Thursday, February 16, 2012

He's not that old.

I have a confession.

Sometimes, I am guilty of having expectations too high for my young son.

Ever since he'd been in daycare with me (when he was 3 months old), I have compared him to the older children around him. I'd like to think that's a natural thing to do. I'm sure it is.

But, it didn't take long for Spencer to gain enough pounds and grow enough inches to be as big in size as the next youngest child who was about six months older than him.

Now, as a elementary school student, and older, six months doesn't seem like much at all. But, in infancy and toddler-hood especially, six months is a BIG difference.

He started eating baby cereal at 3 months old, and baby food at 4 months. He moved to small foods and finger foods pretty early. He learned to crawl at 10 months. He was walking before he was one. He can say words. He can go up and down stairs. He can use a cup. He has great fine motor skills. He loves to color and draw. He loves to put objects into lines, or things like golf tees into their small holes. He's on track, if not "ahead" in some areas.

Now, granted, when he was "tested" on the Denver Development Scale a few weeks ago, developmentally, in most areas, he was at the 18-24 month level. I know that part of that is because of daycare and spending time being one of the youngest there. And that's awesome.

But, I tend to forget that he's NOT that old.

He's 15 months old. FIFTEEN MONTHS. Not 18 months. 15 months. That's pretty close to just being ONE yet. Not two. ONE.

Occasionally, especially at daycare, I found, I would get kind of frustrated that he wasn't cleaning up toys like the 18 month-olds and the 2 year-olds do. He'd put one or two toys in a bucket, and more often than not, pick it back up and dump it all over the floor.
But, I'd say that's pretty normal. It's OKAY.

And we're working on it at home now. He is really good at picking up his die-cast (Matchbox/Hot Wheels) cars and putting them away. Sure, sometimes he dumps them out, but generally, he's good at just putting them away. He's getting good at picking up his Mr. Potato Head pieces, too.

I also find that I get frustrated, sometimes, not always, when he throws his cup on the floor. Or he only stabs food with his fork and then it sometimes flings off instead of putting it in his mouth. I didn't start him with a fork until a month or two ago, because I just didn't want to deal with the mess. So of course, he's not got it down yet. And that's normal, I think. And that's OKAY. He'll learn. He doesn't always do it to be naughty. He's learning.

Those are two small areas in which I compare him and forget that he's only one. He's not two. He's one. I am sure there are more, but right now, I guess I can't think of them.

I like the fact that right now, it's just us at home. Baby Bo is still growing inside of me, and the dog is a different species. So, it's just Spencer and I. I can focus on him. I can focus on what he "needs" to learn, and what he's great at. And I can stop comparing him, for the most part, to kids 6 months to 9 months older than him. I can remind myself that he is GREAT just the way he is.

He's only 15 months old.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Call to Help.

My dear friend, Kate Berreth's, parents (Al & Karin Livermore) lost their home (her childhood home) this past weekend in a house fire. Literally, everything is gone. The insurance they had on their home will barely be enough to rebuild the home.

I know that many of you do not know these friends of ours, but, I'm asking that you help, if you can, in one or more small ways:

---Prayers. A prayer is an easy, simple, but overwhelming powerful way to reach out to someone in need, because God's right there with you as your'e doing it. It takes only a few seconds if you're in a hurry. Please, please, please pray for the family as they struggle through this difficult time.

---If you're in or near the Canby, MN area, there is a benefit and silent auction being held THIS WEEKEND. It's Saturday, February 18, from 12pm - 4pm at the Canby High School Cafeteria. There will be a whopper feed, Silent Auction, and Bake Sale. (

---If you are in the area or able to mail a donation (I believe I can get you the address) to the Silent Auction, donations can be dropped off at the Canby Cenex with Jacquelyn Kollar.

---Monetary donations are being accepted. Whether it's a simple $1 donation, or more, it can be mailed to one of the following locations:

Canby Credit Union


1003 Saint Olaf Avenue, PO Box 38

Canby, MN 56220

DNB National Bank


First Avenue, PO Box 10

Gary, SD 57237

---If you are not in the area, nor feel comfortable mailing in a donation, it can be sent, simply, via paypal to Again, even a simple $1 donation helps! Because I am unable to attend the benefit, though I wish that I could, this is the option I chose to help support the family.

