Saturday, November 30, 2013

Looking For Some Awesome Holiday Gifts? A Giveaway!

While I have pretty much written things for about as long as I could write, I don't know that I'd have considered myself a writer.

But, one of the fabulous perks of others reading about what I write means that I often get the chance to sample some pretty cool family-oriented things and tell you about them.

One such opportunity was presented when an AMAZING box of books appeared at my door, waiting to be opened and perused.  Being in the classroom for as many years as I have, I am very familiar with the impressive quality and content in National Geographic books.  In fact, my classroom libraries (and now, Luke's personal library) have always been filled with some really rich and interesting Nat Geo books I've bought through the years.


I was super, super excited to see what Luke thought, though cool as they were, I had to wrestle a few away from daddy first!

Most of the books I received for sampling are a bit older than Luke's age range, but that did not stop my little bookworm from digging right in.  "Mama, can I look at that squirrel book?" (what he called the book about Meerkats) and "Ooooh, look, Mama!  Donees!" (what he said about the picture of a donut on the First Big Book of Why book) came peppered at me as he grabbed the books with the zeal that does a teacher's/Mama's heart proud.


After I read him the Meerkats book and we talked about them (and how they are NOT squirrels), Daddy got back in the picture and he and Luke looked through the First Big Book of Why.  It is a REALLY cool book.  Big, bright colors and short enough little excerpts that allow a Mama or a Daddy to offer as a piece of information to a little guy or gal and a great talking point for older kids. 
John said, "This book is really cool because it has stuff Luke and I can talk about," and I agreed. 


Luke also really dug the Everything Pets book and I nearly teared up as he opened one of the first pages and began, "Once upon a time, there was a kitty cat who needed his Mama."  



Not only was my sweet boy utilizing some fine pre-reading/writing skills (if I say so myself!) but he reminded me how he has such a tender heart!

Speaking of tender-heart...there were two books that tugged at mine.  As a dog lover, the Devoted book  just made me give the pups some extra loving, and reminded me how much more enriched my life has been with dogs in it.  The Mother's Love book...true stories about moms in the animal kingdom?  Yeah.    Do.not.read.unless.you.have.tissues.and.want.to.learn.about.the.sweetest.mothers.on.the.planet.  Seriously, again, though a bit older for Luke, this book is a coffee-table/stocking-stuffer kind of book that I think every mother on this planet can appreciate and relate to.  Just really touching.

One of the things found in the Mother's Love book...so, so, so, so true.
From the parent perspective, I love having some fascinating non-fiction to share with Luke, even if above reading level.  I think kids will soak up what you throw at them, and several of these books have already proven to be entertaining, educational and permanent parts of our bedroom library.


From a teacher perspective, I had no idea that Nat Geo even had something like the Funny Fill-In book (a mad-libs type book that is sure to inspire even the most reluctant writer to forage into descriptive words and writing) or the Just Joking book.  I can, without question guarantee that the joke book will be a hit with elementary/early middle school kids everywhere.  This is the type of book that all the kids fight over when it is free reading time, and then beg you to take home for the afternoon because they want to keep reading it.  I cannot wait until Luke is a bit older and we can share jokes like in this adorable book!

The best thing about buying National Geographic books is that profits from sales help go into conservation, exploration, research and education programs.  Pretty much a win-win.  Even better, if you check them out at ngbooks.org/momsmeet, you can find these and lots more on sale for 30% off!  (Seriously, they are sooooooo reasonably priced! Hellooooo, holiday shopping!)  Best yet, because they were such awesome books, I am giving one of the books away—simply enter the rafflecopter and if you win, you will get to choose between Best Friends Forever (cute early chapter book about animal friends) or the Funny Fill-In book.  Win-win-win!




*** I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meetsm  program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meetsm  blogger, I agreed to use this product and postmy opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC. or the manufacturer of the product.***



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What Happens In Four Years...

Four years ago, I was BEYOND ready to give birth.  Not that I'd not enjoyed being pregnant or wasn't BEYOND grateful to be so, but because my 'little turkey' was overdue already and the symptoms of preeclampsia we weren't aware of were taking their toll.

You can see...I was ready.


But I was thankful.  So, so, so thankful.  An excerpt from that night's post:

"There are so many things I have to be thankful for this year...even as I sit waiting for Matthew to make his debut, and am admittedly a little nervous about what labor is going be like, I am thankful that I have had the blessing of pregnancy--something I basically thought was never going to happen. Mom and I were talking last night about how different this time of year is than we thought it would be. We never in our wildest dreams imagined that we wouldn't have a little baby girl eating her first Thanksgiving dinner with us and we certainly didn't imagine that we would be waiting for a chubby-cheeked little baby boy to decide he was going to come out after all.
Again, Lord, thank you for your many, many blessings."

