My Letter to my mom…

I was cleaning a few things off of my computer and found this…… It’s what I wrote for my mother’s memorial service. =/ I still cry, and I can’t seem to finish it without chocking up still. I miss you mom. I miss you so much it still hurts so bad.

 

 

Dear Mom,

 

I bet everyone is expecting me to say something profound, and moving about who my mother was and what she meant to me. Truth be told I don’t think I have anything profound to say. What I do have to speak about is an unmeasurable love, and an unbreakable bond.

 

Although my life with my mother was less than ideal, it was no less meaningful, and memorable. Even through the hardships, the pain, and the tears, my mother was in some way always with us, even if it was at heart.

 

Today my mother does not want us to mourn her death, but she wants us to celebrate her life, she used to always tell me that funerals and memorials were for the living to grieve and come together as family to celebrate life. Today, Friday the 13th, is suiting. It was a Friday the 13th she was born on. All good things happened to her on Friday the 13th, which she passed down to me. I met my husband on Friday the 13th, among many other wondrous joys. It’s suiting that we celebrate her life on a Friday the 13th. Today is about my mother, and her incredible journey, her unmeasurable love and her stubborn strength.

 

Everything I did in life, from childhood to adulthood into wifehood and motherhood I did to avoid the mistakes my parents made. I worked so hard to change the cycle of life I had been dealt. I did not want to be anything like my parents, or other family members. I did not want my children to endure the same hardships and pain I had to endure. I meticulously and methodically went out of my way to change the course of my life so that my children would one day have a better life than I did. I realized about this time last year when I was talking to my mom on the phone, that outside of different life decisions, I was exactly like my parents in almost every way. Which I realized was not a bad thing. I had their strong love and heart with a desire to help and serve others. I had my mother’s undeniable stubbornness, that meant when I made my decision I more than stuck to it; just as she would I would get passionate about my decision and make sure I got what I wanted and decided on. I had their strong work ethic. I was more like my parents than I wanted to admit. Looking back on it now, I see that I made my mother proud of the women, mother and wife I have become.

 

In life I never gave my mother enough credit for these gifts she passed onto me, which breaks my heart in more ways than I can scribe. I stand here and I choke when I remember thinking to myself about all of the times I was angry, frustrated and upset with my mom for keeping the entire truth of her condition from me; even though she was SO honest and forth coming with everything else. She would confide in her husband, in my husband, and in my mother in law, especially during the LONG labors I had with both of my sons. Although I wanted my mom at both births so excruciating much, I knew my mom was not doing well and told her to rest and she could come when they were born, or we could take them to see her, what ever she wanted. But she insisted that she be with me when I gave birth to them, because she knew how much her presence comforted me, and how I fed off of her strength to push through the contractions and bring the boys into the world. My mother in law, and mom created a bond, one not found in many families. Who could have imagined? I was and still am so very thankful that my mother had my mother in law to turn to. I still however, could just not understand why my mother would not confide in me, and tell me every detail of her condition.

 

The day after we had Zech, and we were released from the hospital, we went and had dinner, and picked up Jayden from my mother and father in laws house, we went back to my hospital, where my mom was admitted into the night I was in labor there with Zech, to see her. Let her see, hold and touch her new grandbaby, and love on her older grandbaby. She had gone out of her way to make sure Jayden had a big brother present, it’s one of his favorites, a gift I wouldn’t think of giving, but my wise mother knew better than me, because guess what? It’s one of his favorite toys to play with. He loves hooking the horse trailer with the horse inside up to the truck and make beep beep sounds with it as he drives it all over the house. Looking at my mother overfilled with such love, adoration, and affection over my new son, and Jayden, it suddenly occurred to me. I didn’t NEED to know the truth. I didn’t need to know because I was her child, and she was my mother. She was doing to me, what I do to my boys. She was protecting me from harm, hurt, and pain. She knew I had been through so much of it in my life, and now that I was finally happy with a family of my own, she was protecting me from the ugly truth. The truth that her days were dwindling down faster than I could blink. I am constantly telling Jayden, “No, no Jay, that’s hot,” or “Get back Jay, this is ouchie”, and kissing his boo boos. In the very same way my mom was telling me, “No April, this will hurt you” by not telling me the truth.

 

See parents are suppose to be our super heros. They are suppose to be strong, and not ever be weak. They are suppose to help heal our broken hearts, and mend our brokenness. It suddenly clicked to me that my mom, my super hero, was protecting me from even more pain than I needed to endure. I am just like her, I am protecting my boys from enduring pain they can’t even understand.

 

My step dad and my husband can sit there compare notes on who is more stubborn. If my mother or I are passionate about it, we are stubborn about it. Her and I would stand our grounds to the death of us. The Monday before she passed, we had a heart to heart talk. She was so scared of leaving her children, grandchildren and husband. She didn’t want to leave us behind. She especially felt terrible leaving Jayden and Zechariah behind. She loved her grandbabies MORE than anything in this world. They were her pride, and she was a very proud grandma. She showed them off every chance she got, and she squeezed out enough energy for them when she had nothing left to squeeze. She was so torn up about leaving them behind, not being able to physically be here and watch them grow up, and them not being able to have their own memories of her. I told her that I was so proud of her, and how hard she fought. That I loved her so much, and could never and would never be mad at her if she felt like she just couldn’t fight anymore. I told her that the boys would always know her, and always remember her, that I would talk about her as much as I could, and that we had SO many wonderful memories to share with them, and pictures to show them. I told her to remember my house, and the walls of my house plastered with photos, that there was no way they could ever forget their grandma. I told her how thankful I was that she proved the doctors wrong when they told her she wouldn’t even live long enough to see Jayden born. Not only did she live long enough to see Jayden born, she lived long enough to see Zechariah born. She wanted to know how I was doing post pardum, and I told her that I had no issues, she smiled, I know she was concerned with that, because we had many talks about it, especially since Zechariah gave me so many issues at the end. These two little boys were her proudest achievements. Being a grandma made her entire world that much better and bearable. She lived to spoil them rotten.

 

She knew it drove me crazy to sneak Jay ice cream, cookies,cake, and basically anything h was not suppose to have,but she loved every moment of it, because she got to spoil him, and drive me crazy. I still don’t know what gave her more of a thrill, spoiling the child, or driving the mama crazy. She also lived to support, spoil, and love her three children. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for one of the three of us. IF she had to crawl every inch of tis planet for us, she would and then some. She took us in when we had no where else and no one else to go to, she helped us when we were left to figure things out on our own, and could not. She loved us when we were unlovable. These are the things only a super hero could do; only a mother could do. It is her unconditional love that makes me be a better mother to my boys and a better wife to my husband. She was my best friend. I was always able to come to her with my issues, and problems. She would left me vent, cry, yell, or whatever else I needed. She never judged me, loved me any-less, or loved the person, mostly my husband who drives me nuts, any less either. At the end of our conversations she would say, “Okay, now what are you going to do, to make things better?” She used to always tell me, “April, don’t do anything stupid to lose that man of yours, he’s a good man. He takes good care of you. You don’t have to like him that day, but you have to love him.” We had these looks we could give each other that said EVERYTHING. Even if we were not face to face my mother would know I was giving her the look, because she said she heard it in my voice. Sometimes I would try and cover up what I was thinking or wanting to say, and she would get mad at me. She used to say, “If you don’t tell me I can’t give you advice. And if you don’t want my advice, then don’t ask for it, but your voice is asking for it, so knock it off, and spill it out already.” I lost the only person that I could communicate like that to, without judgement, ridicule, or backlash. Once everything was said, that was it. She never brought it up again. I can only pray to aspire to become a mother like that, where my boys could openingly come to me about anything, and I just love them, and push them on their merry little way. She set a high bar for me to achieve, and I intend to achieve it.