---Or... if you like to shop, here's a fun option that a friend of theirs set up. All of her commission will be donated to Al & Karin. It's a Thirty-One "party." (

Kate, as I said, is a dear friend to me. She's been such a support in many of my struggles, all the way back to when I met her, as her college freshmen RA at SMSU. She's got one of the biggest hearts I know. Her husband and parents are the same way. They've all been through quite a bit these last few months, and this complete, total loss of a family home... I can't even imagine.

I cannot imagine owning a home, and coming back to find yourself not only homeless, but without ANYTHING you cherished or owned. I can't imagine seeing all of your memories burned to the ground. Nothing left. I can't imagine not getting to say goodbye to all of it. It's one thing to make a choice to leave a home and memories behind. It's a completely different catastrophe to have everything lost in minutes, and not being able to stop it from happening. I know I would be completely devastated.

So, dear friends of mine, if you can find it in you, or find a way, please, please, help in some way.

Thank you, and God Bless.

Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Mother Hands.

On most nights, when Spencer gives me the signals that he's getting ready for bed, I pick up his glass of milk, he follows me to the bedroom, I pick him up, kiss his forehead, say "I love you," lay him down, say "Goodnight, baby," and give him his milk. The music is usually on already, a lullaby CD of some sort (we have a few to choose from, now). Sometimes, I hum along.

If he's not quite into the idea of sleeping right away, I often stroke his forehead. Or, more often, I pat his back, or lightly rub it in a circular motion. If he's on his front, I softly pat his chest.

Because his crib is so tall (it has wheels on the bottom of it, it's an older style, and they don't come off), and I get nauseous standing and leaning over the side of it, I sit on a stool beside it, and I drape my arms over. While it generally starts cutting off the circulation in a matter of seconds, I tough it out as best I can so that my little boy will relax and drift off to sleep.

Tonight, as I sat there, patting and rubbing his back, I was watching my hands. And, out of nowhere, it hit me that I have "mother hands" now.

What does that mean, you ask?
Well, to me, it means that they are starting to resemble my mother's hands, my aunts' hands, or my grandmother's hands. They're no longer child-soft skin. I have small scars, nicks, a few small drier patches, and they're tan. They are starting to feel a little leathery.

Of course, this is probably due to the fact that I'm 2 years shy of thirty years old.

Does it bother me? Not a bit.

As I sit there, stroking his back, noticing that because of the lack of circulation to my hand, the veins on the back of my hand puff out a little more. My knuckles seem to have deep, distinguished wrinkles on them. I'm wearing a soft, brown sweater. My hands, to me, look like a mom's hands.

I sat there, imagining what it would have looked like 27 years ago, when I was Spencer's age, and my mother would be stroking my own back, or patting me to sleep. She was younger than I was when her first child (me) was born. But, I imagined the motions were the same. I imagined the Emotions were the same as well. Love. Patience. Kindess. Compassion. Peace.

And then, I imagined my grandmother, softly patting her children and grandchildren to sleep.

I saw myself in a long line-up of generations of mothers that raised their children before me, all caressing their beloved child as they drifted into peaceful sleep.

As Spencer's eyelids grew quite heavy and the last few flutters from open to close passed, I had an overwhelming feeling of perfection.

My hands are perfect, in their aging, scarred imperfection.

My hands are mother's hands.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gosh, I love my sisters.

I must say, before I start, I have been reflecting a lot upon relationships that are meaningful in my life lately. My husband, my son, my sisters... to name a few. Fortunately, Spencer is taking a short nap again (because our loud neighbor woke us earlier), so I have a few minutes to express my thoughts again.

My sisters are AMAZING.

I'm fortunate to have my sisters not only be sisters, but also be two of my closest, dearest friends and confidants. Yes, indeed.

I am currently 28.
Samantha (or Sam) is 17.

Allison will be 13 this year.

Those are some pretty big age differences from me, obviously. But, despite that, and despite the fact that we live a few hours away, and despite the fact that I did not live with either one of them for all that long before I grew up, went to college, and got married... we're close. We're tight. We're three peas in a pod, some might say.

