Monday, October 26, 2015

Michael is 6!

On October 6th, Michael turned 6!!! 

He has grown so much this year and so much especially since starting kindergarten. He is smart, kind, funny and energetic. He is always ready to tell you a story and play a game. He loves Minecraft, Legos, superheros and scooby doo. He is becoming more responsible every day and has taken his role as big brother seriously and is a good helper to me and his family. 

We celebrated his birthday when my mom was here with a mini party and then as a family on the day of his actual birthday. He was excited to take special birthday treats to school (cookies!) and be the special kid for the day. We ate a nice dinner at HyVee chinese (michael's fav) and then came home for cupcakes and presents. His favorites were minecraft figures and minecraft lego set! Later on the weekend, Scott took him to Sky Zone to do some jumping for his birthday outing. He loved it! 

Happy Birthday, Michael! You are a special boy and we love you so much!!! 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Remembering Trace: Four Years

I have really been putting off trying to put together a post to remember Trace this month. I love that this blog is my online journal and I love sharing but sometimes it seems the words and thoughts just don't come easily. October has come and (almost) gone very quickly and I have been wrapped up in keeping all my plates spinning in the air that I feel like I have hardly had some time and space to remember my little boy and his time on this earth with us. As weird as it sounds, I do miss those long quiet days where all I had to do was focus on healing...I used to love the days where Michael went to daycare and I could grab a cup of coffee, listen to something on the radio, and drive around aimlessly looking at the fall leaves and letting my thoughts wander. I am thankful I had that time now where no one had any expectations placed on me...just to take time to heal. However, grieving is an ongoing process and there is never a moment in time where I feel like I will be able to cross "grieving my infant son" off my list like there, it's done! because grief is a tricky thing and it comes in waves and pops up at different times. I know it is important to give myself time to just think and heal and remember but it is hard these days. 

If you would have asked me four years ago where I thought I would be today and I could have not have given you any idea because back then it was about surviving minute by minute, being able to pull myself together enough to keep taking care of Michael. But sometimes I feel like when you have to force yourself to get picked up out of bed to serve someone else, that is where your strength is found. Those hard days were actually where I was having to be the strongest and work the hardest. The good days are easy! The bad days take so much energy. I recently listened to a book review about a woman recovering from a stroke and she kept talking about throughout the healing process how she knew she HAD to get back to her normal routine (for her that was cooking meals for her family). She didn't know why but she knew she needed to get back doing the things she used to do day in and day out. She couldn't explain it but felt that there was a power in the healing comfort of your daily routine. This really stuck out to me because I felt like there is a lot of truth in it. Even though the time away from school to heal was much needed, I felt like I really started heal when I got back to working and seeing my students every day. Losing Trace was hard but what was harder was trying to get back into life. I hated feeling like everyone felt sorry for me or they were waiting for me to lose it in front of them...I hated the way people used to look at me. But gradually it got better and I felt less bad about things and life went on. Sometimes after a loss is when people quit their jobs or move or do some other drastic life thing but for me those things (like my house and my job) brought me comfort and that is where I feel like the memory of Trace lives. 

Also if you would have told me I would have two sweet little girls four years after Trace died, I would have told you that was crazy talk. They are such a blessing and I know that the spirit of their brother lives on in them. Trace is in my thoughts every day. The sting of his memory has gotten less with time, just like when a wound heals...maybe it is not a stabbing pain but just a reminder of the pain that was. I try to not think about what he would be like if he was here now but sometimes it hits me and that is when it hurst the most. I don't like playing the "what if" game but sometimes it sneaks itself in my mind. It is fun to me to see friends who have kids that are the same age as Michael and Trace and see how well they get together...I know my boys would have been the same way. 

We remembered Trace on his angelversary by visiting the cemetery and bringing a pumpkin and mum to his headstone. Brynn and Michael had fun playing around the grounds and it was cute to see Brynn toddling around every where (Anna was sleeping in the car!). The only tree that had changed color at the cemetery was the one right above Trace's headstone and it was so beautiful. I do miss the days after he was gone and I could have all the time in the world to visit the cemetery, sit out there and remember him. 

So that is where we are at...four years and still a lifetime of grieving to go. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Insta Update Sept/Oct.

I'm back with some insta-updates! My feed has been lacking as I have mostly been at school working and not home doing fun things with my cute children but I've tried to capture what we've been up to anyway. 

After church- has been getting so big! He loves going to "Hope Kids" (sunday school) and I love seeing how friendly he is. We also had a new milestone with the girls going to the nursery for the past two weeks- wahoo! 

Fall is my favorite time of year for my yard- everything in full bloom and still growing. It is a shame it only lasts for a few weeks! 

Friday sillies! 

I'll try and lump all my school posts in one section here so you can skip if not interested! I always do a marching band unit in the fall that culminates with a parade at the end of September. The kids had done so well learning their (harder) music and marching but they are still middle schoolers and I know it is hard for them to be out of their element doing something new. I also get so many people (from outside sources) that say "I hated marching band" "I quit band because of marching band" "marching band is too hard" etc, etc so I always worry if I am doing the right thing or not. I LOVE marching band and I know lots of kids do too so I'm not sure why I focus on the negative but I guess that is human nature. But anyway, the day of the parade came and I was nervous because I had to drive our equipment van (and trailer!), manage all the students, chaperones, parents who were watch the parade, music, equipment, timing, etc...ugh!! I was up the night before with worries and every possible scenario of things going wrong. 

