Category Archives: Mi familia

Goodbye, Gramme.

When I was a kid, we called my mom’s parents “Gramme and Grampe” and my dad’s parents “Grandmama and Grandpapa”. My Gramme finally let go this morning at 2:50 and went to be with Jesus. I suggested to my mom that maybe she was just soaking in all that family in one place, one last time. She always loved it when she had us all around her, all her kids and grandkids and quite often a few strays thrown in as well. I can imagine her hearing everyone around her and wanting a few more hours of it. She lasted much longer than they expected, which was in some ways a very hard thing, especially for my Grandpa.

The rather miraculous thing about this is that a few months ago, I made a decision that we would head to the states for a visit in the new year, but not specifically for a funeral. I would rather have seen my grandma when it really mattered to her, before she died. I expected I would get the chance to see her one last time.

It didn’t work out that way, but as it turns out, the memorial is being planned for when we were already going to be visiting in the states. Not only that, but my aunt and uncle from Texas and their kids are all going to be there, which means more family that I wouldn’t have been able to see.

Our lives may take us north in the next few years. When that happens, our trips to the states will probably be even more infrequent. This may be my last chance to see a lot of my family for a very long time.

This is bittersweet. My grandma had been declining for quite some time. She was not herself. She was ready to go.  But we will miss her so very much.

This picture was taken the last time I saw my grandma, two and a half years ago, at my sister’s wedding. I love how she holds on to my grandpa’s arm. They had a long marriage and while we teased them a bit for their quirks, we all knew they loved each other. They took care of each other.

Goodbye, sweet, goofy Gramme.

2 Comments

Filed under Loss, Mi familia

Saying Goodbye

I’m back from an eight day break in routine that was, in some ways, like a breath of fresh air.

And then yesterday, I got a call from my mom that has sort of blurred everything that happened in those eight days.

I wrote about my grandma last year, that she was not going to live much longer. That I might not see her again. She fell yesterday morning. It was bad. She has a brain bleed. She hasn’t woken up since then.

They moved her to my aunt and uncle’s house, where my mom, her sister, brother, sister-in-law and dad are all congregated. I would like to go in the middle of the night, in my sleep. But if I had to hold on, I’d like it to be like this. Surrounded by family, saying their goodbyes.

I called there yesterday afternoon. Had my cousin put the phone up to my grandma’s ear. I said goodbye, in my way. I told her I loved her and I missed her and how happy I was to know she was surrounded by her family. She had no response, of course, but I’d like to think she could hear my voice. Another part of her family. Her first grandchild.

I imagine people reading this and balking: “It’s just your grandma. Big deal. All of my grandparents are dead.”

That may be. But she wasn’t just my grandmother. She was a whole lot more to me.

She was my silly grandma, who danced in her living room to the music on the Lawrence Welk show. She was my caring grandma, who let her grandchildren be just as goofy as they wanted to be and never questioned it. She was hospitible in a way I’ve hardly ever known from anyone else – I used to spend weeks at her house during the summers, riding down to the community pool in the back of my grandpa’s truck, bare feet hanging off the tailgate. She came along, put on a bathing suit, and rarely went swimming.

When my heart was broken at the age of seventeen (or anyway, I thought it was broken), I called her and asked if I could come to stay for a weekend. My mom drove me to the ferry and my grandpa picked me up on the other side. Grandma wanted to fix me my favourite foods – she always did – and she set up their motorhome for me to stay in so I could have some privacy. She understood that I would want it, even though I never explained my reasons for running away those few days.

She fussed over us at times, but we always knew it was just because she loved us.

When I had my babies, she sent cards for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and birthdays, always with a five dollar bill tucked inside for each kid. We saved those bills for years and now have a bit of money to spend on the kids when we visit later this month. We’re planning on taking them to the aquarium. She also sent books for them, and stuffed animals. She called often and usually asked to talk to my Jenny Rose, the great-granddaughter named for her oldest daughter.

