Category Archives: milestones

Five Years Gone

Patrice is 5 today.  Five.

In some ways that makes me 5 as well.  Five years ago mental illness invaded me first as baby blues, then postpartum depression and anxiety with a psychotic episode.  And it never went away.

My therapist said I should look at all the good times during those 5 years.  And I try, and succeed, pretty often.  But every good time was against the landscape of mental illness.  Me trying to cope.  Me trying to learn to live.  Me trying to live.

Patrice has grown from a little baby.

all three girls 2010 Leah at park 2010To an amazing 5 year old who loves fiercely, can add up to 5, can’t wait to learn to read, crazy cute and oh so funny.  Amazing.

2015-08-07 11.39.05The years have been sweet.  The years have been hard.  But we are here to celebrate them together.  My Patrice and I.

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Filled to Overflowing

My heart is filled to overflowing.  So full.

There was so much amazing stuffed into Friday, it is hard to catch my breath.  Talk about living life full throttle.

Thursday I sat down and wrote a couple pieces to be published as guest posts on other blogs.  One, my Stigma Fighters, submission was published yesterday!!!!  I would be so happy if you headed over to Old School/New School Mom to check it out.  (FYI, I proofed it yesterday, but of course found a glaring error today–totally my fault–but I want to clarify, I have 3 girls in 4 years, not 4 girls in 4 years).

I also wrote a piece for the Semi Colon Project.  I originally learned about it in early April when I heard about a blogging round up.  The Semi Colon Project is an International undertaking to encourage those dealing with self harm, suicidal ideations, and other mental health challenges.  It’s goal is to remind us that we do not have to choose a period (ending our life), we as the authors of our lives can choose use a semi colon where we as the authors could have chose to stop our lives (a period) or just a pause (a semi colon).  We were invited to draw a semi colon on our wrists to signify our support and share our stores.  I posted mine here.  I proudly showed off my crayola marker semi colon.



And went about my day.

Yet slowly, I was drawn back to that post as my depression deepened and the struggle got harder.  I would read the post again, start at my wrist imagining the semi colon there.

It became a lifeline of sorts.

I took a few moments to let the leaders of the Semi Colon Project know.  They responded very kindly and asked me to share more of my story to share on the project blog.  I finally wrote that Thursday as well.

I woke up to an e-mail telling me how much she loved my writing, asking if she could share it on their blog and asking me to join the project as a weekly contributor to the project blog.

I was speechless.  I have been looking for  my voice…

As I read, I found myself hyperventilating.  Caitlyn, said, “what did you win a trip to Paris or something?”  I told her about the e-mail.  She said, “you like writing that much??”  “Yes sweetie, writing makes the world make sense to me.”

I did ask to wait to make my decision until Monday.  I want to make sure I can give the project the attention and dedication it deserves.  But I am pretty confident I know my answer…

Then, if that weren’t enough, Sue read her book, yes, THAT book, Fancy Nancy and the Dazzling Book Report to daddy.

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But more on that later…

My heart is so full.  So much wonderful going on.  I can’t express my excitement and joy at the last few days.  Just amazing.

Birthday WOW

We’ve had two birthdays in 4 days here. A tinkerbell cake on Friday and Elmo on Tuesday. Six candles and two.


Snapping…what are my kids snapping

We got the girls kid cameras for Christmas. I think Caitlyn is in love. She is forever taking pictures and playing the games. I cannot believe how many pictures I have been in since she got it. But her favorite part is deleting pictures that do not turn out the way she wants them to. She is a little bit of a perfectionist. And she has been her whole 4 years. I think that is why she crawled “late”, walked on the “late” side of “normal.” She doesn’t try anything until she can do it easily.

I keep forgetting that such is the case, so I find myself worrying.  I worried when she was not trying to pedal her bike.  I worried when she was not picking out letters and naming them.  It’s not until she is able to do something, and does it very well that I remember, ah yes, this is my child who must be able to do it just right before we will even see her try.

Once she figured out crawling, that same weekend she started pulling herself to a stand on the furniture.  Two weeks after she took her first step she was running all over the birthing center, when she came to visit her new sister.

And yet, I still worrry.  Does it do any good?  No.  Wait, I think Jesus said something about that.  “You cannot add any time to your life.” Luke 12:25 and Peter said “Give all your worries to Him because He cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Now to remember that for all the years ahead of us.  We have a lot of learning to do.  There is much we will teach Caitlyn and even more she will teach us.  Prepare us oh Lord.  Keep our minds staid on you and not on charts or percentiles or expectations.

Pie Time!!!

