Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hunter, the Uncle-Brother..

That is what he calls himself. He says since they will live with us forever now, the twins are more like a brother and sister. He told me this just after Kierra's death. His perception amazes me sometimes. When he has seen me sad and asked if it is because I miss Kierra, I tell him yes, and he puts his hand on my face, tells me to close my eyes, and says, "there, can you see her now? she is right there Mommy. All you have to do is close your eyes and you can see her again."
He has been going to grief counseling. He has alot of anger right now..don't we all? I got passes for he & I to go to the Disney parks once a month for him to get some one on one time away from everyone & everything. We went in January, but missed out in Feb. so he & I went this week on Wed. & Thurs. We went to MGM & Animal Kingdom. He asked me when we can bring the twins with us, when will they be big enough to go on rides? I told him it would be awhile, and this time was just for him. He said that was good, but they could come sometimes too.
Hunter was getting a haircut yesterday and the lady was asking him if he has brothers or sisters, and before I could answer for him, he told her he had different brothers & sisters now because we take care of Tristan & Alexa. She commented that must be nice.. and again he jumped in before me with " No, it isn't very nice because their Mom died". The poor girl didn't know what to say. I told Hunter the woman thought it was nice because she didn't know what had happened. His reply was.. " Oh, well, she was my sister and she died, so her babies live with us, and it is nice sometimes, but not all the time."
Then later yesterday we were all getting loaded into the car to go somewhere and I was getting in and asked Hunter to please buckle up, he should have already done that, and he told me Alexa had taken her shoe off and thrown it at Tristan. It made Tristan cry, so Hunter said he was kissing Tristan's boo boo for Kierra.
He is 5 years old..they should be 5 innocent, carefree years old. Like the rest of us, this has changed him. And as a mother, watching her child, all her children, struggle with something this hard, this horrible, it just plain sucks!

They are what they are..

Tuesday night Brianne & I took the kids to see Curious George. The twins did good. They got bored toward the end, and decided to make some noise, but the theater wasn't crowded so no biggie. Then we went to Red Lobster for dinner. Darnell wasn't working but he came over and had dinner with us. Tristan & Alexa were glad to see him. So was I. I know how hard this has been for me, so I can't imagine what it must be like for him. To not only lose Kierra, but essentially the twins too. I would never stop him from seeing them. But they were a family. They lived together and shared their lives and dreams together. Now that is gone. I can't give that back to him. I have told him it is okay to keep living his life, to move forward. That someday he deserves to love someone and have a family again, Kierra would want that for him. Though I know that isn't what he wants to hear. I know no matter how well meaning people are, I don't want to hear that life goes on, or it will get easier. If it gets easier, will that mean I have accepted her being gone? Or will it mean I am forgetting her? Those may not seem like rational thoughts, but they are what they are.....

Hunter the Homeboy!

Hunter the Homeboy!
Originally uploaded by mommanana.

Monday, March 20, 2006

In our own beds..

Our first full night with every one back home in their own beds. As hectic as it was with them all wound up and excited this evening, it was still such a comfort to be with the twins & Hunter. All the way home from Terri's they were all jabbering a mile a minute. Hunter was filling me in on climbing the dirt mountain and how cool it is I let him do things there that I don't let him do at home. Then he told me all about tearing down the back porch with Uncle Dwight and what a big boy he was that he got to use a big hammer. In between Hunter's excited tales, I had Tristan & Alexa telling me all about it in their own language!
When we got home it was a mad scramble to see who could draw my attention first and they all climbed up on my lap the second I sat down. The boys settled down to playing soon after that, but Alexa was glued to me the rest of the night. She pitched a fit when I had to go to the store and cried off & on until I got back. They were all exhausted and ready for bed by 8:30.
I am hoping to head there myself soon. I got used to sleeping on that boat, I am hoping some of that stayed with me and I will sleep well tonight too!


Originally uploaded by mommanana.
From the cruise March 2006

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Another Coincidence..

While walking through Nassau yesterday Brian mentioned he wished he's had time for a haircut before we left home. I noticed a walkway that led to some stairs and a small door at the top said BARBERSHOP. We decided to check it out. It was a small old shop, and the barber was quite a character himself. He is 75 years old. He got his Barber's License in Jacksonville, Florida. He talked about fishing on the St. John's river and camping by the St. Mary's river when he was just 16 years old. It was neat to listen to him. Brian got an old fashioned haircut, complete with a straight razor shave! There were a few stray hairs, but it was worth it to have the opportunity to meet Mr. Albert Russell.

A Fantasy Cruise..

