the boys

the boys

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Movement Therapy

It’s been a rough few months for me.  After our son Zachary died this year I spent a great deal of time focusing on the joys that he brought to our life.  I had to or else it would be too easy to crawl into a ball and hide from the world.  And cry.  Lots and lots of crying. Work in particular became tough just because it’s a place where I need to keep it under control and be professional.  Actually that’s not even true.  I can keep it relatively under control but professionalism isn’t really my thing.  Sarcasm is.  And humor.  But I found myself having quite a few rough days at work in the last several weeks.  We had expected Zachary to arrive by Thanksgiving at the latest so getting over that hurdle was a major step in my grief.  On Thanksgiving weekend I was really dreading going back to work and carrying on a normal life. That is, until I had the BEST idea. 

It’s cartwheels.  Yup, cartwheels.  There is no way possible you can be sad while doing cartwheels.  So I’ve been doing them.  A lot.  At work.  Every day.  Anytime there is no one around, I do a cartwheel.  Mostly in our break room area.  Or if I think I don’t have time or the appropriate attire for a cartwheel I do full turns or split leaps.  Last week I did several fouette turns in a row because I couldn't hear anyone coming and then I got a bit dizzy and had to walk back to my office while shaking it off a bit.  Yup, I’ve just been cartwheeling and twirling and leaping all over our office and no one knows it (I think).  As of yet I don’t think I’ve been caught.  I do them while I’m making copies or when I check my mail.  Sometimes I just go to the break room to see if no one is around so I can get a quick cartwheel or leap in.  It’s just really hard to be sad and distracted after being upside down. 
Score one for movement therapy!  It’s so healing. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Humiliatoin Day

There are two things you should know before you read this. 

#1: The weekly school email last week shared information that the school needs cardboard donations for the Global Cardboard Challenge.
#2: Now that he is in 3rd grade, Justin has a planner at school and every day he has to write down what he does throughout the day and reminders that he will need throughout the week. 

So, that's where tonight's story begins.  Actually the story begins earlier this morning when Jeremy got home from 72 hours straight at the firehouse to find a huge unkempt pile of cardboard food boxes in the kitchen.  I asked him to break them down and put them in a plastic sack for the boys to take to school.  Go me!!  Contributed to a school project.  My kids must really idolize me.  Justin will be a hero today for bringing a variety of cardboard boxes of processed foods. 

OR, maybe not.  Tonight we were "doing backpacks."  It's our nightly routine of people pulling various papers out of their backpacks and throwing them out me at astounding rates as I try to thumb through them all and see what needs to be kept, read, applauded, corrected, returned, trashed, or in tonight's case blogged. 

I have to sign Justin's planner every night.  I open it up to find this:

That's right.  Today was Humiliation Day. Or rather Humiliatoin Day.  Who knew?  It begs the obvious question.  So, ummm J, what's up with Humiliation Day?  His response was well, humiliating. 

"Oh yeah, that.  Well Max and I decided today was humiliation day because no one knew why I brought that bag of trash to school.  Mrs. Nelson said 'Uhhhhh, I don't think we need it but I guess I can check on it.'.  They just need box tops."  We asked him what she did with it and he said it was still sitting there at the end of the day. 

My kid was so humiliated that he named a day for it.  Parenting.  Fail.  Jeremy and I have not laughed this hard in a very, very long time. 

Note: I double checked the school email and they do in fact want cardboard for the schools by mid-October.  I was just ahead of the game.  Boom! 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

This is Sew Jeremy

I'm a procrastinator.  There, I said it.  It took me a while to realize it.  Even longer to say it.  Even longer to blog about it.  

I let a whole year go by without sewing any new patches on Justin's Cub Scout uniform.  Now Leo's a Cub Scout therefore doubling my opportunity to be unprepared.  I had to suck it up and get both of their uniforms up to date.  I arranged for my seamstress (yes, I have a seamstress "on staff") to get all of the various little patches in their correct locations. 

Enter: Jeremy.  Ten minutes before the first Pack meeting of the year Jeremy said some very unexpected words.

"Do we have a needle?  I think I can sew." 


Yes we have a needle and a tiny sewing kit that I'm pretty sure I got about 10 years ago in some sort of goodie bag at a social work conference.  I've used it approximately three times.  Ok, twice.  Ok, I don't remember if I've ever used it except the few times that I got the miniature scissors out to open the blueberry muffin dry mix bag for breakfast.  Or cookie dough.  I probably used it to open a bag of chocolate chips.  It sure was hell wasn't for sewing. 