How could I ever, ever have known that not only would I not have a little baby girl eating her first Thanksgiving dinner with us, but the following year would not include the chubby-cheeked little baby boy who was born just two days later?

I honestly do not know how four years has gone by.  I look at Luke and can't believe that he's nearly THREE...but I remember the details of these days four years ago so.vividly.

I remember with a heaving chest and a knot in my throat that I just can't seem to swallow.

That night, laughing about how Matthew had already outgrown an outfit and he wasn't even born yet, I decided to look and see if his birthday could ever be Thanksgiving Day.  I looked at years and years ahead and basically figured out that unless Matthew was born that day or the next, he'd never have a birthday on Thanksgiving.  I'd thought that was kind of good and kind of sad...good that he'd never have to share his special day but sad because if there was ever anything in the whole.entire.world that we in our family would be thankful for, it would certainly be John Matthew Ennis!!!!

Whether I just misfigured or was just suffering pregnancy brain, I was wrong!  Matthew's birthday IS Thanksgiving this year.

It's hitting me very sharply.  Maybe because I never thought it would actually be on Thanksgiving Day, and after he passed, I was SO glad I'd never have sit a table recounting my blessings as I should have been helping my little boy blow out birthday candles.  Maybe because it reminds me of how naive I was...how silly I was figuring out things about his birth when I should have just been on my knees 24-7 praying I got to bring him home and raise him.

Maybe it's just because no matter how much time passes, I will never not miss him.  Never not ache for him and wonder what life would be like with him and his brothers.  Never not wish that it was different and that he'd lived.

Never.

So, what happens in four years?  Nothing and everything.

Because while my heart aches particularly deeper this year, it is also filled with so much joy and gratitude.  There is this little boy...a precocious two-year old who proudly tells everybody that he's a 'free-nager' (threenager; he overheard me talking with a friend, little stinker!)...who calls me Mama and tells me he loves me "the whole world" and calls his Batman slippers his 'Datman slip-flops'; is a hilarious prankster and actually ate bok choy for dinner the other night...he makes me smile and he fills every.single.day with fun and laughter.

My heart is overwhelmed with Thanksgiving for his life and his place in our family.  Just overwhelmed.


 



Thursday, October 31, 2013

About Sums It Up....



This face pretty much sums me up these days!

John made it home, safely!  Thank God!  Pictures to come!

We went to Beaufort and Disney and Sea World and Myrtle Beach and saw Kirk Cameron and have carved pumpkins and dressed as Captain America to "get those naughty troublemakers!"  Pictures to come.

We celebrated what would be Trey's first birthday.  Picture to come.

I've participated in and will participate in some projects I'm really excited about and that are bittersweet at the same time.  Words to come.

In fact, that's the gist of this post.  Pictures and words to come.  I have THOUSANDS of pictures I've taken and would like to post.  I have thousands of words that churn through my head all day long.  Feelings that surprise me and thrill me and for which I feel great remorse-- I want to put to them to words but don't want to let them out of my head because I don't want them to come out in a way I didn't want them to.

I've never been one to not speak my mind.

But I've been feeling very, very possessive of my mind's thoughts...for a big part of this year.
I'm still feeling possessive, but mainly because I want them to be purposed.

So, Luke's face is perfect for me.  Silly, contemplative, concerned and bold all at the same time.  He reminds me so.much.of.my.mother here...a face that says, "I'm not sure of the details....but there's something. Just give me some time.  It's coming."

Something's coming.

I feel it.
Rather, I'm feeling for it.  Feel like I've been feeling for it for a while.

Waiting for it to find me?

Maybe.
Maybe not and I keep working on figuring it out.

You see why his picture is perfect, no?

Monday, September 16, 2013

What Does Miss America Have To Do With Us?

Lots.

I do not care about pageants much.  I mean, I'm certainly not pageant material, and save being psyched that my sister was Mrs. Wichita one year, not my cup of tea.

But man, oh man, was there uproar in my Facebook feed about the new Miss America.  Apparently Miss Kansas should have won.

Who knew?

(Don't get me wrong, Miss Kansas is gorgeous and patriotic and I totally dig her.)

More, apparently Miss New York shouldn't have.

Because she's....

...Of Indian descent???????

For real????

The woman was born in Ohio.  She's brilliant.  She's beautiful.  She had as much a right to compete in that contest and win as any other woman.

Even Miss Kansas.

So what does she have to do with me?

With Luke?

Turns out, we are of Indian descent also.

Yep, that little sandy blonde boy of mine has more INDIAN in his genetic makeup than any other ethnicity.