I will miss her so very much. I already do, as her health has been declining for some time now. It’s hard to let go. My grandpa seems to be in such good health and I would love to imagine that all of my grandparents would live until they were past one hundred. But it is not to be.

She is not gone yet, but she does not have long. They are talking about her memorial service, hoping to postpone it until we head down for a visit in two weeks and other family members from far away can make their way to Washington. The timing of this really gets me. We planned our trip in hopes that we would get to see her one last time.

What gets me is all the things I never asked her. The last conversation I never had with her. Every time I talked to her, I imagined it could be the last time, but I haven’t phoned in some time now. I feel bad about that.

I’m looking forward to hugging my grandpa and resting my head on his chest, just like I did all the time when I was a little girl. Smell that familiar grandpa-smell. I believe that he’s been grieving for awhile now, seeing it coming. I imagine that there is some relief when it all ends, but a hope lost that there might just be a recovery. I’m thankful that my grandparents have had some fifty-six years of marriage to each other. They have four kids, twelve grandkids and six great-grandkids. I like to think that my grandma has had a fulfilling life and is ready to go. I hope I’m right.

1 Comment

Filed under Illness and Injury, Melancholy, Mi familia

Love at first sight

I’m willing to bet that there are hundreds – no, thousands – of blog posts with this title and that a good number of them relate to exactly the same subject as mine.  Still, I had to do it.

I don’t believe in love at first sight between two adults – love is more complicated than that.  However, there is one form of love at first sight that is completely real.  If you have children (especially if you are a mother), you probably know this feeling. 

Anyway, the spirit of the post is remembering that love because it’s too easy to watch your kids grow up and become argumentative and strong willed and start to forget what that overwhelming love felt like.

Here’s my first baby-love on her birthday.

And my second.

My third.

 And my fourth.

I hope that God will bless me again with more of these love at first sight experiences, but if this is all I ever have, I’m glad to have it.  They are beautiful, unique and precious.  There has always been enough love in my heart for new babies, and the overwhelming love is just as strong with each as it was with the first.

6 Comments

Filed under Kiddos, Mi familia

Why I do what I do

Even when it’s hard, it comes down to this – these three beautiful children God has blessed me with.  In all their goofiness, with their strengths (they are incredibly caring and loving children) and weaknesses (they are also very strong-willed – all three of them), they are such a blessing to me.  And being blessed with a strong godly husband certainly doesn’t hurt 😉

Jenny and Elias hanging out in a box, making their own fun.

Erik being goofy – not sure what he’s going for here but he sure is cute!!

2 Comments

Filed under All things mommy and daddy related, Kiddos, Mi familia

Dealing with stress

I’m not good at it.  Dealing with stress, trouble, illness, debt, etc.  Rather bad, actually.  My brain wants to shut down.  I decided this morning that what I’d really like to do is crawl into a hole for six months and just spend all my time writing songs about the hole.  Visitors are welcome, stress is most definitely not. 

My household is sick again.  Nothing but a head cold (so far) this time, but it’s bad enough.  I’m constantly wiping noses – my kids and my own – and my body just wants to stay in bed and recover.  I took Erik to the pediatrician yesterday and did not like the outcome – more pushing for us to get the H1N1 vaccine and the seasonal flu shot.  We had H1N1 – my doctor is quite sure of this – but it isn’t good enough because it wasn’t confirmed by a swab or blood test.  And so this insistence on injecting my entire family with a vaccine that has not been tested nearly enough and may quite possibly cause serious harm to a large number of people who have rushed out to get it.  Maybe we won’t see the effects right away, but what about five or ten years from now?  I’m up in the air about the seasonal flu vaccine – I got it quite often as a kid but am not sure how I feel about it in regards to my own children.  I will have to take Erik in next week for booster shots on immunizations he has already received and I know I’m going to get the same spiel from the public health nurses – if you did not have a confirmed case of swine flu, you MUST get the vaccine and you should get the seasonal because you’re pregnant and two of your children have breathing problems.

