Sunday, March 24, 2013

No More Nursing, Volume 2

Breast feeding is an honor. It's a blessing. It's a burden.

It's a personal choice made by every new mother, whether or not to try. I don't judge either way. No one should.

With both babies, I made the choice to nurse. It came so naturally from the brimming, despite the common struggles of beginning pain and the body becoming accustomed. There were struggles along the way. Each baby had similarities, but both different.

With Spencer, the agonizing decision to cease the nursing journey came a few days before he was four months old. It had become more a burden and difficulty with his very slow speed and trying to fit work and nursing together. Pumping didn't work as well as I had hoped, and we stopped suddenly, after much thought, however, one emotional Sunday morning. And it was because of me, mostly.

With Collin, we have made it nearly seven months. With Spencer, I had hoped to make it six at least, so stopping was very heart wrenching for that reason. I had the goal of "longer this time," for Collin.

I achieved that goal. And, we made it to six months.

But, over the last few weeks, I have seen our journey coming to an end. I've been trying to prepare myself for it. I've been encouraging myself. Trying to remind myself that we met my goals and exceeded my expectations. Reminding myself that it is okay to do formula alone. I know all of these things in my mind, but my heart still aches.

The other morning, as most, Collin woke in the early hours, before SJ. I have become accustomed to pulling him in our bed beside me and nursing him back to sleep.

But that particular morning, he nursed until nearly sleeping.

Then, he got mad.

And he rejected me.

I couldn't fill his tummy, and it upset both of us.

I have tried a few times since then to nurse him "just one last time," and each time, leaving him hungry and resigning to a bottle after.

Despite the extra time we've been given, I just haven't been ready to let go.

But, my body seems to have nothing left.

I feel selfish wanting to continue. I don't always enjoy nursing, but yet, I enjoy the special bond. The fact that I, up until recently, have been able to provide him with something that only I can give him. It's unique. Yes, anyone can give him a bottle, but only I can give him that nursing bond and experience.

And now, I can't. I feel like there's nothing now that makes me so unique. That I could easily be replaced. That I am not completely necessary.

And I know it's not entirely true, in my mind, but my heart doesn't quite agree.

I have been trying to be in positive spirits about it. He is healthy. He's got some adorable baby chub. He's so wonderful, just like his brother.

But, last night, in my futile attempt to pump and prolong our journey, he sat on his daddy's lap, watching me, and I burst into tears. I cried myself to sleep.

My heart isn't ready, but my body is. I feel like this time I didn't make the decision to stop, and neither did Collin. It feels like a cruel act of my body against us both.

I know it's okay. But, it aches.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A toddler tornado.

It's tornado season. Full force. Has been for months, at our house anyway.

Today has been especially chaotic.

Collin woke at 7:15. I tried for a good hour to get him back to sleep. At about 8:20, he seemed out. I was a lucky lady and fell asleep also, until I woke at 9:02 to the sound of water....

Oh my word. I rushed into the bathroom and found that Spencer had awoke quietly, dumped a bunch of stuff in the tub (roll of toilet paper, a diaper, toys, socks, puzzle pieces) where there was a small bit of water as the alligator was in there growing (one of those toys that sits in water and gets bigger). He was then scooping up the tub water with a fireman helmet and dumping it in the toilet. Amazingly, the bathroom floor was dry.

Okay. So I pulled the plug out of the drain and kicked him out of the bathroom. While I was taking things out if the tub, he was in our room waking Collin, and stripping the blankets and pillows off the bed again. To jump on it, of course.

That made Collin laugh, as usual, and then he was playing peekaboo, laying face down on the bed. Of course, this entire time I was trying to persuade him to let me fix his shirt, which was half off, and change his diaper. I figure it's easier on all if I wait until he is willing.

As he played I took pictures and noticed he uploaded a random background image I had downloaded of the moon into Instagram and apparently tweeted a photo of our bedding on twitter.