Did you read yesterday’s blog post?  If you did, you might remember I mentioned I MIGHT make a blueberry pie.  And, I actually did.  With the help of my new chef…

Caitlyn and I did our first cooking project together where she was actually able to help.  It was a lot of fun and I got some great pictures!!

Here’s the shortening…which Caitlyn kept wanting to taste!

She could not wait to get her hands in the dough–I can’t even count how many times I made her wash her hands!

She called this “doing the cushing.”

The only thing she managed to sneak past me was an extra 1/4 teaspoon of sugar/cinnamon mix

She LOVES to stir eggs.  She often helps daddy with this for breakfast.

And glazing the pie was pretty cool

Not the most flatering picture of me, but she did a pretty decent job, so here I am cleaning up!

My pies are not the prettiest on the block, but here’s hoping it tastes good!

Bummer of the whole deal, Caitlyn did not like it.

But Sue sure did!!!

On this day 6 years ago

I remember being in a meeting at work on a Wednesday morning.  I did not have my cell phone with me.  And looking back, that is probably a good thing.  When I got back to my desk, there were messages on both my desk and cell phone from my sister.

And I honestly could not believe her message.  6 years later I still struggle to believe it.  Our dad had died that morning in a single car crash.

I had just talked to him 2 weeks before.  It was a great conversation.  The best in years.  Our relationship had been strained for a few years.  That conversation seemed to bring an amazing amount of healing.  And it wasn’t really about much.  I had called to tell him I still thought he was crazy for all those years of going to work so early, but I had joined him.  Most mornings found me at work at 6 am.  And he hadn’t changed, he was on his way to work, so was I, and it was not yet 6 am.  I also told him about my new engagement.  My now husband, had just proposed.

And here I was 2 weeks later hearing he was gone.  Gone.  I was so shocked I asked my sister if she was sure, maybe there was a mistake.  Sadly, there was no mistake.  The beginning of our restoration was done.

I called my fiance.  He came and got me from work.  I thought I would be back in a few hours after I had a chance to calm down.  I was clueless about the pain that would start to wash over me again and again.

The next days were agony.  There would be no more healing between us.  He would not be at my upcoming wedding.  It was all gone.  And I was left with tears and disappointment.  And over time, a new understanding of what grief is.  I had lost other family members, but this was different, my dad was instantly gone.  He wasn’t old, he hadn’t lived his life completely, to my mind, but he was gone.

Over the next months of planning the wedding, I missed him so much.  But I was given a gift.  I dreamt of my dad many, many times.  I got to introduce him to my pastor and several people in my life and wedding.  In one dream he even said, “I will be with you until your husband takes over.”  And he was, the dreams continued until the wedding.

In these 6 years, my hubby and I have had a great marriage, and have so far, added two beautiful little girls to our family.  And are awaiting the arrival of our third child.  And with each positive pregnancy test all the way til the birth I mourn he will not meet my children.  I have taken my wedding pictures and wedding ring to his grave to “show” him, as well as each of my children.  And will do so again in a couple months.  And I will grieve.

I think part of me will always grieve, but recently, my aunt, his sister, told me to embrace the life I have with my family, with my girls, and enjoy our life.  And we will.  We will live each day, rejoicing in the gift of life, refusing to allow things to come between us to leave us with regrets. 

I hope my sister doesn’t mind, but here is a picture I poached from her facebook albums. 

Daddy, I love you.  Thank you for teaching me to tie my shoes, and my alphabet and how to ride a bike and how to change the oil in my car and to replace the brakes on that same car.  The list could go on and on.  You are one of a kind.  From the craziness of the handlebar mustache you sported for a while, to the odd little quotes you said that people termed “Verlynisms”, because they were something only you would say.  I love you.  And am so thankful for that last conversation.  I am not sure I could have survived the grief without that healing, restorative conversation.  Thank you Lord for your mercies in giving me that conversation and the months of dreams leading up to my wedding. 

Daddy, we’ll be up to “see” you soon and introduce your 9th grandchild!  And in the meantime, I will enjoy things that bring memories of you.  I love you.

Potty Training Sue Style

As you may remember, Sue had been potty training.  She was doing great.  Then she wasn’t–she stopped.  And I completely stressed out about it.  It stunk…really, as only diapers can.

We had a few battles where she would say she had to go potty, only to not go or even, in mama’s mind, try to go. 

One day, as I fussed at her about why she would not use the potty, she sobbed, “I want to go to Mary’s to learn to use the potty (a neighbor).”  She cried and cried.  It was quite horrid and weird.  But hey, I was a good sport, I texted the neighbor, told her of Sue’s desire and asked when we could drop her off.  The neighbor was game, but we decided to keep Sue here.