I don't hide the fact that my dad is not my biological father.  I didn't even know he wasn't until I was twelve (they got married when I was a baby) and admittedly, that was sort of a life-changing thing for a tween to find out.  I was ashamed and embarrassed and don't even remember why.

Different.  I didn't want to be different.

Short, frizzy-haired and huge glasses...gracious...last thing we needed to add in to that equation was a sperm donor who got my mom pregnant, told her to have an abortion (this was before abortion was legalized, friends...sperm donor was a real prize, no?) and left her high and dry to make my self-esteem just rocket.

Not.

Anyhoo...it should be noted—I could not have been given a better father.  He was exactly who God chose to raise me and walk me down the aisle and let me tell you something—that sperm donor has missed out on one heckuva daughter and grandsons.

People (rudely) have always asked me "What I was"...basically questioning my ethnicity because of my 'beautiful skin color'.  I imagine most meant well and were, in their own ways (?), trying to be complimentary, but all it's done is make me very self-conscious.

Again.  Different.

For a long, long, LONG time, I'd tell people I was Irish-Italian.  Stereo-typically, that would make sense...even John thought I was Mediterranean when he first met me, and I have a personality some could see tying in.  Do not ask me what it was about being Italian that I thought was better or more respectable than being Indian, but for whatever reason, I did.

Yep.  I was embarrassed to say, "Indian."

On the rare, rare occasion that I would answer the question of 'where I got my beautiful skin,' with, "Indian," I'd get silence and a stare.  Then, I'd get asked, "What tribe?"

For the love of sugar and cream!!!

I'd then go on and say, "No, like the country of India.  You know, dot on forehead?"

(Again, ashamed, ashamed I'd say something like that.)

Somehow, saying things like, "Dot on forehead, 7-11/gas station owner, etc." INSTANTLY took people to the 'right' type of Indian.

Sad, sad, sad.

Do you know that once I went to meet the sperm donor?  Once I wanted to see what he thought—if he was curious—what his medical history was like because John and I were trying to start our family.

Once.

He shut the door in my face.  Immediately hearing my mother's name made him turn white, literally, and he shut the door in my face.

I wasn't upset.

I mean, truly, I've never wanted for anything growing up and the man who married my mother and committed to raising me as his own flesh and blood in the process was such a better deal for me.

But I just couldn't believe that man's callousness.  His arrogance.  His cowardice.

Several years ago, my sister met her husband.  He was a young, hard-working man who had immigrated to the US with his family from India a few years before.

My sister has a life-threatening disease.  Her husband and his family have stood by her and with her for years.  They are hard-working and beyond, beyond, BEYOND gracious to my family when we visit. (In fact, John loves to visit because my sister's mother-in-law cooks up a crazy amount of Indian food just for John...)

And you know what?  Several years ago I realized that I was being petty and ridiculously ignorant by lying about Indian descent because my brother-in-law's family was just a beautiful picture of what it meant to be hard-working, family-loving AMERICANS.

So, while I don't go around broadcasting my lineage (in fact, this blogpost is probably one of the most revealing things I've ever written), I don't hide it anymore.

But things like I've read today are the exact reason I did...(Excuse the language.  It is vulgar and grotesque and makes my heart hurt.)

*****

I don't understand how you can be up for miss America you're not American you're a fucking dot head!!

@monicaamurphyy: Do you not have to be American to win MISS AMERICA anymore?! 👑”
How the fuck does a foreigner win miss America? She is a Arab! #idiots
Miss New York is an Indian.. With all do respect, this is America.



*****

Ummm....with all DUE respect, I'm just sick over the IGNORANCE.
Those are just a very few of the  tweets I found.
This is the kind of mentality my kid will grow up with.
This is the kind of ignorance that has made me ashamed much of my life.

This is the kind of stuff that breaks my heart.

I don't even know what to make of this.  My mother was as blonde and blue-eyed as they come.  My relatives fought in the Revolutionary War.  Most days, no one would think about saying things like that about me because I don't 'look' a certain way.  Luke certainly doesn't look like he'd be the victim of racism.

But could he?

By rights, to quote my mother, "I reckon' he could."

And I'm just sickened at the thought.



Friday, September 13, 2013

Behind The Butterfly...

For about a year and or so, maybe a year and a few months (pretty good portion of his life since he's only a little over two and a half), Luke has always noticed and pointed out butterflies.

Butterflies are very, very symbolic to a lot of people who have lost family members, and especially to parents who have lost children.

I admit...they've never been *too* symbolic to me.  I don't mean that in a bad way, more in the way that I don't have a lot of things that symbolize much of anything to me, if that makes sense.

