Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Michaela @ 19 Months

(I am so far behind on blogging that I missed blogging about Michaela's latest "birthday". So, I'll backdate this, and pretend that I was on time with it. Ha!)

Drawing with Uncle Mitch at Mommy's birthday dinner.
Michaela is really not a baby anymore. She is a very busy and talkative toddler. She starts talking when she wakes up in the morning, and she oftentimes talks herself to sleep at night.  Cracks me up. She will usually tell me that she's "all done" when she wants to get out of bed. Then she will rattle off "muh" (milk), "chewy" (because she wants a "fresh" one), "show" (Thomas or Dora), and frequently "Papa" (my dad). There's a lot of baby talk in there, too, that cannot be understood. This does seem to be the age of NO. Sometimes it actually means yes, but it's kind of a go-to word for her.

She can surprise me with what she says and what it's associated with. Like tonight, she brought me a book with an abstract picture of the sun on it, and she said "sun". Then she brought me one of her Christian books, and said "Jesus". Mind you, although Michaela seems to love looking at books, she really doesn't sit still for me to read them to her. Nonetheless, she comprehends enough to remember some of these things.

She is currently wearing 18-24 months clothing, and size 6/6.5 shoes. 

Her hair is getting so long. Unfortunately, she will not keep any hairband or clip in her hair. Michael's hair grew forward, and so does Michaela's, so we have to put a clip in it to keep it out of her face. Whenever we get in the car, she removes her shoes and any hair accessories. Never fails. She's started to take her shoes off in Trader Joe's and Target, too. Keeps me on my toes.

Michaela is an amazing (and busy) little girl, and I am so blessed to be her mama.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Michael would have been 57 on the tenth. It's one of those days on the calendar that I kind of dread as the weeks draw near - dread mixed with love, longing, and a bit of anger. I dread that another special day will be spent without Michael. I still love him. I long for the day when I will see him again. The anger part is complicated. I'll leave it at that.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I talked with Michael's mom about the Disneyland employee "party" (she retired after 35 years there), and we decided that we would go on Michael's birthday. It was actually a really great way to honor his memory as he had worked there many times over the years. The park looks amazing this time of year - the Christmas decorations are incredible.

As we stood on Main Street watching the fireworks show over Sleeping Beauty's castle Michaela and I were caught up in the magic (albeit Disney magic) of the moment. When the "snow" began to fall, I remembered that it had been four years ago since I'd stood there with Michael watching the same thing. It was wonderful then, but it was even more wonderful to see it again with Michaela. She was enchanted by the fireworks, the music, the lights, and the snow.

We were up much too late, but it was worth the loss of sleep to share the evening with Grandma, and Grammy and Papa.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Currently December

Listening: to all of Michaela's "noisy" toys. It will only get worse when she receives her Christmas gifts.
our new Little People advent calendar.
about how much needs to be done in the next three weeks - report cards (ugh!), shopping, etc.
Wanting: to enjoy a simple and joyful Christmas season.

more hours in the day or a personal assistant - ha! 
Music: Christmas music! What else?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Give Thanks

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.
~ Psalm 118:1 ~

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving - already. The years are going by so fast. It's kind of crazy. This will be my third holiday season without Michael. That's really crazy.

I think it's easy for me to get caught up in the preparations for the day and to not take the time to express my gratitude to God for what He has done, and is doing, in my life. I know that I am guilty of focusing more on what I think my life is lacking than what I've already been blessed with. Shame on me.

So here's my moment to reflect on some of my many blessings.

  • I am thankful for what Jesus did on the cross for me.
  • I am thankful that God has revealed himself to us in His word.
  • I am thankful that he has seen me through the worst of the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
  • I am thankful that Michael accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior because I can count on seeing him again one glorious day, and that gives me hope and comfort.
  • I am thankful for our beautiful daughter, Michaela. She's my miracle.
  • I am thankful for the loving and supportive family members and friends who help out in various ways and who pray for us.
  • I am thankful to have a good job.
  • I am thankful that Michaela and I are both healthy.
  • I am thankful for my home.
  • I am thankful that my dad was healed of cancer this year.

Although there has been great loss and many disappointments in my life, I can see that there is much good, too. I also know that the Lord is working everything together for my good (Romans 8:28).

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
~ James 1:17 ~

Monday, November 19, 2012

Do They Have Phones in Heaven?

