Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Some of the Good

I have had to take a bit of a break in writing to get through some of these emotions. Not because they are not there but because I cant deal with them all at once. All right now. I'm sure many of you that have been through something difficult can relate. As much as you want life to slow down. To stop. To let you process and accept and learn and figure things out it doesn't. Every morning dishes need to be done,  kids need to be feed, there is laundry and groceries and chores. There is kids to play with and books to read. There is work to attend to and a spouse who needs you to not be in the fetal position everyday when they get home. Life has continued like it does and I have had to push some of these feelings aside to continue to keep the good part of my life... Good.
There are a few different reasons why I switched blogs and made the other private. One of those reasons being my Dad. He knew about much that was going on in my life. Whether I wanted him to or not. But I wanted to try and control some of what he knew. I wanted to make sure the people who read our story wasn't going to give him everything. Which had been happening before. I wasn't trying to hide. I didn't feel I needed to protect myself or my family. but more it was my only way to feel some control over a relationship I very much felt no control over. Every time I thought, talked or imagined my Dad I was a 9 year old girl again and had no voice. So being able to not let him into every single part of my life was a way for me to hold control.
Anyway- I have not decided whether to go back to just 1 blog, keep both, I really don't know. I will keep blogging because this is my way to document our life. To record our everyday and now to keep family involved in our everyday when we live so far from them.
Until I figure out how or if I will merge my blogs I wanted to share some of the GOOD that is still very much in our life.
Makenzie's Birthday.
We were so lucky to celebrate her here in Washington with some of our amazing friends.
It ended up being an amazing party and one I will forever remember.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Memory

I am not sure when I became so good at forgetting but I am pretty amazing at it.
Usually its not something I wish I could do. It makes it really hard when all I want is to remember moments with Kenzie. Lose myself in what once was. But those memories have faded. Really fast. I have learned through the mass amounts of counseling I have done through most of my life that its really common to block out trauma because some just cant handle it.
I guess I am one of those. and the older I have gotten the worse it is.
I have very LITTLE memory of my childhood. What I remember is almost snapshots. Paused moments in time. There are no voices or movement or smells or sounds. Its a picture. Much of it is good. I really have an amazing family. and even a lot of good memories came from my Dad. He used to do this thing when you would hug him really tight... He would say "POP" when you hugged him just right. I remember squeezing him so tight just to get him to say that. He sang to me when I asked. Those songs are forever in my mind. Not his voice. Just knowing those were sung. He did a lot of weird things... He was very controlling and manipulative. He had a Doctorate in Psychology- he was very smart. He knew how to talk to people. One of his little controlling tactics was that he would have special treats in the house. Treats of the rest of us couldn't have. There were 10 kids and not much money. We didn't have a lot of goodies or extras. but he always did. Well I remember him sharing with me. I remember him giving me chocolate covered cherries or twinkies or one of his sodas. I remember feeling spoiled by that.

