Monthly Archives: January 2011

“We Weren’t Made for This World”

November 20, 2010 was the one year anniversary of my mom’s homecoming.  As the day approached, I really felt the need and desire to go home and be with my family.  So Jude and I packed our bags and flew out for a long weekend.  Thankfully Jake arranged his work schedule so that he could work from home and stay with Ben.  I was sad to leave them both behind, but I wasn’t up for the challenge of traveling by myself with both kiddos.  Ben was actually thrilled to have Daddy all to himself and they did lots of cool things together…of course the highlight…playing a few holes of golf. 

This was Jude’s first flight and first trip to Arkansas.  The flight was crowded so we didn’t have a ton of room to squirm around.  I think his ears must have hurt because despite my best effort to keep him drinking milk or chewing on his paci, he cried for the first and last 15 minutes of the flight.  In between those crying episodes he was pretty content to hang out on my lap playing with the airplane safety guide or attempting to chew on the barf bag (I know, icky, right!!) placed so neatly in the seatback right in front of us and just perfect for his little hands to grasp.  On one of our flights we sat between a high school kid and a grandma.  They were both wonderful especially since Jude kept trying to grab high school kid’s headphones and he was literally trying to jump into the grandma’s lap.  High school kid told me that I should never make Ben and Jude share a room.  He went on to explain that his mom made him share a room with his little brother when they were younger and he hated it.  I giggled to myself as I listened to this unsolicited advice.  Sweet kid really felt like he needed to be an advocate for all big brothers out there!  When Jude got fussy the grandma sang the “Pat-a-cake” nursery rhyme to him…she even held him for a brief moment trying to help out which only made Jude sob harder.  They were sweet and I was grateful for their kindness.

We had a babysitter watch Jude on the morning of the 2oth while Jill, Tim and I went out for breakfast at a yummy little place called Susan’s in Springdale.  As hard as this particular day was it was so special to spend it with them.  While we ate we talked about Mom…we laughed as we remember some of our fondest memories of her.  She was such a fun person…we never knew what goofy thing she might say (or do), or where we might find her missing coffee cup that she knew was “just right there,” or what surprise we’d find in the microwave after dinner because she forgot to put the dish on the table.  Her smile.  The way she’d say “hello” so full of life and energy when she’d answer the phone.  And, oh, how she loved us!  Sweet sweet memories.  

We cried as we remembered the pain of losing her and how difficult the past year had been without her.  Of course celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas and special days like her birthday and Mother’s Day  were really tough as expected.  But other things were difficult too often catching me off guard causing a flood of emotions.  For example, on the one year anniversary of the date we received the phone call that Mom was in the emergency room and they suspected she had pancreatic cancer or when we learned that she was coming home from the treatment facility and that there was nothing more they could do…it was almost like reliving the sadness all over again.  Even days when I’d go to the mall and see a mom and daughter shopping and eating lunch together were really tough (okay, that one’s still tough).  I was sad that she didn’t live to see Jude’s birth day, although I know she gets to see him now anytime she wants.  =) 

I’ll admit there were times that I just wanted to wallow in my own sadness and I did.  On many days I was just angry.  Why couldn’t God just heal her here on earth?  Earth is where we are and we miss her.  And then it hit me one day.  I am sure it had been said to me a million times before but I must not have been listening or better yet, I just didn’t want to hear.  I was driving when I heard a DJ on Z88.3 say, “We weren’t made for this world.  God didn’t plan it this way.  He planned for us to live in a garden, a perfect garden” [and we all know what happened there…thanks Adam and Eve].  So there in the car driving to Micheal’s with the boys in the backseat, I lost it.  This time my tears weren’t of sorrow and anger, but more like peace and healing.  So of course I still miss her and of course I still get sad about it, but I heard something else that really resonated with me.  The person said, “The pain we suffer after losing a loved one doesn’t get smaller over time as if to diminish who they were, but that we just grow bigger around the pain…that it makes us stronger.”  Cool, huh!  Not long ago I also heard a person’s interpretation of Matthew 5:4 that says, “Blessed are those who mourn…”  He explained, “We mourn because we were blessed by the person we lost.”  We were blessed to know Mom and call her our mom!

