Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Our big girl!

Our big girl!
Growing so fast!

Kylie 1 day old

Kylie 1 day old
Curling up

Bryleigh Addison

Bryleigh Addison
Our youngest miracle


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Monday, July 30, 2012

Spoiled rotten and pure love

Hello. My name is Amber. You know a lot of things about me, but something some people don't know is that I am the very first (yes, making me the oldest) grandchild on my daddy's side of the family. My grandparents had three boys, and I am the first of only three grandchildren. So needless to say, I am 28 years old and have been spoiled rotten since the moment I entered this world. AND, I wouldn't have it any other way =)

With the difficulties my family is going through right now, the past few days have been full of quiet, reflective thoughts on my life as a grandchild of Frank and Betty Lanford. I have been so blessed to call these two amazing people my grandparents, and they have impacted my life in so many ways. My relationship with my grandparents has always been special, and the love I have for them could never be put into words. Words just can't do justice to what they mean to me.

My granny is the sweetest little lady you could ever meet. She has always been short, and she would often tell us that the reason she was so short was because everytime she tried to grow, her older siblings would knock her down into the ground an inch to keep her short. =) She is particular about her clothes (Alfred Dunner is almost all she would wear), and her favorite perfume is called Beautiful (yes, at the beauty counter in the department stores). She was always done up with make-up, had a perm, and went to the beauty shop once a week. Granny always called us "hun" and "darlin", and she rarely ever said a cross word about or to anyone. But, if she was really upset or offended, she would often speak her mind, and it always made me giggle when a bad word came out of her mouth.

My granddaddy seems tough on the outside, but he has such a soft heart for his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Granddaddy was a Marine, and he is a very, very prideful man. He takes pride in dressing well- he says it says a lot about a person. I've only seen him in jeans maybe 5 times in my whole life. Granddaddy is stubborn, too. Pride can do that to a person. =) He walked around on a broken foot for 6 weeks before agreeing to go to the doctor. He used to avoid the doctor, because He was a MARINE, and he didn't need a doctor. =) I often saw and heard him speak harshly to others, but it has been only once or twice that he spoke harshly with me. But, something that I always, always notice about him is that he is a gentleman. He holds doors, and he stands up to greet or say goodbye.

When I was little, I had a baby sitter. Often, Granddaddy would pick me up early from the babysitter and he would take me places. We often went to the Depot, to the park, to a store, or back to "the office." My favorite was when he or Granny would take me back to the office or to their house. I spent many, many days  and hours with my grandparents. Now that I am older, my mom told me that at first, my granddaddy was NOT happy about having a grandchild; he didn't think he was old enough to be a grandpa. Then, he got mad when he found out I was not going to be a boy. But, my parents told me when I was born, I couldn't be more perfect in his eyes. And when my sister came along, he was the same about her, and of course, the same also when my cousin Brad came along 11 years after me.

I remember going to the construction company (my granddaddy's company- he started it at home and then moved to his own office when my dad was little. His father built houses, as well) many times. Daddy, Uncle Mark, Uncle Frank, Granddaddy, Granny, and even my mom worked there when I was little. Granny was the secretary, and I loved sitting in her lap and helping her open envelopes, write messages, and eating crackers with thousand island dressing. Her bottom desk drawer was full of nail polish: every red and pink color you could ever imagine, all in one place. She would paint my fingernails and toenails every time I asked, and would often touch up her own. I have always been jealous and in awe of my Granny's fingernails- they are always (even now!) perfectly manicured, and long, beautiful, strong nails... and for as long as I could remember, her nails were always perfectly painted.

Granddaddy would let me help him make copies on the copy machine, write on the marker boards (I was destined to be a teacher even then!), and play "store" in the supply cabinets using the calculators. Sissy and I would pull out this old metal stool with rubber grips, and we would use it as a desk to play school. I even had my very own little pillow that I kept under my mom's desk, and I would sleep there.