Finally, got that taken care of and we came downstairs for breakfast. I gave him a bowl of Apple Jacks (dry) and asked him to sit in the chair nice and eat them because Collin was going to use the high chair for his. He sat there a few minutes nicely, so I escaped to the kitchen to make coffee.

By the time I had coffee made and dishes started, SJ had snuck upstairs. I assumed he had finished his cereal and brought the bowl with to play (he loves containers), so I figured that was fine.

I hear him up there talking super loud nonsense for quite a while. Then, he yelled "Alligator Cat!"

I knew then he had my phone. Oh gosh. Apparently, he called the Verizon operator/robot lady. Then, text Desi a bunch.

I went upstairs to get it and found he had been eating his cereal on our bed.

Oh, and I then discovered he had taken 43 self-portraits, also.

Came back down stairs and he and Collin were playing, so I went back to the kitchen and started to take off my nail polish and he came running through and scared me (apparently I must have had the coffee jitters) and I spilled nail polish remover all over the cupboard, myself, and into my coffee.

I accidentally yelled "Damnit!"

Then, of course, he started yelling it while jumping all over.

Finally, we are calm. We are all watching a "Praise Baby" video.

It could be quite a long day.

I sometimes look at my kids, both in diapers, then reflect on days like today and think "what the crap were we thinking?!"

Guess, deep down, a part of me loves (or tolerates) the chaos, because I wouldn't trade these boys for anything.

Here, enjoy proof of my tornado season. Haha.

(And as I started getting these photos uploaded a certain someone decided that he should play butt naked on he stairs.)

Nap time yet?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Simple Joys Today

After a weekend with no "time off" (Jake worked both days) it felt like, missing a MOPS the Friday before, and then having two days in a row with cancelled play and mommy dates, I got out of bed this morning on the verge of exhausted tears.

I do, in part, blame hormones associated with breast feeding and weaning from that, so I feel I should cut myself some slack.

But, part of it is just average grumpiness and slight disappointment in the events of the week.

So, in hopes of turning it all around, I re-read my prior post (I think it's a good one, read for yourself), and decided I am going to list ten simple joys from today.

Yes. I've only been up five hours, but here we go, thinking on ten, and they will be in no particular order.

1. Despite being woke early, repeatedly, to an alarm and then grumpy baby- I got to consciously cuddle up in the warm bed for a few hours.
2. After Jake left for work, I also got to snuggle with Spencer, who, as he does most mornings, threw himself in bed beside me.
3. I had friends awake at 7:30am who could text me back when I was looking for an outlet to vent.
4. Spencer didn't drop any cereal on the floor at breakfast.
5. I'm wearing fuzzy socks, and I love fuzzy socks.
6. I woke up with a hankering to watch "Troop Beverly Hills," for no real reason, and when I logged into Facebook after I decided I would during nap time, a friend had coincidentally posted an image from the movie and I got a nice little giggle.
7. I was able to go to the bathroom without toddler company earlier.
8. A blogging site social networker told me she thinks my blog is beautiful and asked me to import it there (so now this can be read on blogger and flophouse).
9. Spencer and Collin were both laughing at me while I danced to "Blues Clues."
10. I used to have one coffee mug I loved, and then Jenn gave me another and after I broke a different mug, I scored three more in the same style as the one Jenn gave me, and so I have four cute coffee mugs to choose from. The fact that I'm torn between which to use today is a refreshing "simple" problem to have.

I did it! And I could list more, but Collin is fussing and likely wants to eat so I am going to go relish one of these very few last times I am able to nurse him.

Anyone else have ten simple joys today?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Honest Mom: Confessional

Today, an online friend sent me a private message. In summary, it said something like:

With two little ones, how are you a stat-at-home-mom and seem happy all the time? Because, I'm not. I feel like I'm failing, even if my child is happy.

I sent her a very lengthy, thousand-thoughts-a-minute response. Unsure if it was really coherent, I asked another SAHM friend (or two or three) if it sounded okay.