I am sitting by a large window, looking down on the ocean as it passes by. Brian & I are on a weekend cruise on the Carnival Fantasy. He is relaxing in the cabin as I check my mail and catch up on blogging. We left Thursday afternoon and get home tomorrow. We sailed to Nassau in the Bahamas. It is the first time we have had time alone since Kierra's death. The kids are withTerri & Dwight. We have no worries about them, other than missing them and wondering if they are behaving.
We have met some nice people, even had breakfast this morning with some people from Plattsburgh, New York! What a small world. They even knew some of the people I knew and we caught up on all the goings on. It was nice to revisit that time in our lives.
We have a good set of people at our dinner table. We weren't sure if we would go to the dining room for dinner, but we have and have enjoyed it. But it has been odd. Everyone shares where they are from and how many children they have, etc. We have shared that, but I stop short of telling anyone about Kierra's death. I don't want to see that look on their face, I don't want to talk about it with strangers. I want to be amoung the anonymous, not the ones who's daughter was killed. Brian & I have thought about her and talked about her alot.
We didn't go on any planned excursions in Nassau. We took a buggy ride and walked around by ourselves. Even did some shopping (of course!). We found the most adorable dress for Alexa at a specialty Linen shop, you will see it in their Easter pictures. It reminded me of a pink one Kierra's Gramma Judy got her when she was little. Alexa's is purple with hand smocking and embroidery on the bodice. We couldn't resist! We got a few souvenirs for family & friends. It was a beautiful day. We even came back and took a nap!
We have a couple pictures we had taken, one at dinner and one portrait. I will e-mail them to everyone when I get them loaded on the PC. Today has been a lazy day. We went to the Disco for a little while last night. I got to dance with the group we have at our dinner table, so that let Brian off the hook!
It has been so good for us to have this time. It is such a relief to have nothing or no one to distract us from each other. No schedules to follow, no need to do anything. To only be with each other and renew that connection.
And now I am actually ready to go home. It is easy to physically get away, but much harder to mentally "get away". I have enjoyed myself, and enjoyed my time with Brian. There are still those moments when Kierra is front & center, for both of us, and we can tell just by looking at each other. We share what we are thinking and just let it be what it is, our grief, reminding us that it has changed us. While we are just anonymous people on this ship, our grief knows us as well as we know each other. And it knows how to get our attention just as easily as the twins & Hunter do when they want to. So even here, we are not alone, although we have been able to set it aside for awhile. And we realize it will always be there, like an extra piece of luggage we carry wherever we go. And that is not as hard to accept as it was a few months ago.
So I will go pack it up along with the rest of our luggage, and tomorrow we will be home..

Too tragic..

This has been a rough week.. Monday the 13th was especially hard. It had been 4 months since Kierra was killed and 2 years since a dear friend was killed in a house fire. Also that day we found out another JSO family had lost their 24 year old daughter to a drunk driver, killing her, on Sunday night. Their family dynamic, years married, so much was similar to us, and unfortunately the loss of a child was another thing in common. There is no preperation for having your child's life torn from you in a sudden, tragic moment like that. Brian & I felt the pain they were going through. Brian took the dad to the airport to pick up family members and I cooked. I knew they would need something besides fried chicken! Brian & I shared some of the past 4 months with them and let them know it is okay to be angry, and not want to hear what some people have to say. They are not horrible people to feel that way, they are people who are going through a horrible thing. I would not wish this on anyone, and Brian & I both wished we could do or say something to help. But nothing helps, especially those first few weeks. Even now for me, there isn't much that comforts me. I do what I have to do to get through the day, each day, one at a time.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Chunky Monkey..

I was walking throught the grocery store.. an ordinary task, on an ordinary day. I passed the ice cream section and noticed Ben & Jerry's on the shelf. I remembered when we lived in upstate New York, and we visited Rutland Vermont just accross Lake Champlain when Kierra was about 6 years old. Brian took her skiing on the kiddie slopes. Brianne was 3, Chad was about a year old, so the younger ones & I went to the Ben & Jerry's factory for a tour & some ice cream. Kierra had a purple snow suit, (of course it was purple!). She felt so grown up getting to go with Daddy all by herself while the babies stayed with me.
At the Air Force base where we lived you could order Ben & Jerry's ice cream when you ordered a pizza to be delivered. That was more important to the kids than the pizza!
So... while standing in the grocery store I had a major panic attack. For the flash of an instant I forgot Kierra's favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry's. It wasn't rational, but I freaked out. I thought .. how could I forget!? How was I going to remember her life enough for her children to know her if I forgot!? What else would slip away from my mind without warning? How would I ever remember all the things that she was, all that she did? I could no more stop that flow of panic than I could stop breathing. I stood there trying to control my emotions. Trying to calm my fears. I just wanted to scream & run. But I didn't, I stood there and made myself focus on Kierra's 6 year old face and it came to me....Kierra's favorite Ben & Jerry's flavor was... Chunky Monkey.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Three Amigos

Originally uploaded by mommanana.