On the weekends, or just any time we went to Granny and Granddaddy's, we were treated like royalty. They had a small sitting room that we called the antique room. The furniture was old and "royal"- velvet red cushions, decorated lamps, and a beautiful tea set that sat out all the time. Granny was never afraid of us breaking her tea set, and let us play with it all the time. Then, she would open up her drawers and drawers full of jewelry, and we would try on her rings, necklaces, and earrings- lucky for us, most of her earrings were clip on- and we would walk around in her high heels. Granddaddy would cook filet mignon every Saturday night, on this awesome grill built right into their stove, and would always prepare baked potatoes and salad and BBQ bread (the kind with seasame seeds on top!), and then after dinner, Granny would pop us popcorn ON THE STOVE (I know, right!), and let us stay up and watch movies.

All of these things will be forever engrained in my memories and my heart, because they helped mold me to who I am. This strong family relationship encouraged me throughout my life, and it has become the inspiration for much of what I do. Every Christmas lunch was spent at Granny and Granddaddy's house. Every Halloween, we made the trip into town, grabbed KFC for dinner, and then took it to their house. Granddaddy had so much pride and joy taking us trick-or-treating in the neighborhood that he has lived in for so long, where we often knocked on the same doors, rang the same bells, and trick-or-treated at the same houses that our dad and uncles had visited as children.

And let me tell you- there was nothing too good for their grandchildren! Granny IS a shop-a-holic (Now you know where I get it from!), and if you went shopping with her, she would buy anything you even touched- not to spoil us, but because she genuinely wanted to get it for us and make us happy. That was one of the major ways she showed you how much she loved you. Granddaddy and Granny both would often pull out cash before we left their house; $20 here, $20 there- because they just wanted to. AND, they wouldn't take no for an answer. We even went on beach family vacations together, and they supported everything we did in school- every graduation, every special event, dance recital, everything. They were there and supporting us.

I guess I'm writing this because I am afraid when the time comes for me to have to write something, I am afraid my emotions will be so insane, and my heart and soul will be hurting so much that I won't have the ability to write these things. The reality of losing them is becoming harder and harder to handle, and I have spent much of the past few days literally in tears because I am not ready to lose them. I know that being in your 80s is a good, ripe age. I know that being 28, almost 29 years old is an amazing feat to still have three of my four grandparents AND a great-grandmother who will be 103 in October. However, no one is ever truly ready to say goodbye to those that they love. There is nothing that can prepare me for losing my precious grandparents. NOTHING. And yet, the reality is, it will probably be much sooner than I ever cared for it to be. Treatments are hard on Granddaddy right now, and Granny's situation will not ever improve. She deteriorates more each day. So I guess this is my way of trying to make sense of it all. I know God's timing cannot be questioned. He already granted me my prayers for my Granny to meet and hold Bryleigh, and so I can't be selfish. I can't wish for them to stay here forever just because I am  not ready yet. It wouldn't be fair for them, and it wouldn't be fair to anyone else.

So please forgive my momentary lapse down memory lane. I am trying to savor each memory, each moment. Each hug, each kiss. Every holiday, every single vacation, every single dinner or lunch out. Every moment of my life has been transformed by the love of my grandparents. I live to make my family proud of me, and to be an adult and see things differently... God, I am so lucky!

And now as a mom myself, I have seen my grandparents experience a new joy of being great-grandparents. They are truly head-over-heels in love with these babies, and my heart melts to see that this must be how they feel/felt about me, my sister, and my cousin when we were born. They are just so different when the kids are around; Granny smiles and seems more herself, Granddaddy is chipper and laughs a lot.

So tonight, I won't pray for a miracle. I won't pray for more time. I won't pray for a cure for any of these things, because quite honestly, I know there's not enough time. However, I will pray that each moment with them is special and full of love and closeness. I will pray that Granny and Granddaddy will have peace and joy in their time here on this earth. I will pray that God grants us the wisdom to make educated and good decisions concerning their care and health. I will pray that God helps guide me through these emotions and feelings. I won't be bitter this time, because God knows what He is doing, and though I may not like it, I know that it is His plan. I know that there will be one tiny, special little girl waiting to greet her great-grandparents at the gates of Heaven though, and I know that I will have a whole lot of spoiling to UN-DO when I arrive to Heaven myself. So please keep my family in your prayers, and please hold your loved ones close- you never know when you won't get to do it again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In God We Trust...