After a little revision, I decided I would share my downright truthful response. You just never know who might be feeling the same and want to read something like it. So, with a sleeping 6.5 month old in my arms, here goes (thank you, iPhone for making this possible):


Oh golly, I am not happy all the time! (I actually told her post-babbling that I felt my self-esteem boost when she said that I do, because lately, especially the last week or so, I feel like I complain too much.)

I'll be totally honest: I love bring a stat-at-home-mom it. Like crazy.

Compared to the alternative of having someone else see my kids more than I do, raising and teaching them, seeing their milestones before me, etc. But goodness knows there are days I want to lock myself in my room and cry. I confessed a few weeks ago something I thought was so terrible my husband would be ashamed to know me, I told him "I yelled at our baby to stop crying because I didn't know what to do for him!" I felt so wretched after I did it that I cried in the bathroom for a bit before calming him down.

Spencer (28 months old) is mischievous. He's fast, smart, talk, stubborn, and strong. He doesn't like to clean up toys yet, so my house always seems to look like an explosion happened, unless he's feeling helpful, or I clean up at night. He knows how to take advantage of nursing times to do the most of his mischief, and my brain doesn't w always function 100% so that I am proactive. I've tried redirection, time outs, stern voice, stern look, and slapping his wrists. He doesn't bend from his will easily. I found if I flick his forehead, it's most effective. Some days though, it's enough to make me wish he could spend all day in his high chair.

Collin (6.5 months old) last week, refused to nap unless he was attached to my boob. He wasn't even eating! he just wanted to be attached to my chest. It was wretched. It was one of those weeks where those breakfast shake powder drinks were my nutritional sanity, because most days it seemed like I didn't get "real food" until two or three in the afternoon and supper until Jake was home. The boys were on opposite nap schedules half the week and generally, taking turns being unhappy or needy all day long.

I very rarely have any quiet mommy tome unless they nap at the same time. And, they stay up late, because Jake works from seven or eight to at least eight to eleven six days a week.

But yeah, somehow, I stay pretty positive. There are so many beautiful and happy moments that keep me smiling. I photograph them with my phone as much as possible and in down time I find myself looking at them and sharing then with others.

I try to play with the boys frequently. It can be really hard. I am an adult of course, and even as a child I wasn't crazy playful, I don't believe, so playing toys and make believe and horsing around doesn't always come easily.

Spencer loves to read books and draw and make music, so we do a lot of that. He likes to sing, so if I'm dealing with Collin, I am usually singing with him or repeating something they think is funny fifty seven million times.

I tickle torture them and we sing and dance a lot. I hate dancing but they think its funny. Last night, Jake came home to me running from one side of the room toward Collin with a fake evil laugh to get him to squeal and laugh, back to the other side for Spencer to give me a hug, tell me he loves me, and then have him tell me to get Collin again. Twenty minutes. It was, oddly, a great workout. Haha.

But the boys both do a lot of independent play too. Collin plays on the floor and watches Spencer. Spencer spends half the day driving vehicles in different locations in the house.

We play in the basement as a group once or twice a day. It's the toy den where most toys are located. Spencer plays alone down there, too, but he loves it even more if Collin and I are down there, too.

And, to be completely honest, my "bad mom" side throws on some movie a few times a day (we don't have tv channels). I say that with quotation marks, because I don't believe any more that it makes me a terrible mother.

Partially, TV is just for background noise that I know isn't going to teach spencer naughty words or phrases. They don't sit and watch it all day, but it's usually on. It catches their attention a few minutes here and there and drowns out other noises like car door slamming, traffic, the washer and dryer. That way, it's noise other than crying if someone is unhappy.