So then we made a quick family trip to visit my grandfather who has been ill.  Sue used her pull up soon, but also went potty at all our stops.  It was very confusing, so I asked her when we got home why she wouldn’t use the potty here.  Her response, “because here I have a diaper.” 

True answer kid, but wrong answer.  Daddy and I decided the following weekend to change that reality.  We got out our cloth potty training panties and began to use those…she did great.  There were a couple accidents, but not many. 

The best was her first success.  She said, “I have to go potty!”  So I grabbed her off the chair (don’t tell my midwife I picked her up) and ran her to the potty.  We made it.  She was so proud and kept saying “I had to hustle.  I had to hustle!!!!”  She got a treat.  She will do just about anything for junk food.

We then tried the potty system for the next week as opporutnities presented.  By the following weekend, we made it the whole weekend without pull ups except at nap and night night time.

The next week we used all panties.  A couple accidents, but most mornings she woke up dry.  Can you believe it???

She will even, now, ask to use the potty if she is in a pull up (like when we are out and about). 

But there have been a couple accidents.  The other night I took the girls for a walk.  I asked her several times before we left if she had to go potty, “no, no, no.”  So the girls and I and our dog Stuie set off for a walk.  I hate having my dog pee on people’s yards.  I yelled at him over and over to stop that…

And we got about 1/2 way through our walk.  Sue fell behind mama and Caitlyn.  I look back, and there Sue is, legs spread apart slightly squatting, peeing all over the sidewalk.  Great.  Here I was worried about the dog.  Guess I should have worried more about the 2 1/2 year old!!!!  Oops!

Our walks since have been with her wearing a pull up, just in case 🙂  “Cause sometimes you just can’t hustle enough!!!

Milestone Mania

As parents we see many milestones come for our kids, even at very early ages.  They are just weeks old when we are looking for that first real smile, the first time they can hold their head up, roll over, sleep through the night, sit up…

I don’t know about other parents, but I really struggled with those when Caitlyn hit them.  At the time we were only planning to have one child.  My pregnancy with her had been somewhat difficult and a lot uncomfortable and I had no idea how long my health would stay stable, so I swore we were only having one.  That didn’t mean I did not want more; as soon as they put her on my chest after she was born I knew I wanted to live through every bit of that again…but I had told my hubby this was it.  And I thought I would have to keep that promise.

So with each milestone I smiled and laughed and loved and cried.  A lot.  A whole lot.  I cried every day of her first 5 months.  All I could think was, from now on I have to raise her to leave me.  And I hated that thought, a part of me hated those milestones.

I actually mentioned it to my midwife about it a few times and we were starting to talk about maybe some meds or therapy for postpartum depression when it lifted…and about 6 weeks later we found out we were expecting baby #2…but I digress.

Thankfully, I no longer hate the milestones like I did in those early months.  I continue to hate the thought of my girls growing up to leave me, but I now take one day at a time and enjoy seeing them tackle new ideas and experience new things.

Today I was struck with a new milestone.  We talk about baby’s first haircut, but what about our little one’s first trip to the dentist?  That is a biggy too.  And today, Caitlyn experienced it.

It dawned on me yesterday, a little late, maybe we should prepare Caitlyn for going to the dentist.  She’s the kid who clamps her mouth shut when the doctor wants to look in, that might not work out so well at the dentist.  So last night we talked about it a little bit.  Today I talked about how she was such a big girl and got to go to the dentist because she was a big girl.  Oh, and there was the bribery of going to [Mc]Donalds afterward.

And she did great!!!!  A friend had suggested a children’s dentist.  And they were wonderful.  The hygenist talked through everything she was doing, put it in friendly words, was an amazing professional.

At the very beginning Caitlyn looked like she might not open up much…
But she decided it was ok.  Sue really wanted in on the action!
Caitlyn got her first cleaning like a champ.
And a clean bill of teeth health from the dentist.
Sue, after much begging “what about me???”, got her minute in the chair.
And they both got toys and new toothbrushes, while mama (and daddy) got a “good job” for Caitlyn’s clean, shiney teeth. 
So a milestone I never thought about was met and triumphed today.  Caitlyn did a great job at the dentist.  She was quite grown up about the whole deal and excited to tell daddy the details when he got home.  She loved showing off her stickers, and new toothbrush and shiney teeth. 
And mama and daddy are very proud.  She really did well.  As always, we had nothing to fear.