Okay, this is a rant, and this is REAL. This isn't pointing fingers at any one person, but it is something we should all consider.

I am a proud American. I am glad to live in a country where I can express my opinion (hence this blog) and be free to worship any way I please while living a life of my choosing. The same is true for every American citizen. Our country was founded on the ideals of freedom, without fear of persecution for just being different.

However, what most Americans have forgotten, is that while this country was built on the idea of religious freedom and the concepts of a democracy and rule by the people, for the people, it was also built on the principals and ideals of the Bible and Christian beliefs. Our founding fathers felt that a country built on God's word would be successful. By building our country on God's word (you only have to look at the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and many other first documents to see this evidence), they were saying this: Our country is based on Christianity. By being built on these teachings, we accept anyone and everyone to this country, just as Jesus accepted anyone and everyone to worship him, come to know him, and live amongst him and his people. This meant that NO ONE would be FORCED to go to the Christian church and worship one set religion. You could bring your religion, your faith, your religious texts, your temple, your church, your monastary, whatever... you could bring it here and worship freely without fear of persecution or trouble.

With that being said, our country has forgotten God. There are citizens who want to remove "GOD" from all money, all documents, all items in this country. Even the pledge is under fire because people want to remove "UNDER GOD" from this. No one said that you had to believe in God, but the founding fathers made it QUITE clear that God and the Bible were the building blocks of our country and what we stand for. If you take God out of America, there will be no America.

We have gotten so far from the basic principles of our country's democracy that it is scary. Freedom of speech was intended to give people the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions without fear of being  jailed, killed, tortured, hurt, kicked out, etc. Freedom of religion was intended to make the country safe no matter what beliefs you had. The right to defend yourself meant that you were able to protect what you worked so hard for.

Yet, today, those of us who work hard for a living are told we don't "give" enough for other people to mooch off of. We are told that the working class of America has to keep working to pay for those who DO NOT work. Welfare, WIC, food stamps, unemployment, etc. were all created as temporary fixes to a temporary problem. However, people are making a life living off of the system. By allowing this to happen, we are allowing our country to produce lazy, irresponsible, non-productive citizens.

Today, those of us who express our love for God are told we cannot voice our opinions if they might hurt someone who believes differently. We are being criticized, slandered, and mistreated by fellow Americans for trying to stand up for our beliefs. We are being persecuted, in many ways, for acknowledging the truth in God's word and for trying to uphold the beliefs that He teaches us. If we use the Bible or Christianity in our arguments, they somehow become invalid or no good.

Today, when we try to defend our homes, our property, our families, our reputations, or whatever, we are considered racist, sexist, discriminatory, prejudice, or whatever. We are told that because we think or live or look different from someone, that means that it becomes a hate crime or that we are fueled by hate or evil.

Does anyone else see the trouble with this? The further we get away from God, the further we get away from the wishes our founding fathers had for our country. This country is unraveling at an alarming rate. It is a sad day when these things occur:
1.) People LEAVE their jobs to "occupy" parks and fight for something that is really hypocritical to what they are doing.
2.) People depend on the government to take care of them and their children.
3.) People do not accept that there are differing opinions in the world, and just because you don't agree, that means you have to fight and boycott them.
4.) People are no longer safe at a college pool party, a movie theater, a school, a gas station, a restaurant...
5.) Justice is no longer served to people who commit crimes due to "insanity" pleas.
6.) People want to take "God" out of anything political.
7.) It becomes wrong for a person to explain that they are Christian or to pray privately without influencing others (regardless of where they are).
8.) People in government feel it is okay to choose how sick a person has to be in order to be denied health care.
9.) People in government now tell you what you can or can't do in your own bedroom, how to provide or not provide for your own health, and many other things that the government has no business being involved in.
10.) Many people who vote are not educated on the candidates, their stances, and their histories.

This list could go on forever. Guys, we are getting it all wrong. Get back to God, and things will fall into place.

This being said, it is ridiculous that people want to boycott businesses and/or people because they choose to stand up for their own beliefs and rights. It is sad that we cannot even express our own opinion without being ATTACKED for it.

