I remember when my giant of a man child, Bo was a baby. He was the first of my six kids and basically my “trial & error” child. He came out literally 10 pounds, not the figurative, “Yeah, my baby was huge. He was practically 10 pounds”. No, he was literally 10 pounds 0 ounces…to put that into perspective, he was 3X bigger than Reese was when she was born. He was so big that my siblings called him “Uncle Bo”. He was my stay puffed marshmallow man! As a result, Bo was hungry 126% of the time. Read More
I remember the day Hayes was given an official diagnosis so well. I was upstairs in my closet getting dressed when my phone rang. Read More
I get asked often about what it felt like to have 3 babies squished into my stomach. I can assure you, they were definitely squished in there. Well, two of them were squished, Hayes was as comfortable as can be. He was casually sprawled out under my rib cage while Heath and Reese packed themselves into the depths of my belly, pushing themselves head down battling for first entrance into the world. Hayes was always relaxed and happy with where he was. When I went into labor, it wasn’t a surprise when Hayes was the last to be born…the baby of the bunch. Read More
I have something to admit. Remember a few weeks ago when I said I had gained the courage to take Hayes’ crib down finally? Well, I have a confession, I just moved his crib to the opposite side of the room. I couldn’t bare to take it down so I just moved it in front of Heath’s closet. I literally had to shove it out of the way every time I needed to get clothes for Heath. So at least twice a day. But, I just couldn’t do it. The thought of taking it down felt like letting go of my baby. The guilt has been overwhelming. Read More
It was two years ago, right before the 5K and the babies first birthday. We were finishing up Hayes’ second round of chemo and I was still feeling naively optimistic. All I cared about was getting out of the hospital for the 5K and celebrating the babies. Hayes was sleeping in his hospital crib and I was sitting on the fold out plastic couch in my daily “uniform”….sweats. We were in the corner room of the cancer unit. There was a double door to get into our room and you couldn’t hear a sound. We were completely closed off from the world in our little corner that overlooked the Salt Lake Valley. Read More
Let me start out this post with a preemptive warning that I actually believe that toddler “education” is not something to stress about. When Bo was 18 months old, he was no joke, a baby genius. He said his first word at 7 months and his words skyrocketed after that. He was literally reading by 3 years old. I will be honest. I was kind of cocky about it and I sort of took credit for his success. I read books with him, worked on his sounds, colors and shapes and pretty much, from what I could tell, I had created a baby prodigy. All the signs pointed to his genius mom.
Then Mia was born. I took the exact same steps with her. I began reading her books and “testing” her on her knowledge and bless her sweet heart….she wasn’t a baby genius. In fact, not only could she not read by the time kindergarten rolled around, but she honestly knew maybe 5 of her letters, if that. Mia ended up doing fine and actually is super smart now. What I came to realize was that I actually didn’t have as big of an impact as I thought. I feel like kids cognitive interests will be perked when they are ready. So then what the heck is the point of trying to teach them at all?!
I decided that teaching my babies is actually the perfect opportunity to spend time with them and for them to spend time together. Maybe they aren’t becoming baby geniuses but the time together is kind of perfect! There is a lot of laughter, a lot of bribing and frankly, sometimes a little toddler tantrum thrown in the mix. But at least I am exposing them and giving them the opportunity to learn. It can’t hurt!
There are a few things that help me find success. First of all, high chairs are key for most of the activities! I can strap them in and they can’t get easily distracted with toys. Second off, I bribe them. Their bribes of choice lately are suckers. They will list off the parts of the face like Einsteins if they see a sucker on the horizon. It actually is kind of how I am with Peanut Butter M&M’s, but I digress. And thirdly, we sing A LOT! I wouldn’t necessarily say my voice is the voice of an angel but it motivates them enough to have me wondering if maybe it is!
Another activity I have found success with is stringing Cheerios on spaghetti noodles or skewers. This keeps them busy forever! Supposedly it helps with fine motor skills but it also will provide you with at least 10 minutes of quiet time. Que the Coke Zero and peanut butter M&M’s.
Last thing I usually do is work on colors. I usually draw about 6 different colored circles on a paper. I then have them sort fruit loops into coordinating colored circles. I have found that these things have worked for us. Even if it is just small things to help them follow directions, I feel like I am helping them become somewhat decent members of society.
Let me know if you try any of these. I am curious to know if it works for other kids. And if you have different ideas, I am always on the hunt for more!
