13 Pavements

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Jules - Your Person Has Something to Say

Remember that one time, that Julie added me (Nichelle, Sister-Friend, Aunt Shell, Wallspogolian, etc.) as "an author" on her blog...and then forgot about it until I hijacked it years later?!  Ahhhh...good times!  :)  

So, anyway...I just wanted to drop in to share a little.  First and foremost, please be warned that my writing 'skills' are nowhere near as sophisticated as Julie's.  I overuse exclamation points, I have gotten really good at creating run-on sentences over the years, and you know those three little periods that people put together to try to show a slightly awkward pause?  The ones that I've already used three times now?  Yeah...I'm kind of obsessed with using them...sorry, not sorry. Okay, I'm gonna try to focus now because I really am not on here JUST to be annoying, I have a point!!!!

About two weeks ago I had the opportunity to be Julie for almost four days!  Well, I got to be about 50% of Julie.  The 25% of Julie that is a business woman was taken over by Taunya (thankfully...I hear it was crazy...sorry, sis!).  And the 25% of her that is Coria's wife, well, she was still that.  But the 50% of her that is a Mom and home maker, I was that 50% for four days...and it almost did me in.  How on Earth she manages to be so incredibly amazing at what she does is absolutely beyond me.

It only took 473.5 tries to get one without him moving.

Cole will be 2 in March.  Pause a moment to take in that crazy fact.  He is likely going to be the youngest cross country runner in Olympic history.  I'm pretty convinced he'll be ready to compete in the next summer games.  He is, too.  He is so fast.  And always going.  Running.  As Julie says, his two speeds are 'asleep' or '100mph' (or something to that affect).  This little man has to have a hidden battery pack somewhere.  There is a secret though to getting him to hold still for all of 3.5 seconds...you show him or give him a truck!  To say that he is obsessed with trucks is like saying that Brandon is kind of tall.  The kid lives for trucks!!!

This is a pretty accurate picture of what every moment of all four days looked like.

I had my dog, Buddy with me.  He wasn't very good at staying off of the couch like he was supposed to, but he was very patient when Cole would ride him or 'Sleeping Beauty' (Livi's doll) would nap with him.  And he was a HUGE help with the post-meal clean-up process.  Particularly because Cole is learning to feed himself and is in this super awesome throwing food phase.  The only problem with that...is that his little digestive tract isn't used to eating that much people food so by the morning of day two we all woke up to a bit of a puppy mess on the floor of the kitchen.  It gets better.  That morning, as soon as I woke up, I went straight from Julie's bed to the kids' room and got Cole out of bed.  I changed his diaper and, the second I got that last tab on his clean diaper fastened, that little runner was off!!  It took me all of thirty seconds to fold up his dirty diaper, stand up, and walk into the living room but in those thirty seconds, he had tracked Buddy's 'puppy mess' throughout three different rooms in the house.  Awesome.  

After I tossed little man in the bath, sanitized the house, and cooked and fed everyone breakfast, I went to go grab Cole from the middle of his sea of trucks in the living room only to realize that he had made his own 'toddler mess' through his diaper on the floor of the living room.  Awesome.

New pink glasses and just a few missing teeth.  The cutest.

That evening I had put Liv and Cole both to bed and was getting Netflix started on the living room tv for myself, and my friends Rachel and Brian.  It hadn't been 20 minutes since I'd put Liv down when she came out.  She walked right up to me on the couch and said "Aunt Shell, I swallowed a penny."  Umm...you WHAT!?  Wait, did I hear that right!?  I was on the phone with Julie so I shared with her what Liv had just told me and she said the one word I was thinking but couldn't say with Liv standing right in front of me.  So, the four of us adults did what adults would naturally do in this situation, we Googled it.  Basically we learned that if she wasn't choking on it and it wasn't blocking her airway, it wasn't an ER situation and we could call her doctor the next day and likely be advised to just let it run it's course.  Knowing her breathing issues I snuggled with her on the couch for twenty or so minutes while she "read me a story" so I could make sure that everything sounded normal.

The kiddos and I on our way to pick Mema up from the airport.