I ache to live in simpler times.  No, I don’t want the terrible diseases that people once died from regularly or the struggle to survive past a certain age, but I really wish for a time when the medical establishment was not so interfering.  When our decisions were respected instead of scoffed at.  I think perhaps I need to go live with a bunch of hippies because I know I wouldn’t have to deal with it there.  I have considered taking my children to a naturopath, but according to friends who have seen her, she recommends the same thing for all her patients: no more gluten.  Unless my child is suffering from celiac disease, I am not going to cut all gluten from our diet.  Not happening, end of story.  I want to find preventative things I can do – things I can add to our diet or take away without greatly altering our way of life.  You have to draw the line somewhere, after all.

Meanwhile, all this brain noise is coming one week before Christmas.  One week.  When my gifts to my family are not in the mail yet and therefore will not be getting there in time.  When my exchange gift for my sister-in-law is still not purchased, no baking has been done and no wrapping of gifts either.  We just got our kids through their church Christmas program on Sunday, so at least that is behind us – but all the other responsibilities of the season are upon me.  When did it become so complicated to celebrate the birth of Christ?!  When did it become so stressful?  And how on earth can I get to a place of peace and rest and simple appreciation for the holiday?

Anyway, as soon as I find a nice warm hole to crawl into, I’ll let you all know and send out the dinner party invitations.  Mind you, I won’t be preparing any of the said dinner, but you’re welcome to come over and bring me food.  Just remember – leave all stress and unwanted advice at the door.

1 Comment

Filed under Holidays, Illness and Injury, Melancholy, Mi familia, Rants

Where to start?

I miss the old days – when words just floated through my fingers into the keyboard and extreme fatigue or nausea didn’t place a block in my head.  But I have to re-start somewhere as I’m not about to give up.  I’m getting a netbook soon and I’m planning great things with it – like spending one evening a week catching up on my writing – so I’m not going to quit blogging just yet.

Anyway, here is a recap of this past week (post-birthday entry).

Jenny got over her infection quickly, thank heavens, but all the kids are still a bit runny nosed.  Erik was in the ER on Friday night because his breathing was so wheezy and I didn’t really feel like leaving it alone was in his best interest.  He just now finished up a four day course of prednisone.  He’s still coughing up a storm and I’m a little bit concerned that he might need antibiotics to get rid of it.

Friday after the hospital, I went to watch Mike play hockey with his dad.  I don’t know who won.  I spent the majority of the time taking Elias to the bathroom.  I’m seriously thinking that he likes the bathrooms in the new arena so much that he’s peeing his pants just so we have to go there.  The third time I took him, we stayed there for nearly fifteen minutes, drying his pants and underwear under the automatic dryers.  Jenny kept saying she had to go again while we were there – I think this is because she really likes the sink and wanted an excuse to wash her hands one more time .  My kids are so weird sometimes.  The big perk to Friday night and that ER visit is that Mike set it up for the kids to spend the night at his parents’ house, since he was playing hockey and we didn’t know whether I would be going home or not.  They left the game a bit early and I just had Erik for the rest of the night.

We had a lazy start on Saturday, mostly because of our late night on Friday and the fact that this was the first Saturday that Mike has had off for about a month.  I honestly cannot remember much about the day, except that it was fairly surreal having only one child to deal with.  We headed over to Mike’s parents’ house around eleven and played games and napped for most of the afternoon (read: Mike played games, I napped).  We had a nice Mennonite meal for supper – corn, Farmer’s Sausage (don’t ask – I have no idea what to compare it to because I’ve never eaten it…it smells good cooking, anyway), homemade noodles and tilapia.  Okay, so the tilapia was mostly for me and not really Mennonite at all.  In fact, being blackened cajun tilapia, it was pretty much the total opposite of Mennonite food.  Mike had yet another game on Saturday night, this time with his rec. team and I decided to go because we were already out anyway.  Once again, I don’t know who won.  I spent most of that game telling my children not to play with the caution tape strung all over the arena and feeling frustrated that one woman there was letting her grandson do whatever he wanted with it.  And also, talking to my sister-in-law and her sister-in-law.  I haven’t had much time to talk to Marcy lately and it was a real treat.  She has the baby bug pretty bad so she’s enjoying our kids and my pregnancy and hoping to have a few more next year.