We finally go en route on the parade route and the kids were so hot and tired from playing and marching that I really began to question myself. What had I done to these poor kids? Do we even look and sound good? Would we even make it to the end of the parade route? Would I be able to keep walking without passing out? In reality, we all made it to the end of the parade route in one piece and the parents who came to meet their kids for pick ups all had awesome things to say about how good we sounded and how sharp we looked. I did think we looked good and sounded pretty good but you never know. We ended up getting FIRST place!!! I was so proud of the students for their hard work and I was on cloud nine the whole was so good to have our hard work pay off. In reality, it is not a big deal at all if we got first or even last but sometimes being a band director can be isolating and it is hard to know if you are really doing the right things or if you are crazy. 

Anyway, all that marching gave me some kick-butt step counts! 

The ISU band played my favorite half time show in recent memory- a tribute to ToTo! I loved "Africa" and literally got chills. I am that dorky. :o) 

I got a hand me down microwave from my sister and I have been loving it for making coffee in my office during school. It is a lifesaver! 

We attended a training how how to build trust with your students during a recent professional development meeting. I thought it was really interesting as I am constantly trying to build positive connections with my students- I know I am asking them to do a ton of things that not every middle schooler has to do like practice at home, haul their instrument back and forth to school, perform at concerts, come to extra rehearsals, play for pep assemblies- really the list could continue forever. Anyway, after the meeting a coworker came up to me and showed me a post on her facebook feed that her neighbor had posted of one of my band students outside marching around with his instrument, playing and marching band and worth (a la Steve Carell in the 40 year old virgin). I was like- ding! I think I win the award for having my students' trust! winning! It was really funny and I'm glad she shared that with me. Sometimes it is easy for me to get bogged down by the (small) minority of students who are struggling or hanging on by a thread than to focus on the majority of my students who are awesome, trust me and are ready to have a great experience. 

Last band post: I started a band club at school and we took a field trip to ISU to visit the department of music. I wasn't sure if kids would think it was neat or not but it turned out to be an awesome day. They loved watching a rehearsal, seeing our practicum student friend, and eating lunch on central campus while listening to the carillon. The carillon played "shut up and dance with me", "shake it off" and one other popular one and the students thought it was neat to listen and guess which song it was. It was a great day and hopefully opened the students' eyes to a bigger world around them! 

Now on to cute babies: 

And finally: our babysitter has been on vacation this past week so I took a day off to care for the girls and it was a welcome change of pace. We got their year blood draw done (which requires going to a different clinic- a bit of a pain in the butt without having time off from school) and some errands run. It was nice to just be home with the girls and not at school worrying about everything. Hopefully I can do again in the future!

Before we know it, October will be over! 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

September Photos

Now that we are halfway through the month of October, I figure it was time to share some photos from September! :o) I am not sure what all happened but the month of September just flew by in a flash (as evidenced by my lack of blogging!). With school, the girls, managing our new normal as a family, the girls birthday, party, and football it just flew by. Our after school routine has really changed as two pick ups adds a lot of time which has me arriving home later than usual. Usually by the time everyone is home and settled, we eat dinner and then it is time to start the bedtime rounds. The girls are still going to bed early which gives Michael some time for us to work on school or reading stuff together before bed which is nice. However, he has been SO tired from school that I know he needs to be in bed between 7:30-8:00 so it makes for a short family time at home. However, it is nice to be in a routine and it seems like it is working well. Usually after I put Michael to bed, I either fall asleep or scramble trying to work on school stuff.  I need to get better about trying to carve out a little time for myself to exercise, do projects or blog. I love keeping my little space open on the internet and I do enjoy how it forces me to slow down a bit and think about what my family has been up to-something that is easily lost in the hustle and bustle! 

We had our neighbor girl come over to (bravely) watch all three kids for an ISU game in September and I was talking to Michael about how he would have to be her helper and also play with the girls. He immediately said, "I know!" and ran downstairs to get his box of duplos out of storage because he thought the girls would like playing with them. He was right and I loved how he was thinking of them. I also loved how they provided some entertainment for Michael for a few days before returning to the basement- good toys never lose their appeal! 

Sitting fancy in cardinal and gold! With sparkles! 

The girls are so fun to watch play and explore. I wish there was some way I could bottle it up to reopen in the future! I love how they babble to each other and get in each other's space. They seem to be able to work their own squibbles out. Being a twin is so mysterious to me!


We've also enjoyed some beautiful fall days with playtime outside. Those days are so fleeting and are gone now as the daylight fades fast and the cool air has started to come in. Those perfect fall days are precious! 


My grandma brought some raspberries for the girls when she was here for their party and they LOVED them! They were nice and small and easy for the girls to pick up and eat. They were so cute with their red faces and fingers. 

Things have been busy but good and I won't trade it for the world! Thanks for stopping by! 

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