 

Mom stayed and fought long enough to see tht we were all going to be just fine. She made sure that I could handle being a mother times 2. She made sure to teach us something every time we talked. She made sure that I had the love and support of an incredible man, who came with an equally incredible family. She left knowing that the boys still had a grandma left to spoil them rotten, to help her daughter and be there for her, and in her own words, “To love her as if she was yours.” My mom wasn’t going to leave until she knew my ever wish came true, which was to have the strong family dynamic I never got to enjoy, but my boys would. She left knowing that I got my very wish, and that Jayden and Zechariah were more than abundantly loved. She knew they would never feel even once ounce of the pain I did growing up. That brought her great comfort, more than words could express.

 

My mother gave me a last gift in her final week and days. We confided in one another and made some promises, that will always be kept. I will love my boys unconditionally, without judgement and without reprieve just as she loved us. I would also crawl to the ends of the earth and far beyond for my boys if I had to, just as she did for us. I promised to always love my husband and his family just as she loved Mike and his. I promised to give the boys “The Biggest wettest kisses and biggest hugs from her every day.” and to remind them of her as much as I could so they would never forget her. I have. I made her promise to take care of my angel baby with my Aunt Dawn who was like my second mother while she was in heaven. I have now lost two mothers. When one wasn’t able to be there for me, the other was. I thank God for my mother’s incredible strength, and I can only dream of having that strength for my boys.

 

in giving me one last gift,I unknowingly gave my mom one last gift and memory she took with her. I called her 5 times and asked if she were okay,needed anything, or would like us to stay home form our vacation. She sounded fine, and told me that she did not want us to stay, she wanted us to go and have fun, that she loved me. I did not know that would be the last time I’d hear her voice, or see her face, and feel her arms around me. I thankfully did get to talk to her via text message and I called one last time shortly before she passed and told her how proud I was of her, and how much I loved her. I told her how much fun Jayden had at Seaworld. My step dad told me about showing her the pictures I sent her, and he told me that her face light up like the fourth of July and had a smile on her face from ear to ear, when she saw Jayden playing around with the Dolphins. Our text to one another while I drove out to California seem so remedial now, but I will cherish them. Random things like whether to grow Jayden’s hair out or cut it, and how excited we were to see Jayden’s reaction to Seaworld, and that I must put lard in my breastmilk because Zechy was a little chunker. That she was proud of me for breastfeeding both boys. Her last gift to me and act as my mom was, and I don’t know whether to saying let me go or made me go, spend a happy peaceful family vacation with my husband and boys. I had no idea until it was over, that it was my last gift to her and act as her daughter to send her pictures and updates about Jayden and how he was reacting to Seaworld. I gave her comfort of enjoying my babies, and watching them have fun. that’s what super heros do. My mom was, is and will always be my super hero. Thank you mom, for always being my super hero. Words could never say how grateful I am for your wisdom, strength, gifts, knowledge and stubbornness you passed down to me.

 

Always in my heart and I love you mom, please find peace and rest now.

 

Love Always, Your Daughter,

April.

Diving partially into the deep dark past……..

This women on my mothers site asked if she should apologize to the ex-wife of her fiance for being a “homewrecker,” three years later. My initial thought was, why would you do that? It got me thinking about a very dark time in my relationship with my husband; back when we were still only boyfriend and girlfriend. I wont break down our ENTIRE history, but anyone that knows my husband and I, know that we have a VERY LONG, complicated history. It wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies. Not that it is all rainbows and butterflies now, but at least our newest debates are not over adultery, but rather over how to discipline our children, and family issues.

 

There was once a time in our relationship when things were not great, not at all, in fact, they were really bad. Without diving too much into the past, because honestly, we’ve learned from it and moved on, I will just say we had issues with adultery. A women, thought she could come in on the sly, she managed to get in, but only briefly.

So my response to this person was:

If the “other” woman that attempted to take my hubby from me and pretended to trap him in a fake pregnancy, then a pregnancy that wasn’t his, turned out to be her future husbands, tried to apologize to me, I’d listen to what she had to say, but I wouldn’t believe a single word or buy into anything she had to say.

I have forgiven and moved on a long time ago, but I won’t forget, nor will I allow her in our lives ever again, in any fashion.

No, for me to truly accept any form of an apology from her, for all the pain, drama, set backs, betrayal, she’d have to back it up the same way I told him he needed to, in order to have me accept it. She’d have to come clean to every person she ever lied to about the entire situation personally and publicly/socially. She’d have to tell me exactly what she is apologizing for, apologize to my family, apologize to my in laws, and apologize to mutual friends.

Seeing that she’ll never do that, I’ve washed my hands of it and I could honestly care less about it anymore because I have far greater things that consume my time. Like being a wife, mother, student, photographer, and church leader.

The end result is, I got the ring by choice/love, I have his last name and his children. His parents, my in laws adore me, especially since he told them the truth on everything. I share a big, cozy, lovely home with him with plenty of extras. I lay in a nice warm, loving, love making bed with him. He has eyes for only me. In the end, I won, despite her drama and lies. In the end he’s encouraged me to go after my dreams and back to college, and I’ve encouraged him to do the same. So her little apology, would hold no barring, not even the gesture of one would. If she truly wants to make amends, she’d have to go big or go home.

However, I highly doubt anyone would believe a word she has to say now. Especially since my hubby did come clean to everyone and earned all of our trust back.

So, OP, if I were you, I would let it go, because realistically, unless your willing to go big, don’t even offer anything, it’s pointless. A few meaningless words aren’t going to work. If you’re truly sorry, then truly make it to where your actions back your words.

 

I have long since forgiven my husband, and moved on. We have worked through the issues, and we are stronger today for what we have been through. It doesn’t make it easier, it just means, we’ve learned to accept what has happened and moved towards filling the voids that left us in that situation to begin with. My thoughts are that you can always come back from Adultery if BOTH are willing to commit and put the time into it, however, sometimes it’s not always as easy as people make it out to be. It has taken us YEARS to get from that point to where we are now. It didn’t just happen over night.

Make sure Daddy’s Money can bail you out before you Drink and Drive…..

Maybe this subject hits a little too close to home for me, or maybe it’s because I feel that justice was not won. Either way I’m sadden and sicken by the total disregard to justice that a 16 year old in Texas got, after his friends and him, STOLE beer, drank until they couldn’t even stand straight, and then proceeded to get behind the wheel of a car to which they ended up killing 4 and seriously injuring two others.

My first experience with a friend who did not survive a drunk driving accident was when I was a senior in high school. His name was Adrian, and his cousin’s name was Jesus. They were night managers at the Burger King I worked for. I was 17, already on my own, in my own apartment, paying all of my own bills, while finishing high school, and my after school activities such as band, track, etc. I had just clocked on for my shift, was making my rounds to put the drive thru in the shape I liked to work; clean, organized, etc, when the store owner walked in, and you could tell he had been crying. Philip was the assistant manager was getting upset because his shift had ended and Adrian and Jesus had not shown up yet for their shift. Mind you this was 4pm in the afternoon. Roger came to us, and told us that we were shutting down the store for an hour and having a store meeting, that he called all employees in. We made signs saying that we were shut down for an hour, closed and locked the doors.