Every now and then I see that quote on Facebook or Pinterest that reads something like I wish Heaven had a phone so that I could hear your voice one last time. Have you seen it, too? If you haven't lost someone, it is so corny. But if you have lost someone, you totally get it. Although, if I were to have penned that quote, I would have put a period after voice. Why would I want to torture myself with the one last time part? Been there. Done that.

It occurred to me very recently that at this point I haven't talked to Michael for the longest time since I met him in 1992 or 1993. Except for a two-year span from 1995-1997 when we had no contact, he was always available to talk to me. Sometimes we'd watch a television show on the phone together, other times we'd talk for a long time about a whole lot of nothing. It was just so easy to talk to him. I know I'm not the only person who felt that way about him either. I loved the sound of his voice, too. Very easy to listen to...

One time, Michael was on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea (for work with the band), and we hadn't talked in several days. I was really missing him. I had his itinerary with the number where I could reach him. I knew it would be an expensive call, and we hadn't discovered Skype yet, but I didn't care. It was the middle of the night, but I got a hold of him. Our conversation was only ten minutes long, but that call cost me $100!!! It was worth every penny.

If they had phones in Heaven, I'd be calling all the time - just like I did when he lived here. If I could, I'd tell Michael all about my day. What's bugging me. How amazing our baby girl is. I'd complain about work, politics, and the neighbor's barking dog.

I'd listen, too. I'd hang on his every word. And I'm sure his words would be encouraging and affirming. I'm sure he'd tell me to press on, and to remember that this separation is temporary. He'd remind me of the promise in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. And, he'd tell me, "I still love you, Honey." He always told me that, and he promised that he would love me forever. I know those things to be true. I just wish I could hear him say them.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Michaela @ Eighteen Months

November 18, 2012

We celebrated Michaela's year-and-a-half birthday by having some family photos taken today. Here's a cute one of the half-birthday girl. She loves the camera, and the camera loves her!

Our next appointment with the pediatrician isn't for another week or so. I'll update with her official weight and height after that. But I can tell you that she is finally wearing 18 months and 18-24 month clothing. Her growth rate had really slowed down, and I was taken by surprise at how long she wore the 12 months and 12-18 months clothing. I was beginning to worry that the winter wardrobe I'd stockpiled for her would not fit. Thankfully, it now does. She will be well-dressed for the coming months. She is also just about ready to transition from a size 3 to a size 4 diaper. As for her shoe size, she is now a toddler 6 or 6.5. We started the year off in size 3 shoes! Mama has bought many, many pairs of shoes this year trying to keep up with all the changes. I hope we will get some more wear out of her new shoes than we did some of the other shoes she's had in the last six months. {Updated to add: Michaela weighs 23.4 pounds, and is 33.25 inches tall. She has grown 2.25 inches since August, and gained 2.4 pounds since then.}

Michaela is crazy about Dora the Explorer. She calls her "Doe!". If I say, "Swiper, no swiping! Swiper, no swiping!", Michaela will say, "Oh, man!". It's SO funny.

Michaela talks about Daddy all the time. We have many photos of Daddy around the house, and she points to them and says his name throughout the day. She also knows that there are pictures and videos of Daddy on the computer. So she will point to the computer and say, "Daddy!". I will then show her what wants to see. She has a short attention span, so she doesn't get through the entire video yet. I love that the video allows her to hear his voice.

She has spent the last month teething four teeth - the cuspids. This has resulted in a very runny/snotty nose. I think the worst of it is over now. The teeth have pretty much cut through the gums, and her nose isn't as runny as it was. That was really her only symptom. She just doesn't seem to get fussy like some little ones do.

In the last month she started singing. I noticed it when we were watching Olivia on the television. Michaela was singing along with the theme song in her own way. Since then, I frequently hear her singing. She has the sweetest little voice.

This is a fun age. It's a very busy age - she's always on the go, or into something. But I am enjoying seeing more of her personality come out as she grows into herself. The last eighteen months have been a joy. I'm a very blessed mommy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 11, 2007

Another wedding anniversary has come and gone. It would have been our fifth. I have now experienced more anniversaries without Michael than I did with him. That's a crummy milestone.