The next day we picked up Mema from the airport.  All three of us were SO excited to see her!!  And I think she was pretty excited to be with the kiddos!  She had the kids for the next week and then was able to stay and help Jules for another few days after she got home, too.  I thought it was difficult just keeping everyone alive for four days, but Mema did it for a week PLUS she got multiple projects around the house done, too!  And towards the end, her and I both sat and discussed how in awe we are of Julie.  Who has a business, is a wonderful & supportive wife, a loyal friend, a terrific sister and daughter, keeps a beautiful home, and isn't just a keep-your-kids-alive Mom (like me) but an I'll-do-anything-it-takes-to-make-sure-my-kids-have-and-become-the-best Mom.  

Jules, please know that you are MORE than enough.  You ARE a good Mom.  You are an absolutely incredible Mom.  You are beautiful.  You are an inspirational woman.  You are my person. Love you, my sweet friend.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Steps Ahead

The other morning, I woke up early before anyone else was awake.  I knew the day was going to be busy and I wanted to get a workout in before the rest of the day's commitments.  I quietly slipped out of bed, dressed, slipped on my running shoes, and headed out for a run.  I'd had a lot on my mind.  A lot of the same things that every other mother/wife worries about.  The negative self talk we find ourselves doing when we feel like we are falling short, failing our husband or kids, yelling too much, losing patience, not being the version of me Heavenly Father wants me to be, hefty medical bills, neglected to-do lists.....and on and on and on.

I could feel the weight of my thoughts physically slowing my pace.  I turned a corner and saw the long stretch of road  before me and all of the sudden I felt overwhelmed.  The endless to-do's, the things that need to be changed, the worries, the miles I needed to go felt almost too heavy. For a split second I thought about just turning around and walking home, but something inside me said, "Keep going,  just watch the ground.  Focus on the steps right ahead of you."  So I steadied my pace and pushed forward. My thoughts were still circling with all the ways I was falling short and how far I needed to go.  My eyes filled with tears, the burdens I was feeling in that moment were threatening to crush me.  I said a little prayer as I ran, asking Him to show me how to fix what needs to be fixed, how to change this, how to be that.  Again, I heard something inside me say, "Focus on the steps right ahead of you."

And that was it, my answer.  I was, and have been, focusing on everything all at once.  I could see how far I need to go to be the person I need to be and it all felt so impossible.  But if I just focus on the steps in front of me, just fix or change a little bit at a time I will get there.  To try to change everything all at once IS impossible.  It would be setting myself up for failure. 

I worked through all of this in my mind as I ran, feeling a surge of confidence and determination and less weighed down.  I'd kept my gaze down the whole time, not focusing on the next mile, not focusing on the time.  I hadn't looked up in a while and decided to peek.  And just like that, I'd run 4 miles and not even realized it.  (Four miles may not be something to get all excited about, but coming from someone who a few months ago couldn't run a mile, this was HUGE.)  I'd focused on the steps, focused on the journey, not just the destination.

When I finally made it home, I burst into tears.  I cried because I was proud of my body. I cried because I was tired. I cried because in this silly little run God made it clear to me that He knows me, He hears me.  And while it all felt a little silly and perhaps not so life changing for anyone else, it changed me.  I'm not perfect.  I still have so far to go to be who I want to be.  But I'm a better version of myself than I was that morning.  And I think that is exactly the point.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Q&A and Monsters

I know the best people.

One of the perks of growing up in a small town is the connections you make and the friendships you share seem to stay with you.  

A few weeks ago my friend Christina Williams, who I have known since I was little, did a little Q & A with me about Olivia and the Leggings/Monster Project, along with the most adorable tutorial on how to make sock monsters.  She is so creative.  She is an awesome designer and her blog is full of the best ideas. I can't thank her enough for doing this and to help get word out on this.  I feel blessed that our paths have crossed again over the last few years. 

Christina, you are the best!

P.S. I have some very long overdue blog posts scheduled for this week! I know, I've said it before.  But seriously.  I promise.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
I had to distance myself from electronics for awhile.  I disabled my Facebook for a couple months, had sporadic activity on Instagram, let my emails reaaallly pile up, ignored my blog...I just needed to disconnect and feel a little more present in my life. The idea had been in my head awhile, so I did it and disconnecting accomplished a lot of good.  For now I have (selectively) reconnected.  I'm good with where I'm at.  But I have some catching up to do here. Stick around!
Monday, May 5, 2014
I'm gonna go ahead and keep it real for just a minute.

Sometimes I don't think I really know who I am anymore.  I don't say that to be all down in the dumps  or wo-is-me-life-is-hard or anything. I think this is a sentiment a lot of moms share. Maybe not a lot, but I've had more than one conversation on this topic to know I'm not alone.