I felt guilty about it for a while, but then SJ started interacting with it if I was busy (answering questions the characters pose) , he repeats phrases and sings along with the songs. I use Elmo, blues Clues, to help learn because they really do teach (that's how he learned some of his colors), and he also likes Dinosaur Train, Thomas the Train (I HATE Thomas. I often use him to have a few quiet moments in the bathroom or kitchen and to not be in the room), Cars 1&2, Toy Story 1&3, Monsters Inc, the Lion King, and the Veggie Takes Solly Song Countdown. I know tv isn't great for you, but it's better than some things. And, I feel Ike the things I let play help, as I said, with learning: colors, shapes, numbers, letters, words, and memory exercises. And lets be honest, it's winter and in South Dakota, it's freezing. This morning, the sun shine crazy bright and the temperature was -13 degrees. Can't really play in that cold. And if the option is available, I always have subtitles on. Spencer LOVES pointing out letters

Being a SAHM was really hard once SJ started moving and knowing what he wanted but couldn't communicate and get it. So frustrating.

I started introducing new games or activities then. Playdough. Floam. Bubbles in the bathtub. I would blow them while he was taking a bath because if he was wet he could catch them. Glow sticks and light up toys in the dark. Sidewalk chalk paint. Balloons. Giant bubbles outside in the summer, I liked to save new stuff for days I just did NOT feel like playing. Around this time, I was pregnant with Collin, and over the summer (which was SO WRETCHED HOT (100 or more degrees a lot of the time)) I was in my third trimester. My dad gave SJ an inflatable pool for the yard. But, the summer was hard, and I was so miserable I didn't feel like doing much, and felt like the worst mom ever quite often, because of it.

Anyway, now that SJ is talking and more self sufficient, it's a bit less frustrating, but he also has his tantrums and he is LOUD. I try to just sing and play with Collin and ignore him mostly. It doesn't always work. Sometimes, I cry too.

But it's totally okay to not interact with my children constantly. Really. I'm with them 98% or so of their awake time and have been since they were born. So, even spending half if every hour with then directly interacting seems like a lot.

I had guilt about not giving my undivided attention constantly fir quite a while. However, kids need to be okay entertaining themselves. It encourages independence and creativity. It happens at daycare. Why can't it happen at home?

Being a SAHM means house chores. Feeding kids. Cleaning kids. Cleaning up after kids. And more. Trying to remember that MOM IS IMPORTANT too and it's okay to go to the bathroom before you engage in a playtime activity, etc. and it's all day every day, usually. I know that moms who work outside the home have these issues too. In no way am I downsizing whatever plight is there. I just know, from experience working outside the home, your messes are usually a bit fewer, less dishes, etc. to do because you're not in the house constantly. And, some of us even take on a way to work at home producing income. That takes time away for your kids, too, but that's still okay.

Sometimes the boys are so crabby playing by themselves and I want to lose it . Sometimes, I lay on the floor near them and play a few games on my phone,check Facebook, whatever, and they're fine because I'm near.

I used to feel bad about having my phone on me most of the day, but you know what? I don't anymore. It's not that I'm engaged in activities that are taking up air of time when I have it on me. I save that for naps. But, I am sending texts, taking pictures if the boys, sharing them, updating my Facebook occasionally, interacting on Facebook . Stuff like that. I think it's okay, because I am otherwise shut in this house 14 or so hours a day with a toddler and an infant with no adults to have conversation with. So you bet your bottom I am sending and receiving texts that take, on average, a few seconds to read and reply to. If it weren't for my phone, I would be shut off from the outside world, largely.

I think it's all about letting go of "mommy guilt." I was always worried I was doing this wrong or that wrong. Not enough attention. Too much. Too much tv. Too many snacks. Letting Spencer carry a dippy cup around instead of constantly taking him in and out if a high chair. Not enough reading books. Not enough messy time. Breast feeding. Formula feeding. My house is too messy. The beds aren't made.