My sisters and I have a lot in common. We all love to read. We all love to create art. We all love music. We all love taking and editing photographs. We do that one a lot when we're together. We all love LAUGHING. We do that one even more than taking photographs when we're together. Gosh, we laugh so much. Sometimes, Jake gets to laughing just listening to us laugh. I've been known to laugh so hard I couldn't breathe. Or I'd tear up. Or I'd almost pee my pants. Or, when I was pregnant with Spencer, laugh so hard I'd gag and throw up. Yes. We love to laugh. About the strangest, smallest, most random things sometimes that no one else would really understand or think funny, but hey, they're hilarious to us!

I'm blessed to have these two lovely ladies in my life, and I love that our interests and passions are fairly similar. Especially when we are able to spend weeks together at a time and are able to capture so many moments and memories on camera. I was looking through photos of the three of us and our adventures earlier. I won't lie, I teared up. It's so easy to relive those cherished times when we take turns being behind the lens. We capture our smiles and so many other facial expressions that when I look through the photos, it's almost as if I can hear my sister's laughter and voices in the room with me. Gosh! That's SO FREAKING WONDERFUL.

In this entry, I have included a few photos from one of my favorite "shoots" together, just a few days before I found out I was pregnant with Spencer in February 2010. We were having a blast in the snow in the backyard. I've also included an older one from 2009, just because I like it.

When I moved on to college, I was very, very sad to leave my sisters behind. I felt like I was going to miss out on the majority of their childhoods. The majority of their lives. Somehow, we made it work, and while I miss random every-day things, I feel like the important stuff I'm able to be a part of, whether it's by phone, online, or in person. I'm thankful for that!

When I moved to Sioux Falls with Jake in 2009, I felt like I was abandoning them. Leaving them so far behind that I would barely ever see them, and that they'd lose touch with me. I felt like they'd hate me for not staying. I almost refused to move, actually. It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever faced. But, I had a heart-to-heart with them, and they assured me I was crazy (in nicer terms) and it wouldn't hurt our relationship. It'd probably strengthen it. Even as "little" as they are compared to me (though they'll BOTH be taller than me next week probably, Sam already is), they're so wise when it comes to matters like that.

They're so helpful, too. When they're around, they help out with Spencer, now that he's here. And, recently, over Christmas break, they pretty much cared for him non-stop, as well as helped with the majority of the housework, and helped quell my sadness and frustration with basically being bedridden with sciatica. My little sisters did! I was beyond blessed to have them here when they were!

I like to think I'm some sort of inspiration (haha, maybe that's one big high hope) and role model for them, in at least some way. I hope to be. I hope to be leading a good example for them.

I can't wait until I can see them again. Today, especially, for some unknown reason (most likely, I guess, the photographs I was looking through), I miss them, and I want them here right now. But, I know that's not possible. I'm hoping to see them in a few weeks, if possible.

For now, I think this shall be all.

In summary, I love my sisters.

Friday, February 10, 2012


My husband is my best friend. He has been one of my very best friends since shortly after we met in 2001. I never dreamed, then, that I would marry him. But, God blessed me tremendously by giving us the love, choice, and commitment to enter into a life-long marriage. Yes, it will be life-long.

When we were dating, we began discussing the possibility of being married, as well as that of starting a family together. I was straightforward and honest, telling Jake that I just didn't know if I would be able to bear children. I really didn't know. I knew something was up with my reproductive system, and I thought it'd be nearly impossible. (Two years ago, I was diagnosed with PCOS, you can read about that in the "infertility" category if you'd like.) He stuck by me anyway, knowing that chance existed, and just telling me we'd cross that bridge when we got there.

We've been married for 5.5 years now. We have a 15 month-old son who is one of the lights in our world (I would say God, our marriage, and Spencer (and the coming baby) are the main three). We were married for 3.5 years or so before he was conceived, after we consulted a reproductive endocrinologist. I am pregnant (somewhere between 11-13 weeks (the baby is measuring almost a week ahead, but for now, they're not changing the due date) again, with our third miracle. We lost our second miracle at 8 weeks in September of last year.