Anywho, in his typical "let's not spend any money" mantra, Jeremy wants to sew all of the patches on himself.  In my typical "can't we just pay someone to do this" way of living, I insist on using the handy-dandy seamstress (shout out to Heather!). 

So I directed him to the sewing kit.  If it can even be called a sewing kit.  It's like three of the tiniest spools of thread you have ever seen, one needle, and the aforementioned scissors designed for use on the set of The Littles. 

Sooooooo, he sews.  Here he is making his first attempt at threading a needle.  Followed by "son of a....."

"I had it until I heard the click (of the camera)"
Followed by "UGH!!!  I almost had it!" and "We are down to our last needle."  As if I need to run out and buy some more to last us the next ten years of non-sewing. 
"Yeah, I can do this.  Do you have a thimble?"
"Oh FUCK! I just got my finger!"
"Ok this is where I get confused" (as he tries to knot it).
Here he is pictured cutting the thread with his teeth as I'm sure his fingers won't fit in the teeny tiny scissors. 
SWEET SUCCESS!  What a stud!
How ya like me now?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Against all odds, there is so much joy in our life right now.  At the very end of Zachary's burial service when only Jeremy and I were left to linger for just a few moments longer than everyone else, our priest said something that has been nearly life changing.  He told us that Zachary brought JOY even in all of our sorrow.  I believed him and agreed immediately, even as I stood looking at Zachary's tiny casket.  Faith brings joy and our faith is strong.  Our joy is overwhelming. 

So in this time of extreme difficulty, we are finding joy.  I find myself looking for it every day and frequently it finds me.  God is putting joy in my life and putting it right in front of my face.  Here are some examples:
  • Despite our extreme sadness the moment Zachary was born we also felt joy.  Joy in meeting our son and in finding out that (shocker) we had another boy!  Joy in seeing his round little O'Brien face just as we had 3 times before.  Joy in giving him a name that honored my grandpa and knowing that now all 4 of our grandpa's names are represented in our boys names.  Joy in having him immediately baptized and knowing that his sweet soul is safe and loved in heaven. Joy even in heartbreaking sadness. 
  • My marriage to Jeremy is stronger than ever.  I love him more than the day we were married and I know he feels the same.  We say it to each other.  Joy.  We rocked this tragedy with a togetherness we had never experienced.  We were on the same wavelength at every single step.  That's not true for other challenges we have come across, but it was true for this.  True love.  Joy. 
  • I smile every single time I leave my house because I have a beautiful tree (soon to be two) in the yard with a guardian angel sitting beneath it.  Joy. 
  • We have seen and heard from friends that we haven't seen in a while.  And it's been wonderful for all of us.  Joy. 
  • We are raising an amazing amount of money through donations to Synergy Services for children who either have no home or their home is unsafe or so chaotic that a shelter with caregivers that are strangers to them is a better choice.  Those babies will be rocked in chairs, sleep in beds, and cared for between the walls that are paid for by our family and friends simply because sweet Zachary will never get that opportunity.  Joy for those kids.  They will feel comfort, love, and security that they would not otherwise have without our help.  I have rocked all of my babies and I was able to rock Zachary.  Rocking babies tugs at my heart and these babies will be rocked with love.  Joy. 
  • Our kids are learning grief at their own pace.  They are gaining an understanding on what it is to lose someone, even someone they did not know, and still be able to live a life full of joy.  They are learning that its ok for adults to cry and cry hard.  Ugly cry with hacking sobs of grief and there have been many.  They are learning, Leo in particular, that it's also ok not to cry if that's not what your heart feels in the moment.  It's ok to be ok.  It's so ok to feel joy. 
Tonight my joy came from William.  At the burial service we had each of the boys place a Hot Wheel with the casket.  The nursery has always had a Hot Wheels theme and Zachary missed out on all of the Hot Wheel fun.  In typical 2 year old fashion, Will refused to leave his.  He clung to it and did the age old "MIIIINE!" so we let him keep it.  It's a Hot Wheel fire truck and it's been sitting in the car for the last few weeks.  A few days ago he randomly brought it inside and I've told him several times that it's Zachary's fire truck and that he is allowed to play with it.  Will has been clueless to what has happened and only recently realized I'm not pregnant.  Tonight, to my great joy, he put the two things together.  He asked about the baby in my tummy and when I reminded him that the baby is no longer there and the baby's name was Zachary, his eyes lit up.  He ran upstairs to get the fire truck and has held on to it all night.  He is "sleeping" with it now (using the word sleeping loosely because.....he's not!).  He's been walking around saying "Zacccree fire truck" and maybe, just maybe, he has created a memory of his brother that will stick with him.  Joy.  And peace. 

