Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Missing Alyssa

Tonight at dinner our Dinner Conversations question was "who do you sorely miss".  Both Sierra and I said Alyssa.  It's hard to believe it's been over a year since she died.  I know that her family doesn't feel this way.  I know that sometimes the days seem like months when all that they can feel is the hole in their heart where Alyssa used to be.  I know the pain hasn't lessened for Lynn, Jeff or Lexie.  My heart aches for them.

Lexie is doing the Curesearch walk in October in honor of Alyssa.  All that she wants is to raise enough money so that cures can be found and no more children will leave this earth too early due to cancer.  Lexie and her mom made this beautiful video in honor of the love between sisters that will never be matched or replaced.  Please check out the video and donate to Lexie's cause if you feel led.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae0Vy97gazc

http://www.curesearchwalk.org/charlottesville/missingsissy

Monday, April 14, 2014

Parents just don't understand

"You don't understand, Mom".  Said with all of her 11 year old wisdom and assurance.  We sit in the car outside of her middle school as she waits to go inside.  She feels antsy because none of her friends are standing out there.  She points out a few of the kids that she knows but "no, we aren't friends" and "she can be mean sometimes".  I ask questions to find out exactly what she means by these statements.  But, I wouldn't understand.  Yes I do, baby, yes I do.  I remember it well.
 
I remember exactly what it feels like to be in her shoes.  To be in 6th grade, just discovering that there is a hierarchy within the walls of the school and trying to figure out where I fit in it.  I remember what it feels like to realize that friendships aren't formed simply because someone sits beside me in class or because we both like gymnastics.  I remember being aware of the fact even though I wore a particular shirt every week last year it suddenly oozes "uncool" and there is "no way I can wear that!".  I remember the butterflies in my stomach as I waited for my friends to show up at our lunch table so, God forbid, I wouldn't have to be seen sitting by myself.  I remember it well.
 
I also remember saying "You don't understand, Mom".  How could she possibly understand?  My mom and I were so different and nothing was the same when she was a kid compared to what I was going through and of course my life was so much harder than hers that there was no way in the world that she could possibly understand.  Now Sierra runs that same thought through her head.  And when I tell her that middle school can be the hardest time and then high school gets a little easier and college is just freakin' awesome...  well, she's not buying it.  When I tell her that she will look back in 10 years and realize how fast this time flew by and in 15 years she'll look back and see that middle school was just a tiny blip on her radar of life... she's not buying that either.  Just like I didn't believe my mom when she told me the same things.  As much as my heart aches to make her understand, I know that there is no way to make her see that this day, this week, this next 15 minutes while she waits to go into the school will not define her for all of eternity.
 
So what's a mom who "doesn't understand" supposed to do.  After blaming myself for all of my child's insecurities (is this because we let her cry it out or was it that we weren't aggressive enough dealing with the bully in her 2nd grade class?) I try to look ahead to what I can do for her.  While putting her in a bubble would be my first option, I do know that it's not realistic.  The world is full of bullies and mean girls and uncomfortable social situations, regardless of one's age.  As much as I'd love to "deal with it" for her I need to give her the skills to do it herself.  I have to teach her that she should follow both her heart and her gut. To know that she needs treat others with kindness but know when to stand up for herself.  I want her to learn that the way people act towards others is often a reflection of how they feel about themselves.  Sometimes the meanest people should be pitied instead of hated.  She needs to know that while it may hard to control how she feels she can control how she acts upon those feelings.  I want her to choose happiness... most days at least, and to know that it can be contagious, even amongst hormonal tweens.  I hope she knows that she has a safe place at home and with me where she can talk when she needs to and I'll try to give her the space to work out what she needs to work out on her own (key word: try).  Although I doubt that she will get it until she is standing with her own child outside of a middle school, I hope that there is a tiny bit of understanding in her that I do get it.  I really do. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Beach vacation 2013!

In "honor" of the fact that it snowed less than a week ago and it's dreary and raining all weekend, I'm posting my album from our beach vacation last summer that I never got around to.  Maybe, just maybe, it will help me survive the next 2 months until it's time to go there again!  We went to Outer Banks, NC with some of our favorite people!  My parents came, our friends Shawn, Theresa, and Mali, and Shawn's parents and his brother's family who have three girls the same age as mine all joined us... it worked out perfectly!  I'm so glad that the red thread has brought our families together and that Theresa and Shawn went out on a limb to come meet us a couple of years ago.  We always have so much fun together and Cadence and Mali are two peas in a pod!
 
Our view
 
Theresa goes to great lengths for the photo op

Mexican night

 
Mali and Cadence are such good helpers!

Oh, my girl!
 
It may be loud but the results are good!
 