Once everyone had filed in and sat down, Roger very slowly in a trembling voice told us that Adrian and Jesus were killed two hours earlier by a drunk driver running a red light at 91st ave and Indian School road. I don’t know why, or what made me tell him to stop joking, but I did, and I quickly dialed Adrians number; over and over and over again it went to voicemail. We were really like the misfit family at our little Avondale Burger King. We were all close, all hung out after shifts, all helped one another out. I honestly can’t remember much more because it all became such a fog. I remember somehow showing up at his wake, memorial and funeral, but I don’t know any details. I can’t even say when it had finally felt like I had moved on, because I don’t know if I ever did. I still think about Adrian and Jesus from time to time. Adrain was like a older protective brother to me. Any time his family was going to discard furniture, sheets, towels, etc, he would bring it by my apartment and make sure I had everything I needed. His laugh was contagious, and I can still often hear it in my head.

The second deadly experience I ever had with a drunk driver was my friend TJ from high school. We were all, already graduated. I think maybe a year at most? I wont go into the specifics of this one, because TJ was the one that was said to be drunk, and he lost his own life, at his own hands. Luckily no one else had been hurt.

I was hit by a drunk driver at 1130 am one day on my way from my house to see my husband for lunch. My car was totaled. If he had hit me one inch further back, my car would have exploded with me in it. Luckily I was too busy messing with the radio to notice my light turned green, when he ran the red light.

My most recent fatal attraction to drunk driving was my good friend Ron. Like Adrain, Ron was like that big brother figure in my life. He was without a doubt there for me when I needed him, even when he didn’t have to be, or sometimes couldn’t be, he still was. He was on his way home from work one night, when a kid and his friends driving drunk, ran a red light at 51st ave and Indian School rd, and killed Ron. I had talked to Ron the day before about his wedding ideas for him and his fiance, and about him wanting to get family pictures done with his children, his fiance and her child. I didn’t even get a call, or a text. I saw it from a mutual friend on facebook that Ron had died in a car accident. Of course I didn’t believe it. Again, I called Ron’s phone repetitively. Each time I got no answer. Then I saw that his brother posted about his Memorial service, and I had to see for myself if this was a hoax or the real deal. Sure enough it was the real deal. There laid Ron in his casket with his Army uniform on. I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked, stunned, and could barely breathe. Ron seemed to attract all of the misfits as well, and took them in as family. He loved people, and he cared about people. He had a big bleeding heart, which got him into trouble sometimes. I still hear him asking if I want to go fishing, or to the shooting range. I still hear him yelling at the tv when there was an MMA fight on. I still see his goof ball grin on his face, the one that says “I’m being a big corny terd, and what are you going to do about it…” I can still recall our many conversations about life, love, and helping one another through our dark hours in our relationships with our significant others. Even when I wanted to give up on my husband, Ron helped me to keep going, and trust that it would get better, and that we would make it out of the darkness. This loss was the hardest. I don’t think there is another human being on this world, outside of my husband that is, that knew all of my deepest darkest secrets in my closet.

So, yes, maybe I’m tainted by my experience, and maybe my “rough” and hard life further complicates and dilutes my opinion of this Rich Texas boy, but 4 years probation is hardly a punishment for drunk driving.

My father got a DUI on a bicycle a few years back. He was riding his bike on the public sidewalk, in the middle of the night, in Avondale, no cars to be seen, or people out walking. He was stopped and given a DUI on a bike, and received 6 months in jail, and 3 years probation. He didn’t kill anyone, injure anyone, nor did he get behind the wheel of a car. He was riding a BICYCLE, yes a two wheeled BIKE! Down a residential street about 1 block from home, at 3am, in AVONDALE! He got jail and probation! This rich, snooty kid from Texas, (which by the way, has stricter DUI laws than AZ does), only get’s 4 years probation? He severely injured two and killed four others!

I posted about this in my mother’s site. My jaw has dropped reading some of the responses. Some say he’s “too young” to know right from wrong. He’s “too young” to spend so much time in jail. I’m sorry? Did he NOT have to take the driver’s test to get his license? I’m pretty sure most if not all driver’s tests are suppose to state something about it being ILLEGAL to drink and drive, that the punishment is jail time???? I’m having a very difficult time seeing how a 16 year old doesn’t know right from wrong in this situation? My 3 year old preschooler knows that drinking and driving is bad, and that you can go to jail for a long time if you drink and drive. He even makes his die cast cars go to jail if they are “drinking” and driving. He says that they only have cars version of juice and that’s gas, because he doesn’t want them to go to jail. I’m sorry, but if my 3 year old preschooler is capable of rational, clear thinking, and knowing that it is WRONG to drink and drive, than by all means a darn 16 year old, who has TAKEN A DRIVING TEST knows that it is WRONG and punishable by jail! Especially with all of these “Don’t Drink and Drive” billboards, ads, commercials, and events at schools with DARE. No, you can not convince me that this privileged 16 year old did not know that drinking and driving was illegal and wrong. You can’t convince me that he is too young. IF YOU ARE OLD ENOUGH TO DRIVE, and have that responsibility to do so, then you are old enough to be held accountable, and punished if you break the law.

IF, it had been a teen that was middle class or lower class, and not rich, would the judge have made the same ruling? I highly doubt it. The judge would have slapped that teen with the max sentence he could have, to teach “others” a lesson. So why is this rich kid any different? HE KILLED 4 PEOPLE AND SEVERELY INJURED 2 OTHERS! Hello! That’s MANSLAUGHTER! What’s the mandatory min? Oh yeah, 10 years! In PRISON!

Furthermore, if the court is going to rule that this teen is getting off because of his parent’s “Affluence” then they need to charged with accessory of the crime manslaughter. I honestly want to hear what the parents have to say about this. Daddio are you proud of your son now? He just used your money to get off scott free and then BLAMED YOU for being a terrible parent, not teaching him right from wrong, and that money can buy his troubles away.

One thing Scott and I have agreed on, is that NO MATTER how little or how much money we have, earn, acquire, etc. that our children will earn everything they get. They simply will not get a car on their 16th birthday unless they have shown they are responsible, they have a job, good grades, after school activities, and good attitude, plus pay for their own insurance, and registration. IF they get a ticket, we wont be paying it. They will have to learn to pay that on their own. Their car is their responsibility. Doesn’t mean that we can’t afford to get them a car, just means, we are not handing them anything, outside of basic needs and a few small wants. A car is a HUGE responsibility they must earn. We feel the same way about cell phones. Scott and I grew up just fine without a cell phone, and earning our own money for our own cars. Taught us to be responsible. Taught us that we were held accountable for our actions. Sure, my children are young right now, and who knows what will happen in the next 10 plus years, doesn’t change our view that they must earn these responsibilities and privileges. It’s simple here, they don’t earn it, and prove themselves trustworthy, they don’t get it. We’ve started teaching them that now. THEY KNOW that when we are in the store, that just because they want it, doesn’t mean we will get it for them. I say no, more than I say yes.