The weeks leading up to it were far worse than the day itself. My aunt and uncle graciously invited us to spend the weekend with them, and that was just what I needed. Our time there included some shopping, a trip to the zoo, good food, and lots of visiting with my aunt and uncle, and my cousins. It was good for me to be distracted, and to focus on watching Michaela enjoy herself.

All that kept me from dwelling on the sadness that I do feel. It is hard to wrap my head around all that has happened in five short years. How I went from a bride-to-be, to a newlywed, to an infertile, to the wife of a seriously ill cancer patient, to a young widow, to a mother-to-be, to a new mom, and so on. That's a lot of living in a short period of time. A lot of highs and lows.

If you'd have asked me where I thought I'd be five years from November 11, 2007, I'd have said that I expected that we'd have had a child or two, and that we'd be in a new (to us) larger home. Our intentions were all about having a family and making a home together. We were so excited about our future together. We could never have imagined that this would be our reality five years from our wedding day.

Although things are not what I'd hoped they would be when we married, the Lord has blessed me in so many ways. Michaela is my greatest blessing, obviously. In her, I have my most tangible connection to Michael. When I am at my most disheartened, I remind myself that she is the best of the both of us. In her I see Michael's joie de vivre, and of course, his likeness. That sweet little face is so like her daddy's.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

{Bitter}Sweet Dreams

I had another dream last night. Dreams like this are sweet while they are playing out in my sleep, but somewhat bitter once I wake up.

Last night's dream featured Michael, and a new addition to our family - a premature baby boy Michael named Joseph. He said that should be his name because the biblical Joseph had overcome so much in his life with the Lord's help, and so would our Joseph.

I remember Michaela kissing her baby brother. Such a tender scene.

Hearing about other people's dreams is kind of weird and uncomfortable, I know. However, dreams are fleeting. If I don't write them down, they will slip away as the day goes on. Since I will never live this dream, I don't want to forget it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Currently November

I've seen this monthly meme on some other blogs I read, and I'm going to pick it up if only to increase my blogging frequency.

Listening: Lots of talk radio during my commute.
Loving: That I have a three-day weekend and a week off this month. Woohoo!
Thinking: About my wedding which was five years ago this month, and missing Michael all the time.
Wanting: The weather to cool off so it actually feels like fall.
Needing: To have a garage sale; just can't seem to find the time.
Music: Fresh Beat Band, Michaela's favorite. Ha!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Like most children, when I was young I loved Halloween. My sister and I probably started planning our costumes during summer vacation, and we eagerly went door-to-door collecting candy and enjoying the spooky displays at our neighbors houses on Halloween. When I became a teenager, I liked to go to Knott's Berry Farm for their Halloween Haunt. Although I never liked horror movies, I remember that I really enjoyed being scared at Knott's. Halloween always seemed like so much fun.

However, I perceive Halloween in a different light now.

In the last few years, as I went through the nightmare of Michael's illness and his passing, I grew in my faith and understanding of the Word. One of the outcomes of that was that I began to view Halloween differently than I had before. I honestly have no problem with children dressing up - they love to do that. Or eating candy - a little candy doesn't hurt. And we love our annual trip to the pumpkin patch. It's the the dark and macabre aspects of Halloween that repulse me. Our world has become so violent and dangerous that some of the things associated with Halloween are featured on the nightly news - torture, death, the occult, etc. Think about it. Why would I want to subject my precious daughter to a "holiday" that is about such dark things?

When Michael and I were married, we carved our pumpkin into a Jack-O-Lantern. And we either passed out candy at home, or went down to Belmont Shore for dinner and to watch the trick-or-treaters. We longed for the day when we'd have a little one so that we could join in the fun.

Now, I'm raising that little one, and I am going to try to take a different approach with Michaela. The Bible says:

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial (a demon)? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you[b] are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”[c]
17 Therefore
“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,

And I will receive you.”[d]
18 “I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”[e]

I've italicized and bolded the part of this passage from 2 Corinthians 6 that came to mind when I thought about spiritual reasons for avoiding Halloween. Furthermore, followers of Christ are to be in the world, but not of the world (Romans 2:12). We are supposed to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). The way we live our lives should make us a "peculiar people" (1 Peter 2:9). I cannot ignore these verses, and embrace Halloween.