There are so many things that make a mom feel guilty and that she's not doing a good job. Or that she's failing. I think at some point, nearly every mom feels a failure. It can last mere minutes, or a really long time. But chances are, if you care enough about being a failure, you're probably not actually failing. You are likely doing a much better job than you think. Look at your child and see how much they love you! When I feel bad about my mothering, I like to look at Spencer especially. He's the older one, so it's easier to see the fruits of my labors. He is so sweet. Full of hugs and kisses. He is so smart. He is funny. He is WONDERFUL. He loves me and shows it through hugs, kisses, words, and face it, his desire to be near me or "bugging" me or "helping" me ALL THE TIME.

So... I'm babbling and I don't know if any if this helped or not. But yeah, overall, I'm crazy happy being a sahm with two crazy kids.

I complain to my husband, usually more than once a day I think and I was worried he thought I didn't want to do it anymore, so, I clarified to him that everyone dislikes something about what they do, I think. Coworkers. Activities, what have you.

Sometimes, I dislike what my kids are doing (screaming, pooping like crazy, not letting me eat, whatever), and because they are my kids I felt bad saying it, but those who work outside the home get to complain to someone, usually and they aren't wretched or evil employees.

It's kind of the same as complaining about something at home. I shouldn't feel bad about it because in general I love it. He understood and now I don't feel bad. He knows that if I don't get to vent from time time I'm going to go crazy, because a two year old and six month old dont really provide an outlet for conversation like that.

I'm here whenever if any mom need to blow up or anything. I don't mind. We're in this "business" together.

Oh- and also. With Jake working so much and having our only vehicle, by Sunday I feel like I might lose my mind most weeks. I'm lucky that, against my will sometimes, he kicks me out for a few hours. I usually do nothing more than run errands alone, but it's nice to not have to be at home with the kids and be in my own little world without the interruption of diapers or "more juice!"

And it makes me feel good coming home and having them all happy to have me back.

And one Sunday a month I have the day off from housework because I felt like Jake got time off from what he does, but because I live my job that I really didn't, and that helps recharge, too. Not everyone may feel that way or need that, and props if you're one who doesn't. In the interest of self-preservation, I had to be completely honest with myself and my husband, and admit that I do. I was scared to ask, but as usual, it was my mommy guilt telling me I shouldn't feel that way, and he did not object at all. I think that if daddy really understands what SAHMommy goes through, he is a lot more willing to help than mommy thinks, in general. Heck, sometimes, on my "day off," help out anyway just because I don't feel like a maid on those says. Haha. And while I was so worried about toy messes and junk, I finally had it pounded into my head enough by a few non-judge mental people that love me dearly- it's messy because I have kids and because I spend time with them instead of just cleaning up after them. (Well, at least that explains the toys, not our problem of adult clutter.. Haha.)

AND one day EVERY WEEK for a few hours, I have another friend who brings her three year old son over in the morning. The kids play and we have coffee and talk. It's the highlight if our week. Every week. We've missed once since August, it's that important to us. If you don't have someone who can have a standing play date, maybe Skype or something?

Jake ALWAYS does baths now. It's his one on one time with the boys and my break in the week. I usually do dishes without SJ begging at my legs, or watch a tv on DVD episode and actually get to watch it. I rarely go near them during bath time. Haha.

Lastly, I found things that I can do for ME, a few minutes here and there, to get a break. I sew a few minutes worth of projects or paint my nails. I have an ongoing notebook/journal letter for a friend I pen my thoughts in. I take a photo. They don't take a lot of time, but they se to give enough of a break that I can keep rolling with the tantrums and changing the diapers and cleaning up the toys and LOVING my job.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Country Girl, City Boys

Recently, more than once, I have made comments to my husband about how we are raising "city boys" and how we are "country folk." Not necessarily quite that way, but that's the gist of the sentiment.

We were raised, my husband and I, in a very rural area. My hometown is less than 1,000 people.

Granted, we don't live in a metropolis, but right now, we are living in the biggest city in our state. Population-wise, it's a city.

There usually isn't more to my sentiments than that, just mere competitive observation.

