Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Abundance of Blessings

I've decided that it's time to start writing again. I've had many people tell me that they miss my blog. To be honest, I've felt like after Josephine, I didn't have anything to write that would interest anybody. I guess I'm wrong. I will warn you, that I still talk about Josephine..... A LOT. She is just as much a part of our family now as she was before. James still calls her "his baby," and surprised us the other day by calling her by name with no prompting from us. His 3-year-old speech can be hard to understand, but he said her name so clearly that there was no misunderstanding. James told us the other day that it was time to have a new baby come live with us. I asked him what we should name it. He thought awhile, and then said, "I don't know. You do it." :P

I wish I could put into words the emotions that I feel when I think about Miss Josephine. There is no sadness, no anger, no negative feelings at all. There is only peace, joy, love, and awe. The tears I shed now are for missing her, longing to know her better/more, and for realizing how blessed we were/are to have her in our eternal family. Perhaps there are no words. Perhaps the only way to share this is through my experiences.

My last post was in February. We have accomplished so much and so little at the same time it seems. We've done a few things around the house - planted a (neglected) vegetable garden, remodeled a bathroom, planted a rose garden. The vegetable garden gave us a few things, but we neglected it when we started with the bathroom remodel. (You can check out my pics on facebook.) After you see the before pics, you'll understand why we did the remodel this summer instead of putting up the privacy fence. And the rose garden is for Josephine. We put in three Knockout rose bushes along with a remembrance stone that my best friend, Amanda, gave us at Josephine's funeral. We are going to plant a tea rose in the center to stand out from the others to represent her. We just haven't found the perfect color yet. My favorite is orange, but orange roses are what my husband gives me - they don't represent her. When I see it, I'll know.

I did finally take sometime for myself last spring. It was wonderful to be able to just focus on my Church callings/spiritual nature, my family, and my only other required responsibility, teaching. It really helped me to understand the balance that I need in my life, but so often forget. I'm the type of person that when I'm working on a goal, I tend to go overboard on how much time I spend on it. And of course, that knocks everything else out of wack! We don't function well when I do things like that!

It was during this time that I found out I was pregnant again. Surprise to us! But unfortunately, it wasn't to be. At my 7 1/2 week appointment, I was diagnosed with a blighted ovum. I decided to wait for a natural miscarriage, and four weeks later, on Mother's Day, it finally happened. I had many mixed feelings during this time. Still that same peace that I had with Josephine, heartache from another loss, and actually, some relief that I wouldn't have another baby in the middle of the school year! I've decided that is TOO much stress! I threw a pity party for about a week - probably wouldn't have even done that if it hadn't been for the fact that I had about three or four nieces announce their pregnancies that week and one of them happened to have the same due date I had had. So the current plan is to wait until October to start trying again. That will give me a due date of middle to end of June. Kind of a necessity with my new extra duties at school!

Jon and I each finished out the school year; Jon has returned to Iberia as their Spanish and junior high communications teacher. I am still at Camdenton teaching Chemistry A and Biology B this year. Plus, I'm the prom coordinator! I'm really excited about it. I've had a few people tell me I'm crazy, but honestly, I love to plan events like this! I had so much fun planning the Prom at Walnut Grove while I was there. I can only imagine what we'll be able to do here at Camdenton! And now you see why a June delivery is necessary!

Marian is in 1st grade this year. She's such a big kid now. She's enjoying reading chapter books now. She's currently reading Charlotte's Web. I love watching her sit down to read, and being engrossed in her story. She also took an arts and crafts class in June for summer school. Marian LOVES art! She's mentioned a couple of times that she'd like to be an artist or an art teacher.