Anyway...when my mother was alive, she had an "I brake for butterflies" sticker on her bumper.  John and I laughed and laughed every time we saw that car because if you knew how sloooooooowly my mother drove through her sleepy, southern little town, you'd know that she was practically braking just by 'driving'!  When she died, on the way to her service at the cemetery, you would not BELIEVE the hoard of butterflies we passed through—right there on Rte. 29 in Fairfax county—so big we.had.to.brake.

Yes, we apparently brake for butterflies also.  And have ever since...

So when Matthew died, we had to go pick out a plot.

Sigh.

On a cold December day, 4 days post-emergency c-section, John, Mom and I stood in the cemetery looking for the perfect spot.

How.in.the.world.does.one.do.that?

John and Mom were at task and I just...wasn't.  I stood there. I didn't cry, but I had tears that welled just waiting for me to give the go-ahead.

I didn't.  I didn't give the go-ahead because I was just too numb and too in disbelief about what had happened. I just didn't even want to be, much less cry.


John would ask me about this spot or that spot and I said, "Whatever.  I don't care."

And I didn't.

But then...right at the spot John kept coming to...right under a poplar tulip that John said would one day bloom beautifully, we saw it.

A little yellow butterfly fluttering around us as if we were new friends.

Let me tell you, friends.  Those butterflies do not come out in the COLD, December days.

They just don't.

We all saw it and Mom said, "Well, if that's not enough of a sign that says this is the spot...."

And, though I am not sure where I theologically stand on 'signs', I couldn't help but agree.

So, when we've seen butterflies, Luke and I—I take note of them.  We've talked about how beautiful they are and how delicate.

It's no surprise that Luke was pointing them out to me over a year ago.  It doesn't surprise me that in the past few months, when he sees one, he says, "You love buff-flies, Mama!" and I tell him, "I sure do."

What surprises me is that when he sees that little yellow one (and they are always, always, always somehow around), he now tells me, "Look, Mama!  A lellow Maffew buff-fly."

This surprises me because I've never told him about that day.  I've never made note of those yellow butterflies being more special to me than others.  In seeing butterflies (different ones, not necessarily of yellow color), I've told him once or twice that butterflies make me think of Matthew and his Grandma Jane, but I've NEVER told him that there is anything to do with Matthew and the yellow butterflies we see.

But he tells me.  Today, and in the last few weeks, he's told me.

Again, I am sort of muddy on where I stand theologically with 'signs.'  I absolutely believe in angels because the Bible is clear they exist and that they are different from our loved ones in Heaven.  I would love to believe that my loved ones watch over me and know my love for them, but struggle because I don't know how that could be and still no tears in Heaven.

What I do know is that God is a healer and a comforter.

And in these precious moments with Luke as we see 'lellow Maffew buff-flies", there is no doubt that is exactly what He is doing to my heart.

Healing and comforting.

Grateful.

A dear friend texted me this back in May...love those little yellow butterflies!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

To His Teacher...

Dear Teacher,

Please let me preface this letter by telling you I am not THAT mom.

I know, I know…it seems like I am because school hasn’t even started and you are getting a letter from me.  It might appear that I have issues with separation and letting go.

I admit.  I do.

But I will try my best to not let them interfere with the work you plan to do with him this year.

Here’s the mom I am

I’m the mom who spent over a decade trying to become a parent.  I’ve wanted a house full of children my entire life, but you may know how some of the best plans fall short.

I’m the mom who buried her first son on a cold December day four years ago.

I’m the mom who lost her third son last year while he was still growing inside of me.

I’m the mom who falls on her knees every morning and every night thanking God
with all I have that He gave me the privilege of raising this child, Samuel Luke.

I’m the mom whose life is nothing like I ever believed it would be, but still, am blessed beyond measure and grateful, grateful, grateful.

I’m the mom who is also a teacher, and understands how hard it can be for us to separate professional and personal.  I promise, I believe wholeheartedly you have nothing but my son’s best interest at heart and will not take anything you say or do personally.  We may disagree but I want you to know that I would not leave my most precious gift on this earth with you if I didn’t trust you. 

So please understand if I hug him a little tighter in the mornings before I leave him.  Give me some grace if I cry at silly things because they are so priceless to me.  Allow me to be as active and involved as I can so that I can support you and support him, knowing that I am trying my best to not be overbearing.

Know that I pray each morning I leave him with you.  I pray for you to have a joyful day and I pray for him to learn and grow and become the person God has destined him to be.  Know that I love him with every fiber of my being and still, don’t want to treat him as he is above reproach simply because he lives.  When I begged God for this child, I promised as Hannah did…that I’d give him to and raise him for the Lord.  I hope with all my heart you will spend this year helping me in that endeavor.
Count on me for anything I can do to make this year a wonderful one for you, Luke and me…and thank you.