Jacob is a fantastic provider. Yes, we go through our struggles financially, not always being on the same page with things and being disorganized occasionally, but he has taken the reigns to sort those things out. He is a hard-working man. He works crazy long days (13-16 hour days 4 days one week, 5 days another) in all weather conditions, even when he's sick sometimes. He is great at his job, and has won us trips across the country for being one of the top in sales. He's amazing. He does it to make our lives possible, really. I am guilty of whining at him that he works too much and doesn't spend enough time with me or with Spencer, in the past. I have tried so very hard to look at it from his perspective, in that he works to give us the means to survive. He works FOR us. And he's right. But, sometimes I'm emotional and somewhat selfish wishing he was home more. I feel like I have been better about that over the last year or so than I had ever in the past. Though, sometimes it's hard.

And he's excellent at keeping me from feeling too bad about it. Yup, we've fought about it, but we really both do understand where the other is coming from and we work hard to make it work in all aspects.

But not only does Jake work his job well, but he's an excellent father.


I always felt he would be a great father, but seeing him growing with Spencer in his father-role is phenomenal. It takes my breath away sometimes. I get goosebumps. I get tears. I just want to watch them from behind a two-way mirror so they can't see me, so that I can just take in the beauty of their relationship.

I'm Spencer's mother. He needs me. We have a close bond. I love him more than I love myself admittedly (whether that's good or bad is up for debate, I guess?). He cries when I leave him, though not for long, and he gets excited when I get back.

But, I feel like daddy is his favorite. And that makes my heart sing.

I love that Jake plays a little concert for Spencer during bath-time, and sometimes during bed-time, and sometimes after waking up in the morning, or after nap, or in the middle of the day randomly. I love that he can throw Spencer up in the air, catch him, and I am not afraid that our child will get hurt. I love that he took Spencer sledding a few weeks ago. I love that he reads to Spencer. I love that they play ball occasionally. Or go on walks. Or swimming.

I love that Spencer just loves to do everything and anything (well, mostly) with his dad.

Jake's father role melds beautifully into his supportive husband role. Really. Ever since Christmastime when I developed intense sciatic pains down both sides that literally kept me bed-ridden for almost a week, he has been "super-husband-dad" at night. Because it was so painful for me to move and I couldn't really get up on my own anyway, he just automatically took over night-time duties with Spencer. If he would cry, Jake would be out of bed to tend to him. And, for the most part, Jake still is. He doesn't complain about it, either. I think that maybe he continued to do it because now that I'm pregnant again, I am completely exhausted and I don't sleep well anyway, nor do I fall asleep again very well if I have to get up out of bed. And, I've been sick for a few weeks, too.

Or maybe, he does it because he just loves to see our son. I know that Spencer sleeps best if Jake is the one who gets up with him when he wakes (it's usually only once, if at all nowadays), and I think it's because then he knows that his daddy is home. I don't know.

I know, I am totally spoiled. And, I will admit, I take it for granted and I do not thank my husband enough for it.

He has ALWAYS helped change diapers. In fact, more often than not, if he is home, I don't have to change more than a few a day. He's never complained about having to change a poopy diaper either. In fact, he has always laughed or given commentary all the way through the process. He makes me smile.

Not only that, but even when I was nursing Spencer (way back when he was tiny), Jake would get up occasionally to help with feedings, so I could steal an extra half an hour of sleep and not have to get up every two hours. And then, when we switched to formula, he willingly worked out a night-time shift schedule with me, so we could take turns getting up with Spencer. I know dads who rarely, if ever, get up with their child in the night. Yes, like I said, I am spoiled. Or blessed, if I want to be positive about it.

Jake also makes sure whenever it's possible, that I get time for me. I give almost all of my time to Spencer, and when I'm not solely focused on Spencer, I'm trying to take care of the house, my work outside the home, the dog, and myself. So, Jake gives me time to relax, at home, or away, depending on my needs and his and Spencer's interests at the time. In fact, he is most often the one to suggest I get that personal time. It's another blessing.

He tells me I am amazing. Frequently. And, recently, he has started giving me detailed explanations and examples of why he thinks that is so. Those mean more than I can measure.

And... finally, the most recent and huge thing that Jake has given to me, to our children... and really, to our marriage, in a way...

is the opportunity that started at 3:30 or so this afternoon.