So, we are blessed that Michaela has cousins who are triplets and that they celebrate their birthday this time of year with a big costume party. This gives us an occasion to get dressed up and have lots of fun. However, on Halloween night, we will not participate in the goings-on. She's much too little now to know that she's missing out on anything, and I never really understood adults who carry their infants around just so they can collect candy. Not my thing. I have agreed to wear a costume for the Halloween parade at school this year, but next year I'm going to take a stand and not participate. I will not broadcast my reason why, but I'll just decline to wear a costume. Speaking of school, do you know how many little boys (primary graders) I have seen over the years wearing Scream and Freddie Kruger costumes? Too many! That's just disturbing to me.

Perhaps next year, we will attend a local church's Fall Festival for some fun, but we are going to be a peculiar family in the spirit of honoring our Lord and His word and not participate in Halloween.

In closing, if you and your family love Halloween, please don't take this as a condemnation. My perception about Halloween impacts Michaela and me. Everyone has to do what's best for their own children based on their spiritual values and understanding.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Last Night

Last night I briefly had it all, for the first time in my life.

My Michael was back in my arms. I was overjoyed.

I knew I'd be able to wear my engagement ring again, and that made me very, very happy. I really miss that ring.

I clung to my husband and I asked him if we could find a way to have more sweet babies like Michaela. He was all for it.

I had this lovely feeling of contentment and fulfillment. It was delicious.

Then I woke up.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Michaela @ Seventeen Months

Cutest Pumpkin in the Patch

Yikes! I can't believe I've only blogged once since Michaela's last "birthday". What can I say? The first month or two of school is crazy busy. Not much time to collect my thoughts. Know what I mean?

And then she was seventeen months old. Sigh...

My lovely daughter is tall and thin. She's still wearing 12-18 months sized clothing, and size three diapers. But, her feet keep getting bigger. The most recent shoes I purchased for her were size 6. I guess she's going to have big feet - like her mom.

She has so much to say these days. We were in the market earlier today, and as I read our list she tried to repeat after me. I couldn't believe it when she said "ginger". Wow!

Some of her new words and phrases are:

  • I do.
  • Go-go (for "Go, Diego, Go!")
  • dang-gu  (thank you)
  • two-chew (two chewies - her little cloth blankie things)
  • wa-wa and agua (water)
  • Ana (Auntie)
  • poo (poop)
  • pee (just what it sounds like)
  • cah (car)
  • uh-oh (said all the time, not just for accidental happenings) 
Michaela knows many of her body parts. She can point to her eyes, teeth, mouth, nose, toes, fingers, and hair when prompted.

Personality-wise, she's so much fun. She loves to play and be silly. Sometimes we'll just laugh for the fun of it. She loves to listen to music and dance. At Grammy and Papa's house she knows where all the stereos are, and she insists that my mom turn on the music. She's very affectionate. When we get into bed in the evening, she will throw her arm over my neck and give me a big hug. I even get a kiss from her now and then.

She's a bit a of Nick Jr. addict. That's my fault. Sigh... First thing in the morning, she proclaims "show!" That means she wants to watch television. Her favorites are Dora and Diego, and The Fresh Beat Band. She even says, "Oh, man!" like Swiper. Oh, my...

Anyway, we are getting used to our busy school-year routine, but also looking forward to some time off next month.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Another Good-bye

Michael and T - October 2009

Earlier this month, I learned that Michael's dear friend, and the best man in our wedding, had lost his wife to a brain tumor. Michael had rented their guesthouse for thirteen years, and they were like family to him. He watched their two daughters grow up in those years, and the October before he went Home, he had played the guitar for their oldest daughter's wedding ceremony.

After Michael passed on, I sold T one of his guitars. But after that, I really didn't hear from T or his wife, J. Life goes on, and some people just don't go on with you. I never really knew them all that well, but felt a connection to them because of the love Michael had for them, and vice versa.

Yesterday, I went with my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, and Michael's oldest brother to a memorial gathering in J's honor. It was a beautiful get-together really befitting the gracious and lovely person J was. When I saw T, he gave me a big hug, and he asked me why this had to happen to both of us. I told him that I do not know why, and that life isn't fair. It really isn't. Someday I'll see why things happened the way they did, but for now it doesn't make sense why Michael isn't here. And for T and his family, it doesn't make sense, or seem fair, that J is no longer with them. It just hurts.