Well, enough update for tonight. I promise I won't be this long next time! Love to all!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Today is a Gift... That's Why They Call It the Present

It's amazing how much time I have spent away from our blog recently when it was such a huge part of our day just a month and a half ago. I think part of me avoids logging on because it's such a large part of Josephine and my memories of her. I'm not trying to avoid things linked to her because it's too painful. I think I have so much emotion wrapped up in these posts that visiting them makes all of those emotions very real again. I'm beginning to only smile when I think of her. That makes such a difference. I still can't begin to tell you how much of a blessing she was to us, to me. So many things in my life have shifted their priorities since she came to us, and I can feel a difference in my life, and I know it's because of her. Some things that were so important suddenly aren't, while other things have become quite important.

I look at Marian and James differently now. I've noticed that (most of the time) my patience with them has increased. I think it's great fun to watch them grow and learn. James is learning new words everyday. It's so much fun to try to figure out what he's saying! And he's soooo serious about the conversation he's carrying on with you! And Marian tries to be funny. She's at that great age where she's inventing her own jokes, but they're not funny and they don't make any sense. We just have to bear through them!

My relationship with my husband is so much better, too! And I'm especially glad for this. I know there can be a trend for a husband/wife relationship to fall apart after the loss of a child, and while I didn't think we'd fall apart, I did brace myself for some rough times. Luckily, they haven't come. Instead, we are closer than ever and are laughing and joking with each other more. I can't wait for Valentine's weekend and our trip to St. Louis. We're also planning a trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas for the weekend after our anniversary in March. We haven't been there since our honeymoon. I think we're going to experience one of the bath houses this time and have a massage and spa afternoon. How luxurious!! Can't wait!

Hope you enjoy the photos. Just a few that we've taken recently.... and one with Marian's new haircut! The little girl next to Marian in the picture is from the little town where Jon is teaching high school Spanish. I have no idea what her name is. Marian tends to make friends wherever she goes!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wow! We're busy!

Time really seems to get away from you when you're running in a hundred different directions. Being back to school has definitely kept me busy. There is always so much to do. I won't even begin to tell you about how many meetings they keep us busy with.

Jon has really jumped into teaching. He's really enjoying it, and he likes being at Iberia High School. It's a small school, so he's really able to get to know everyone there. Small schools are great to teach at. They can have their downs just like any other school, but I am grateful that I was able to begin my teaching career at a small school.

Marian got her hair cut the other day. She was sooooo excited. I don't think I've even taken a picture yet! I'll have to post one. She looks even older now, and she loves her "big kid" haircut. She has been reading up a storm, so much and so often that we've been forgetting to fill out her reading log for school! Gonna have to get on that!

James is just getting cuter by the minute. He's really putting sentences together now. Although, sometimes, they are still unintelligible! Over a week ago, he brought a balloon home from a store. After being hit in the face with it numerous times, Jon popped it. James has still not forgotten it. Just this morning, while we were getting in the van to head to Nicki's, he looked at me and said, "Daddy pop mine balloon." I guess we'll have to make sure we get him another one!

Other than juggling things at school, I've been busy with my Mary Kay business. I'm trying to get back in the swing of things, so I've been slowly booking facials and classes just to get back in practice of being in front of someone again. So if any of you are interested in a facial or a color makeover, just let me know. No obligations! I just need the practice again! ;)

This has really become quite an online journal for me, so please bear with me as I express myself....

Josephine seems to be more on my mind the last couple of days. I can't even express how much I miss her. I get up every morning knowing that I need to keep going, especially for my other two beautiful children. It still seems surreal that all of this has happened. I never dreamed that I would endure something like this during my life. And I certainly never dreamed that I could survive and be as strong as I have been able to be. I imagine that my first trip back to the temple will be rather emotional, especially as I sit in the Celestial Room. Jon and I are planning to go to the St. Louis temple and have a couple's getaway over Valentine's weekend. I can't wait to go and to feel the peace and comfort that is present there. I can't wait to sit in the Celestial Room and feel close to my Heavenly Father and my Savior.