Tranquil Tristan

Originally uploaded by mommanana.

Angelic Alexa

Originally uploaded by mommanana.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Playset Back

Playset Back
Originally uploaded by mommanana.


Originally uploaded by mommanana.
Here is the finished playset! Now we have to fence it all in and mulch around it.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

You are not alone..

I have tried to share what I am thinking, feeling, going through, with all of you who have been reading this. I have tried to be open & honest. I have let you go with me into some pretty emotional areas. But I have never really shared the darkest part of all this. I have been hesitant to go too far. I do not want to add to anyone's pain. I do not want to worry or frighten those who care about me, but can't fully understand what it can be like.
The reason I am saying this now is because I have a younger sister, Cricket, who shared a part of herself on her blog yesterday and it was one of the bravest things I have ever seen. It has been on my mind ever since. I have several people close to me who suffer from depression. Real depression. Not "today sucked and sappy movies make me cry" depressed, but unhinged, darkest depths, fathomless depression. The word suffer doesn't explain what it puts you through. And the ones who say "get over it", or "you just need to snap out of it", or "everyone gets depressed, what's the big deal?"... they have no clue, and blissfully, for them, don't know what it is like.
I know there have been times over the years when I have been seriously depressed. But never to the degree I have been at times since Kierra's death. I am fortunate. That may sound odd, but some of you understand. I have seen a therapist for about 3 years now. It was for an evaluation for some medical documentation I needed a few years ago. I kept going after the evaluation because it was great to have someone to vent to, to say whatever I wanted to say about anyone and everyone without censorship. Little did I know it would save me now. I doubt I could have opened up as easily if I had to see someone who didn't know me or some of the people in my life already. I am fortunate because I do not suffer from clinical, or manic depression. But I have cared for, and personally know, people who do. And to have dealt with it myself the times I have, I can tell you, it is not something we choose. I don't wake up and decide that today I am going to lose control of my emotions. I don't make a concious decision that I am going to fall into such a deep, dark place that I will question taking even one more breath. It doesn't seem worth it to take a shower or comb my hair. The effort to dress, cook, clean, to function at all, seems insurmountable. And that description barely scrapes the surface. Some people find relief in medication. I have never been a pill taker, and have found other ways to bring myself to a manageable level. If not, I would take whatever I needed to in order to care for my family. That is why I continue to see my shrink. It can be hormonal ( no, it isn't always just PMS!), or even a chemical inbalance. There are alot of causes and remedies. Each person needs to do what works for them. The point is..don't suffer alone. Don't discount, or disregard how you feel. And if someone you care about suffers from depression, try to learn about it, try to find what, if anything, they need from you during that time. It may be nothing more than knowing you are trying to understand. It isn't something that can just be turned off, so don't think they have much control over how bad it is, or how long it will last. I haven't shared this to freak anyone out or make you all worry about me. I have shared it because I care about all of you, and I won't let my little sister, or anyone else, think they are alone in this...

I am whipped!

It si 10 pm..just the beginning of my night.. and I am whipped! I didn't get to bed after I blogged during the night last night, until 6 am this morning, and got up at 8 am with the kids. That isn't unusual for me. I am whipped because the kids have worn me out! Greta & I took Cody, Katie, Hunter, Alexa, & Tristan to the zoo today. We went about 11:15ish. We rode the train, walked the zoo, played at the playground, hit McDonald's drive thru, and got home about 3:30. The kids were filthy from the playground, but of course they didn't care. I cleaned them up and stripped them down and let them take naps in their onesies. It was a late nap, so we didn't let them sleep their usual 2 hours. They had dinner, took a long playful bath and were tucked in by 9 pm. Hunter was right behind them. And here I sit, yawning, waiting for Max to wake up for his night feeding so I can go to bed! I have been fighting cold/allergies (?) for a couple days now, so that may be adding to it. But I think the major contribution is that my tired ass is getting old! I used to run rings around my kids and have energy left over..I could use some of it now! I will let you know tomorrow if I get a full night's sleep..

2:45 am..