I am now a stay-at-home-mom. I don't know how long it will last, because, well, you just never know what curveballs life will throw at you. But, I do know that every minute, every hour, every day, every week... that I am able to focus on raising our children alone is an immeasurable blessing. It's largely (almost entirely, I feel) possible because of my husband. The role he's taking in managing our finances and providing income. The role he's taken on as protector and leader of our family, both financially, and spiritually. The fact that he is determined to make our lives the best that it can be.

Truthfully, the issue of being a SAHM was brought up by him first. Up until I was pregnant with Spencer, it was something I never really wished for, or dreamed that I would want (as I mentioned in this blog post a few weeks ago). And even then, I was terrified to wish for it too hard, because my puny little mind just never thought it was possible. But, a month ago, when he suggested it might be possible and perhaps we should try it, I was amazed. I was overwhelmed with the realization that it might actually happen.

And, it has.

Because my husband, Spencer's father, is who he is.

Thank you, Jacob, for all that you've done- for all of us.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The differences in the first and the third.

A friend replied a few posts ago, requesting that, if I find time, I share some things about this pregnancy that are the same/different than the previous. I am going to compare Spencer and Bo, because I believe I will meet Bo on this earth, and Sprout, I did not. So, it just feels to make the most sense to me to compare Spencer with Bo.

Side note: I'm writing this as Spencer hangs out in the living room with Wendell, watching "Elmo's World." Sometimes, I let myself think that setting him in front of the TV makes me a bad parent. But, I've reconciled that feeling with the fact that I don't set him in front of the TV ALL THE TIME, or even that frequently. Just when I feel I really need a few minutes (3-50, depending on the day) where he's focused on something intensely and that something doesn't include me. It's been a very long week (I've been away from home 11 or so hours a day last Thursday, Friday, and this Monday-Today and including tomorrow) at work, and I am exhausted, and sick as heck, and stressed. So I thought blogging a little might help me relax, as, well, I love to write.


What inspired this post? I'm not going to lie, and I'm sorry if this is disgusting, but... I just was sitting in the kitchen, drinking a soda (in attempt to eradicate a headache that's making me have the urge to bang my head on a wall for relief), when I started gagging so fiercly that my eyes were watering, and therefore, I couldn't see well, and didn't make it to the bathroom before I started losing...


It's the same as Spencer's pregnancy: I didn't start getting the gags and throwing up until the second trimester. Well, I'm almost there this time, and sure enough, it's starting to force its way back into my day.

Although, it's worse this time. Really. It's more frequent, more random, and more intense. And, truthfully, when I'm done throwing up, most of the time, I cry about it. Sweet.

Baby Bo is measuring ahead, almost a week. Spencer measured ahead, but only a few days up until I was full term, and then he was a week ahead. I'm kind of scared that Bo will be ginormous!

But everything else feels a little different, and I don't know why. I have cramps and pains that I didn't have with Spencer. I mean, I had them, but barely noticed them then. I don't know if it's because of the little problems we've had along the way this time that makes me more aware, or what.

I am drop-dead exhausted almost all parts of the day. I think part of it has to do with already having a 15 month old. But, who knows. Well, I also think part of it is the progesterone they have me on to help me sustain the pregnancy, and I'm happy to report that I stop using it on Monday! Woohoo! I can't wait.

I don't have consistent cravings, or really food aversions (although the smell of bacon freaks me out). With Spencer, I wanted chocolate milk, tomatoes, and potatoes, frequently. This time, it's pretty random. I guess the exception is Buffalo Wild Wings. Haha. But otherwise, it totally varies.

The sciatica is an issue I didn't have last time. Not even at the end of my pregnancy.

I think I *may* have felt baby flutters this morning.

And lastly (for now, because Spencer's getting tired of Elmo), this time, I feel really self-conscious. As in, I have lost 9 pounds since I got pregnant (as I did with Spencer, I lost a bunch of weight before gaining any back and barely gained more than I was before I was pregnant, which was nice (so that's a similarity for now)), but I feel like I look much pudgier already. I can tell that some of it is baby, whether it's bloat or actually belly, I can't always tell, but it makes me feel awkward. I can't zip and button my regular pants and comfortably sit down, already, and it freaks me out. I find myself nervous about what I wear because I don't want to look like I'm overly-obese or something. Ugh.

And... there's Spencer's crying. More another day, perhaps.