I loved when my sisters and brothers were around. I remember them taking me on adventures, buying me fun things and just spending time with me. Even when forced. Sorry Jill. I don't know how many hours you were forced to play barbies--- well into your teens--- but I loved it. I loved how Donette would take Jonathan and I camping or to her apartment in Logan. I loved how Rick would take me on motorcycle rides. I loved when Ben would always bring me the McDonald toys when a new one came out. I loved when Kristianne would send me post cards and letters. I loved how Alana always seemed to save me when I would be hiding under the bed and the damn box spring would once again fall on me. I love how Amy would comb and braid my hair. I love how Lisa would take me to work with her and bring me special treats. I love how Jonathan still loved me after I was not a very nice big sister and how we were still a team in just about everything we did - spy club. I do have amazing memories and was given a good life. There are so many things I hope to mimic with my family.
I wish I could remember more good.
I also wish I could remember and understand more of the bad.
To understand more of why I have some of these feelings and have struggled with certain issues. Issues that I have worked on just about my whole life.
I was 6 when I started eating paper so I wouldn't get fat.
I started having anxiety attacks shortly after that.
I got in trouble in 1st grade for drawing pictures of naked stick figures doing things to each other.
I started going to counseling when I was 8 and continued pretty regularly up until recently.
I have always had problems in relationships. How I feel loved is not how others would.
I want to understand. I want a clear memory of everything. Of what happened and when. I wish I could pin point the defining moment so I can work through it now. So I can not be so confused. So I can fix myself so I can not be so... hurt. and be better for Ryan and Tracker.
I know there were times in life I knew and was clear on everything happening in life.
I have memories of telling things to other people or counselors.
I have memories of moments before... what happened next I am not sure.
At times I am thankful I don't have these memories in my mind. That I don't have to know every moment. Every sleepless night. I know even in my immediate family--- they remember--- and I know how much that hurts them. So most of the time I am thankful my brain has lost those images.
I know the feelings I had then. I remember the pain. The hurt. The anger. I was very angry. I would use the word hate. I do know that emotion was there just about every moment I was around him. Especially the older I got.
The worst abuse for me. That I am very clear about today. That I remember. That is carved in my brain. That is carved in every inch of my body. Is the emotional abuse.
I think we all suffer from some type of emotional abuse at some point in our lives. Name calling, being degraded, being made fun of, being yelled at. Maybe it was someone at school. Maybe it was a neighbor. Maybe it was a sibling or maybe it was a parent.
The words he said to me are clear. That part of my memory is very much still there. Those are some of the hardest memories for me. Being torn down- to nothing- from a very young age... I am not sure you can ever build yourself up to what you should be.
I used to work with a company that went around doing workshops for groups that worked with troubled or at risk youth. I did secretary type work for them. I went to one of the workshops and learned so much. The workshop made so much sense. It made me almost feel normal in this world. Normal for someone that has been abused. For those of us that have been abused our minds will not work the same as everyone else. There are triggers and emotions that someone who has not experienced abuse wont understand. I don't think people understand how damaging it is to harm a child. "They wont remember" or "They adapt so well" is what you hear so often. That is so not the case. Your brain develops 80% from age 0-5!! 80%!!!! When a child suffers neglect or abuse do you know what happens to their brain development? It creates holes. Holes that might start out small but imagine a cone shape. The hole that was created was the tip of the cone. As life goes on or as the cone goes on that hole gets bigger. By the end of the cone or the end of your brain development that little hole is really big. That means there is a big space missing. Of course these kids are going to have issues. We might all have a little hole made. Its near impossible to not have some kind of trauma in ones life. It doesn't just have to be neglect or abuse. But when its constant or on a regular basis. Many holes are made and that means there is a big problem later.
I think some of my holes are where my memory has gone. Those holes have both helped and hindered the trauma.

You might ask why I want to remember?
Why in the world would I want those memories in my head?
There are many reasons. but as much as I shouldn't... I feel guilty. Guilty that because of what happened my Dad went to prison. I know he made his own choice and what he did was his choice. but it was what he did to me. The statute of limitations had run out on anyone else he hurt. That came forward at least. So it was me. and as much as he made every choice until he made the final choice of ending his life... I still hold myself somewhat responsible.

Side note:
I don't ever want my writing to sound like I am feeling sorry for myself or wanting sympathy. I'm just writing. Please know I am just putting my thoughts and real feelings down. Unfortunately I know I am not the only one who has gone through these things. Abuse is far to common. and I am sure there are many who feel similar to me. Counseling helps because you talk about things out loud. You work through them. I guess I find this my new session.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I have to start somewhere.