If you don't have a bandanna for the piƱata sombreros work just as well

The kids' favorite nighttime activity
 
 
Ocean, pool, hot tub, repeat...

The pool bar doubles as a floatie

Deep conversations pool side

This is what Sierra wanted to do from the time she got up until the end of the day



Girlfriend knows how to photo bomb already!

Worn out



This is as good as family photos get nowadays
 

Mali is like family!

Game time

Mentally, she's giving me the middle finger... how I look forward to actual teen years!
 



So helpful




The excitement!

And the cold!




Grown ups night out

A huge storm came through but brought...

these skies

Totally worth it


Last days of play time




Trying to get a group shot

Decent ones...

and then it devolved!

You see why we can't wait to go back?!
 
Shaver-Williams clan

Theresa and I woke early to take in the sunrise before we left.  Love these people!
 
We are counting the days to do it again!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Good-bye Shiloh

Brad and I had just moved in together in the summer of 2000.  We had talked about getting a dog. He wanted a golden retriever, German Shepard, or a lab.  A guy that I worked with said that his golden retriever had hooked up with a lab/ German Shepard mix.  He had puppies that he needed to give away. Score! Every kind of dog that we wanted in one!  I decided to surprise Brad.  I picked Shiloh up one night after work then asked Brad to get my lunch box that I "left" in the car. Shiloh was waiting there for him!

She was covered in fleas and Brad thought it would be best if we just shaved her fur to get rid of them.  We got the back half of her shaved when I protested that she would look too silly and we had to stop. I'm not sure that I was doing her any favors! Around that same time we got our first video camera.  New puppy + new camera = ridiculous amount of video footage of a puppy doing nothing!

We took the obligatory puppy training class. The instructor was showing us how to " pop the leash " if the dog started to tug.  Brad wanted clarification on how hard exactly to pop it.  The instructor handed him the clip end of the leash and then "popped" it from the other end.  Unfortunately Brad wasn't holding it quite tight enough.  The clip end flew from his hand and hit her in the mouth... knocking out her crown.  Needless to say, our puppy training days fell short of a diploma for Shiloh!

And so it began!  While we never perfected "sit", "heel",  or "stay" Brad did manage to teach Shiloh to dig and "speak".  Everyone was impressed with those skills! A little over a year after Shiloh came home Sierra was born.  Shiloh's spotlight for our attention dwindled but we still loved and played with her.  Besides the barking like crazy any time the doorbell rang and the couple of occasions where her neurotic tendencies got the best of her and she tore our house apart (literally tore the blinds, window frames, door frames, etc apart!) she was always a pretty easy going dog.  The last few years Shiloh slowed down quite a bit.  She had bad arthritis in her leg that was broken when she was hit by a car as a puppy.  She couldn't hear and I'm not even sure that she could even smell.  A few times we let her out into the back yard of our new house and would find her a few minutes later standing on our neighbors porch waiting to be let in their back door, a little confused!  When we had our house blessed recently we asked our pastor to bless Shiloh.

Brad and I had been talking for quite a while about her quality of life and we were aware that we would need to make a decision at some point if it seemed like she was suffering more than she was enjoying her time here. Tuesday evening Brad just asked that I look into vets in the area since we hadn't established with one since our move.  I still wasn't sure that it was quite "time" yet, but said that I would look.  A few hours later Shiloh seemed to have a seizure and then wasn't able to walk.  That kind of made the decision for us.  We spent that night showering Shiloh with love.  The next day she didn't eat or drink anything and laid on her bed all day while we petted and talked to her.  Anytime that she tried to stand she would fall down.  Brad came home early and cooked up a pan of bacon.  Shiloh did not turn down the bacon.  We took her to the vet's office and they were so kind.  We were able to hold her until she was gone.

We all miss her so much.  She was an integral part of our lives and our daily routine.  The mornings have been hard when I wake up and plan to take her out and then remember that she is not here.  Even waking up in the middle of the night is strange.  She typically camped out on my side of the bed and I had to walk carefully in the dark so that I wouldn't step on her.  When we drop food on the floor our first instinct is to call Shiloh to come get it.  All of the little things feel off and a bit empty... much more so than I imagined.  She was a good dog.  She gave us almost 14 years of her love and devotion.  We really couldn't have asked for more.  A woman in my yoga class asked to say a prayer with me when she overheard me tell a friend that we had to put Shiloh to sleep.  I loved her last words.  "May the dog bones be basted and the fields be without fences."

What a CUTE puppy!
 
Always so tolerant

Getting the sunshine anytime that she could

A rare picture of all of our pets together

She loved just hanging outside

An all time favorite picture
 
Spending time together

 Shiloh Sundance
June 2000-March 5, 2014