At times, it seems like the two months we had Josephine were a dream. Then at other times, it seems strange that she's gone. Many times, my arms and heart just ache to hold her, to hold a baby. I wondered if having another baby as soon as Dr. Schwartz clears me would help that, and I think it could possibly, but I also realized that much of the ache is for her, not just another baby. There is no replacing her. I'm sure I'll know when the time is right to have another one. All three of the others had no qualms in letting me know and giving me a little nudge. :)

Well, I think I've rambled enough for tonight. Love and blessings to each of you!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back to School

Well, three of us went back to school this week. Marian is absolutely thrilled to be back. She loves her teacher and being at school. She is glad that she doesn't have to ride the bus anymore. She told me she likes the time that she gets to have with me while we're driving to school. She loves to tell people that she's in the first grade reading group. We're really proud of how well she is reading and how much she is learning.

Jon went to school for the first time this week. He was recently offered a position to teach high school Spanish at Iberia High School. He's also teaching two sections of PE. Yes, I know. What a combination!! He's enjoyed his first two days. I'm watching him sit at the dining room table while he works on lesson plans. I know he has that good kind of anxious about it, and just wants to do a good job.

I also went back to school this week. It is bittersweet. I'm happy to be back, but also wishing there were a reason for me to be at home. I'm taking the week to review and to start thinking like a teacher again. I'm sure the students are appreciating the slow-moving week as well. I was really needing something to help put me back into a routine and a schedule. I'd say that yesterday was the hardest. I wanted to make sure that the students had a chance to talk to me about Josephine if they wanted. Some classes did; others didn't. Plus, I wasn't sure how many of them had heard about Josephine's death, so I had to repeat myself seven times yesterday. By the end of the day, it wasn't quite as hard to talk about.

James likes being back at Nicki's, too. Yesterday morning was a slow start, but today, after I took his coat and shoes off, he walked straight upstairs to play with the toys. I'm so glad that he's so resiliant!

All in all, we are still doing great. Some days are harder than others. There are some days that we just miss her. I know that will never go away. I still feel the joy of having her here though. I was looking through some pictures and couldn't help but smile at how adorable she looked in some of them. What a wonderful angel!

We are still getting emails, cards and well-wishes, and we are very grateful to each of you. I don't know if I'll ever be able to send thank you cards to each of you, so please know how grateful we are just in case I forget to send you one!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

'Tis Better to Give Than to Receive

Today was a good day. And I very much believe that today's title is true. We have been on the receiving end for the last two months from so many of you. It has been very humbling to feel the generosity of others, and today we got a chance to do some giving. It was small, but it felt good to be able to do something to give a little back.

We visited the OB nurses at the hospital today. It was very nice to see their kind, smiling faces! :) I've had many sudden urges over the last two months to stop by and jump in a hospital bed for a non-stress test. After three visits a week to the hospital and OB's office for the last six weeks of my pregnancy, I almost formed a habit!!

The reason for our visit today was to donate some of Josephine's things. We were able to take in some preemie size diapers and clothes. We knew the likelihood of having another preemie size baby is small, not only for us, but for many other people, so we wanted to make sure that Josephine's things would be useful to someone who needs them.

After all we've been given, it felt so nice to do something for someone else. And it makes me feel good to be doing them in Josephine's memory. Everyday someone tells me how much they have been touched by Josephine's story. I can't help but feel honored that my little girl has been able to touch so many people. I never would have imagined.

We have all been coping well. The best advice given to us was to keep busy. Jon and I are doing that pretty well. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you're trying to keep your mind busy. Marian seems to be doing well, too. She's talked about Josephine a few times. Mostly, she's been talking about little things she remembers.