The Bible states that marriage is to be between a man and a woman. God created man, and then he created woman as man's companion. He created a man and a woman to procreate and keep the world going. He gave men and women the ability to think, feel, and learn. We were given the right to choose. We were given the right to use logic and to reason. God intended a relationship to be between man and woman, because he did not give man the ability to birth children, for a reason.

Now, that being said, I think that if you choose to be in a same-sex relationship, that is your choice, and I do not think ill of you. I do not have anything against anyone who is gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, etc. You don't bash me for my choices, I don't bash you for yours, because it is not my place to judge. I do feel though, as a Christian, that while your relationship is your business and who you live with and what you choose to do are your business, that marriage is for a man and a woman as God intended. I don't disagree with the option for a civil union or other acknowledgment, but because of my beliefs in God and as a Christian woman, I stand by God's holy words.

Does that mean I won't be friends with someone in a same-sex relationship? No. Does it mean I hate gays? Absolutely not. Does it mean that I don't support my friends/family who are gay? Heck, no. It DOES mean that I believe in marriage between a man and a woman. It means that I believe in my God's word and that His guidelines and rules are far more important than worrying about what someone thinks of my opinion on this matter.

Since I'm just a normal ole' person, the world isn't going to boycott me for my opinion. I might lose some friends, but then again, I guess they weren't really friends after all if they are going to boycott me for this. However, because someone holding a high position in a well-known and well-liked company expressed this same exact opinion, the world is in an uproar. How fair is that, my hypocritical fellow Americans?

My point is this. We have to stop this nonsense that America is becoming. We need to focus on raising respectful, responsible, law-abiding, God-fearing young men and women. We need to get back to the basics and be humbled in the great power our founding fathers left us with a democracy and freedom. We need to appreciate the America we live in.

God Bless America!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ever really thought about it?

Have you ever really and truly just stopped and really thought about someone else and what their life might be like sometimes? Have you ever wondered what you DON'T know about someone? Ever been curious as to what you don't know, haven't seen, or just wonder- how much is someone really like you, what are their pet peeves, what do they do when they are upset, and what is life REALLY like for them?

A lot of people don't really wonder those things, but I have before. I try to put myself in someone's shoes and really think- I wonder what life is like for that person. Sometimes, life's situations can really alter a person. Sometimes, people are really good at hiding their true selves (good and bad). Sometimes, people are really good at making you believe something totally different.

For the most part, I try to be transparent. I am very forward and vocal, and I am very open with a lot of things. If you really want to know something, I tell you. If you really want to ask a question, I'll give you a chance and 9 times out of 10, I'll answer it. However, I've come to realize that there is a part of every single person's life that MUST be (and in many cases, should be) private, even to those who are closest to you. Sometimes, things just aren't worth dragging other people in to, and sometimes, things aren't worth causing other people hurt because of what you have been through.

I wouldn't wish some of my deepest hurts on anyone. Namely, I would not wish even my worst enemy to experience the pain of losing a child. It is something that I will carry with me until I die, something that will always be a part of me and who I am... something that is my "new" normal. I wouldn't wish some of the things that have happened in my life on anyone.

Now I say this because lately, I see so many judgements. Now I am not an innocent person. I have made judgments before, and I probably will in the future, but I try so hard to really think about a person before I jump to too many conclusions. I ask myself, 1.) What do I already know about this person and his/her life? 2.) If I were in his or her shoes, what would I do?  3.) What other things do I need to know to make that decision?

Some things are pretty black and white. If you see a man, who you know is married, making out with another woman who is NOT his wife, then you can pretty much make a decision that he is cheating (because to me, a kiss is cheating). However, I cannot determine why or what all, so I can't condemn him. If I walk through a journey of losing a child, it is pretty easy to see that I am hurting and that the situation is not good- and it will probably make me emotional. As it did....

But sometimes, you think you really know someone, and you really don't know anything about them at all. The way you thought they were, the way you thought they lived their lives, the things you thought went on at home... nothing is further from the actual truth. And today, I just want people to know that anyone could be going through anything. Pray for your friends, your family, your neighbors, your church, your community, strangers... anyone and everyone. Because, honestly, you never know what REALLY goes on... some people have it tougher than you ever would realize... just pray.