Sunday came too early as we had decided to go to the early service.  We did this because our Thanksgiving meal was set for 3:30 that afternoon.  Second service gets out after noon most weeks, which would give us about forty-five minutes to go shopping for salad fixings (since that was my offering to the meal), have lunch and get the kids home and to bed for a nap.  We decided that although we would inevitably be very tired in the morning, we would force ourselves to get up and get to church by 9:15.  Church was over by 10:30 and we headed out to get everything done.  The great thing is that the kids were down, I had the salad more or less ready to go and we were able to have a nap, too. 

Thanksgiving dinner went very well and we celebrated my birthday afterward.  Again, I can’t remember much except that my sister-in-law is making me a nice crocheted toque (a hat, Americans :)) and Mike’s parents gave me a nice bit of money to add to my computer fund.  We left in time to get home and put the kids to bed in a hurry before Mike went to yet another hockey game – this time a church game.  Three hockey games with three different teams in three days – yes, that’s my life.  This time I stayed home (obviously, since I didn’t feel that leaving the kids home alone was a good idea) and was determined to be productive.  I sat at the computer for at least forty-five minutes and suddenly started feeling sick to my stomach.  It got worse over the next hour and I wondered whether I should stick to the plan or avoid any work.  I finally decided that I would feel sick whether I folded laundry or swept the floor or laid on the couch reading.  I swept under the table (I think my kids think we have a dog – they leave plenty to eat for him under there…come to think of it, having a dog would make my job easier at times).  I noticed while I was sweeping that the walls were coloured on, spilled on, and scuffed up and decided that while I was at it, I should wash them.  So, totally against my nature, I grabbed a bucket and some towels and started scrubbing.  With the aid of a Magic Eraser (I love those things!), I got it looking much better.  They are still in sore need of a coat of paint, but at least now if I feel like painting, the walls will be clean.

I finished up the evening by folding about four loads of laundry and getting another two or three going.  In between the cleaning, I threw up a few times.  It never did make me feel better.

On Monday we managed to sleep in until nine and then Mike got up with the kids and fed them and entertained them until after eleven, when I finally got up.  The strangest thing is that with how sick I was on Sunday night, I expected to feel bad when I woke up.  I felt totally normal on Monday morning – go figure!  When we finally were up and dressed and fed, we went back to Mike’s parents’.  My sister-in-law from out of town had wanted to play a particular game all weekend and Mike and his dad finally played it with her that afternoon, just before she and her husband had to head home.  I played another game with my mother-in-law and brother-in-law while the kids napped (or rather, while they messed around and got into trouble about six times for not napping).

After more food, more dessert and a few more games, we went home and had supper.  I talked to my brother after not talking to him for a few months and Mike slept a bit while the kids were watching a movie.  This was also when Elias decided to somehow get the disk drive stuck open.  We really can’t figure it out and will probably be taking it somewhere to get it fixed.  Mike rented a movie that we didn’t like very much and we stayed up later than we should have.  Nothing new there, anyway.

This morning at around seven, I woke up to hear Jenny yelling, “Oh, my! Oh, my!  Oh, my!”  I ran in and she said something about her “breathe” and that she was going to throw up.  I rushed her into the bathroom and..nothing.  I figured taking her back to my room would be smarter than sending her back to bed, just in case the puking really did happen at some point.  It turned out to be a very good decision – although my sheets are now in the wash and my garbage can has vomit in it.  After throwing up, we both went back to sleep and slept until after nine when the boys woke up.  I’m now assuming that whatever was wrong with me on Sunday night is what was wrong with Jenny this morning, as she seems just fine now.  I guess it’s just a really short-lived bug.

Anyway, I should probably be having a nap right now, but like I said, you have to start somewhere and now seemed like a good time for it.  And anyway, I can always go to bed early tonight.  Oh, right, Mike has another hockey game.  Sigh.

