At the doctor's office yesterday, the physian's assistant says to Joel after seeing what a great big brother he is, "You must be such a good help to Mommy!"
Joel looks at me, beyond confused, "Mommy?!"
I said, "Yeah! That's ME! But you don't call me that, do you? What do you call me?"
"Mama Llama Sweet Petunia!!"
P.S. I'm going to try to add a photo with each blog entry, to make things more interesting. Scroll down and you'll see I've added photos to the last several entries...
I have started a new habit.
I've always said that I love Facebook for praying purposes. I've gotten good at searching for people in need of prayer, and as soon as I read that status update, or that email, or that little cry for help - I stop what I'm doing and lift that person up in prayer.
Well, recently a passage of scripture has been ringing in my ears - "Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I will be." That's found in the book of Matthew, the 18th chapter, verse 20.
So, just now, my hubby is on my heart. I know that school's almost over and that both he and his kids are getting restless. I walked over to Joel, got down on his level and said, "Would you like to pray for Daddy with me?" "YES!" And I picked him up, put him on my lap, and he repeated every heartfelt sentence that we lifted up to our Heavenly Father.
Praying WITH Joel has made me feel like the Spirit of God has just entered my home. I would love to encourage you to do the same!
Our precious Zoe is now eight months old. This baby has brought our family so much joy, so much healing. She has been the closest thing to closure that we feel like we've had since our giant loss of sweet Gabriel. She is so happy, always beaming. She's very into eating and trying new foods now, and we can no longer enjoy a meal around her without offering her a little something. She's very close to crawling, but is definitely getting herself around a room already! She says "dada" all day long and whenever her Daddy walks in the room. She has also said - mama, doggie, and hi -although not everyone believes me, haha. Enjoy these pictures of our Zoe girl!!
I love to talk to Joel about his brother, Gabe. I wouldn't ever want him to hear about him from someone else, and to think, "Why didn't anyone ever tell me I had a brother?" So, we keep photos of Gabriel around our house and love to hear just how Joel remembers things we've told him about Gabe's short life.
The other day, Kyle was feeling sad, so I simply explained to Joel that sometimes Daddy is sad because he misses Gabe. And sometimes Mommy gets sad, because she misses Gabe. Joel just sat there and thought for a second and then spoke up, "I have an idea! Why don't we all just go up to Heaven to be with him??"
So, tonight as I'm getting Joel ready for bed, I asked him if he remembered his brother's name...
Joel: Yes, Gabe.
Me: That's right. And where is he?
Joel: In Heaven.
Me: Yes, he is. And do you know why?
Joel: (Thinks for a minute...) Because he is with Jesus, and they love us.
Me: (Stunned after that short and simple explanation...) If anyone ever asks you where your brother is, you can tell them that he is in Heaven, and he's not here with us because Gabe was very sick.
Joel: Momma, is Gabe a baby or a big boy?
Me: (Trying to decide how to answer...) He was a baby when he left us to go to Heaven, so he is a baby.
Joel: Well, when we bring him to OUR house, he'll be a big boy.
I was too stunned to continue our conversation. Wow. Well, yes he will. When we are reunited with Gabe, we will all be in Heaven. And the bible talks about having a glorious home there. What a nice picture - my entire family, together, forever.
So, yesterday was the first time we ever put Zoe in our church's nursery. She did really well, I however did not. I was anxious all morning just thinking about dropping her off, leaving her in someone else's care, being away from me.
I spent a lot of time praying, asking God to calm my heart. I dropped her off, explained that I was a crazy Momma who was worked up about leaving her, and not to hesitate to have me come get her when she, inevitably, freaked out when she realized her entire world was not within ten feet of her.
It was nice to be able to get my coffee and not have to try to juggle it all. But, as soon as the worship started, the tears started. I was singing and crying, and crying and singing. So I took a moment to reflect... Was I was upset about leaving Zoe because she's my little girl - precious in every way, or because she's my rainbow baby - and I'm overprotective of her, always fearful that something may happen to her... Through the tears I started to wonder if God wasn't calming my heart because my mommy instinct was telling me to run and go get my little girl, or if I just wasn't letting go. And then it occurred to me, through all these racing thoughts, that I was actually allowing myself to worship for the first time in a long time. I wasn't preoccupied with staring at my sweet Zoe, but I was actually praising God - for the present moment I was in, and everything He has done for me.
So I took a deep breath and prayed a little prayer - God, please calm my heart. Take this anxiety from me unless I really am supposed to get up and check on my little girl. And like a gust of wind, the negative lurking feelings disappeared. I was only left with contentment and I realized what a gift it was to be able to praise my Creator, without any distractions.
I woke up this morning with another headache. It's so exhausting, mentally and phsycially, to have chronic daily pain. As I laid in bed listening to my kids start to wake, I thought of Gabriel. I'm not exaggerating when I say that not a day goes by that I don't think about him, but on special days like holidays, he's usually my first thought. I try not to have "what if he was here" thoughts, but there's just no denying that there's a piece of my heart missing.