It is 2:45am.. the house is (our version of) quiet. The sounds of Alexa snoring, ceiling fans turning, and Chad's stereo on low let me know all is well. I did doze on the couch for a while earlier, then awoke from a dream that was too real to let me sleep through it. Some times I can remember my dreams, and some times when I can't, I can guess form the way I feel when I wake up that it was about Kie. I will myself to remember, to grab on to any moments spent with her, even in sleep. But tonight my mind won't give it back to me.
I find myself talking to her alot. Not just quietly, inside my own head. But when I am alone, in the car, in my room at night, or doing something that I think she would have enjoyed. Or when the kids have driven me to the edge of my patience, and I am grasping for sanity. I find myself saying "okay miss thang.. what would you do??" Usually it involves letting them reek havoc and just not giving a damn until we all get it out of our systems. There is nothing that can't be cleaned up later.. or replaced! It is amazing what can be gained from a big bowl of popcorn or Cheetohs. The hell with the carpet or what Cheetoh dust does to clothes, (and furniture!)
When the weather allows I pull out the triplet stroller and load everyone up and we take a walk. I had forgotten there is a pond to the back of our subdivision. Tonight it was full of ducks.. Tristan quacked all the way around it. It was too cute.
Speaking of cute.. I wish I had my camera or even my camera phone earlier tonight when Brian was leaving for work..He & I were talking as he was pulling away to go to work. We had been working on the playground and we were debating on a new playhouse and which type of fencing to use. Then here comes Tristan down the driveway in just his diaper.. a droopy diaper at that. I started to go after him when I was distracted by Alexa walking down the other side of the driveway.. wearing one of Tristan's cowboy boots... and nothing else! Thank goodness it was warm out! Brian was shocked and in a panic.. So I scooped her up and headed back to the front door.. meanwhile Brian had to get out of his car and herd Tristan back toward the house, while Hunter tried to help him. I couldn't stop laughing.. Brian was shocked and called me later to see how they were and asked me why she keeps doing that, (undressing herself and taking off her diaper). I told him all the kids have done that and it is a sign to start potty training her because the few times she has done it usually she had a wet diaper. He can't remember the older kids doing it, but he wasn't always around when they did. Tristan has just started taking his clothes off, but leaves the diaper on, for now! Alexa has always tended to be a few steps ahead of him.
So my mental to do list now has potty training added to it.. I had been thinking about it, but wasn't sure they were ready. I think Alexa will be easier to train than Tristan. Just another challenge!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Swimming with the Manatees..

Yesterday was a perfect day..swimming with the manatees was so ..hmmmm...there isn't a word for how beautiful and awesome it was. There were several in the springs where we went. They were friendly and playful, even a little frisky when we were getting ready to leave. (They mate all year long.) I even squeezed myself into a wetsuit so I wouldn't freeze in the water! No, there aren't any pictures! Although there is a DVD with some video and still shots of the manatees, and one or 2 shots of my face.. no body shots. I would have worn anything to be able to swim with them and scratch their bellies. It was just too cool. I want to go back and take Hunter. I think he would love it. He was a little worried about me going off with Greg & Lisa. He wanted to know if everything would be okay this time. I told him I could not promise, but I was as sure as I could be that we would all be okay.
Then Greg had a dive at another spring that is in a state park, so Lisa and I decided to just lay in the sun while we waited for him. It was great! It took me a while to really relax, I felt like I should be doing something.The only other time I can remember I took a nap during the day was when the girls took me to Savannah. I didn't really sleep solid, dozed off & on, listened to the kids, animals, & nature noises. We had to move our towels back into the sunshine once because the sun moved and the shade was chilly! Then it got a little cooler so we went to wait in the car. We listened to Ron White, one of the Jeff Foxworthy comedians. He is a bit raw, but soooo funny! There was a bit about bachelorette parties that made it sound like he was at Brianne's! Then we went back to the dive, then back to Lisa & Greg's. Greg went out on a night dive so Lisa fixed some pasta (and awesome sauce!) Then I headed home. It was the most relaxing day. I felt a little guilty, but don't worry, it didn't last long!
There was a moment in the water, the sun was shining, it was late morning, and I thought of Hunter's worry.. oh no, this is such a beautiful day, it is Sunday again....what if something happens and I am here...then 2 manatees came on either side of me and I could only think of took me out of that moment and into a more beautiful one, Thanks Kieker...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Wide Awake..