Leave a comment

Filed under Holidays, Illness and Injury, Kiddos, Life, in general, Mi familia

Nine days ago…

Or was it eight..?  Anyway, I committed myself to staying off the computer for one week, focusing instead on getting my house in good order and getting some projects done.  I let people know where I needed to last Monday and shut the computer down.  And about an hour later, Mike called to tell me that he was being sent four hours north of here for work, probably for five days or so.  Had it been two or three days, we may have stayed home, except that Mike’s sister and her husband live there and we had been promising a visit.  Mike would be staying there anyway because his work there was in their garage (the house is company owned, he works for the same company as our brother-in-law..yada, yada).  So we packed up and left Tuesday afternoon for a town a good deal smaller than ours, to a house with two Great Danes and no children.  And stairs.

Six days later we came back, worn out and so glad to be home after a rough week.  Erik fell down the stairs twice, I found myself in tears at least three times, we were perpetually covered in dog hair and constantly telling the kids to not do this or not do that.  As far as good things?  Jenny learned to swim by herself..with water wings.  Previous to this trip, she wouldn’t even let us let her go at all, and in two trips to the pool, she was all over the place by herself.  We did try taking the water wings, but the thing that worked best was just giving her a pool noodle to put under her arms.  Elias, on the other hand, spent his time in the pool clinging to us in total fear.  Erik sat in his little baby float with his face smushed into the front of it, looking completely relaxed and rather unamused by anything.  We walked to the pool twice out of three times and took lots of walks – in fact, I determined that I had some form of exercise every day we were there.  It helped my mood, but certainly didn’t prevent the inevitable clashing between families.

Anyway, it is wonderful to be home and yet my children insist on being a pain in the neck even though they are back in their own space.  I’ll be glad for the long weekend coming up and a bit of a break from being on my own.

Leave a comment

Filed under Holidays, Home Sweet Home, Mi familia

Decisions..

Yesterday I made a painful decision, but one that I feel will be honouring God and my husband.  It came to me so randomly that I think it must have been straight from God.  I hesitated to commit myself to it, but felt that to keep it to myself would be sinning.  Anyway, I’ll explain myself now.

I have been a vegetarian for twelve years now.  When I was pregnant with Jenny, I read a book about vegetarian babies and children that reinforced my decision to keep my children from eating meat.  Mike went along with it and didn’t complain much except about one issue – the issue of whenour kids could choose to eat meat.  When Jenny was about eighteen months, Mike was eating chicken noodle soup and she was practically begging him to have some, so I decided then that she could have chicken – and felt like a total failure.  Since then, I’ve sort of kept the kids from eating meat until they were two, and then only poutry (and fish, but I eat fish, too).  I certainly got plenty of griping from other people about how silly it was that I wouldn’t let my kids eat meat, but I’ve always tried not to let it bother me.  I finally decided a few weeks ago that I would let Jenny eat meat when she turns five – in another year.  Yesterday morning when Mike was eating some bacon, he said that we would probably have to let Elias eat it at the same time – which was a very good point.  He always wants to do everything his sister does and I know that if we kept him from eating it and let Jenny eat it, he just wouldn’t understand.  The thought that came to my mind last night was that maybe it was not very submissive to be making this decision on my own.  Some of it is for health reasons, but most of it is honestly because I find meat so gross – so I almost want my kids to feel the same way about it.  So I told Mike during supper last night that from now on, it will be up to him when they eat meat for the first time.  He agreed with me that they should at least be weaned before they eat it (big sigh of relief there), so Erik won’t be getting any very soon.  I will almost certainly face some not very nice comments from people now that I’ve made this decision, but I’m willing to be honest and tell them the reason for it.  Maybe it will open other hearts to changes in attitudes between husband and wife.  I’m guessing that not many people have our particular situation happening, but I’m sure that there are other things that people clash about and that one should be submitting to the other on.  After all, we are told to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21) and although we as wives are told specifically to submit to our husband, sometimes it is husbands who are not God-honouring on one issue or another.  Regardless of who it is that needs to submit, we will live with so much more peace when we do submit to each other and refuse to live clashing against one another.