If I were this teens mother, in court I would have told the judge, to lock him up, and throw away the key until he learned his lesson. That doesn’t MEAN I wouldn’t love my son any less. That just means, I wont have a son that doesn’t pay the consequences for his actions. As a mother I would be applaud at a judge that let him off scott free, especially if he injured and killed people. I understand that 20 years or longer is a long time for a 16 year old, however, they know drinking and driving is illegal. More so they committed other felonies before this, they stole the beer, and drank underage! Are you telling me that a 16 year old doesn’t know that stealing and drinking underage is illegal? The LEGAL DRINKING AGE is 21! HELLO!

I have a friend who’s mother keeps bailing our her brother every time he’s in trouble with the law. She has yet to see that she continues to enable him and is teaching him that he doesn’t have to pay the price for his actions. If it were me, I’d say leave him in Jail. Maybe next time he would think about his actions before doing them.

No, daddies money bought his freedom, and it’s sad, because these families will not get the justice they deserve. These families wont get the closure they need. Worst of all, this teen will most likely re offend, because he knows that daddy’s money will once again come to the rescue.

The only lesson here is that Daddy’s money can buy your freedom. Which is sad, because other “affluence” teens will see this and think they too can get away with murder.

The link to the story if you want it:

http://www.kpho.com/story/24203316/teen-uses-affluenza-defense-in-deadly-drunken-driving-case

Don’t be a Shark, be a Fly

For the past 3 years I have been working my tail off. I went BACK to college, this time to pursue an Art Degree that I originally wanted, and was talked out of by my family, “Art degrees are not practical, they wont earn you a suitable living or proper husband. You need to get a science based degree, one that will gt you a blue collar job, to make a substantive living for yourself.” This echos in my ears long after it was said to me by my family member. Believing that they knew better and what they were talking about, I gave up my pursue of an Art degree, and went the “practical” route and got a criminology degree. That was a big ole’ flop, and a waste of time, money, and energy. I got that degree the year the economy tanked. My job I had lined up, suddenly disappeared right out from beneath my feet.

So after my mother’s persistent insisting, and encouragement from my husband and his parents, I went back to school for my art degree! =) I just graduated this December with my AAS in Photography from Phoenix College, and I’m now full time, instead of part time, at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. YAY! What an unbelievable journey it has been! It honestly took me until the end of last Spring to realize I love photojournalism and I’m actually quite good at it!

My dreams are coming true! I’m stepping into the ultra professional realm now! I have my very first HUGE traveling exhibition show starting in the Bokeh Solo Gallery at MonOrchid Gallery, January 3rd 2014 here in Downtown Phoenix. This is a HUGE step for me, and my career as an artist, photographer and photojournalist; it’s my Yarnell images. There’s going to be media coverage, and a large opening night! Wow! Who would have thought, that despite all of the nay sayers, I’m making it! Well, starting to at least! I’ve worked my toochy off for this! My dreams are coming true! I hope that ONE day to be as great as Steve McCurry.

I keep pinching myself, sometimes I wonder if I’m living in my head, or if this is really for real! Signing contracts for shows, interviews, etc, you’d think I’d get that it is for real. This is a life time of hard work coming true for me! I’m overwhelmed with the amazing accomplishments, and yet, humbled because it touches the hearts of people. Steve McCurry said one thing in an interview of his that I watched that just stuck with, that he waits for these moments to manifest themselves, that he doesn’t force them to come. These moments are magical, they speak volumes, and they take people to unimaginable places. I took that to heart. I WAIT ever so patiently for these small moments in time, when no one is looking, paying attention, or seeing, and get them. That’s the TRUE art of photojournalism, and Steve is right, there is a fine line between moral photojournalism and paparazzi, and I’d rather not be another idiot chasing the story; instead I’d rather be the fly on the wall, waiting and watching it unfold naturally. Some of the media ticked me off, they missed a HUGE part of the Yarnell story, the story of community, of love, support, small town love. They were so enamored by the big story of the fire, the damage, the tragic loss of lives, that they missed what this small community had to give to the world.  You can read my story here: Yarnell Rebuilds: A Story of Hope .

Dreams do come true, if you stay true to yourself, and work hard in a humbled and moral fashion, don’t be a shark, be a fly.

 

Thank you to all of the countless people who have helped me. I could not have gotten this far without you. Especially to my Mother Dale, (RIP), my magnificent Husband Scott, and my family who had faith and belief in me, including my awesome in-laws Kathy and Chris. Thank you for all that you have done, are doing, and still will do.

Confessions of a Frazzled Mama…….. Sunday Madness!

I think everyone expects mothers to be Super Moms. Indestructible, faster than a speeding bullet, reliable, never tired, always ready at a moments notice, always abled, Suzy Homemaker, and Betty Crocker. We are expected to kiss every boo boo, make every “pincy bug” disappear, chase away the monsters, be at the beck and call, cook, clean, cook again, clean some more, bring in SOME sort of a supplemental income, have intimacy with our spouses, manage our ministries, finish school, some how fit in time to accomplish our dreams, and at the end of the day fold laundry and put it away until we are blue in the face. We don’t dare let our husbands do the grocery shopping, because our grocery bill’s would shoot up ten fold, and we’d never have enough or it would all be chips and salsa, with hot dogs for food. We manage the delicate balance of good and yummy in our household menu’s, along side keeping the budget as low as possible using coupons and price matching. Ever see a man attempt it? I have, it isn’t pretty. Not unless he has my VERY detailed list can he pull it off, and even then, it’s a shot in the dark, because he forgets to see if the stores brand is a better deal. What about keeping the children entertained? Ever see a daddy holding a hot glue gun making arts and crafts, or water basted oil paints on a canvas for a Daddy gift? Ever see one attempt to bake and decorate cookies? No, that’s all a mommies job.

I whole heartily think that we should be serving as we are called to do, but do you realize how HARD, and TIRING and DRAINING it is to be 6 months pregnant getting a toddler and a preschooler ready for church on a Sunday morning BY YOUR SELF!? No help! Chasing the toddler because he wants to be chased and not get ready, then he kicks, screams, bites, and bangs his head into your chest because you are attempting to put on the GOD AWFUL DREADED shoes, that MUST, I repeat, MUST stay on. Heaven help you if you put the socks on without immediately putting the shoes on, because the socks almost ALWAYS end up off his feet SOMEWHERE in the house, before you can get shoes on him. Then there’s getting Zechy’s diaper bag and Jayden’s go bag ready, filling one with extra diapers, and the other with a change of pants and undies JUST in case he doesn’t make it to the big boy potty; then stealthily sneaking in the sippy cups without them noticing, or you hear the ENDLESS whine that they want it. You know that if you give in, then that means dirtying up another sippy, and another one to keep track of, and fill up. So, you drag your feet back to the cubbard, and drag out two more sippy cups and fill them.

BY the time you get every one dressed, ready to go, and get ready to walk out the door, just to remember that you forgot your keys and have to rush back inside with everyone to get your keys, and back out, and then fight them to get into the car without running off and buckled in, you’re exhausted, so tired, that you seriously contemplate just getting out of the car and going back in to lay down for a nap. However, that thought is brief, because you know that you have about 20 kids at church waiting and depending on you to be there on time to teach them, and that your children have a need to know about God. So you start the car, drive the mile up the road to church, and then one by one, you slowly unload everyone on your own. You somehow juggle your lesson plans and bible in one hand, while holding the bags on your shoulder, then grabbing your toddler by his hand with your free hand, and telling your preschooler to hold your back pocket and hold tight following.