Oh, and another side note: Tomorrow is mine and Spencer's last day of daycare, and then, we begin our journey staying at home together. Wish us luck.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

five years ago, she left us.

I wrote this journal entry on a website I used as a teenager. The journal is private now so I couldn't link the original, so I copy and will paste it, here.

Sip #574 : Worst week of my life. I miss her so much.

02/09/07 4:39 am

Sorry for my absence, I hope you all understand.

This past week has been the hardest, longest week of my life, I believe.

Last Tuesday, I was attending a meeting/training session for the tax clinic. Afterward, I returned to my desk, and the receptionist came with a note. "Nicole, call ###-#### ASAP." It was my dad's number. My heart sank. I had a feeling I knew what was happening.

I couldn't call long distance on my desk phone, so my boss gave me her cell phone. I called. And I was right.

"Gramma isn't going to make it."

As soon as I got off the phone with my dad, I called Jake's partner. I couldn't get ahold of Jake on my own, and he didn't answer, so I left a message half in tears, saying, "Rick, it's Nicole. I can't get ahold of Jake, so if you can find a way to, or find someone who can, tell him my Grandma isn't going to make it, and I have to go to her."

I told my supervisor what was happening and gave her her phone back. She took the Crisis phone that I was supposed to have for the week and said "I'll take care of this." I ran out the door to my car.

I couldn't even stop home to feed Wendell, so I stopped at Matt's and gave him my keys, I said, "she's dying, feed Wendell, ok?" and he said he would.

The drive to the hospital, 45 minutes, was an eternity. I almost had to stop numerous times because I was breaking down.

And I didn't know how to get ahold of Jake. It was so hard to think about having to go through this all without him.

When I got there, I couldn't even go into her room. About 9 of my family were already there, and she had tubes hooked up to her, and she wasn't awake anyway. I looked in and saw her, and broke down and ran away from the room. My dad followed me. I found a small waiting area and just sat there sobbing while he held me. Then he told me I needed to eat (typical dad thing, right?) so he took me and all of my cousins out for supper.

When we got back from supper, I saw the Schwan's truck parked outside of the hospital. I came in, and he was standing there with his arms wide open, and I sobbed for so long.

She woke up for a little while, and mumbled softly, though it was so hard to understand. We decided that she was asking for "big sloppy kisses." She was only awake for a very short while. That was the last time she'd be awake. I went in the room though, but I needed to be alone.

I kissed her cheek, and I said, "You've always been my best friend. You saved me." Her eyes fluttered. I KNOW she heard me and tried to respond. But I know what she would have said anyway.

My siblings and I sat there for a while, Bryan, Sammi, Allie, and I, sobbing. I held Bryan for a long time. It was so hard to be there, especially without Dustin. That broke my heart.

Jake, my dad, my aunt Linda, and I were the last ones in the room that night. Linda stayed overnight. But I sat there and sobbed for so long, just Linda and I in the room.

When I was leaving, I said, "I'll see you later, G-ma. Sweet dreams, ok?"

When I would spend the night at her house, she always let me sleep on the right side of her huge bed. I was her special one. I really was. She wasn't supposed to have favorites, but I was hers. I think because I spent so much of my life under her wings. I feel like everyone knew it. Sometimes, I feel bad feeling that way. Especially if it was all in my head.

Jake made me spend the night with him in Morton (a few miles away) at the hotel. Tuesdays are his overnight, and he wasn't supposed to be coming home. So I did. I didn't sleep at all.

On Wednesday, we got to the hospital around 8:45am. My uncle had finally arrived from Texas, where he's been working for months. My aunt Sara and her daughters were on their way from the cities. Their flight from Seattle came in at 6am.

Wednesday was the longest day of my life. We watched her slowly fade away. She didn't wake up once that day. Every hour they'd come and take her blood sugar and her blood pressure. Her pressure went from 70s/40s to 50s/20s to 40s/10s, to unmeasurable. The last time they checked her blood sugar, it was at 34. We asked them not to take it anymore, and to take the needles out.

At that moment, we knew she'd never have to deal with needles again.