I don't even know how it happened. I just stopped one day when I was getting ready and just stared at myself in the mirror.  I had lines on my face that weren't there before, the shape of my face was different, the curve of my hips didn't belong to me, and that hair!  Definitely not mine.  I didn't know this person.  I didn't know what she liked or what she needed.  It was all so..weird.

When I was younger, all I ever wanted was to get married and have some babies.  I mean, it was ALL I wanted.  And I got that!  A good husband and sweet kids.  But no one ever told me that in exchange for getting what I wanted, I'd lose myself in the process.  I want to say I'm okay with that.  I've had other women tell me they are okay with that.  But truth is, I'm not.  I used to draw and sketch, to write for fun, to read complicated books.  I used to do more service.  I used to bake.  I used to have an interest in photography and had taken a few classes. I used to run and actually enjoy it. I used to fill my callings with more purpose.  I used to be a better wife.  I used to be a better friend.  I used to be a better mom.

Now I feel like I am only parts of those things.

I've done a lot of thinking since then.  This needs to change, and I am trying to change it.  It's so much easier said than done.  So much.  Between husband, kids, and running our business I have very little time left to myself.  But in the last couple months I've made use of that time by making sure that 1) I get in a good workout.  And 2) I read my scriptures every day, even if it's just a few verses.  I was doing those things before, but I have tried to focus my efforts.  I work out harder, I pay attention more, and ask my husband questions when I don't understand.  The result?  I am about 26 lbs lighter (and counting) and feeling a little more enlightened.  Have I found myself again?  No.  Not even close.  But I'm moving in that direction.

I keep coming back to this talk, probably one of my favorite's of all time.  Every woman needs to hear it and act on it.  I am doing no favors to anyone in this house by feeling lost.  I am more.  I need to remind myself that I am.  I need Livi to see that I am.  I need my husband to see that I am.  It's a hard thing to do, and finding that time is nearly impossible.  But I'm going to find it.  I'm going to go, do, create, and be.  I owe it to myself.
Monday, April 14, 2014

In Which I Survived Seattle With Two Children

I've been home from our most recent Seattle trip for about two weeks now and I feel like I am still trying to recover.

It was that traumatizing.

Liv was scheduled to see her ocularist, have an EUA, and see her oncologist. These trips are always especially long hard.  It's a lot of time spent sitting in small exam rooms, pre-op for surgery, and then more exam rooms.  I have some pretty intense anxiety building up to these trips, and this time was especially bad.  About a month ago, I noticed a strange lump in Liv's neck. It had slowly got bigger and had me so worried.  Given her history and what we can expect in her future, any strange lump or bump is going to put me on edge. You could say I was a basket case in the weeks leading up to this appointment, but that would be a gross understatement.

This trip happened to fall over Brandon's finals and he was unable to go with me.  With that and our business and its complete unpredictability, we decided that it would just make more sense for me to take Cole as well.

I'm gonna sum up the trip for you.  Lots of crying from me, lots of screaming and crying form Cole pretty much everywhere we went (and for hours and hours), no one slept, more crying, ferris wheel (!) rain, emotional breakdown in oncologists office, 3.5 hour drive home, with more screaming, Brandon greets us at the door and I, again, burst into tears the moment he hugs me.  My nerves were ragged and my patience was running dangerously thin.  Really, the only reprieve I felt in those three days was those 5-6 minutes on the Seattle ferris wheel.  It was a bit of magic for Liv.  That girl is alllll about the magic.  So I'm good with that.

But anyway. It was just bad.   The news we got was pretty much good.  No new tumors have developed in her eye. She does need a new prosthetic (womp womp), and her oncologist seemed to think her lump was just a weird infection, nothing major as her blood work was good.  It was only after the good news that I burst into tears.

 Poor Dr. P, didn't see it coming.  He looked at her, then at me and slowly shook his head saying, "Considering everything, her chromosome deletion, all her hurdles...she just shouldn't be doing this well."  I felt a stinging in my eyes, tears were threatening.  He then asked about our job, about Brandon, and I explained finals, how the two of us run our business 7 days a week.  He asked some more questions, watching me trying to soothe Cole, keeping Liv occupied, trying to keep the situation peaceful as I talked about my worries with all of that and my anxiety surround Olivia.  He leaned toward me and quietly said, "It's hard.  I know it is. You're doing a good job, mama."  And then I lost it.