After you finally get the kids inside to your classroom to set, you then have to take them to their classrooms and check them in, just to leave to start checking in the children for you class. After church, you manage to check out the kids, drag yourself, the kids an all of your belongings BACK to the car, load them up, and go home. Your husband was on Worship, or sound, so is still packing up and loading his truck up. You get home first and end up unloading your children and all of your belongings. One has to pee, one is screaming because he wants another sippy and his hungry and ready for a nap; you yourself have to pee because the third one is tap dancing on your bladder. By this point, you literally have NO energy left, and you feel out of breath, and ready to collapse. Some how you you get the one into the bathroom fast enough to potty, while holding the other, you get yourself on the potty, and then take them both to the kitchen to make a quick lunch and get sippy’s. Then it’s bum change, and the herding upstairs to their separate rooms to take a nap. By this time, you are starving because you realized, that although you made breakfast for the kids, you totally forgot to eat yourself, but you’re SO exhausted and winded that you just want to sit down.

Then when you start thinking of just how hungry you are and you slowly pull one leg at a time off of the couch, and work your way to the kitchen, you realize you have to take something out for dinner, because you space Cadetted it earlier. (Yes I make up my own words, lol, I’m delirious at this point…..) Alas your husband comes sweeping in, finally, just to remind you that you have to be at the banquet hall for the church’s Christmas dinner. He wants to know if you are going ahead of time with him, or leaving later with the kids. Oiy! You really DON’T want to be stuck there for an hour and a half with children by yourself, and yet you dread the morning madness of getting them ready to go and loading them up all by yourself again. So you weight out the options, which one is the best of the two evil options……Ultimately you are far too tired to even think about managing the kids on your own for an hour in a half in a strange place, and so you opt to wait until later to start the madness all over by yourself.

On the way there, your phone acts up, so you can’t seem to get directions to get to this banquet hall, you’re late because you didn’t realize that it wasn’t at the church until a half hour before, and didn’t have directions to get there from your husband. Then you use your own inner navigation skills you picked up as a pizza delivery person in your younger years. Only issue was, we now lived in a strange new town, and the road I thought would go through to where we needed to go, somehow dead ends, and can’t get you to your destination. Your phone still is not cooperating, and you nearly break down crying, as you are driving around, and around in circles in Sun City trying to find your way, while one child screams for a sippy cup and another screams because he’s hungry and is CONVINCED we left daddy at home and asking the 20 questions as to why daddy is not coming to eat with us. You can’t reach the sippy cup because it’s in the diaper bag behind your seat. The third child is apparently doing the river dance, again, on your bladder, and you nearly pee yourself, and have to will yourself not to pee.

As if that’s not enough, you finally make it to your destination, nearly 40 mins late. Then you can’t find parking, and have to park pretty close to the back 50, and unload, and lock the car, slowly you waddle yourself up to the door, and try to get inside quickly because now your preschooler has to use the bathroom. You suddenly see your husband heading towards a bathroom and then send your son to see daddy to go with him, and he has a melt down, of course, and wont go to the bathroom with daddy, so you take him with you, get them settled in, and then rush the two of you off to the bathroom as quickly as possible. Just in time too, because I darn near did pee myself. Took every muscle in my body NOT to pee myself.

Your husband is off doing sound and playing worship, so you try your best to hold the fort down at your table, only to be met with severe opposition from your toddler that just wants to run around and DESTROY everything; when I say destroy, I honestly mean, destroy, he is so much worse than his brother ever was, so strong willed, more so than his brother. You manage to get them to eat, not being able to take more than a couple of bites of your food. Then you give in, and just let them run around with the other kids, while you stand up and eat your  now cold food; which I didn’t even get to finish much of, between the constant running off to stop my destroyer. Desert is finally called, you get up with two in tow and your tickets to the desert line, of course they want everything in sight, and I tell them only ONE! That’s all they get is one! Finally you get their deserts on the plates and while your preschooler toddles behind you holding his plate ever so carefully with both hands, you are trying to manage two other plates in one hand, and your toddler is having a melt down because he wants the desert NOW, and doesn’t want to wait until we get back to the table.

When you finally make it back to the table, you try your best to fastly take the cupcake wrapper off, and the plastic toy off the top, but your toddler is having a melt down because he thinks you are apparently trying to eat his desert. Finally you get him to see that it’s ready and push him closer to the table and he begins to happily eat it. By then your preschooler starts to whine because he can’t pull the chair out, so you help pull the chair out, get him up to the table and take the wrapper off of the cupcake so he can eat his. You get about two bites into your brownie, just to have your toddler be done and want to run around and DESTROY again.

You TRY to keep him entertained, sit him in your lap, talk to him, play with him, but he wants to run around and destroy, so he has ANOTHER melt down, kicking, HIGH PITCH screaming, and banging his head into your chest. Daddy is on stage playing for the rest of the group. You feel so embarrassed, but you are so at your wits end, and so ready to get up and leave, and so tired, that you just try your best to smile through the tears that want to run down your face. As if that’s not enough, they both start having melt downs because they are now ready for bed, and there’s tears coming down both of their faces, and you can’t get your husband to stop talking long enough to get over and help you take the kids to the car so you can rush and get them home into bed; and you seriously want to let your tears fall down with theirs. However, you don’t, you just try and keep calm, suddenly a good friend from church with re enforcements and her son a little older than your preschooler come over with more cars to help keep them entertained as daddy wraps up. FINALLY he walks over, try’s to help, and get them out to the car, and FINALLY you get home, and get them undressed, washed up, dressed in pj’s, sippy’s and doggy’s in hand, and make your way up what seems like 30 flights of stairs, and into bed. FINALLY you are able to sit down, or so you thought, your third child, apparently thinks that it’s still party time, and again, starts doing a river dance, and you peel one part of your body at a time off of the couch that you just got comfortable in, just to go pee.

You then think, since it’s still earlyish, you can edit some client pictures and return emails, yeah, not happening tonight. It’s the only time I get uninterrupted time to work!

NORMAL Sunday’s take it out of me, but I’m always able to have some rest so it’s not so bad, today, was a nightmare, and I broke down in tears. Mommies need help, and rest too! We are not always super hero’s that come flying in to save the day, we need help! Mommies are people too! I think daddy’s forget that we are not super human, and that we have our limits. Today was definitely WAY past my limit. Lord I hope that tomorrow is a MUCH calmer day!

Jayden’s Morning Conversations……. With my mom?

Jayden scares me sometimes. In the early mornings before I go and get him out of his room, sometime after daddy leaves for work, I hear him in their chatting up a storm. Before I never really put too much thought to it, because he shared a room with Zechariah. In our new house, they don’t share a room any longer.

The last week or so, Jayden has been talking, and while I stand by his door for a minute or two I hear what he’s saying. It’s not his normal pretend play talk with his cars, or stuffed animals, it was a conversation with someone. This is what I heard before I opened the door:

Jayden: “I know, I try to be a good bubby, but Yack (Zech) is mean to me. He take my toys I like play (to) play with. He hit me! All the time, he hit me!” …………(silence for a few seconds)………………. “Yes I did hit him back.” …………..(silence)……………. “(Be)cause he hit me first!I donut (don’t) know why he hit me, or taked my toys, but he does. I tell him to stop that.” …………..(silence)………… ” Will baby cookie (Colton) take my toys too?” ……………(silence)…………… “I donut (don’t) like being the big bubby no more!” …………………(silence)…………. “Okay, I try to. I love you to, kiss kiss. (blows a kiss).”