Since learning of J's passing, I have thought of them and their daughters every day. It breaks my heart to think of the grief T and his girls are having to endure in these first few weeks without their beloved J. That early grief is so heavy that it feels like it will crush you. When you wake up in the morning, you realize that you didn't have a bad dream overnight. No, this is your life now, and your beloved is not there with you anymore.  You have to get used to that awful reality every day. It takes a while.

If I could tell T a few things to help him through the next few months, I'd tell him these things:

Find a grief group, or a counselor so that you can process your grief with others. It is good to talk it out.

Get away and visit good friends and family in other parts of the country or in another part of the world. Let them take care of you for a few days. Let them listen to you. Let them distract you.

Read about grief. The more you understand about the grief process, the better you will be able understand why you're feeling and acting the way you are.

Be careful what you expose yourself to. Read, watch, and listen to things with positive messages. You are so vulnerable in your grief. Why add to your pain with negative or painful messages? Seek out things that are life affirming and optimistic.

Resist the temptation to start dating right away. Many widowers tend to rush into a new relationship. But oftentimes, those relationships are destined to fail because there are grief issues that take time to get through.

Get involved in something. Maybe there's a project you've put on hold while you cared for your beloved. Get back to it. Do something productive as soon as you feel you are able to. My "project" was getting pregnant. It was a positive focus for me. Once I succeeded (thank you, Lord!), Michaela became my new purpose in life. My "project" was unique, but I think that some kind of goal or work is a good thing.

And, the best advice I can give anyone who is grieving is to draw near to God. He promises that when we do, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). I really doubted that promise when I first lost Michael, but I ran to the Lord anyway and He showed up. Get to church. Read your Bible. Pray. Bring your broken heart to Him, and ask Him to help you minute-by-minute and day-by-day. He will. If He did it for me, He will do it for you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Michaela @ Sixteen Months

{I started this post last weekend thinking I was going to be able to post it on time. Alas, this crazy busy week has gotten away from me. I still need to take an updated photo of my darling girl, too. But that's not going to happen tonight [Thursday] as she's already in dreamland.}

Well, there goes another month of Michaela's babyhood. Woosh! It's going by much too quickly.

In spite of the fact that I wish time would slow down just a bit so that I could enjoy my baby girl as a baby for a while longer, it's all good. She is healthy. She is smart. She is beautiful. She is an amazing baby in so many ways.

I know she's still growing, but her rate of growth has really slowed down. At our last pediatrician appointment she measured at 31 inches tall, and 21 pounds. This makes finding clothes to fit a little challenging. Height-wise, she wears 18 months clothing. She needs that for the length of her torso in particular. But because she's a light-weight, she really needs 12 months or 12-18 months clothing. We spent some time and money this summer picking up good deals on clothing for the cooler months to come. Now I'm worried that she won't be able to wear them. In fact, I won't be surprised if her shorts from this summer fit her again next summer because most of them are a bit big on her still. Oh, well. That's what I get for being proactive.

Michaela "talks" all day long. She has much to say! I like how she gestures when she's talking. That's the Italian in her, I guess. Lots of shoulder shrugging, pointing, and throwing her hands up. She cracks me up. Her vocabulary grows every day. She mimics me all the time, too.

Now that I've returned to work, there are tears when it's time for me to leave her in the morning. I'm told that they are brief episodes. When I get home from work, she dismisses whoever is caring for her (Grandma, Grammy and Papa, or Auntie) with a "Bye!" and either the wave of her hand or a blown kiss. We are still trying to get our routine down as it's just been about three weeks since I had to report back. Sleep is an issue once again. She doesn't want to sleep in her crib because she wants to be in the same room with me. So, she has been falling asleep on the sofa with me, and then I relocate her when I'm ready to go to bed. After that, it's a good night's rest for us both.

I just realized this evening that she has two new molars on the bottom. That might explain the runny nose she's had for nearly a week. In any case, she now has a total of twelve teeth. She's pretty good about letting me brush her teeth. She thinks the toothpaste we use for her is tasty, so she likes to suck on the toothbrush.

Michaela is spending most of Thursdays with my sister this school year. She starts the morning off with Grammy and Papa, but then they take her to a local church where my sister is involved with the Community Bible Study group there. While Auntie is participating in the bible study, Michaela is in the childrens' group learning all about Jesus. Auntie has been excited about taking Michaela to this ever since she was born.  I wish I could be there with them, too. After bible study, Michaela goes home with Auntie and spends the afternoon with her. I'm glad they get to have that time together. My sister is a fun auntie.