With warmest wishes for an amazing year,
Luke's Mama

Monday, June 3, 2013

I Do Not Love This...

...but oh, how I am thankful to God for it every single day.


That he lives.

That he grows.

That he learns and laughs and loves and turns into this amazing and hilarious little character right.in.front.of.my.very.eyes.

It's my daily prayer—that he turns into an outstanding young man of God who lives a long, long, long time.

Far longer than his Mama or Daddy because I don't think our hearts could take something happening to him also.

Tomorrow is his last day of 'school'.

In reality, it's a Parents Morning Out program he goes to two mornings a week and has since September.  I didn't want him to go, initially, and I was ready to yank him out the second he gave any indication he didn't absolutely love it.

Well, that indication never came.  He loves it.  Loves his teachers, loves playing and doing art projects and just being part of a group of kids.

Sigh.

I'm so glad he loves it.  Has loved it.  I am grateful he's had care that far exceeded any expectations I had for basically what I considered glorified babysitting.  It has been so, so much more and he's enjoyed it so much.  He will miss it this summer, that is for sure.

And I miss these days.  I miss the days I know that are already gone before they are here.

I want him to grow.
I want him to learn.
I want him to be independent and take initiative and be proud of himself when he goes potty like a big boy.

But he's not a big boy.
He's my baby.
The only one I get to hold and hug and carry in my arms.

And I can barely type without crying thinking of how bittersweet it is that I have to take him to his very last first 'pre-school' class tomorrow.

How when I was pregnant with him, I begged, begged, begged God for these days...days that would let me see what he was like past several hours born on earth.

Now, I can't even get his diapers together to sell (which, btw, are going for FABULOUS prices—yahoo, cloth diapers!) because I am not ready to admit that my baby doesn't really need diapers anymore.


No, I do not love this turning into a little boy and leaving babyhood behind one.single.bit...but man, oh, man...I am so grateful.

And I guess I'm not being truly honest when I say not one.single.bit because he is turning into such a hilarious little boy!  He is such a character.  He has these favorite Hulk sunglasses with green lenses.  The kid wears them everywhere.  All the time.  Inside and out.  People look at him and laugh and he just swaggers on like he's got this own internal drummer giving a beat only he can hear. Love.



He is saying "No!" quite a bit more, and while it gets a little frustrating, it still is SO not 'terrible' as the twos can be.  He is mellow and easy and (mostly) compliant but at the same time, fun and silly and pushing his little envelopes with me.  He knows he is doing it, too, because as he does, he looks at me with this little look on his face that you can just tell is about to break out in huge giggles if I just even break in the slightest.

And I do.  Often.  Because he.cracks.me.up.









I adore him.



Just adore him.

Grateful doesn't even come close to expressing it, but I am.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Luke Loves It! A Review and Giveaway!!!!!

I am in love with Kiwi Magazine.

Love it.  I am part of their Green Moms Ambassadors group (#momsmeet) and am able to learn about and try some pretty awesome stuff.  One of the things to review and giveaway caught my eye--smoothies and juices from Sambazon.

Organic, immunity boosting, and most of all for Luke, delicious (so they said!)...I desperately wanted to try them.

I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED!

As I am constantly, constantly trying to get my sweet little resistant eater (though therapy is making SUCH a big difference!) to have balanced nutritional intake, I was super psyched to see that these fruit juices and smoothies promise to bring next generation nutrition to the world.  Bringing it to Luke and to me was a great start!


I love that there are a million (well, several!) different varieties of the fresh juices (especially the Blended Breakfast!) and even more, I love, love, love the frozen smoothie packs.  Since buying the Vitamix and Luke falling in love with smoothies (money well spent!), I love having lots of recipes that are delicious and nutritious.  Most of Luke's smoothies I make with yogurt, which sort of takes me out of the game with them because I do not like yogurt.

(I know, I know.  My kid LOVES yogurt, and I'm grateful.  I, however, do not at all.)

I love that the frozen smoothie packs can make delicious smoothies that are loaded with fabulous immunity builders (Acai berries, antioxidants and Omega 3-6-9s) and I can add in probiotic powder and then share the smoothie with Luke!!!  They really do taste great and he asks for "moothies" all the time now.

Win.Win.Win.Win.Win!

Sambazon uses only Non-GMO, organic, gluten-free ingredients and are committed to the environment from which they get their ingredients and that makes me happy.

What makes me happiest is that Luke likes them.  Loves them, really.



Which of course makes me love them too.