When I opened the door, I looked around his room very curious to see what he was doing, or talking to. This was a very on point conversation he was having, sounds a lot like conversations we have with him about being nicer to brother, even when brother isn’t being nice to him. I asked him after we got Zech out of his room, and started down the stairs, who he was talking to.

Me: “Jay bear, who were you talking to this morning in your room before mommy opened the door?”

Jayden: “I called(ed) nana mama.”

Me: “You called nana baby?”

Jayden: “Yes I did.”

Me: “Oh, which nana?”

Jayden: “Nana that lives in Heaven with my other pawpaw and the baby Jesus.” (Yeah, we are working on him learning that the Baby Jesus is all grown up now.)

Me: “Oh, you mean mommies mama? How did you call her?”

Jayden: “Yes mommy, your mommy, (be)cause I already saw my oder (other) nana this yesterdays, yesterday.” (More like Saturday, but okay, yesterday to him.)

Me: “Okay, how did you call her though?”

Jayden: “Like dis (this) mama. (Holding his thumb and pinky in a “C” form, like a pretend phone, and put it up to his ear.) Den (then) I said, Hello? Baby Jesus, is my nana der (there)?”

Me: “Okay, then what happened?”

Jayden: “Nothing mama, nana come on the phone and I talked(ed) to her.”

Me: “Oh, well what did you and nana talk about?”

Jayden: “(A)bout bubby being mean to me, and taking my toys and hurting me. He hits me mama, so I told nana he hits me.”

Me: “Is that all Jay bear?”

Jayden: “Yes, and mama, I don’t want baby cookie (Colton) to be mean like Yack (Zeck), and take my toys or hit me mama. Will he be nicer to me?”

Me: “I don’t know, we will have to wait and see when baby Colton is born and gets older to play. You know mommy and daddy are working with your brother to not be so mean to him right? And you know you have to not be so mean to him, and share so he’s not mean to you, right?”

Jayden: “I’m not mean to Yack (Zeck) mama! I (will) try to be nice to baby Yack (Zeck). Okay mama!?”

Me: “Okay, Jay Bear. I love you bubby.”

Jayden: “I love you mama! Now I go pee in the potty, okay?”

Me: “(laughing) Okay Jay. Go pee.”

 

Okay, so my son is apparently talking to my mother. Man, what a conversation this morning. Got to say, I love my stinker bear. What a smart boy he is! I’m honestly a little shocked by this. Anyways, I have a doctors appointment to get to now, I will have to catch up more later.

Things at Christmas that just Tar my Feathers!

A friend sent me a message this morning regarding an article from Fox News insider with Megyn; you can see the article here: Megyn Takes on Secularist for Forcing Schools to Cancel Christmas Toy Drive.

There’s this group called the American Humanist Association (AHA), headed by the director Roy Speckhardt, who believes that Christmas Box Toy donations at School’s, that are backed and sponsored by religious groups, “proselytize” children. (Proselytize: convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.) He further goes on to say that “These gifts are gifts with strings attached” because Christian organizations placed religious letters/pamphlets into these gift boxes. He namely attacks Samaritans Purse, that sponsor and distribute the Operation Christmas Child Box project. He recommends that the schools use organizations such as the Marines Toys for Tots; which I guess he isn’t aware is also backed and sponsored by The Salvation Army, which is also a religious association.

I’m seriously APPALLED at this! You don’t have to be “religious”, or Christian, to understand that for some, Christmas, and Christmas time is about the Spirit of Christmas, of all things that are good. About Love, giving, thankfulness, etc. Where is their heart?

As far back as I can remember, our school had ALWAYS had a toy drive! We ALWAYS gave what we could, and support people! Shame on you American Humanist Association for, forgetting what Christmas is about! Those toys, and gifts for these children, signify that they are not forgotten, that someone, somewhere loves them. Children NEED that! Shame on you for making this a “religious” thing, when it’s far more than that! I am truly disgusted!

This is what is happening to humanity now, cold heart, greedy Grinch’s, who rob people of peace, love, joy, and happiness. Maybe they need a visit from the three Ghosts of Christmas to get a reminder!

America has forgotten what we were founded on, who founded us, why we left England. Although many will beg to differ, you can’t deny undisputed facts! “In God we Trust”, “One Nation Under God…” I think some Atheist have taken it too far. Unfortunately, some on all sides take it too far. We simply live in a time, where nearly everyone feels the need to be right, and that they are solely right, and anyone else who differs in belief and or opinion is simply wrong and beneath them. Sad times we live in. This is why people don’t know their neighbors, and why no one helps people anymore. I am truly thankful we found a neighborhood, that we know and love our neighbors already! Yeah, okay, so it’s a little stepfordish, but it reminds me of the “good ole’ days” growing up. Where I don’t have to be afraid to let my children out of my house, and I can trust my neighbors. I can hang a friggen Christmas Wreath on my front door and not bolt it into the door, for fear someone will steal it!

This isn’t about me though, it’s about this association, that wants to rob innocent children of one day, one day that tells them, they are loved, they are not forgotten, that they mean something. He wants to rob communities from helping those who are less fortunate. He’s not hurting himself, or standing up for “what’s right” or “separation of church and state”, he’s being a dang Grinch, and he ought to be ashamed of himself!

How is the Christmas donations ANY different than politicians on Capital Hill who have secret agendas? Who make tea party pacts, and sneaky deals and offers under the table. “Hey Joe from California, if you vote my way on this, which you don’t really have a huge opinion on, I will vote your way on that, which I don’t really have a huge opinion on. What do you say? Is it a deal?” If you honestly don’t think this, doesn’t happen, then you don’t know a politician, or you never paid attention to History.

A pamphlet with information about who God and Jesus is, in a box, that is sent to a child somewhere for Christmas, isn’t even nearly the same. It’s a piece of paper, that a child may not even likely read, or even look at! It’s not making a secret pact, it’s not forcing it down their throats, it’s no more than a piece of paper with Christian Facts on it. They can chose to read it or not. At some point we all chose to believe or not. How is that ANY different? It’s not. It’s certainly NOT like it’s sitting at the schools either! The schools simply have donation boxes. That’s it. The church does the rest. I certainly do not see any “proselytizing” going on Mr. Speckhardt! Your facts are vastly skewed, and you are simply the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. For YOUNG children, especially ones that know NOTHING or very little of God, and Jesus, Christmas is about Jolly Old St. Nick, Santa, in his Big red suit, belly of jelly, 8 tiny reindeer, a sleigh, and a magic sack of gifts. Shame on you from taking that from them, because of a piece of paper, they might not even look at twice!

Christmas is ABOUT giving! It’s about helping those less fortunate, as adults, it’s about the joy, laughter, and happiness on Christmas morning when the kids faces light up this world! It’s ONE day we can all come together and be truly gleeful! Why would you take that away? Just because some religious group backed up with funding, means, and the heart to distribute these items? I certainly don’t see NON Christian or even Atheist groups creating organizations to do this. You’ll be hard pressed to find any other group that is not Christian affiliated doing anything of the sort.  I don’t see you and all of your wealth offering to do it either! I certainly hope you never fall victim to hard times, but if you do, and you find yourself standing in line to sign your children up for the Angel Tree, (again backed up by the Salvation Army, a religious group), I would hope you think back to this “victory” of yours, and remember how you potentially destroyed Christmas for so many innocent children, who just want to feel loved, and not forgotten for ONE DAY! If this were oz, you’d be the cowardly lion asking for a heart. All your little shenanigans is doing, is making more Christians LIKE MYSELF, make a bigger stink, and a bigger stand and going even MORE out of our way to prove that you are absolutely, inconsequentially wrong!