After breakfast the three of us went to visit mom’s gravesite at the national cemetery.  Each of us added our own bouquet of roses to the two that were already there.  While we were there we spent a lot of time just being quiet and it was nice.  I wish I could go there more often to visit.  When we first got to the cemetery there was a woman visiting another gravesite not far from Mom’s.  She was lying next to the grave.  We could hear her talking, but couldn’t make out what she was saying.  Every now and then we’d see her gently stroke the grass with her hand and by the look of the gravesite I could tell it was fairly new.  Before she left she asked us whose gravesite we were visiting.  We  shared with her about Mom’s story…that she had passed away a year ago from pancreatic cancer at the age of 62.  She said that her husband had recently passed away from cancer too and that he had lived with it for quite sometime.  I think he was in his 70’s when he passed away.  You could see the pain in her eyes as she talked about how much she missed him and about how she wished she could go now to be with him but knew she’d have to wait her turn to see him again in heaven.  We shared a hug there in the cemetery that day, two complete strangers both grieving for loved ones.  I was really touched by her.  The way she laid next to her husbands grave was so moving.  It was such a beautiful and refreshing expression of love.  

And on a much much lighter note, when we returned home the following day Ben asked, “Mommy are you and Jude going to leave again so that just me and Daddy can hang out?”  The little stinker makes me smile even if he was trying to get rid of me.  It was good to be home again with all of my boys!


Filed under Arkansas, Family, Mom

O is for Opi

At the beginning of November my dad flew in for a visit.  As a special treat we let Ben stay up late to go to the airport with me to pick him up. Ben was beside himself as he waited for Opi to come down that escalator.  He made sure to hold up the sign the entire time we waited.  Are you wondering about that cute little pumpkin he has for a sidekick?  That’s Fluff.  Yes, Fluff.  Ben picked him out at the pumpkin patch, named him Fluff and they were best buddies until, well, you know.  Fluff slept with Ben (the rule was he had to stay on the nightstand), Fluff rode everywhere in the car with us…he even went grocery shopping a time or two.

We got our man…that’s Opi!


The next morning Opi, Ben, Jude and I were off to visit the Central Florida Zoo.  

A ride on the Little Florida Coast Line Train is always one of the highlights of any zoo visit.  

Another highlight…a ride on the Animal Carousel!

We made our way around the zoo visiting some of our favorite animals like the monkeys, cheetahs, elephant, alligator and snakes.  We also had a brief encounter with this strange little creature.  I can’t remember his name, but the zoo worker had him out so that people could pet him.  Jude thought he was pretty cool.  Ben on the other hand wasn’t at all interested in getting close to this little creature much less pet him.  Of course Opi wasn’t scared either, but I was right there with Ben.  It took a lot of courage for me to pet this guy!!


That evening our babysitter came over to watch the boys while we took Dad out for a special treat (well, really he treated us, but we picked the restaurant)!  Thanks, Dad!!  =)

The restaurant:  Hollerbach’s Willow Tree CafeThe food:  German.  The entertainment:  Two guys singing German songs in German.  The experience:  German Gemuetlichkeit. Gemuetlichkeit is a sense of well-being and happiness that comes from enjoying the company of friends and family while savoring good food and drink.


I’m pretty sure this was one of the most fun dining experiences I’ve had.  The atmosphere in this place is amazing.  It was crowded.  This place is always crowded.  And loud.  Oh yes, we sang and we even did the chicken dance.  And for those of you that know my side of the family, the chicken dance is a big deal.  It is a family tradition…learning how to do the chicken dance was a rite of passage growing up. 

We started with the sausage sampler.  (As you can see we dug right in before I thought to take a picture.  The pictures really don’t do it justice…this food is sooooooo good!)

Next up, schnitzel.  We all had different types of schnitzel and they were all equally good.  I had the Schnitzel Champignon Art, Sauerkraut and Kase Spatzel.  Is your mouth watering yet?