So, what's a grieving gal to do?? Gather the kids, put them in cute red clothing and take their picture! I told Joel to go upstairs and grab his "Gabey Bear" so that he could be incorporated into the photo as well. Enjoy this picture of my little ones. All of our LOVE, from here and ABOVE.
And here's a Valentine's Card I made two years ago, in 2010. My little man is getting so big!
I can't believe my tiny infant is now a chubby-cheeked six month old! She is so amazing, so precious. She brings our family such an abundance of joy. Joel has to give her kisses as soon as he wakes and loves to make her laugh. On the 21st, the day she turned six months old, she started saying "Da-Da," so we have one happy Daddy in this house! She has also recently found her feet and has begun to mouth her toys and stuffed animals. My favorite thing about her this month - When she smiles so big that her binky just falls out of her mouth. Amazing. Enjoy these pictures of our precious girl.
Joel's really into rhyming words... The other day he was going through everyone's name, "Daddy Patty, Mama Llama, Joel Bowl, Zoe Oh-ee, what's Gabe's name?" I said, "He's Gabey Baby, remember?" Then Joel started talking about Gabe. More than he's ever talked about his brother. He told me that he knew he was in Heaven, and that I'd put him there (??), but wanted to know if he'd be back tomorrow. He told me that it made him sad that he wasn't here. I was stunned. I just kept folding laundry, trying to stay quiet, to allow him to say as much or as little as he wanted. It was so incredible to hear.
Then I asked him if he thought we should have another baby. Yes, of course we should. "I need a brother." "And we should name him Sam?" "Yes, Mama."
As a parent, you feel priviledged to speak to your children about Jesus, but it's a special kind of honor to talk to them about someone who is actually with Jesus, a sibling they only met for a few moments... two and a half years ago. I am so grateful that he remembers his little brother. I am so thankful that having a brother who has passed away gives my son more perspective about Jesus, Heaven, and eternity.
I often thought the hardest thing about having two kids would be how to balance taking care of both of them. Well, Zoe's almost halfway to being one, but we've finally got a great routine down! Honestly, I was very structured with Joel's schedule since birth and Zoe's has pretty much fallen into place. And, we've been in a good groove for awhile now, but after having Daddy home for almost two weeks on Christmas break, I was excited to start some new structure with my day. So, here's what we do all day!
7am - Zoe wakes, gets a bottle, back to bed.
8am - Joel wakes, get him dressed and ready for the day. Hear Zoe talking in her crib, so we head into her room. I have Joel help me with her as much as possible, getting me a diaper, etc. Get Zoe dressed for the day. Head downstairs.
8:30am - Breakfast. Fix Joel's meal, then put Zoe in her highchair and make her oatmeal. This way we're all sitting at the table together and Joel and I can chat about our day. Then, I let Joel free play and put Zoe on the floor with some toys while I clean up.
9:30 - Joel watches Seseme Street via Netflix. We don't have cable, so this makes it easy to just watch one episode and then turn it off. He loves to watch for the letter and number of the day, and the "word on the street." I usually hop online to check email, facebook while they he is entertained. Zoe has gone down for her 1st nap of the day.
10:30 - Joel and I have started to do "schoolwork" together! My mom (a Head Start director) bought us a great Pre-School workbook and we've been doing about five pages a day. Joel loves it!! He's impressing me daily with how much he already knows. Then, Joel has free play again until lunch. I usually clean the house or do laundry between these little breaks.
11:15 - Zoe wakes and gets another bottle
12 noon - Lunchtime. Again, I have Joel sit at the table and I try to use this time to talk with him. More free play until naptime.
1pm - Zoe goes down for nap #2, and Joel soon follows. He went on a short napping strike, so I've been allowing him to sleep in Momma and Daddy's bed! Sounds strange, but it's something new and exciting and he's back to napping! I take this time for myself and try not to clean the house. I just showered and (obviously) am now online, enjoying this break in my day!
4pm (ish) - The kids will wake, Zoe will get a bottle and Joel will get an afternoon snack. Once their bellies are full, Joel may watch a movie or play with puzzles, while Zoe hangs out in the swing or (more likely) on Momma's lap.
4:30/5pm - Prepare dinner so that we can eat by 5:30pm. We love to eat early in this household! Especially now that I'm doing the 21 day fast with my church and am only having liquids from sunrise to sunset!! Zoe usually takes her 3rd nap from 5 to 6pm, then gets her evening meal.
6pm - Family time. Daddy and Joel wrestle, Zoe and I watch and laugh. Good times.
7:30 - Head upstairs to prepare for bed. Nighttime routines are a must in this house, although they don't get baths everynight since they both have eczema. Daddy takes care of Joel - brushing teeth, getting into pj's, reading a bible story, singing songs, and praying in bed. Momma's got it easy! I just lotion up my little girl, put on pj's and swaddle her. Then we cuddle while she enjoys her last bottle of the day.
8pm - Kyle and I have started working out consistently in our basement. This has been a great time to catch up about our days, unless I'm blasting Beyonce in my ears, haha!
9pm - Resting on the couch watching Netflix or reading, then I head up to bed by 10pm.
Hope this helps any new mommas out there!! :)