The Christmas Spirit will prevail, with your without your Blessing Mr. Speckhardt, and it will be a blessed one, and we will find other ways, despite your soul-less heart. Remember. Take a lesson, and take note Mr. Speckhardt, you may have won a very small battle, but you have now started a war, that you will not win.

I feel guilty when I feel jealous, but I can’t help it.

I look around to all of these other pregnant women and mommies, and how they just float about their days. How they can go about doing meaningless things, like pay the bills, run to the grocery store, run to the craft store, or simply take the kids to the park; without thinking about how much time it takes, and if they still have enough time to be able to stand and cook dinner long enough? I often wonder to myself, in slight jealousy, as to how did they get so lucky to have such an easy, relatively painless, smooth pregnancies. How did I get so unlucky to have difficult pregnancies, where I’m constantly have morning sickness, and battle high blood pressure, and pre term labor; stuck on bed rest? I’ve heard the spell from the doctors over and over again, “You have an inverted, tilted uterus, you’re lucky to be able to have children.” Sometimes, there’s no real explanation, and I often wonder if my uterus is the issue or if it’s simply a cop out they all use.

I’m a hands on, active person. I run a tight ship in my home, everything clean and in it’s place. With the move, it’s been hard to even unpack. I have to sacrifice having boxes every where, just to account for time cooking, taking the kids up and down the stairs from night and nap times, grocery shopping. I’ve had to get special permission to photograph basically from my couch, and do my school and class work from home. I’m a photographer, with two little boys. I’m an explorer. It KILLS me not taking them to the park, or to the playlands at a local fast food restaurant. You’d think I would be use to it by now. It just seems to get harder and harder with each child. I want to so badly be at the train table, creating worlds with them, and pushing trains around their train table, or at the craft easel with them, drawing with chalk or white wash markers. More than anything, I want to get out of the house, and not worry about the amount of time I’m “Up“.

It started in 2007. Our daughter, didn’t give any indication that we were to have rough waters, or that anything would be worse than morning sickness. Bare with me, because we all know I don’t talk about her, or that time, often. I still can’t bring myself to do so. I believe partly because she is, and will only be my only little girl, frozen in time, and partly because I feel guilty or responsible still. I had been having terrible pain, I looked it up online, and it seemed like normal pregnancy pains. I even called my doctor once or twice and he assured me, it was normal pregnancy pain, likely round ligament pain, and not to worry. Just take a hot shower or use a heating pad. To which I faithfully had done. This pain went on for well over a month, then one day, a gush of bright red blood streamed down my leg at work. I didn’t even notice it at first, a co worker did. I had taken Tylenol that day to take the edge off of the pain I was having, so I barely noticed the same pain I had been having. When I finally saw the look on my co workers face, and looked down, I was in shock, I honestly couldn’t move.

I don’t even remember driving myself to the hospital. All I can truly remember, is the doctor coming in and telling me that my placenta had torn from my uterine wall, and that she was coming now. No one had time to even make it to the hospital, before it all happened. Somehow, the cord made itself around her neck two times, and chocked her. They were not able to revive her. After I was released, I was told I would never have children because of the amount of damage done. I was cold and numb to people for a long time. There were many people who didn’t know I was pregnant, because I kept it a secret, my boyfriend (now husband) and I were not in the best of ways at that time. I even lied about why she was no longer here to people. I told some I was never pregnant to begin with, and I told others I aborted. I can’t even begin to describe my thought process as to why I did that. I just can’t. I know I hurt my best friend deeply with what I did and said to her about it. All I can say now, was I that I was jealous. She got to go on and have her daughter, while I buried mine. I thought it was life’s cruel joke on me, and it’s way of saying that I could never win and be happy.

Then in 2008, my first son, to which I lost him too. That, is just as traumatic and painful as Elizabeth’s death was. I was alone with no help or support during that pregnancy, my boyfriend and I called it quits before I even knew I was pregnant. I ran away to Prescott and hid from the whole world. I dropped off the face of the earth. My Angel boy is no longer here. I had another early miscarry the first part of January in 2009. I had not yet found out what the sex was, until I mis-carried him. That was a turning point for me. I turned my back on everything, and everyone I loved. I was lost, and gone.

October 2009, three days before Halloween, I got an unexpected visitor in Prescott. He slowly brought me back to life. Than visitor was my now husband.

February 2010, after my boyfriend (now husband) made fun of my changing body, I took a test, two blue lines came up. I instantly fell to the ground crying. I was not prepared to go through another loss. I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t strong enough. When my Scott got home from work, I showed him the test. We both cried together. We saw the doctor two days later to confirm the pregnancy, and that afternoon, we went to see my mother who was hospitalized, trying to figure out what was wrong with her.

We walked into my moms hospital room, and just announced we were expecting. Within minutes my moms doctor came in with another doctor. He asked for all us except my mom and step dad to please leave the room. My mother told them, that whatever they needed to say, could be said in front of her parents, and us. The doctor asked her several times if she was sure, and each time, my mother said, that she was more than sure. That’s when the devastating news bomb dropped. All I remember hearing was, “cancer”, “stage 4”, “max 6 months”, that she wouldn’t live long enough to see this child born. Well, you can’t tell my mother no, or she can’t, or she won’t, because she is a stubborn one, and will make it happen. My mom did live long enough to see Jayden born, and to see Zechariah born, she is not here to see Colton born.

At about 12 weeks, I was  having heavy bleeding, and a lot of pain. We lived in North Phoenix between Paradise Valley and Scottsdale at the time. My OB delivered at both hospitals, so when we called, he told us to pick one and go to the er. L&D would not see me, or admit me because I was less than 20 weeks along. The er told us that we were having an ectopic miscarriage. That all I could do was go home, and let it naturally occur, then schedule a DNC with our OB. I was devastated, and I just didn’t feel like it was the truth. I don’t know what pushed me to ignore what PV Hospital told us. The next day when Scott got home from work, we went to Scottsdale Shae hospital. They found our little peanut growing safely in my womb, right where he was suppose to be, along with a strong little heartbeat. The bleeding was simply a period!

Unfortunately, that was not the only pregnancy issues we would encounter with Jayden. Starting at about 24 weeks, I started having pre term labor with Jayden at least every other weekend, and sometimes every weekend. Those pains I had with Elizabeth were back, and this time, I knew that they were pre term labor pains. Every weekend it seemed like I was spending it in the hospital battling pre term. Scott  joked about it, it was his way of dealing with it, he didn’t like seeing me in pain, or thinking that Jayden was going to make an escape early. However, he did like the fact that only half a dose of pain meds, and they knocked me out cold for almost the next 24 hours. Eventually we made it to 41 weeks, and the doctor asked if I wanted to continue or if I wanted to be induced. I was happy that I made it through an entire pregnancy finally, but I still feared the delivery, because of the past.