Tonight, watching "Cars" with Spencer, the song "Our Town" by James Taylor (I believe) struck me and got me all misty-eyed.

Jake often sings "Small Town" by John (Cougar) Mellencamp when he plays guitar. The lyrics there ring true on some levels. They usually get me reminiscing and thinking about their application to my own life.

Anyway, tonight, as I listened to the words of "Our Town," I began longing for rural life.

It's kind off surprising to me, actually.

I love living in a city for many reasons. Access to education, entertainment, organizations, medical care, shopping, etc.

There are things I don't love, also. Traffic. Noise. Crowding. Clutter. Crime rates.

Recently, I feel like there have been many news stories involving vandalism, accidents, homicides, assault, etc. I don't know if it is more than usual or that I'm just more aware. A few weeks ago, I asked Jake to start locking the door when he leaves in the morning so I would feel safer about is being here without him.

Growing up in a tiny town was a pain at times. Boredom? Yup, suffered from it. But, at the same time, my friends and I were able to find entertainment in such simple things. Two if my closest friends and I, Michelle and Clayton, made a rubber band chain that stretched for almost two city blocks. We were impressed.

Living in a small town was great for friendships. Yeah, less kids, but the friends you made lived close. Each of my closest friends in elementary school through junior high (when we consolidated school districts and made friends in neighboring towns) lived within a matter of blocks from me. You could walk to their house in the winter and generally not freeze your tail off. Heck, when we moved "into town" from the farm I had been living on, my best friend ended up being the girl right next door. When we moved a few blocks away, I had a friend living across the alley, one house over.

Now, living in a city, my friends aren't close. My kids' friends aren't close. Maybe they will be some day, but it's not all that likely. If I want my kids to have a play date, people have to pack up and drive fifteen to twenty minutes. Playing with friends takes actual planning.

It feels very foreign, sometimes.

I was able to play in the middle of the street at all hours of the day. I lived on one of the busiest streets in town. When we visit my parents, I have to consciously prohibit Spencer from playing in the street I know it's really unlikely that anything would happen there. Even as little as he is. But I would NEVER want him to get the idea that its ever okay to play in the streets in the city we live in. No way.

In tiny town, walking around at night was no big deal. Here, I try to avoid it and will want my kids to do the same.

But, in my small town, the grocery store isn't open on Sunday afternoons. Nothing is open in the middle of the night (except the bar, and that closes at one I think). When Collin developed a horrid ear infection, it was TORTURE to everyone because at seven that night when it got bad, the store was closed and we had to wait until 8 the next morning to buy pain killers. The closest "urgent care" was half an hour or so away.

When it's all said and done, I love both. I dislike both. There's no "right" location, I guess.

I'm fortunate that my family and some if Jake's live in rural areas, so my sons will occasionally experience a taste if our childhoods. I will always long for some of the experiences I had and wish them for my boys, but I also know there are experiences I wished I had as a child that they will have living here.

That said, it still is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I was a country girl, and my babies are city boys.

So be it.

The photos below are all mine. Enjoy. Don't steal.


Friday, March 15, 2013

There goes my breath.

My heart is very heavy today.

Staying at home with my sons is a luxury worth more than I can give value to. Some days, time drags on while others it flies by. Daily, I thank God and my husband for the opportunity to have so much with my sons, our treasures.

With time feeling so lucid, I honestly lose track of dates.

As was the case yesterday, until about 6:30pm.

Shortly after six, I read a news article in which a young boy was saved from drowning at Falls Park here in town. But, his heroes were missing.

My heart felt like it hit the floor. I became lightheaded and tearful.

Shortly after, I realized the date.

On March 14, 1994, my beautiful young cousin, only two-years old, Carissa, went missing. After what seemed like weeks, but really wasn't, she was found in the river on her family farm. She had followed their dog out the door quietly, quickly, and to the river, where she fell in and lost her life. I remember sitting, watching, waiting, praying, hoping, terrified... Until I saw a sight I will never forget.