The only negative for me was not having a great access to some of the flavors unless I drove to Wilmington to Whole Foods.  Their website is great for product locating and I've not checked out all the places Sambazon said I could find their products, so I am hoping that I'll be able to find and try ALL the product line soon!  In the meantime, we are enjoying the Acai Berry Immunity booster smoothie packs (which he ALSO loves just as an ice pop on these hot days we've been having!) and several of the juices.

Awesome!

Even more awesome is that Sambazon is doing a great giveaway for my blog friends!  The winner will get vouchers to try three different products and the.cutest.little.wooden.bowl.and.spoon.set EVER!  Luke loves 'helping' me get his smoothies ready (I add other organic frozen fruits and he likes stirring them around in the bowl!) and it's adorable.  He's going to make a great little chef one day.

Just like Daddy!

Here's the rafflecopter for the giveaway.  I'll pick a winner on Thursday, June 6.


Enjoy! a Rafflecopter giveaway  





The Fine Print....
I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM  program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from
the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet  blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Right There...

Luke is a pretty decent sleeper and I am grateful.  He still wakes a couple of times in the night very briefly, looks for his boppy (paci) and/or tells his voice-activated projector/noise machine to come on by saying, "Ooooooohhhhhhhhh fissssssshhhhhhhiiiiiiiieeeeees!" and then goes right back to sleep.  I only know this all because I still rely on the monitors as my best friends each night.

Tonight, he did the same and as he sat in his crib sleepily, feeling around for his boppy, I decided I wanted to snuggle him.  I normally don't go in so he can settle back himself, but tonight I did.

He was sleepy and snuggly.  I asked if he wanted me to rock him in his chair and he said, "Uh huh," in his sweet little voice so I gratefully took him in my arms and sat down.

I rocked him...snuggled him closely to me remembering how little he used to be in my arms and how much of a little boy he now feels.  I thought about buying the chair in which we were sitting...dreaming of using it to rock Matthew...calculating how we'd have to move it out of Luke's room and into the new baby's room.

Another baby who'd never sit in it.

I held Luke close.  Reflected on how different he is from that tiny baby.  Thought about how he looks EXACTLY like he is supposed to...how my heart and my mind couldn't see him looking any differently than exactly as he does.

But that is surprising to me because he and Matthew favored each other so, so much as newborns.  Even now...at 28 months, I look at Luke and instantly am struck with how much he looks like the pictures I have of Matthew.
This was  when Luke was about 8 months. I was watching him sleep and just overwhelmed with how much he reminded me of this picture of Matthew.

But Luke looks nothing like I picture Matthew.  I still picture him as a newborn, really, most of the time because that's the only point of reference I really have.  But when I allow myself to think about it a minute...picture what a 3.5 year old Matthew would look like...he looks nothing like Luke except they both have my brown eyes and my mother's and grandmother's chins.

Matthew has dark brown, wavy hair.  His skin is even more olive like mine than Luke's is.  He is thinner than Luke (probably would have been a cruddy eater too!) and taller.  Longer and leaner but with his daddy's long arms like Luke has.

And then I blink again and he's gone.  It's Luke.  I only get Luke. And there are no words to express my gratitude for him.

He feels delicious in my arms.  In this quiet, dark time with just the two of us, I hold him tightly and sing to him for all three of them.  He doesn't know any differently than his Mama is hugging him and loving him like she always does.

But for a minute...his brothers are with me in him.
Right there.

Monday, April 29, 2013

To Sing Happy Birthday...

We have been BUSY.

I mean, REALLY busy.  Nearly a month of no writing (not for lack of things going through my head, just not enough time to assemble them.  Really not enough time now, but when ever is there?)...strange.

Lots of stuff going on.

Deployment is going well.  John is tired and wishes he was home, but he is really invested in what he is doing and he is probably coming home a bit earlier than expected, so we are grateful.  Still have a while to go....but less than we thought, so we take it and smile!

Luke is getting so big.  So grown up.  Such a little boy.  He's funny and entertaining and adorable and though he's two, he's still pretty easy-going and mannered and compliant and obedient.

Mostly, hee hee.

We just got back from Maryland.  It's hard to believe it's been nearly two years since we've moved.  It is unbelievable how fast time really does fly.  I realize it because Luke is SO big now, but honestly, being back felt very normal.  As if I had not left.

And yet, very surreal.

As if our time here in Jacksonville (most every minute I've loved because I really do love this area!) is real life and the last several years in Maryland?

Surely, that's not *my* child's grave?  The funeral home who tended to him and where I got to actually see the front of his face, as he lay in his tiny coffin?

The sanctuary where his service was held?

Surely, that's not the hospital.  The one that tried to save Matthew.  The one I had to leave Trey's remains in.

Surely those were all just bad dreams and *real* life is normal (as military life can be) with beach outings and church activities and donee dates and potty training.