Remember, we don't know everything, and we aren't supposed to. We are, however, supposed to be kind, uplifting, and supportive. True story.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

It's all good. ALL is good.

So today during church, I was reminded that there is one being in this world who loves me and cares for me regardless of what any earthly being does to me, says about me, or thinks about me. GOD, in his infinite understanding and grace, knows the person I am, for He created me. He made me in HIS image, and He takes pride in his creations and wonders.

Today lifted me beyond the hole I was slumping myself into, because you see, I care deeply what other people think about me and say about me. I know it is a petty, trivial thing, but I am always worried about what they say and think about me, and how they feel about me. If I think of someone as a friend, it hurts to know that they think otherwise of me, especially when I do all I can to be nice and to be a good friend.

However, I have just decided that being nice sometimes isn't enough to change people. "Kill them with kindness" may work for a bit, but it doesn't change the person ultimately. It doesn't make people like you any more or any less than they did before. I have decided that there is no need to apologize for being ME. Because you know what? If I'm good enough for God, then I'm good enough for anyone else!

If more people in this world would lift people up instead of pushing them down, if more people would praise the good instead of harping on the bad, if more people would support and help instead of tearing down and degrading, then this world would be much better off. If more people remembered to act in God's image, to be more Christ-like, to be more forgiving, then we would be better off. If more people chose to be honest, to be nice, and to be realistic, we would be better off.

I think a big thing is that we all judge. I'm guilty, too, but I have been really trying to improve here. The thing is, what works for one person may not work for someone else. Everyone has had a different life, a different situation, different raising, different everything. It doesn't mean that it's wrong, or that it's a bad thing. It just means that we are all DIFFERENT. You can't judge me for the choices I make, because it is not your place to judge. We can all disagree, and we can all dislike choices that others make, but you are no better than me just because you do things differently from me. There isn't necessarily a right way or a wrong way to live life, but some people act like their way is the ONLY way, and unfortunately, that is not how life works.

I know what kind of person I am, and I know where my heart is. I found this great image on Facebook today, and it says, "You know my name, not my story. You've heard what I've done, not what I've been through. If you were in my shoes, you'd fall the first step." I think this is 110% true!

I've been told so many times over the past 2 1/2 years how strong I am, and until recently, I didn't believe it at all. I felt weak, broken, and damaged. I felt beyond repair. I felt like I was a mess. But now, I know that I am still standing. I am still fighting, still surviving. I have gone through the worst hurt any parent could ever experience, and that is the fact that I had to grow a beautiful child within my womb, birth her, and then say goodbye to her, all in about 29 weeks. If you haven't had to bury a child, or say goodbye to a child through miscarriage, you will never understand what I'm getting at. To many people, they feel like enough is enough, and I need to move on. However, it is not that simple. No person who has ever lost someone close to them ever forgets that person or stops missing them. How is my child any different? But, I am surviving. I have endured the cruelest of words being slung at me in my darkest hours of grief. I have withstood trials and tests that many people will never even have to imagine. Despite this, I still stand, doing all I can to provide a life for my living children while carrying on the name and legacy of my heavenly angel.

You know what? If you don't like me, that is your problem and your loss. I have a lot to offer to my friends and family, and that is not me being stuck up or anything. I just give 100% to those I love and care about. If you have a problem with me, address it with me up front. I am tired of "wondering" what I've done so wrong to make people dislike me, talk about me, or mistreat me. I am always here for anyone who needs me, and I do my best at everything I do. I like to succeed, and I work my butt off to do just that. I am a good person with a big heart, and sometimes, I do have "doormat" written all over my forehead. But, it's all good. All is good, because I know that God loves me just the way I am, because after all, He made me this way! And that is good enough for me!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sticks and stones...

"Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me."

Anyone agree with this? Because I don't. I may be 28 years old, but I wear my heart on my sleeve, and words DO hurt. Probably more than breaking bones sometimes, and I should know; I've broken at least 6!