I have so much to catch up on. Happy things. Things that involve my sweet little boy. Things that involve my family. Trips. Our new house. The beginning of summer.
but right now I cant go on anymore. I cant document another moment of that part of my life before I can start working through another part. A part that has been hurting me a lot lately. A part that I have chosen not to share on here. Not because I am private about it. but because I have not known how to work through it. It wasn't until now that I felt writing it out would help. It was easier to push away. To hide. To talk about when needed but not something that I wanted to document for the world. For people who don't know me personally. and for people to view who are involved. Its a sensitive thing. Its hard. Its confusing. Its so emotional.
Last month my Dad died.
I haven't mentioned him much.
My Mom has been my parent. For a long time. She has been the leader in my life and she has been the one to raise me. but my Dad was there. In a very big way.
Talking about this will take a while. I will share what I can as I work through it and only as much as I find necessary for my healing.
My Dad spent over 10 years in prison.
He was arrested when I was 13.
I remember the day so clearly.
The last time I would see him other than in a court room for over 10 years would be in the parking lot at my Jr high. He brought me a project I forgot at home that I needed to turn in that day.
We were practicing for promotion that day. School was nearly out and I would be moving onto high school. A lady came to talk to me. She was asking me questions about my Dad. My relationship with him. and if he ever did anything inappropriate to me.
I was confused. and not certain what inappropriate meant.
We talked for a while. She left. Then came back a short time later.
She said she was taking me and we were going to pick up my little brother.
She said she didn't feel it was safe for me to go home.
I ran through the school trying to find my older sister who was an aide there.
She must have been at lunch.
We left.
We went to the elementary school where my brother was.
He came out of his classroom and I ran to him. I hugged him and I said it would be okay and to be brave. He knew nothing. By this point I had a pretty good idea that everything I talked to that lady about my Dad... All that stuff I thought was "okay" was really not.
We were dropped off at a group home.
Together for a while.
Then separated.
I could see the boys home from my room.
I cried.
A lot.
I was given a tour. Told the rules. Offered support and met the other girls.
I can remember that place like I'm still in there.
I remember being given a light green toothbrush, some toothpaste and some soap.
We had nothing.
We had no extra clothes or pajamas or anything.
I was so worried about my brother.
I was terrified I did something wrong. What did I say? What was going to happen to my family?
I was given chores. That night was music therapy.
The next day every single one of my siblings came. To talk to Jonathan and I. We sat on the patio. It was the first time I think -- ever-- that we were all together and... Free?!
It was terrifying but it was clear we were going to be a team and we were going to support each other.
This was the beginning.
My Dad was arrested and spent 10 years in prison for child abuse.
He was a child molester.
He was also the head of our house.
He held the priesthood in the Mormon church.
He went on a mission.
Was married in the temple.
and even was a worker currently in the temple.
He had many high callings.
He was trusted.
All of the good he might have done in life was now labeled.
Labeled as a child molester.
Relationships were lost.
Lives were forever changed.
and last month he died.
He was back in prison for a parole violation.
and he died.
He killed himself.
The emotions I have felt since I was 13 trying to process this. Trying to move past this. Trying to understand it. To feeling at peace. To trying to build some kind of relationship. Guarded but trying.
To knowing he ended his life by choice. To all the emotions of being one of the ones left behind. As much as I wish I was still at peace and okay with everything. I feel like I am lost in it. Confused. Frustrated and overwhelmed by the images in my head.
One of the most defining moments in my life.
When I took everything that happened 'Then' and learned to live NOW and not feel like this defined me was when Kenzie died.
It was at that moment I knew what PAIN looked like in my life.
What I thought had been pain before. Was not nearly as painful as losing her. and it was then that I developed Forgiveness. Love. Compassion. and Empathy for the person I was once so angry at.
So now here I am once again. In a phase I don't want to be. Knowing I need to do something. So maybe its writing it out. Figuring out my emotions. My confusion. The uncertainty. Through writing.
This blog has helped me through the worst moments of my life before so I pray it does the same again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kindergarten Registration