Sixteen months is a busy and fun age!

Here she is! Having a great time in her little pool at Grammy and Papa's house on a very hot day.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back to School {2012}

I have such mixed feelings about this time of year.

There is the desire for a return to some sort of schedule, but there's also dread of that schedule including an alarm that goes off at five o'clock in the morning five days a week. That is just not a good time for me! It's still dark!!!

There's anticipation about teaching a new grade level and trying new things, but there's also the feeling of being overwhelmed by so much that's new. A lot of what's new are things that I've found over the summer that I want to try with my students. So it's really my own ambitious plans that are overwhelming me.

There's the excitement about having a new (to me) classroom and making it my own, but there's also the insane amount of work it takes to make it happen (and there just aren't enough hours or days remaining before it has to be done!). My classroom had a lot of things left behind in it, and I spent at least eight hours just cleaning it out. Now it's time to make it pretty.

There's the knowing that teaching is something I'm really good at, but there's also the concern that administrators and parents won't be satisfied with my best. Seems like a lot of people really hate teachers these days. I think used-car salesmen and IRS agents are more popular. Sheesh!

There's the gratitude I have because I have a job, but there's also the guilt and sadness I have that it takes me away from my baby girl. We are so blessed to have her grandparents and my sister providing daycare for her, but my heart has always been to be a stay-at-home-mother. So, there's just that sadness that life didn't work out that way for us.


I'm sure in just a couple of weeks we'll be into our routine and cruising along. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but we'll be managing. It won't be easy, but it is doable. One of my coping strategies is to mark off each day on our home calendar, and keep track of the next long weekend or time off that's coming up. I think we have about ten weeks until a long weekend, and then another couple weeks after that a full week off - both in November. Thinking about it in chunks like that helps me push on to the next time I can loosen up about our demanding schedule.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Michaela @ Fifteen Months

Okay, aside from the food flinging and bedtime battles, this is a FUN age! I am seeing so much of Michaela's personality begin to emerge in new ways. In addition to being cheerful and easy-going, she is so very affectionate. I receive many hugs every day, a few kisses, and even back rubs! If she's still awake when I roll over to go to sleep, she will rub my back. It's so sweet. If we are sitting on the couch or laying in bed, she likes to have contact with me. So we sit right next to each other, or she reaches out with a foot to touch me. Really reminds me of her daddy. He was touchy like that.

Michaela is showing more interest in books other than just pulling them off the bookcase. We bought many more board books just yesterday because I've come to a better understanding of what she really like to look at. She seems to prefer books with photography of real things like people and animals. She will sit by herself for a little while looking at those kinds of books. We are still not at the point where she will let me read a whole book to her. By the fourth or fifth page, she wants to move on to something else.

Some of her new vocabulary words are:
  • show (for the shows she likes to watch)
  • Doh (for Dora the Explorer)
  • pree (for pretty)
  • na or na, na, na (for no)
  • nigh (for night)
  • abpuh (for apple)

Seems like there are more new words than that, but that's all that come to mind just now.

Michaela is a great traveler! We drove up the coast to visit friends in San Francisco, and she did so well. It was a long drive, but she napped and listened to music with few complaints. Once we were there, she had such a good time playing with her friend Wren, going to a children's museum, Golden Gate Park, and walking around Union Square and all the way down to the Ferry Building (in her stroller!). On the way back, we stayed a night with friends in Los Osos and she had a great time playing with my friend's five-year old girl and seven-year old boy who were so good to her.

In about a week, we will see the pediatrician for her check-up, and I'm curious (like always) about Michaela's weight and height. It seems like her growth rate has really slowed down. She's still wearing 12 months and 12-18 months clothing, and a size three diaper. Her shoe size is still a 5. But she looks less like a baby and more like a toddler now. Sigh...

A daughter is a miracle that never ceases to be miraculous… full of beauty and forever beautiful… loving and caring and truly amazing." Deanna Beisser

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A New Look

I can't afford to makeover my bedroom (actually, it would be finishing the makeover I started with Michael almost three years ago!), but I can afford to give my blog a new look!

Thanks to Faith at A Design of Faith for your efforts. I love it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Hardest Job There Is

Don't get me wrong. I have absolutely loved having the last eight weeks off and being home with Michaela. But, dang! It has not been easy at times.