I often tend to think more of others than they think of me. I treasure friendships and love to do nice things for people, regardless of what I get in return. My mom has been a good role model in that; she does and does and does for others because her heart is pure and kind. I try to do the same. I will cook for you, give you what I can, when I can, and however I can. I will give because that is what I do. I don't expect things in return, and I don't expect to be compensated. I love to do for others.

In life, we have all made poor decisions. Some decisions affect us long term, some do not. As newly weds, Chris and I made some bad decisions, which still affect us today, but we have worked so hard in the past several years to overcome those bad decisions, and I am very proud of where it has put us.

And, we have had the worst of the worst happen to us. No one anticipates having to bury their child, and that is something that has changed our lives and our home forever. Costs that we did not plan for, situations we did not plan for, life that we did not plan for. The stress has taken it's toll on us health wise and financial wise. Chris has struggled with his health, and part of it I think is from internalizing his grief and not knowing how to deal with it all. Stress can cause so many problems, and unfortunately, we have both suffered from it. It is normal, but everything seems to add up.

I guess since losing Kylie I am extremely emotional, more so than before, because I feel like less of a mom, less of a woman, and less of a person because I couldn't carry my child full term, because I couldn't help her and protect her, and because I couldn't do for her what I needed to do. I feel like I am a bit more protective of Jaycee and Bryleigh now because of all we have been through, and so, yeah, I do get hurt and upset and broken hearted when words hurt.

Words can be like a knife, especially when you are clueless as to what you have done that is so wrong, and you would do anything to figure out why you deserve the pain and the hurt that those words cause. I feel like a doormat a lot of times, and I would give anything to know what I have done so horrible. And you know, words aren't always directed to one person in particular, but the things that people say sometimes make you wonder if they would ever really understand you and where you are coming from, or if they even cared. Words are painful. Yes, I take things personally, but that is just how I am. I am a people-pleaser; I want people to be happy with me and I want to make others happy. Maybe I just am not good at that, I don't know. But still... words hurt. Words break hearts. Words are powerful. I just wish I didn't have to wonder about words and how they were meant for me.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pure Mommy Love

Tonight, I was able to attend my first RTS meeting in a few months. It is amazing to me when I go what kind of perspective I get on myself, my life, my grief journey, and my motherhood. I always feel much better when I am in a safe place to talk about my sweet Kylie, where no judgements are made, no hard feelings are created, and no pain is gained from sharing her story. I always feel important, validated, and accepted. It is amazing what a difference several years can make. 2 1/2 years ago, at this time, I was a horrible mess. My life was in shambles, my world was shattered, and my soul was severed. Today, I have come a very, very long way in my journey of grief.

Today, I can talk about Kylie without bursting into tears. I can share her life with a smile, and I can present to others the amazing things I am doing in her memory, and I can laugh over the cute little things she did in her brief time on earth. I can share her life and not break down. Today, I can smile with pride, I can share her with a  new-found joy. Kylie is one of my biggest heroes. She has taught me so much about being a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and a good person in general. Kylie has taught me the gift of giving, and of doing for others. Because of Kylie, I am a totally different person today. I am grateful for her life, albeit short. I am thankful for the opportunity to be her mother. Let's face it, I am so lucky to have such a perfect angel watching me and protecting me each and every day.

There is one thing I have never doubted, even in my darkest days of grief: I have never doubted that Kylie knew how  much I loved her. I have NEVER doubted for one second. I know she knows my love for her, and I know she loved me. When she opened her eyes and looked into mine, I knew at that moment that nothing in the world would ever compare to that feeling... that feeling of complete and total innocent, pure, no-boundaries love. She loved me for being her mother. Even on her sickest days, and in her last moments, she held on for me. She let go for me. She fought and valiantly bowed out for me. You see, Kylie was braver than I could be. But yet, she LOVED me, for being her mommy. No words ever had to come out of her tiny little lips, because I saw it in her eyes. She loved me, and she loved me deeply. Her acknowledgement of my voice, my presence, my touch... all of those things validated that. And I am so, so deeply thankful for those two precious, priceless weeks with my little princess.