I am having a hard time figuring out a way to my all the thoughts in my head and emotions onto words. Words people can understand. Words that makes sense to me. 
I continue to struggle with the acceptance, wishing for something different and the anger stages of grief.
I feel like these are the 3 I have struggled with the most and the ones that I may always struggle with.
Just when I think I am in the acceptance stage and doing "well" something new happens or even someone old is triggered and I go back to that wishing for something different. and then the anger. The wishing and anger come hand in hand. I think they are a team for me because I cant wish for something different without knowing that if life were different we wouldn't have Tracker. So then I get angry. because there is no way I can imagine my life without him. 
I get angry because I want to wish for life to be something else. I want to imagine life with an almost 5 year old girl. I want to imagine kindergarten registration right now and feeling a lump in my stomach knowing my sweet girl will be starting school. I want to imagine a house of dolls and barbies and pink and glitter and hearts and princess dresses. I want to imagine calling her name. I want to imagine painting her toes and tickling her arms. I want to imagine doing her hair and getting frustrated when she wont sit still. I want to imagine all of this goodness.
but with everyone of these thoughts I think about this little boy that is running rampid in my house. Causing chaos, loud noise, creating horrible messes and climbing up the walls. and I get angry at myself for even imagining a different way because with any other way... He wouldn't be here. and that just isn't something I can accept. Ever. but how to I accept her being gone?
How do I continue day in and day out to pretend this is all okay? That I am okay? That I don't want to throw up everyday knowing its another day without her and another day I have to make an effort to say her name. She isn't here to call for lunch or to tell to stop picking on her brother. Her name isn't said several hundred times a day like Trackers is. Her name is only said a few times. If that. There are some days I go to bed and realize I haven't even said her name out loud today.
Life is happening. I am living. That is a lot more than I could have said 2 years ago. My life was consumed with missing her. Our house was very empty. We are lucky and so very thankful to have such a huge void in our world filled by Tracker. but he took the place of distractions and noise and staying busy. He didn't take the place of her. That little girl. That girl that was here first. That couldn't keep her hands out of her mouth. That girl that fit so perfect in my neck. That girl that loved balloons. That girl that made a squeak when she breathed. That girl that talked non stop all day. That girl that was mellow and content. That girl that had long skinny feet. That girl that love inappropriate songs. That girl that smelled like lavender and vanilla. That girl that smiled all the time. That girl I miss. That little being that I held. and loved. and bathed. and kissed and fought to keep. That little girl that I had for 148 days. I miss her. and I think its a joke that God thought I could live the rest of my life with only 148 days of her. 
That I was some how suppose to make enough memories and soak in as much of her as I could to last me the rest of my life. It wasn't long enough.
I have been so tired of hearing from others how happy she is. How she is so proud of her brother. How she is having the best time in heaven. How she is in a better place... I am so tired of hearing how we will be together again. I am tired of trying to make all of this "okay".
Its not. Its not okay that I only got 148 days with my child. That I then held her while she died. and that I buried her. and that her body is now hundreds of miles away. 
It might be a good thing I am not near her right now. There have been more than a few times lately that I want to get in the car drive the 9 hour drive and dig her up. Hold what is left of her decomposed body and bring it home with me. To have her. A little tiny peace of what is left.
I understand she is in heaven. I have to believe that. Or I would jump in front of a bus. I have to believe there is more than this. Than living and dieing. There has to be more. but what that more is... Is another struggle. I have talked to people. People from various religions. With various beliefs. and maybe its just me... but what they tell me heaven is like... or where she is... I don't believe it. and I don't like it. 
Its not good enough.
The lack of dreams since she died.... Still nothing. I have still not had a dream of her since that one right after she died. The "feelings" of her are hard for me to make sense of. Is it real or is it my mind doing everything possible to survive another moment so I make up this "feeling". Why is that feeling not there when I need it most? What am I missing?
I am thankful for family. Friends. and even the friends I have never met that always offer a word of peace. Advice. and send love. Your comments on where she is or who she is with are appreciated. and they do help. but right now I am having a hard time with them.
I don't write much about this anymore because I cant figure out what to say. I cant figure out how to put it into words. I push it out of my mind and try to focus on the good.
I have gotten pretty good at it. Keeping busy on the boys in my world. They are amazing. 
but then out of no where I have mornings where I happen to look at her picture. The same picture I see everyday. The one hanging above my couch. and that picture brings me to my knees. I then spend that day doing everything in my power to just breathe. To keep Tracker fed and Mickey on TV. Those are not "proud Mom" days. I usually sit in front of the computer and watch her videos over and over. I close my eyes and just listen to her. Her breathing. Her giggles. Her crying. I try to go back there. Its so far away now. So far from my constant now. 
Its hard to go back there. To remember. To be in that moment. but I try. 
I usually end up having a new moment now. A moment with my daughter. Videos of my daughter. On a computer. They are not great. and again I get angry.


My eyes are burning.
My boy needs me.
Ill get this figured out.
I have made it over 4 years now.
I know ill make it to tomorrow.