For the most part Michaela is such an easy baby. I am truly blessed. But, there are times when her eating habits and her sleeping "issues" really test me.

Lately, she has not been drinking enough milk, and she prefers to find ways to free it from her cup or bottle (I've had to try both recently). And, I'm sure I've mentioned before, that she enjoys pitching food onto the kitchen floor. Her skills in that area are impressive. Doesn't seem to matter if she likes the food she is eating, or not. Unless I'm giving her one bite at a time, she's going to send some flying. I know it's typical for her age, but it makes me nuts sometimes.

Michaela has been so good about going to bed for most of her short life, but this past week she has been very resistant to naps and bedtime. I was really spoiled for a long time, but now I have had to adopt a bedtime routine (bath, read a book, offer milk, cuddle and say prayers). It does seem to be working for us, and I fully expected that we would need a routine like this eventually. Now is the time! However, naps are another issue. She can be rubbing her eyes and laying down on the floor, but should I pick her up and put her in her crib, she freaks out. I think she's trying to decide if she needs one or two naps, and some days she thinks she doesn't need one at all. That makes getting anything done around here impossible for me.

I have to admit that sometimes I do not take these challenges in stride. I am really working on not overreacting to her undesirable behaviors. There have been times where I am really disappointed in my attitude and my actions. All I can do is learn from the not-so-great moments, and come up with a better plan for the next go-around. That and pray for patience and wisdom. It is so important to me to model grace under pressure for Michaela. I don't want her to sweat the small stuff - and it's all small stuff.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Breathing a Sigh of Relief

In the fall of 2009, just four or five months before Michael's passing, I decided to refinance the house.  The rates were great, and I could have the new loan pay off a second mortgage that we'd taken out to finance fertility treatments. Even though we already knew that Michael had cancer, I had no idea that his battle would be so short. And so I took out an adjustable rate mortgage due in five because I thought we'd purchase a larger home in a relatively short period of time. It was not a good decision on my part. But how could I foresee what would happen to Michael or the housing market?

Since then, I've had this kind of hanging over my head because my house has continued to lose its market value. My dad and I looked into refinancing last fall, but I couldn't qualify for a loan that I was comfortable with because I don't the required amount of equity. However, at the time we refinanced in 2009, we had over $100k worth of equity. It is heartbreaking to watch that equity dissolve due to shortsales and foreclosures in the neighborhood.

Yesterday, after applying yet again for a refinance, I was able to qualify for a very affordable loan at the same low finance rate I currently have. I am relieved and grateful to God for providing for me and Michaela in this way. I had feared that our mortgage would become unaffordable in the fall of 2014, and that we might risk losing our home. Now that won't happen.

Thank you, Jehovah-Jireh!

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:19

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Michaela @ Fourteen Months

Snacks make me happy!

Oh, my! Another month has passed. I think having children really gives you a perspective on just how short our lives really are. I don't say that to be morbid, but just because I'm truly amazed at how quickly she is growing and changing.

The biggest change in the last month is that Michaela is walking. Well, she can walk. Let me put it that way. She still prefers to crawl. She took her first steps in June shortly before school got out. Then I didn't see her try to walk again for about two weeks. Michaela will walk now with encouragement, but she's still not confident enough to give up crawling. That's okay with Mommy. Another advancement is that she is learning to climb up on the sofa. She will do this, sometimes needing a little boost from me, and then get back down to try again. She is very pleased with herself about this!

Michaela talks all day long. She has the sweetest little voice, and I love her baby talk. I also love how she gestures with her hands when she's talking. She's so cute! Some of her new "real" words are: shoes, Papa (what we call my dad), and Chew (for her "chewy" cloth - the one in her mouth much of the time). When I ask her if she wants something, she kind of says "yeah" and bobs her whole body in agreement. If she doesn't want something she grunts and shakes her head. She points at things she wants or places she wants to go. The first time she said "shoes" was when we were in our church's thrift shop and she saw all the metallic ladies shoes on a display rack. She just said "shoes" out of the blue, and she's been saying it ever since.