I fought so hard for her safety, her health, and her happiness. I fought so hard for her to stay with us here on earth. I did everything in my power, because I loved her, to give her a chance at life. Even today, my love for her is so great, and I would do anything to give her a chance at life. However, that is not what God had planned for her, and now, I accept that. Kylie opened the door to a future I never would have planned for myself, but here I am, with this precious little family and all of these opportunities to serve and do for others.

Tonight, when we got home from picking Jaycee and Bryleigh up from my parents' house, Jaycee said, "Mommy, I want to spend some time with you. I missed you so much while you were in town!" My heart melted, and I sat on the couch. Jaycee climbed into my lap and said, "will you hold me like a baby?" So my big five year old girl curled up to me, and I held her and rocked her like a baby, while my heart nearly leaped with joy and love right out of my chest. This little girl knows how to melt my heart in ways I never knew possible. She is so sweet, so kind, so full of love, and she shows me in the most precious of ways how  much she loves me. I don't think I could ever put into words how grateful I am to have her in my life, and how much she taught me about being a mother and loving unconditionally. So many people would not have taken in a child in the situation we have been in for fear of growing attached and then having to say goodbye. However, I have NEVER regretted our decision to have Jaycee in our home and in our lives. She is our daughter, and she is a very special part of this family. Her love has taught me that a mother's bond is far beyond blood and birthing. A mother's love stretches to boundaries unimaginable... and for that, I am forever  grateful to her. Every kiss, every hug, every "I love you," is just another stamp of joy in my life map.

And my beautiful Bryleigh, who has given me the joy of motherhood the way I always envisioned it and then some... I am so in awe of the fact that she was perfectly healthy and happy when born, and that everything I felt "robbed" of before, I got to do with her. And life is amazing with her in it. Every day, Bryleigh's smile when she sees me makes my heart melt into a big ole gushy puddle. It takes my breath away to watch her sleep on my chest, or to watch her wake up and see me there while she breaks into this huge grin... this baby girl is unbelievably sweet and loving! The life I have with her in it is such a wonderful place. She has proven that life isn't about money, or what you have, or where you're going... it is about the love you have and the people in it. She loves unconditionally as well, and she reminds me so much of Kylie at times. She even looks like her! I can imagine that if Kylie was still with us, she would look much the same as Bryleigh does... and that makes me smile. Bryleigh has a very studious, serious side, and that makes me smile, because I know she is that way for a reason- one of the many reasons I love her so much.

Each of these children are so important to me and make me who I am today. Kylie affects each relationship I have in life, including those with my surviving and future children, and that is a good thing. Since Kylie's birth and death, I appreciate everything so much more. I appreciate time, people, belongings, things, events... everything has much more meaning and importance than ever before. I embrace things I never used to embrace, and I try not to take things for granted. My life, with my children, is much better than it could have ever been without children. Being a mother is truly a gift from God.

Since Kylie's birth, our lives have been full of some scary and difficult situations. It seems like when it rains it pours, but I am trying to keep my head up and be positive about things. We have really been working on our finances and getting our credit in order from poor decisions as newlyweds all those years ago. Chris's truck was out of commission for over 2 years and then we had several months of struggling with getting the motor problem taken care of. Chris has had two or more seizures in the past year and a half (almost two now) and was out of work. Losing Kylie kept me out of work for 3 months+, and I missed 9 weeks with Bryleigh (and had no sick time left from being out with Kylie). Chris and I have both had our gallbladders out in the same time period. My granny was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, dementia, and Parkinson's and in the last year has been moved to a nursing home, where her health has steadily declined. My granddaddy was diagnosed with blastic plasmacytoid dendritic neoplasm, a very, very rare leukemia type cancer. My daddy had a heart attack last February. My uncle has congestive heart failure and is now on dialysis as well. Bryleigh was admitted to the hospital at less than 3 months old. Chris was out on workman's comp for a shoulder injury, and now he needs knee surgery. Due to my maternity leave, my paycheck is significantly from this past Feb until the end of August, which is a huge cut, basically the amount of our house payment. It seems like a lot has happened, and we are trying desperately to overcome some of the negative to bring out the positive. Chris and I are trying to do the best we can to provide for our family the best way we know how. However, we can offer something to our children that so many children lack, and that is LOVE. Our kids know they are loved and cared for. They don't want for anything, though they may not have the same things that others have. They are blessed with wonderful families and friends who love them and love to do nice things for them, and they are truly special, special children. Despite all the horrible things we've been through, we will come out on top one day, and we will be surrounded by our children (both heavenly and earthly), and we be proud of our lives and what we have accomplished. <3 So, tonight, I celebrate my children, who deserve the world, the moon, and the stars and beyond. Mommy loves you, Jaycee Elisabeth, Kylie Brielle, and Bryleigh Addison!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A little perspective