Letter of the week A-D

I have started doing a letter of the week with Tracker and the kids I babysit. I am really good at planning and preparing things but have failed at taking pictures. Now I don't mean I have the best ideas and I always have the best things for them to do. Its usually very simple, doesn't take much time to prepare and many things I got off good ol' Pinterest. 
The oldest of the group is 3 so its kind of hard to figure out things to keep their attention, get them excited and to help them actually learn. I decided to do it because I need some kind of structure so this is more for me than them.
So far its going so good. They love it. and they are really learning which I LOVE.
I have the letters hanging on the wall-- or I did before Tracker ripped them all up so I need to make some more. We started at the beginning of the year and have done 1 letter each week. however we spent 2 weeks on the letter C and have not moved past D right now. Mainly because everyone is sick. So we have not seen our friends as regularly the last few weeks. Because I plan the activities for all of them I want to save it for them all. We find other things to do and have spent a lot of time on C and D and went back to B for a few days. I am hoping now that all our fun valentine activities are over we can all feel better and get back on track. I wanted to remember what I came up with because I don't think my binder will last forever. 

Aa.
A is for Apple, Airplane, Alligator, Ant, Adventure.
We made paper airplanes and raced them.
Colored Alligator pictures and glued their teeth on.
Went on an adventure to find ants.
Watched the movie A Bugs life (for the ants).
We did a whole lot of Apple snacks including applesauce, apple pie, caramel apples and just sliced apples. We had ants on a log one day but no one ate the celery. Just the peanut butter and raisins. 

Bb.
B is for Ball, Balloon, Bike, Bus, Boy, Bear, Banana, Blueberry, Box, Blocks, Books, Bubbles, Bird.
We played with balloons just about everyday because they loved that the most. The colored several B themed pictures. We went to the bus stop and watched the buses come and go.
We built with blocks and made houses and towers and forts.
Played with the balls. Filled the tub with balls and took turns playing in there. 
I collected some boxes for them to get their own to color and play in.
Read a billion books.
Watched the birds out the window.
Blew and played in bubbles.
Watched the movie Brother Bear.
We ate bananas, blueberries, bear cookies, bread and butter.
We baked brownies.









Cc.
C is for Cow, Cloud, Candy, Coin/Change, Coconut, Celery, Carrot, Cucumber, Car, Cake, Crayons, Chicken, Cat.
We counted coins and put them in a piggy bank.
We went on a walk to visit the cows down the street and named them.
We watched the clouds and then glued cotton balls on a paper making clouds.
I made streets in the kitchen with duct tape and they drove their cars around.
They helped me get all the broken crayons and break them a little more so we could make new crayons.
We colored with crayons a lot.
We learned about chickens and we drew cats.
We watched the movie Aristocrats.
For treats they had celery, carrots and cucumber with ranch (except Tracker had his with ketchup). Coconut milk, shredded coconut and we made cake pops.
We had chips, crackers, cheerios, cheese and cranberries.



(Take off crayon wrapper with razor blade. Break apart if not already broken and place in silicone baking mold. Bake at 230 degrees for 10-15 minutes)

Dd.
D is for Dog, Dirt, play Dough, Dinosaur, Dance, Dessert, Duck.
We made play dough.
We had a Dog day where they acted like dogs, ate their snack like dogs and played like dogs. They got to play with Harley and we went and met some of the other dogs in the neighborhood. They colored dog pictures and played with dog figure toys. They got to watch 101 Dalmatians.
We pretended to be dinosaurs.
We played with dinosaurs.
We had a dance party.
We collected dirt and played in it a little.
We made dessert (cookies). 
They had donuts just about every morning for breakfast. (I couldn't think of many D foods)




Best Play dough Recipe
2.5 cups of water
1 1/4 cup salt
1 1/2 tbsp. cream of tarter
5 tbsp. vegetable oil
2.5 cups of flour
Food coloring.