James talked about Josephine for the first time yesterday. He noticed my breast pump sitting next to my bed, and said, "Baby!" I said, "Yes, that's for the baby's milk." He looked at me then, and said, "Baby, bye-bye." It's the first time he's said anything about her. I know that he is young, but I hope that I can do everything possible to keep her in his memory. I want Josephine to be as much a part of this family now as she was when she was with us. I know this is going to happen by talking about her frequently. Right now, this can be painful, but I still feel overjoyed and blessed to be her mother. And these are the feelings that most prominent for me right now. Yes, there is grief and sadness, but there is still peace, comfort, and joy that have been with us from the moment she was born, and even before.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We appreciate all you have done for us.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Little Angel

I never thought I'd say these words, and it still feels surreal to say them: We buried our daughter yesterday. Part of me wants to write and write and lay out all of my thoughts and feelings, and another part of me is holding them all so special and sacred to me that I want to be selfish and keep them to myself. So I guess I'll try to find a happy medium.

Friday night was Josephine's visitation. Jon and I went early to the funeral home to dress her in her burial gown. It had been made by Jon's sister, Jeanne. It came complete with bloomers, a slip and a bonnet. After dressing her, we sat in silence with her. It was amazing to me how beautiful she was. We did take some pictures, but I hesitate to post them. While we will treasure them, I'm not sure how other people would react to pictures of a child who has passed. My mother, stepfather and sister came later with Marian and James. Marian seemed to retreat a little. I'm sure she didn't know how to act or what to say. I didn't either really, and I'm an adult. James saw her, and exclaimed, "My baby!" It was as though he had just realized that he hadn't seen her in three days. He immediately put his hands on her just like he did the first time he saw her in the NICU. He asked to hold her then, so I put him on my lap and then wrapped Josephine in a blanket, so he could say his final goodbyes. Marian then asked to hold her, but she couldn't stand to do so more than briefly. Jon then carried Josephine to her casket. She looked like a little porcelain doll. Her visitation went smoothly. We were happy to see so many friends and family come to pay their respects.

Saturday morning, my dad, stepmother, sister, and brother arrived from Ohio. They arrived just before Jon, the kids, and I left for the church to help get things ready for Josephine's funeral services. We were able to spend the morning with just her and family before they closed her casket. That was the last time I got to see her. Her services were short, but meaningful. We are grateful to Ken Huey and Landon Kirk for agreeing to speak for us. Much of what they said that morning were things that I had read or been taught before, but it was so much more personal that morning. I pray those of you who joined us were able to feel of the Spirit which was there and have peace and comfort.

Finally, on Saturday afternoon, we arrived at the cemetery where Josephine was to be laid to rest. The weather had changed from cool and rainy at the Lake of the Ozarks to very cold and misty in Stella. The weather was just like it was on the day Jon's dad was buried. I'd like to think it was his way of saying he was there. We didn't spend much time there because it was so cold - just long enough for Jon to dedicate her grave. Seeing her casket there and then leaving her there was perhaps the hardest part of the day. How can you turn around and walk away when everything in your being is screaming that you should be holding your baby and leaving with her, not leaving her?

I am comforted in knowing that I will always have her as my daughter. My Josephine will always be my little girl. How wonderful and miraculous! And how grateful I am for the atoning sacrifice of my Savior, Jesus Christ, that allows me to repent of my sins so that I may be worthy to return to live with my Father in Heaven and my dear daughter in the Celestial Kingdom and also to partake in the blessings of the resurrection with her. We will always be a family - an eternal family.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Today has been bittersweet. We had a wonderful Christmas morning with Marian, James, ourselves and my brother, Paul. The kids were incredibly spoiled this morning, and we enjoyed watching it. Afterwards, we went to my mom's house to spend the day eating, visiting, watching movies, and the like.

We did miss our little girl today very much. We had purchased a couple of gifts for her, one of them from Santa Claus - a bouncy seat, so we could take her from room to room with us without having to haul the swing around. I seemed to fidgit for most of the day, looking for something to do. I'm finding it difficult to go from having a routine and system of doing things every three hours to not having anything to do.

I can't write anymore tonight. I find it hard to put all my feelings into words. At times, I am still in shock.

One last thing though.... I've had a couple of people ask me about donations in lieu of flowers. Flowers or donations are appreciated. Please make your donations to either The Ronald McDonald House or Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep in Josephine's name.