  Of us. She has made each of us better people.  She is feisty, active, a climber, into everything, keeps me on my toes but fits right into the rest of this crazy crew! 
 One of my favorite pictures from her birthday.  Even though she wasn't feeling well and just wanted to sit and look at her cake everyone else was so excited!
 There is this part of her that just oozes sweetness.  I can't even explain it.  I just hope it always remains.  She is noisy and yells a lot! Sometimes I get almost embarrassed when we are in public because she is so loud and disruptive.  She is just happy to be living life.
 Couldn't resist the cross-eyed picture! 
Baby girl, I am forever grateful to your first mother for choosing me to love you and call you my own.  What an amazing sacrifice she made!  One that seems unfathomable to me. I stare into your dark eyes almost every day and wish she could see how beautiful and fun you are.  I almost feel guilty for reveling in the beauty of you when she has to wade through the pain of loving you from a distance.  You are a treasure and an unexpected gift from God to our family! 

Happy 1 year home day!!