Mix everything including the food coloring together in a large pot until somewhat smooth. It will be lumpy. Not to worry, the dough will get smoother as it cooks. Cook the dough over a low heat. Mix frequently. The water will slowly cook out of the mixture and you’ll notice it starts to take on a sticky dough appearance. Keep mixing until the edges of the dough along the side and bottom of the pan appear dry. Pinch a piece of dough. If it’s not gooey, the dough is ready.
Place the dough on a counter top or large cutting board that can withstand a little food coloring. Knead the warm dough until it’s smooth. If your kids are impatient like mine you can get some tin foil and spread it out rather thin to help it cool faster. Once completely cool and after play time store the dough in a large Ziplock bag or sealed container. This lasted nearly 3 months before I started seeing mold.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Leggings and Monsters


I was lucky enough to meet one of the sweetest people in the world when moving to Washington. This is a girl I think I was always meant to have in my life. She is amazing. Her name is Julie. She is the sweetest, funniest and most talented people I have ever known. and she has the cutest little girl you will ever meet. This little girl is pure sunshine. and you have to know her...
You must visit Julies blog and learn all about her daughter Olivia.

Julie and I have teamed up this year for my annual Kenzie Baby Leggings project and have turned it into something much bigger. Olivia has spent and continues to spend much of her time at the Seattle Children's hospital. We have decided to spread the love with the leggings and donate to Seattle Children's as well as Primary Children's hospitals and do it in both Makenzie and Olivia's names. 
We will be doing the leggings just like every year. You can donate socks that I will make into leggings or you can donate leggings that you make or leggings that you buy. These will continue to be in honor of Makenzie.
What we are adding is something for sweet Olivia.
 In honor of Olivia we will be collecting the most adorable monster dolls. You can follow a pattern we found or make one up yourself. You can really get creative with these guys and they are soo easy. There really is no right or wrong way to make them. 


We want this to be the biggest and best year for the Leggings Project yet and adding the monsters to our donation will make it that much more amazing.  Everything collected until June will go to Seattle Children's Hospital and everything after that will go to Primary Children's Hospital.  Help us with leggings or little monsters!  It's such a good cause.  You can't imagine the difference these kinds of things make, not just to the kids, but to the parents.

The leggings are simple and easy to make.  My leggings step by step instructions are HERE.   Can't sew?  Send us the socks, we will make them.  As for the monsters, there is no right or wrong way to do them, just give them one eye, wonky eyes, one eye and the other eye a star or heart or any other shape.  Get creative!  We tried a few different patterns we found for free online and tweaked them a bit.  We did figure out that THESE little guys made with felt were pretty easy, were just top stitched (no turning required!), and fast.  You can mix and match everything she has and they all turned out adorable.  Again, if you can't sew send us material and we will make them, or send us the bodies made and we will stuff and finish them.  Donations do not have to be big or grand to make a difference.  Even one pair of leggings or one little monster makes a difference.

Spread the word!  This is such a good service project for church groups, youth groups, a service-oriented girls night, even an Eagle Scout project!

I am so excited about this! I am excited to share Makenzie's and Olivia's stories.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Reading


Reading is one of our favorite times of the day. Tracker is obsessed with books which makes me so happy. I love sitting down with him and seeing how excited he gets about what he is seeing. Animal books are by far the favorites. Close second is his Mickey Mouse book. That one is really just a find Mickey and scream "MICKEY" then turn the page in a quick hurry to find him again. There isn't much "reading" that happens. I have become slightly obsessed with trying to find old books that I remember reading when I was young. Many of them I cant remember the name but I remember the memories with them or what was in the book. I have been able to find a few and LOVE them so so much. Some of them are not really picture books for a toddler so I will have to wait a little while longer until I can read them to Track. I started Makenzies book collection early in my pregnancy with her. Reading to her every night was mine and Ryan's favorite thing. She loved it and it will always be something we treasure. We have continued to grow our book collection and seem to keep running out of space for them all. Tracker was blessed with a TON of new books for his birthday and I couldn't have been happier about that.
I love giving books as gifts each holiday and have decided to pack the holiday books up with the holiday decor so when I get the new holiday stuff out- out comes new books :)
Our Christmas book collection is obviously much bigger than Valentines, Easter, St. Patricks Day etc... but its a fun thing I like doing for Tracker and Makenzie. I write in their book when they got it and maybe someday Tracker can take his with him when he has his own kids. 
(Heaven help me, I cant even think about that)




I am always on the lookout for fun and different books. 
Make sure you let me know if you have any that are MUSTs in your library!
Here are a few of our FAVORITES.




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