Here I sit at 2:45 am..I am at Greg & Lisa's..yet I keep thinking I need to check the kids and make sure they are all covered up and in their beds. They all take turns ending up on the floor with their pillow and blanket sometimes. It is such a sub-conscious thought and I find it strange that my mind can't grasp that I am not at home and don't have to do that tonight. I feel like I should be doing something, well I am doing something, but I mean something like cleaning the kitchen, or catching up on laundry. I can pretty much do anything I want, and I don't know what to do! I did take a long, hot shower and even shaved my legs. That was a splurge for me! The idea that I should get some sleep is a foreign thought to me. I am wide awake. I did throw a book in my bag, so maybe I will try to read. But I know I may start the book, but then it will sit untouched until I give it away. I have discovered a game I actually like..I am not a computer game type person, but I do like Sudoku.. it is a number puzzle game. It makes my mind work in a way other than related to kids! And I do the more difficult ones so I have to focus my mind on the game, nothing else. I don't get to play often, but enjoy it when I do. I brought Max with me, so my need to nurture has been met.. but now he is all fed and is sound asleep in his bed. I guess I will go check his covers and try to get settled for the night..

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Not Done Yet!

Okay, I worked on the playset by myself yesterday & today. I forced Chad to hold the roof pieces while I bolted them down, but put it all together by myself.... I spent 4 hours on it yesterday and a total of 4 1/2 hours today... and I am still not done! I think I only have the slide to put together and attach, and put the swings on it. My hands, arms and back are soooo sore.
But I do have to say it is pretty cool! It got dark before I finished tonight, so I will wait and get a picture when it is all done. It will get finished on Monday, I am taking tomorrow off!
Tomorrow I am going to go snorkeling with the manatees. I am so excited and ready for a break. Brianne usually takes the kids for the day on Sunday. She didn't take them last week, so I have been really looking forward to this. I haven't been able to spend much time with Lisa ( & Greg!) so that makes the day an added bonus. So I am off to pack and head over there tonight, my wonderful husband is coming home from work early so I don't have to get up at the butt crack of dawn to go in the morning. He's a keeper!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Nuts & Bolts..

I can't blame anyone but myself.. it was my idea..just know I will never do this again! This adventure playset has more parts than anything I have ever put together before. And I have put together alot! Although I did save some time by sorting out the hundreds of nuts & bolts and sorting the lumber and other parts, it still took about 5-6 hours to only get it 1/3 of the way done. It will be awesome, I will take a picture and post it when it is finished. Our good friend, Rick Price, went with me to pick it all up yesterday and he spent his afternoon helping me put it together today. What a great guy! I don't know if I will get it done tomorrow, but I will do what I can. There wasn't much prefabricated, so lots of parts & pieces. We'll see how many are left over when I am done!

In Control..?

The mind will never be fully understood, it is too unpredictable. I spent most of the afternoon & evening sorting out parts for the new deluxe playset we are putting up for the kids. It is one of those big wooden ones with a "treehouse", rock wall, and spiral slide. We figured for the price to keep replacing cheap metal ones over the next 10-12 years it was worth it to invest in a better one for all the kids to use here at home. Anywho, I was reading over the instructions and the thought popped into my head.. Kierra would have had a hell of a time reading this! She had dyslexia and it would have been tooo much for her to get through. She was infamous for skimming over directions and guessing at how to do or make something. Brianne or I would read her text books to her in high school to help her study or do her homework because the reading would overwhelm her and she wouldn't retain what she had struggled so hard to read.
Later I went inside to get a cold drink and glanced over the pictures on the fridge. There are several of the twins, the other kids, and friends. I thought, Kierra was still alive when all these were taken..I have looked at them dozens of times since her death, but can't recall thinking that.
Hours later I am here on the computer in Hunter's room. It used to be the guest room, before that it was Brianne's room, before that Kierra & the twin's room, and originally it was Brianne's room with butterflies. I just repainted it a sage green back in September/October. It was supposed to be victorian, we adapted it to hot wheels for Hunter. Before the green it was a pale yellow, with pixie stars and pixie dust in Purple, Blue, and teal. For Brianne it went perfect with Tinkerbell ( which she still loves at 21 years of age!). Kierra & I added the Pixie stars & dust to go with her fairies and to add some color to the room when she was pregnant. I was sitting here and wished for a moment that I hadn't painted over "her" room.
It doesn't always happen like this or this often. It seems the past week my mind brings her forward more. She is always there, but not so much front & center. I guess I try to subdue my thoughts of her so I don't get upset too much in front of the kids, or other people. It isn't even a conscious effort, it is just how I survive. And although I know I can talk to any of my family & friends about her, who am I really going to call at 2:30 am? It isn't so much needing to talk, as much as letting it come and complete itself, without my controlled editing. (and you guys all thought I just tried to control everyone else's lives didn't you?!) No, I am not immune to my own need to control things. And trust me, I am not as good at controlling things as I thought!