Last night, when the date and tragic coincidence hit me, it toon my breath away. Literally. The room began spinning.

Partially out of my own sorrow and scars. But also, largely, for the overwhelming empathy I felt for the families of these two heroes. I felt their weighted, heavy hearts. Their world crumbling. Their shiny and restlessness. Their helplessness.

It hit home. I don't know them, but I felt I was there with them.

Two families lost lived ones who gave up their breath so a little boy could have his back. So selfless.

I've been spending a great deal of time over the last 21 hours praying. Praying for peace, for comfort, for strength. I've prayed for the rescue and recovery workers. I've prayed for the lost lives. I've prayed for their families. I've prayed endlessly for this young boy who will live the remainder of his life knowing that his sister and a complete stranger lost their lives for him.

It truly angers me that there are so many inconsiderate people that, instead if offering compassion, consideration, and condolences instead find it appropriate and necessary to offer condescend and blame. Hostility toward the mother. Angry critiques of parenting skills. And all while these heroes are still being searched for (though they may have just been found). It makes me sick to my stomach.

I'll just continue to pray.

Update: They have recovered the body of the little boy's older sister.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Some Day, I'll Tell Them...

I apologize in advance if this jumps around a bit.

I've had a lot on my mind lately. Ever since a local girl lost her family in a tragic one-car accident, I can't get her off my mind.

I can't get family off my mind.

I can't get mortality off my mind.

The whole incident had weighed me down last week. Until Friday. I prayed for her again, and suddenly felt more hopeful for her future and coping and living life until she meets them again.

But the finality of death, the shortness of life... The fact that my dad is over 50 and my mom approaching 50 in the next year or so... The fact that my husband is 30, that I will be 30 in October... My siblings are in their twenties and teens... Spencer is 2... And Collin just turned 6 months... all of those things seem heavier to me somehow.

Life is so short. It could end minutes from now.

There are things I want to tell my sons someday. I want to tell them about how hard it was to have them, how badly we wanted them, how long and hard we waited and prayed.

How much they were loved before they even existed.

I tell them countless times a day, "I love you SO MUCH." I hope that soon enough they will comprehend what that means.

But not too soon. Life flies by too quickly. You don't see that fact coming until you've spent years on this earth.

I will tell them about their births, their childhoods.

I will tell them how hard their daddy worked so mommy could spend every day watching them grow and caring for them so a stranger didn't have to.

I will tell them about our financial crisis and how we were terrified every day that we may end up homeless.

I will tell them how we came out stronger. And how we were surrounded by love. Not only from our nuclear family of four, but by others... Family, friends, and strangers who cared.

I will tell them that they matter, not only to their parents, but to the world.

I will tell them that EVERYONE matters. Everyone deserves to be loved by somebody.

I hope that my time with them can show them that, too.

I will tell them how it was because if people loving is and helping us through that I was able to start a small business while being home with them. It started because I wanted to give them some homemade, beautiful things. And to share those things with a friend or two. And how the sharing, out of love and gratitude, produced the Spenk & Ollie line.

And, I will tell them that because of those things, in their honor, I... We... Have already been able to make a difference for other's lives. Not by product, necessarily, but by giving. Because, out of gratitude, and my constant desire to make the world better somehow, I have decided that a purpose for the business will be to help. In small ways now, maybe bigger someday, but to help.

To help a diabetic toddler and her family acquire a life saving Diabetes Alert Dog.

To help a homeless teenager and her 4 month-old have a place to call home, finally, for the next year.

While I... We... Didn't support these causes alone, I believe in my heart that every small gesture can lead to a big result, somehow.

I will tell them that we are a part if a bigger purpose. I will tell of how there is strength in numbers. I hope that they will be love warriors, and fight for what love can do to better the world.

I will tell them that love should always win.

God willing, I will tell them these things, and many more.

And, if by some tragedy I am unable, I hope that someone can tell them my words for me.