It's funny how our heartache coexists.  Sometimes visciously dominant over all other feelings we have or want to have.

Sometimes, silently...crouching...just waiting to jump out and startle you the second you feel like you have sort of accepted how things.just.are.


We spent the week with dear friends.  Not really friends.  Friends-turned-family.  The twin boys were having their 4th birthday party.  I was talking with another woman at the party who was sharing she'd had 3 losses in her life, and had adopted a child.  I was sharing about Matthew, and Luke of course, and Trey and yes, somewhat tearing up a bit, though not much because I've gotten good at it.

You know.  Telling about their lives in a brief, "This-happened-to-me-but-it-I-know-it-makes-most-people-uncomfortable-so-I-try-not-to-be-too-emotional-about-it" way.

Just then, it was time to blow out the candles.  I was taking pictures, so I went over and we began singing.  The tradition is to sing to each boy separately, so each boy gets his own "Happy Birthday!", just as it should be.

Singing, happily, as I love these boys so much, and clicking away....until those words hit me:

"Happy Birthday, dear Matthew...." (one of the twins is named Matthew)

Hit.me.like.a.ton.of.bricks.

I'll never sing those words to John Matthew Ennis.

He'll never smile with a big, enchanting smile as a crowd showers him with love and gratitude for his birth.

I wondered how I'd never sung those words before.  How had 4 birthdays gone by with this not happening?  The twins' mom and I figured out that for their 1st birthday, I'd just had Luke's transfer done and missed the party.  For their second, we all went to Sesame Place together, and their little 'party' was a quick, quick opening of presents at the end of a very tired day.  Don't think we actually even sang.  Last year, I had just had the D&C and then headed to Pensacola; we missed their party that year too.

So this was the first time I realized the significance of those words.

We've not done anything big for Matthew's birthdays.  We've sung Happy Birthday to him, but honestly, it's always been more ritualistic and I never really felt like we were singing it to him as much as about him.  Really, two of his three birthdays have been with Luke and we were somewhat focused on Luke's involvement.

I'm rambling in my words and thoughts right now.

But noted...there is so much that has to be done to 'accept' life's circumstances.

Adding to the list daily.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Few Things...

I've always got thoughts swirling around in my mind.  This month, for Still Standing, I put some of them together.

Again, I say...OUTRAGEOUS gratitude and UNRESTRAINED joy.

Grateful.

http://stillstandingmag.com/2013/04/what-i-want-to-tell-you-a-year-later/

Monday, March 18, 2013

Every Gesture, Big and Small...

In church yesterday,  I heard a quote that brought tears to my eyes.

Crying in church is not really new for me, of course.  Heck, crying in Target is not new for me.

But I was surprised at how even now, how quickly and instantly, I can go from being filled with an indescribable contentment and joy to wondering why I didn't put more tissues in my purse— just.like.that.

The quote was from author Edgar N. Jackson and went, "Grief is the silent, knife-like terror and sadness that comes a hundred times a day, when you start to speak to someone who is no longer there."

Wow.  Yep.  One hundred times a day.
Silent.
Knife-like.

Yes.

The context of this quote was being used as our pastor talked about the relationship between Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi.

How Naomi had once been known to be so sweet, so pleasant and so happy...but after suffering so much tragedy, losing her husband and both sons, how the grief had changed her...redefined her.

She was bitter.
She didn't want people to think she was happy or sweet any more because she was grief-stricken.

She changed her name.
Naomi, pleasant and sweet, wanted to be called Mara, bitter.

I looked a bit more into the Hebrew meaning of the word Mara.  Not only does it mean bitter, but it often is contextually used with strength...as in, though grief made her bitter, it also gave her a different level of strength.

Yeah.  I know that feeling.


The purpose of the sermon was to talk about how Ruth, her daughter-in-law, who lost pretty much the same in that she lost her husband and her dreams of a family, told Naomi that she would go where Naomi went and live as Naomi lived.  This was as Naomi was doing her best to push everyone away and just hermit up in her alone-ness. (Sound familiar?)

In essence, Ruth, even in spite of her own grief, loved Naomi enough to support her and to minister to her grief-stricken heart.  Ruth was not going to let her be alone.  Not going to let her hermit herself up.
Not going to let her heart ache without sharing the weight.

While listening to all of this, I got lost thinking about how differently the days after Matthew died could have been.

How blessed I was, and still am, that so many people enveloped us in that same love and support.

Every friend who called or texted or emailed or left a kind comment on the blog or facebook...every friend who brought or met me for lunch or coffee because they were bound and determined to not let me feel alone, even if that's what I wanted most.

The body of Christ in action.

I try to express my gratitude for everything I can as much as I can.