Being a mother is truly my life's greatest blessing and joy. Being a mother to THREE beautiful girls is something I only imagined in my wildest dreams. Jaycee, Kylie, and Bryleigh are three very unique, very different, incredibly special little girls who have all changed my life for the better. My journey to motherhood has taken me places I never imagined I'd go, and though my story isn't completely happy, my story is just that: MY story.

Tonight, I am so thankful for the opportunity to mother my girls. I am so grateful that I am able to care for each child (albeit differently) and love each child individually. I am grateful that God gave me the ability to rationalize, to nurture, to soothe, to laugh, to love, to be bold, to be independent, to be strong, to be compassionate, to be hopeful, to be soft hearted... I am so thankful that I am equipped with so many differing abilities and emotions that make me the mother I am. My life is complete with my ability to mother my children.

Bryleigh is 8 months old, and I can probably count on one hand the amount of time I have left her with someone, including my husband, and none of those times, that I remember, was to "go out". Because let's face it, my job right now, #1 job, is to care for and provide for my children. If you have young children at home, you shouldn't be out clubbing every weekend, getting drunk all the time, always pawning off your kids on someone else. My kids are with me. The times that I left Bryleigh were because I had all day dance recital rehearsal, I was a parent panel presenter at a bereavement conference, we went to RTS support group.

I love spending time with my kids- I couldn't imagine not having them. Heck, it took me over 4 months to leave her in the church nursery! It isn't because I don't trust them, it's because I cherish my time with Bryleigh. I love to cuddle and snuggle with the girls, I love to watch them grow and develop. We spend a lot of time cuddled up on the couch because it's what we like to do- we talk and giggle and laugh and love each other. Hugs and kisses are a big part of my household. My life is consummed now with the thoughts of "how many bottles will we need to have ready today?" and "Do I need to buy more diapers?" and "I wonder if Jaycee will ever find those tiny Barbie shoes..." My life is just wonderful this way. I don't want my girls to grow up; I want to keep them this way forever! Each of them brings so much joy to life.

That being said, I have decided that stressing about some things just aren't worth my time. I stress about my dirty house. Well, you know what? My dirty house is a sign that it is lived in well, and that there is a lot of love in this house. We have food on the table, toys for the kids to play with, clothes to cover our bodies, and a safe roof over our heads. I think we're doing okay. I stress about money. Well, guess what? Our bills are paid. God always provides. Hopefully I can let go of some of that anxiety.

I stress about friendships/relationships. I have realized that I have what I need right here at home. I have my husband, my girls, and I have God. Yes, I have family and friends. But I cannot control those relationships. I can control what is right here in my house and what I have in front of me. I love my family and friends dearly, but I HAVE to stop stressing about what they think of me, why, and what they do or don't include me in or participate in with me. I have to say that I am going to have the hardest time with that. I get my feelings hurt easily, and I just don't have time to wallow in self-pity about it. I just wish that things like this were a little easier.

All in all, I am a lucky girl. I have the most perfect, beautiful guardian angel in the world. Yes, I miss her terribly, but my gracious, I know I will always be protected, and by my daughter! How many people can say that? Too many, but not many all in the same breath.

Today, I am reminded that some stresses aren't worth my time. I have my girls, and I have my husband. We have a house, cars, and jobs. We have family and friends. I won't let someone take away my joy just because they themselves are miserable, right?

So tonight, I am grateful for my kids and being a mother. It is a hard job, yes, but it is so rewarding and special. My time right now is to focus on my kiddos and to focus on my family.

Tomorrow, I'll share updates of what's going on and where we're going with some things for Kylie!