Perhaps part of the decision came about because Mike did something yesterday that he usually doesn’t like to do at all.  His parents have a boat and were heading out to the lake after church.  I felt like it might be nice for the kids to get to go on the tubes and have a boat ride.  Mike isn’t big on boating, but he went with us, drove the boat when needed, and went with both of the kids twice on the tubes.  Meanwhile, I was able to relax, take pictures and have a nice time watching my kids have a blast.  We were out for three hours, which is a lot longer than we had originally planned for, and in the end the kids didn’t have a nap other than on the drive home, but it was such a great day.  Mike’s part in that day made me feel like giving him a gift of sorts, and I think that is what this decision is.

As for my recuperation, I have been in quite a lot of pain the last few days.  My pain meds are not working as well as they were, and I suspect that the scabbing in the back of my throat (yeah, I know – gross) is coming off and reforming, so I’m a bit raw because of it.  I’ve lost at least eight pounds in the last week and people have even noticed that I look thinner.  My face seems to thin out fast when I lose weight, so it’s quite obvious even when it’s not a large amount of weight.  I’m basically living on scrambled eggs and tofu, water, the occasional smoothie, and popsicles.  I did have half of a veggie chicken sandwich and four or five pieces of asparagus for supper last night – every bite hurt, but my stomach was so happy afterward.  If my drugs are working, I have more options for food, but the more solid it is, the more it hurts to swallow.  I’m just hoping that I’m able to eat normally by the end of this week, but there’s no telling whether I’ll be able to or not.

1 Comment

Filed under Faith, Illness and Injury, Life, in general, Mi familia

Tiny life

Today, I finally got to see my new nephew, Noah.  Okay, so he was only born forty-eight hours ago, but still, it felt like an eternity not seeing him yesterday.  My sister-in-law was transferred here and will be “boarding” at the hospital until Noah is ready to go home, which could be a week or so.  He is a tiny little feather – holding him feels like holding a bunch of towels or something…he’s just so small.  He looks beautiful, though, and very healthy, which is wonderful.  He has lots of hair and looks quite a bit like his brother did when he was new.  I’m so tickled to be an auntie again, but it is of course giving me the baby bug.  Once these tonsils come out, I’m sure I’ll be more than happy to get pregnant again.

3 Comments

Filed under Mi familia

Update – good news!

Well, I spent a good deal of time praying, worrying, and cleaning (yeah, I know…it was nice to stay busy) last night, and Mike and I stayed up playing Scrabble because I just couldn’t go to bed without any news.  I feared the worst for hours because we weren’t hearing anything about the situation.  Finally sometime close to midnight, Mike’s mom called and said that everything is okay.  We have another nephew and he is TINY!  4 lbs 11 oz and 17 in. long!  Being two and a half weeks early obviously has something to do with this, as his older brother was only two days early but weighed 5 lbs 8 oz.

The irony is that the crisis got me to clean my bedroom – it’s not done, but I made great progress last night while I was waiting for news.  I thought it we went to bed I wouldn’t be able to sleep.  Then after we had gotten the good news and finished our game, I couldn’t fall asleep.  I told myself that since the kids had been sleeping in until nine or nine-thirty the last few days, it wasn’t so bad – even if it was after two when I fell asleep, they’d sleep late and I could get seven hours of sleep at least.  Well, I was awake before eight and couldn’t go back to sleep – thinking about that new baby, of course.  They’re not here in town, but forty minutes away, so I was trying to determine how I might be able to see them while they are still in the hospital.  And…trying to figure out what to do about my midday appointment today.  It’s a pre-anaesthetic clinic and takes about an hour.  The original plan was to have Mike stay with the kids through his lunch break and then have my neighbour come over when he had to go back to work.  Now he’s working at the gravel pit for the day, which means he won’t be coming home for lunch at all.  So I have to do some thinking and calling around to figure something out.

Add to all this my own personal stress, swollen face and pained jaw and I seriously need a vacation.

3 Comments

Filed under Illness and Injury, Mi familia, The H Word