If all that wasn’t enough (and it was…we took a lot to go) we had dessert.  In our defense we were sitting right next to the dessert display.  We’d been staring at it all night.  Just writing this post makes me hungry…anyone up for some German food?


The next morning we traveled to New Symrna Beach for the day.

While most of the country was freezing we were enjoying a gorgeous (yet very windy) day at the beach.

Jude dipped his little toes into the ocean for the first time.  He loved it!

Ben played in the sand with his trucks and worked on a sandcastle with Jake.  (Anytime they’d make a little progress on the sandcastle Ben would bulldoze it down…hence, no picture of a sandcastle.)

We ended a perfectly perfect day with lunch by the boardwalk.  Thanks for a fun visit, Opi!  We love you!


Filed under Beach, Ben, Family, Food, Jude, Orlando

Jude…7 Months

Jude turned 7 months old on November 5, 2010.  A couple of my favorite memories from this month…he started waving and saying “dada” for the first time!

We still take walks down to the dock in our neighborhood to feed the fish (and the occasional turtle).  I love this picture of Ben snuggled up next to Jude on a chilly morning down by the dock.  Ben is such a good big brother.  It’s common for him to tell us, “Jude is my best friend.”  And Jude is just as smitten with Ben.  They completely feed off of each other…they laugh together, “talk” together and during those not so fun moments, they cry together.  Jude usually wakes up from his afternoon nap before Ben and when it starts to get late and Ben still isn’t awake I send Jude in to wake him up!  I fly Jude right down on top of Ben and they both squeal with delight.  Jude gives a couple of tugs on Ben’s hair, an occasional slap in the face (not on purpose of course) and presto chango…Ben is wide awake!

Another favorite…this video…take a look…

Yep, it was the last night Jude took a bath in the baby tub.  There was water everywhere!!

I snapped this picture right after the bath video above.  I’m sure in about 15 years Jude will really appreciate that I put this picture on the blog, but I just love this picture…the dimples, the rolls…

And here they are…their first bath together, bubbles and all!  The first couple of baths together went great, but somewhere around the third bath or so Jude got an unexpected underwater kick from Ben.  I’m not so sure that Ben intended to kick him, but either way, kick him he did.  For the next couple of weeks if Ben even stepped foot in the bathroom while Jude was in the bathtub, Jude would cry hysterically and flail all over the tub.  Seriously, it took two weeks to get them back in the bathtub together.  Thankfully all is well with the two of them in the tub now!  Whew! 


Filed under Jude, Orlando

Green Meadows Farm

Hello again.  No, we haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.  Yes, like the rest of you, we’ve been crazy busy.  And somehow busy has won versus the blog lately.  The latest…Jude is recovering from croup.  Sweet little thing has not been feeling well.  Our normally happy easy-going guy has been miserable with a capital M…melting down into a heap of sobs anytime he was not in his mommy’s arms.  During the middle of all of that Ben woke up one morning with what appeared to be a spider bite on his ankle.  The ankle continued to grow larger and LARGER until finally we decided it was time to take him to the doctor.  Thankfully, the doctor assured us that the bite wasn’t infected.  We’re learning that with a little cortisone cream and a whole lot of TLC, the bite and Ben are both doing much better.  So, all that to say, I’m happy to report we are alive and (almost) well! 

Over the past several months we’ve shared lots of fun times with our friends and family.  So please, bear with me as I play a little catch-up on the blog…first up, Ben’s first field trip!  At the end of October last year my friend Christy S. watched Jude (thank you, Christy!!) while Ben and I met up with some friends from his preschool at a place called Green Meadows Farm.  We spent the majority of the day with Ben’s buddy Will, his mommy Jen and little brother Alex.  From corralling ducks, playing with pigs, riding the train, trotting on a pony, milking a cow to cruising on a tractor drawn hayride, we had a blast and we. were. exhausted!  For the first 30 minutes of the hour-long drive home Ben rambled on and on about complete nonsense before giving in to the exhaustion and finally falling asleep.  Here’s a little visual recap of the day…

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Filed under Ben, Co-op preschool, Orlando