I felt, at that moment, anything but a good mom.  I feel like that often.  I was sleep deprived, overwhelmed with relief, and physically and emotionally exhausted.  I try not to think that my life is "hard." Hard has always equated to "bad" in my brain, when that is hardly the case often times.  But here's the thing... My life is good, and I like it and I wouldn't trade places with anyone for anything.  But for some reason, when this doctor who knows me, but not really the details of my life outside of my sick child, looked at me and gave what felt like permission to acknowledge that while my life is good and I have so much to be grateful for (and I am!), it is also hard.  It was validating, something I wasn't even sure I needed, but I did.

My life is hard. (That is another post, for another time) But it's okay, and I'm okay.

Everyone's life is a bit hard, I think.  Hard different ways, but we all have our struggles.  And that's sort of the point, I guess.  Life is hard for everyone, that's what teaches us compassion and is basically the whole point anyway, right?

So, I guess I'm just gonna put my shoulder to the wheel and all that.  Because what else am I gonna do?  I'm just committed to making the best of whatever lies ahead.




So.  All in all I learned:

1.  Cole will NOT be returning to Seattle in the foreseeable future.
2.  Olivia needs a new eye.
3.  The Seattle ferris wheel will save the day.

** Almost five weeks later and this lump in her neck is still there, and it's bigger.  We are seeing another doctor Wednesday, because I'm not at all convinced she is in the clear.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Remembering 3/13/04

I remember it was sunny, warm  Unseasonably so for March in New Jersey.  I had gone for a pedicure and a movie with my friends.

I remember a voicemail from my dad, thanking me for his birthday gift that had just arrived.  "I just wanted to call and tell you thanks for the gift.  Remember that I love you more than anything. Thanks again." I called him back, we chatted a few minutes.  I was just about to get on the Jersey Turnpike so I promised to call him back when I was home.

I remember calling back a couple hours later.  No answer.  I called again later.  Nothing.

I remember I was working that night, a Saturday.  Most of my nanny friends were working that night, too.  The Crowley's were going to a party. I put their kiddos to bed, except for Edie, the 2 year old, who always resisted. 

I remember Katie calling the Crowley's land line.  She never called the land line.  Weird. She asked me if I was alone.  Except for Edie, I was.  "Call someone to come over and then call me back." I begged her to just tell me, she wouldn't.

I remember calling all of my nanny friends.  No one's employer's were home.  I started to panic.  After an hour, Jodi called to let me know her employers would be home soon and she would be right over. 

I remember she came over.  I called Katie.  Katie spoke to Jodi first and I watched her try to keep her expression calm.  I wanted to vomit.

I remember standing in the Kitchen doorway with Jodi as she handed me the phone.  "I hate to be the one to tell you this, but dad killed himself tonight."

I remember crumbling to the floor in sobs and screams.  Edie began to cry.  I tried to call the Crowley's to come home and could not catch my breath to utter a word.  Jodi took the phone, scooped up Edie and told them what happened as I sank to the floor, my body racked with sobs.

I remember everything moving in warp speed. Jodi must have called everyone there who cared about me because my friends started showing up one by one, my bishop, a few of our guy friends in the ward. 

I remember sitting on the ottoman, holding myself, rocking back and forth.  Charlie rushed in as he and Liz came how and scooped me up in a hug that felt like saved me life, telling me over and over there was nothing I could have done, nothing I could have done, nothing I could have done... A phrase I'd hear over and over for years to come, but somehow it only meant anything right then.  It was in there home I needed to be right then.

I remember receiving a blessing. Charlie booked me a flight home.  People came in and out.  I don't know how much time passed....a long time to be sure...before everyone started to go home, except for Jodi and Cheryl.

I remember being afraid to go to sleep, thinking that somehow the horror of that night would swallow me whole and I would never recover.  Jodi, Cheryl and I sat on the living room couch well into the early morning hours.  They turned on a movie for distraction.  Sometime around 4 am, they drifted off to sleep and I crept downstairs to my room and packed my bags.

Everything for weeks following is mostly a blur, I don't remember much else.  Which is a blessing, I think.  I do remember that even though it felt as if every fragment of my life had been hopelessly and completely broken, I felt overwhelmingly loved.  It was a completely encompassing love I could physically feel pouring out of the hearts of others and into my own.  As I sit here 10 years later, I realize that I can still feel that love.  Not just because the feeling was so powerful, but because it is still there.