The pastor arrived at 3:00pm, and did a prayer service with us all. By this time, her 6 children, 5 children-in laws, 15 of her 17 living grandchildren, 1 grandson in-law, 4 significant others, and 3 of her 4 great-grandchildren were at the hospital. Her sister and brother-in-law were there too. Her room was filled. And there were 10 chairs in the hallway outside her room where those not in the room could sit. We couldn't all fit.

Her sister left in the afternoon. She said, "I'll see you tomorrow, sister. I love you."

Just after 1:00 in the morning, on Thursday, February 1, my grandmother left us.

When Jake and I got home that night, Wendell had destroyed the place, but Matt had cleaned it up for us.

I sobbed harder than I had ever sobbed in my life. I couldn't breathe. I just kept thinking, "I'm only 23. I have so many years without her." I realized I'd never get another letter, another phone call, another hug or kiss, and she'd never say 'I love you, Nikkie.' again. And it hurt more than any broken bone I've ever had. My heart hurt. Literally.

I barely slept, but Jake held me all night.

Thursday we went to Lamberton to my dad's. My grandma raised her children in the house my parents have been raising my family in since 1994. It only felt right to be there. We planned her funeral. The day was a big blur. I spent the night there, sleeping in my dad's bed with Allie. She didn't fully understand what was going on.

I don't much remember Friday, but Allison didn't want me to cry anymore, so she decided she needed to spend the night with me. Jake had to go to work to make up the two days he took off, and had an overnight, so I decided it was a good idea. She's one person who can help me feel better in almost any circumstance. So she spent the night, two nights, and we took her home Sunday.

On Monday, I went back to Lamberton, and we went through Grandma's things. I didn't need anything. I didn't really want anything, but her daughers and son decided that I would be the one to receive my grandmother's engagement ring. I was the firstborn grandchild. My cousin Tarah, the next oldest daughter, second engaged, received her wedding band. Her accordian went to Jacob.

They sent an afghan with for him, too, and a baby one for my future children. She made gorgeous afghans.

The one he received was always at the head of her bed. It still smells like her, faintly. I've been sleeping with it every night. It's starting to lose her scent, and it kills me to know that soon it'll be gone.

Monday was also my six month wedding anniversary.

Yesterday, Tuesday, was her funeral. It was so hard. I couldn't look in her casket at first. I just couldn't. I didn't want to see her not breathing. The last I had seen her, was two weeks prior, with my aunt Sara (read the last January entry, I think it's there) and she was still my Gma, laughing, telling jokes, stories, full of life and love. This wasn't her anymore. It hadn't been for a week. Eventually I looked, with my brother Bryan and Jake at my side. I held their hands and consoled Bryan. He was taking it so hard.

15 minutes before the funeral service, the pastor had a family time with us, once more. As he was wrapping up, Dustin, my brother in jail, walked in. I knew then that I could cry. I ran to him, in the middle of the pastor's message to us, and hugged him, and he bawled harder than he ever had before.

The funeral service was a bit of a blur. Her family took up the first 8 pews in the church. I remember in the message, the pastor, who was crying (he loved her too), made a reference to the Wednesday before she died. He had walked into the hospital and saw us flooding the corridor, and knew how much she was loved, and how much she loved all of us. She waited until we had all said our goodbyes to go. That's how she was. Always.

We buried her outside of Walnut Grove, next to her former husband (they never stopped loving each other, but he suffered from Schizophrenia, so they couldnt' stay together), so she wouldn't be alone. We knew she'd like that.

She was buried under a fresh coat of snow. She loved the snow.

I could barely leave. I had to be escorted away from her with my uncle, my husband, and my dad. I didn't want to leave her. The thought of leaving her there in that casket, in the ground, was SO final, and I didn't want her to be alone. I always hated leaving her. This was the worst. She couldn't even give me a hug goodbye.

The rest of the day was a blur. We went back to my dad's and spent the day. We laughed, we cried.

Jake and I came home, and he held me as I cuddled with that blanket and sobbed my heart out. It still hurts so much. It's too final. It's going to be too long.

I'm not doing well. I went to my internship, and don't remember the day at all. But I'm still breathing, and I'm trying.

Her favorite color was green. There were so many green plants from people who couldn't come gracing the church. It was amazing to see green.

And I'm sorry that was so long. If you read it all, her name was Leora Mae. Include that somewhere, so I know that you took the time to read it. It would really mean a lot to me.