I just don't know that I can possibly express the gratitude for those who rallied and rally around us.
Every day.

For nearly 4 years.

Four years ago tomorrow, I got the most amazing and unbelievable news I think I have ever gotten.

I was pregnant.

I don't think anyone can possibly imagine how life-changing that news is when one gets it, until she actually gets it.

But for us, and for those who support and love us, I don't think we still, to this day, realize how that news still changes my life.

Daily.

Like a silent knife a hundred times a day?  Yes.

But with a grateful heart.

Every gesture, big and small...priceless to us and our hearts.

Grateful. Grateful. Grateful.

Friday, March 15, 2013

What Made My Heart Stop...

I'm not really sure if I've ever shared how I knew without question that was Matthew was a boy.  My guess is, with my big mouth, I probably have.

But, in case I haven't, here's how...

I don't really dream much.  Or, if I do, I don't remember many.  VERY rarely does anything come to me in a dream, unless it's more of a nightmare.

But since I married John and we decided we'd start a family (ha ha...like we had any say in that....), I always thought I was going to have a little boy.

Honestly, that was a bit disconcerting because I desperately wanted a little girl.  I wanted to have that sweet little Daddy's girl and a best friend in my old age.  I knew girls.  I was a very girly-girl.  I craved that.

But I never dreamed about it.  Through the years of infertility, I actually DID have dreams.  Three or four, maybe five...the same dream, the same snippet.  Always remembered, even though such a small glimpse.

In this dream, I was feeding my little boy.  He was about 2ish, and he was eating a mess of spaghetti and he looked a mess!  He wore a white shirt and and he was in a high chair.  He had brown eyes and blond hair.  I never called him my baby, nor really even spoke, but I very, very distinctly remember knowing his name.

Every time, it was Matthew.

When we were adopting, we preferenced a little girl. I remember at some point, even asking John if we should change to boy because I just felt like there was always a Matthew waiting for me.  He said something to the equivalent of that I was being silly.  By that time, we were pretty entrenched in a little girl, her nursery and who she was going to be and when she'd join our family.

So, it was, as most of you know, no surprise to me when EVERYONE thought Matthew was a girl and I was proven right at the anatomy scan.  I have video of that precious day...telling John, "I KNEW IT!  I KNEW IT! I TOLD YOU!"

I had never been more sure of anything in my life that Matthew was the boy I'd dreamed about and God had finally given what I felt like He'd promised me.

Matthew is not a family name.  There is no real connection to it, and honestly, I had never even looked up the meaning of the name.  I just knew that in my dream, I'd been feeding a Matthew.  Once we looked more into it, and saw how beautifully perfect it was, and how it fit so well with a family tradition of names, it was again as Providence just kept waving His mighty hand.

When I was about 5-6 months, I remember telling John I was sort of worried sometimes because in that dream, the same dream I had, I never saw that little boy over the age of two-ish.  That scared me.  He again said I was worrying too much.

Hmm.

In any event....last night, after several days of barely eating anything, Luke decided he was hungry again.  I made spaghetti and loaded it with Parmesan cheese so he'd eat it and eat it, he did!  He even asked for "more sketti, pease!" and I was so glad he was eating something real and nutritious (snuck tons of veggies and protein in that sauce!).

I was somewhat checking FB while he was watching Umizoomi (before you judge, know that part of his therapy basically includes us not really paying attention to anything while eating—him or what he's doing—and allow distraction so he eats and doesn't even realize it.  One day we'll have family meals where we all talk and sing, but until he eats better, I do what I have to do to get him to eat.)

I looked up at him, and I literally stopped breathing for a minute.

I saw him.



I saw the little boy I'd dreamed about 3 or 4 times in the last 13 years.

He was right there in front of me, just like in my dream.

I mean JUST like in my dream.

Friends, my kid does NOT like his face to get dirty.  With food, that is.  He RARELY makes any sort of mess on his face with food and when he does, he immediately wants it cleaned.  Not last night, though...


I got chills.

I got hot all over.

I got choked up.

I teared up.

I of course took pictures.

I still now am a bit....dazed?

I don't know what the word is.  I don't know what to make of it.  It is very, very obvious that he is NOT Matthew.

Was this dream of mine given to me to let me know it was always going to be LUKE that I fed?  Luke that I raised?  Luke????

What in the world?

This is why it's so, so, so wrong to tell ANYONE to 'get over' their grief.  There is no getting over it.

Even the most simple, mundane of activities can make one's heart literally skip a beat...open a can of "What???  What???  What does this mean?  Why?  I don't understand!!!!" faster than one blinks.

Totally unexpected.

Totally unimaginable.

Totally unreal.

And yet, very real every day.