There is no question that in the moment Hayes took his last breath, a part of me changed. It felt like a part of me died, and they had forgotten to bury me. To be honest, so much of grief is just surviving. Day to day, hour to hour, Minute to minute and moment to moment. I have a lot of moments left to survive in my life. Read More
I woke up yesterday morning feeling complete. For a moment I sat in that in between time where I didn’t know what was reality and what was a dream. I didn’t feel any rush to wake up because I was in pure bliss, holding my sweet baby boy again. In my dream I was sitting in that all too familiar Hospital room at primary children’s, holding my angel Hayesey, but in my dream he wasn’t an angel, he was very much here and fighting still.
Sometimes it is hard to notice. The day to day is stressful, there is always something to want more of and it is easy to forego gratitude. A while ago I began waking up each morning, immediately shifting my mind to things I am grateful for. Every morning, before I even open my eyes, I mentally list off the things I am grateful for. Sometimes it is huge things and sometimes it is something as simple as feeling grateful for the sleep I just woke up from. Sometimes it is hard for me to see through the fog of stress to see the things that make me happy, but looking back on my life when Hayes was here, I feel overwhelmingly grateful for so many things. I recently read a quote that could not be more true and more applicable to my own situation.
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
Isn’t that so how life is? It is easier to feel grateful when you are seeing things in hind sight. But, if there is anything Hayes taught me, it is that life is full of little things to feel grateful for! So, I am launching a 5 Things to be grateful for series. Once a month I will list off 5 things I am feeling grateful for. I am hoping it changes my outlook more permanently! I am hoping it reminds me to be more present and I am hoping it helps me feel more happiness during the dark days and moments.
1 – Reality TV … I know this seems incredibly shallow and unimportant, but you know what? Sometimes I need the mindless distraction. Sometimes I need to forget myself and sometimes I need a good laugh. Reality TV is one of those things for me that allows me to turn my mind off. When Hayes was in the hospital, I would put him to bed and lie in my little corner of the hospital room and watch my crap. Lift my mind out of the heaviness of childhood cancer. It was and still is a magical distraction.
2 – Coke Zero … Here is the devastating thing about Coke Zero, they are discontinuing it. Steve and I felt like crawling into the fetal position and crying many times today after hearing the news, but we stayed strong and cracked open a few extra cans of burning liquid to show appreciation for our favorite source of “hydration”….in all honesty, it really is something I am grateful for. Every day, when Hayes would take a nap, I would leave the room, go for a walk and purchase an ice cold fountain drink and the miracle was that they had Coke Zero! It was my daily vacation from the cancer unit.
3 – Summer Nights …. I am so not looking forward to fall because it means giving up the gift of summer evenings. I love when the sun is going down and everyone glows gold. I love how the air is still warm from the day. I love how lately there has been a slight breeze and birds have been chirping in the trees. I love laying on the tramp and staring up at the darkening sky and thinking of my boy. Completely immersing myself in the memories of Hayes. Escaping for a minute. It is heaven.
4 – Social Media … it is so interesting when people have such disdain for social media. I would have agreed with these people in the past, before Hayes got sick, but I think it is one of the greatest gifts of my life. Like anything, there are negative aspects, but mostly, it is a network of strangers that love and support one another. I feel lifted up daily by good people around the world that send me messages of support and love. I will always be grateful for the community and tribe that lift me up. I am beyond grateful for each and every one of you. I thank each of you for your part in my journey.
5 – I-Phone … no question, my most prized possession outside of my family, is my phone. Weird right? But, so, SO true. The amount of pictures and videos that I have on my phone of Hayes is unbelievable! Before smart phones, I never took time to document. But, every detail, every single beautiful moment was captured. I find a new video at least once a week and a new photo once a day of my perfect little boy. What an incredible blessing! That is why, my phone is my most prized possession. It is my link to my boy. A promise to myself that I won’t forget.
I had cried like I didn’t know was humanly possible. I had been sad before, but this was complete heart break, complete devastation, and complete darkness, with no hope. My sweet baby laid sedated in the crib next to the recliner we sat in. Peacefully sleeping the night away in bed #28, in the glass room we were closed away in. He slept more calmly than I had seen him do in months and ironically he was completely unaware of the horror that had been discovered in his teeny head just hours before. I laid in Steve’s lap and we held each other the whole night, freely crying and weeping in each other’s arms. We were in the PICU, surrounded by families and parents going through their own devastations. Read More