Michaela drops most of her food on the floor. Makes me crazy.  Of course, she thinks it's funny. She seems to have become a more picky eater recently, and much of her food is refused or littered. She almost always will eat rice, grilled cheese sandwiches, and pasta. She's a carb lover for sure, and she comes by that naturally. She usually likes fruit, too. But she will get on a kick with one kind of fruit or another, and then she's done with it and you just can't get her to eat it again. She was crazy about strawberries and cantaloupe for a while, and now she has a fit if I offer either of them to her.

She is vacillating between one and two naps a day. This week she has not wanted to sleep in her crib at all, and has preferred to fall asleep on the living room floor or the sofa. I am not happy about that, and I hope we are getting past that already. It makes it really hard for me to get things done - like blogging!

We have been having a lot of fun together since school got out. We've managed to go to church, and Michaela does very well in the nursery. It is hard to get it together to go anywhere, but it's so important to me that we make it to church regularly. I need it, and she needs to feel comfortable there. The older she gets, the more time we will spend there.

I love being a SAHM, and I wish that was my "real" job. Maybe someday. It would take a miracle, but I believe in those.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Trouble with Hoarding

I am not a hoarder. I love to go through my closets and drawers and give things away. As I lost much of the extra weight I had been carrying around the last few years, I was delighted to pull things out of my wardrobe and pass them on to friends and family members. It not only made room for some new things, it just freed up space. And I like to have a little wiggle room. In a small house like mine, there's not a whole lot of that.

Michael, on the other hand, was a bit of a hoarder. Not like those poor souls you see on TLC, but the kind of person who did not throw out paperwork that was years and years old, or get rid of clothing that no longer fit or was out of fashion. On top of that, as a professional musician, he had lots of equipment, instruments, and music.

I have spent a lot of time in the last few years, both since he passed and before, going through his things trying to create some wiggle room in our my home and garage. It has been a huge undertaking, and I'm probably not even halfway there even though he's been gone for more than two years.

Today his brother Stephen came by to bring down more than twenty bankers boxes that have been stored in the loft space of my garage. The boxes I asked him to retrieve this time were boxes in which Michael had stored receipts and tax returns. They go back to the late 1980s. On Sunday, Michael's sister Cathie will come by to go through the boxes with me before we have their contents shredded. I want to be sure that there is nothing of sentimental value in the boxes before we discard them - pictures, for example. In my desire to find such treasures, I looked through just a couple of boxes today, and for my eagerness I was rewarded by finding a stack of letters he'd kept from two previous girlfriends.


That's the trouble with hoarding.

Most of the letters go back well before our time, but it still hurt to read them. I wish I hadn't done so. All afternoon I've been having an imaginary conversation with Michael about how it makes me sad and angry to find those things, and why couldn't he have tossed those things before he brought his stuff into our home. In our imaginary conversation he takes full responsibility for my hurt feelings and apologizes up and down for hanging on to them. I know that's what he'd say to me if he could.

So here's a word for those of you who are hanging on to the past. Purge the letters and the pictures from your private collection. I'm not talking about momentos from a spouse who has passed. That's part of your family history. I'm talking about momentos from relationships prior to your marriage. Imagine how your husband or wife would feel weeks, months, or years after your death when they read tender words penned to you by someone else. Imagine how they will feel to see your smiling face next to "her" or "his" smiling face in an old photo. I'll tell you. It will sting. It will cause them to have to process things once again. Things they had hoped were put to rest.

You can't take anything with you. What you leave behind becomes the responsibility of your spouse and/or your children. Think about your possessions, and if they are not something that is God honoring, or spouse honoring, throw it out. Don't put it off. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Another Grief Milestone

Summer 2007
Today I have now been a widow as long as I was a wife.

What a crappy milestone.

I knew it was coming up early this month, but I hadn't taken the time to pinpoint the date until I crawled into bed a few minutes ago. That's when I realized that today is the day. So I'm up blogging about it.

Sometimes, I look at men who are older than Michael got to be, and I think, "Why didn't Michael get to grow old (with me)?"

Couples on Facebook announce their wedding anniversaries - ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five years, etc. Why didn't we even get to have five years of married life?


Cancer sucks!

Being a widow is sucky, too.



Too much responsibility.



Too much responsibility.

I'm so grateful for my precious daughter. I'm so grateful that I know that God is good all the time, and that He's always working things together for good for those that love Him (Romans 8:28). If it weren't for the blessing that Michaela is, and what I know about God's nature, I'd hate my life without Michael.

It's got to get better. It's just got to.