My friend Rachel sent this devotional to me tonight just as I was starting to write this blog.  Joy.  Thank you Jesus for all of the JOY in my life. 
"I continually call you to closeness with Me.  I know the depth and breadth of your need for Me.  I can read the emptiness of your thoughts when they wander away from Me.  I offer rest for your soul, as well as refreshment for your mind and body.  As you increasingly find fulfillment in Me, other pleasures become less important.  Knowing Me intimately is like having a private wellspring of Joy within you.  This spring flows freely from My throne of grace, so your Joy is independent of circumstances.  Waiting in My presence keeps you connected to Me, aware of all that I offer you.  If you feel any deficiency, you need to refocus your attention on Me.  This is how you trust Me in the moments of your life."

Thursday, August 13, 2015


First of all a super odd thing:  the last blog I posted was exactly a year ago today.  I obviously don't blog much anymore but tonight was blog-worthy and so I'm drawn back to it.  I miss it so much.  I hope to make more time for it again soon.

Our sweet and tiny baby boy, Zachary John, was born two weeks ago.  He was immediately received into Jesus' arms.  It's been a long two weeks.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem real.  Our priest told us at the burial that Zachary brought joy even through our sorrow and it is so true.  We have received amazing support from family and friends.  Two groups in particular have given us very special gifts.  Our daycare family, past and present, have bought us a tree for our yard in memory of Zachary.  We are so excited.  It’s the perfect gift.  Jeremy has always wanted a tree in our side yard and this is the perfect way to honor our baby.  Then today we got a knock on the door.  Another tree, this time from my amazing college buddies.  So now we have two trees, which has always been Jeremy’s plan for the side yard.  Joy in our sorrow. 

My heart aches and my tears overflow as we realize that Zachary will always have a place in the yard where the boys mow with their dad all summer and sled down the hill in the winter.  But that’s not tonight's only story.  The rest of the story is that Jeremy and I put the boys to bed tonight and invited our friends, Ellan and Robert, over to help us figure out where to plant the trees.  Ellan is our daycare provider and a landscaper extraordinaire.  So we chatted inside for a while about which trees we were getting and how far apart to place them.  Then we went outside to place some stakes in the ground to prepare for planting.  That led to chatting and a few tears as we talked about sweet Zachary. 

Then the cops drove by.  Not super common, but ok.  Then they turned around and came back.  And slowed down.  And stopped.  So I walked up the hill to the driveway to see what the officer needed. She said “do you have three small boys?”  My heart stopped.  I swear it did.  I could not handle any more bad news. I couldn’t process why she was asking until I looked back at the house and saw Justin standing at the window on the phone (with 911 dispatch).  The officer told me that they didn’t know where we were and they got scared so they called the police.  I guess we were outside longer than we realized and they got out of bed and couldn’t find us. I yelled for Jeremy to go get them inside.  He says their faces were indescribable when he walked up. 

They came rushing down the driveway where I was still leaning up against the police car trying to gain composure that nothing was wrong with them.  Leo gave me the BIGGEST hug and Justin’s face was ashen.  Will was just chilling on the driveway.  So the story goes that Will wanted out of his room and was banging on his door for us.  The big boys couldn’t figure out why he was being so loud so they came downstairs and realized we weren’t in the house.  They looked outside and could not see us (because we were in the side yard).  Leo said he wanted to go outside and check but Justin wouldn’t let him in case there was something dangerous outside.  So Justin called 911.  LOVE THAT KID!  He wasn’t sure of our address but he knew our street name and the elementary school down the block from us so he was able to lead law enforcement close to us.  Dispatch told him to turn on the TV and just relax because police were on their way to help.  Justin demonstrated how his hands and whole body were shaking as he made the phone call.  It makes my heart hurt and melt to know how scared he was but how he stepped up and took care of his family.  They were so nervous.  Leo talked a mile a minute when we got inside (typical anyway) about how he kept thinking “I hope they didn’t take their phone with them” and how relieved he was when they found my phone.  They did it all exactly right.  They made safe choices.  Whew.  My kids are safe.  Three are safely in their beds and one is safely on Jesus’ lap being rocked to sleep.