On the day we went into the hospital with our hospital bags, pillows, birthing plan, and everything else, I told Scott and Dr Moos, that I was okay, and didn’t fear anything, and I was ready, but that we need to just pray that his cord doesn’t wrap around his neck. The cord being around his neck was my biggest and worst fear. Finally after two days of laboring, Dr Moos finally broke my water and about an hour and a half later Jayden was ready to meet us. After my first push, Dr Moos, lovingly, calmly, and firmly told me that no matter what urge I got to push, that I needed to just not push for a bit. I just thought it was protocol, and really thought nothing much of it. I didn’t see the looks my husband and Dr Moos exchanged to one another. I would learn later, after holding our precious little boy in my arms; and watching him sleep after going into a mama’s milk coma, that his cord did wrap around his neck. Dr. Moos ever so carefully unwrapped it.

I remember freaking out when Jayden came out, because I heard no cry immediately. Everyone pushed me back down and told me not to worry, they were going to clean him off real quick. Dr. Moos just gave me the look that nothing was wrong, but it didn’t stop me from freaking out. It took a minute, and then I heard it, I heard his little whale of a cry, and my heart leap out of my chest, and I felt my nerves all slowly relax. The next second I was holding him, and as he looked up at me. I remember thinking to myself, here is my little miracle baby. Despite what we had been told and been through, I was holding my child, my baby.

In 2011, the day after Jayden’s first birthday we found out we were expecting another child. I didn’t freak out as much, but I knew, just like before we were on a bumpy road. We found an amazing doctor, since we had moved to Avondale. Zechariah gave us his own dose of mishaps; like pre-term labor, which I expected that. Even though Jayden was here, I still was worried my entire pregnancy with Zechy. I kept thinking, surely we couldn’t get lucky a second time. That no one, who has been through what we had been through, ever got lucky a second time. Yes I wanted him to be a girl, but more than that, I wanted him just to be born alive, like his brother. Nothing prepared me for what Zechariah would put us through.

I was diagnosed with per-eclamsia, and we found out during my third time in the hospital for pre-term labor that my cervix was weak. I had to have a cerclage put in; basically they stitch your cervix shut. It’s pretty painful, at least for me it was. Labor pains would have been more welcomed than to have to go through that again. Every week, my blood pressure increased higher and higher. I was now diagnosed with eclamsia, and put on bed rest. Then my blood pressure would stabilize and I could return normal activity, then the next week, back to bed rest. With pre-term labor and that, it was a never ending cycle. One I wanted off so badly, but endured with relatively no quarrels if it meant that at the end I would hold a healthy baby boy.

It was a Friday, early morning appointment, my regular check up, and NST (non stress test). Of course that morning Zechy didn’t feel like moving much, nor practice breathing and I was doing the test for well over an hour, when he finally took a practice breath, and the u/s tech was satisfied that he passed that days test. Every week from about 30 weeks on, I was in the doctors office for this test. At first it was great because the re assurance of seeing him okay was more than enough, but then it became draining, and I even resented spending so much time at the doctors office. During the check up part of my appointment, the nurse checked my blood pressure three times, without saying anything, and then left the room quickly. She left the door slightly open, and I heard her talk to Dr. Shaw.

“Dr. Shaw? You’d better come check this out, I checked it three times, and I don’t know what’s wrong.”

Dr. Shaw walked in very calmly, asked me how I was feeling, I said, “Well, fat, hungry, tired, and 35 weeks pregnant, I guess I’m feeling as I’m expected to feel with a toddler at home, right?”

She said, okay, lay back and I’m going to check you over. Again, Dr. Shaw checked my blood pressure three times. I could see her calm face slightly turn into concern. “Hey, we are going to move you over to our monitoring room for about an hour, and hook you up to a few monitors, nothing to be concerned about, but we just want to keep an eye on you for a bit.” Is what she told me.

After 30 mins, she came back in with a wheel chair, and her nurse. “April, you are having a baby today. I’m having my nurse roll you across the catwalk into the labor and delivery department and checking you in. You’ve been having some contractions at about 9 minutes apart, and your blood pressure just keeps going higher. At this point, you’ve hit toxemia, do you know what that is and what that means?”

I don’t know what I said, or even if I said anything, because I remember Dr. Shaw explain to me what toxemia was. I do remember her telling me that I had the option of being induced and hoping that my labor went fast enough to birth him naturally, or I could have a c-section. I remember her telling me that she knew how important having a natural birth was to me, and that she is okay with attempting a vaginal birth, so as long as it went smoothly. That I had to have a constant drip of magnesium, and be highly monitored., and that they would give a shot to boost his lungs.

I heard all of what she said, but my mind was else where. It was racing to my mom, who at that exact moment was in chemo across town. My mind was racing to my husband who was in Scottsdale working. My mind raced to my mother in law who was making her rounds with her patients. My mind raced to my son Jayden who was at our house with grandpa, my dad; and how I told him that mommy would be right back and then we could go to the park. I remember thinking that I was only 35 weeks, and no where near ready for him to be born yet! I remember thinking I didn’t want to have a baby that day. I wanted to at the very least wait until the next weekend when my mom would have more strength and not be chemo sick. No matter how I justified not wanting to have him yet, I think I was more terrified at the thought of losing him, because he was pre mature, or having his cord wrapped around his neck. I was terrified. I could do nothing but cry.

I some how managed to text my husband and my mother in law. I got a message to my dad to let Jayden know mommy was sorry, and wouldn’t be home, but I promised to take him to the park when we got home later that week. I finally got a message to my step dad, to get to my mom. When my mom finally convinced my husband to come get her late that night to bring her to me, she couldn’t drive being so chemo sick and my step dad was at work; she was admitted into the hospital for chemo complications. The hospital and Dr. Shaw were more than accommodating, in ensuring the all call was played three times for her to hear it, and they made a way for them to bring her to my PP room to meet him. I did miss her in the room though. I needed her there.

Despite everything, Zechariah came out during a vaginal birth, with no issues. No cord around his neck; in fact he was bigger than his 41 week brother, and scored the same on his APGAR that his brother did. He was healthy, and I even got to reach down, and pull him up and out to my chest. I was the first to touch him, and hold him. Here was my second little miracle baby; perfect and healthy.

The week before school started this fall semester, we again found ourselves looking at two blue lines. We are expecting our little Colton sometime in the early Spring of 2014. Our due date is March 17th, St. Patty’s day. However, due to our pass history with pregnancy, the doctor is estimating we will have in in February sometime.

Of course I’m still terrified during this pregnancy. Of course, it’s complicated like my other children. This time though, it just seems harder. How do you tell your pre-schooler and your toddler that I’m sorry, mommy can’t take you to the zoo, or to the park, or even to a store or mall to walk around or play? How do you tell your babies, they can’t climb up into your lap and snuggle like always, because baby brother, Colton, aka Baby Cookie as Jay is already calling him, is causing mommy a great amount of pain? How do you tell a photographer, and an active mother that she is to ONLY be up for a limited amount of time, and that I need to lay down as much as possible? It’s killing me! I can only watch so many movies, which all seem to make me cry these days, and play around so long online before I’m completely bored out of my mind.

I try and sit and do sit down crafts with the boys, but it seems, that I have not been keeping a keen eye on my supplies, because I’m extremely low on everything, including scrapbooking paper/supplies. I feel like a caged animal.

I am grateful for the out pour of love and support, but I can’t help but to look at women who are having uncomplicated pregnancies, and being envious. Women who get to walk around proudly with their baby bellies, and kids, while I’m stuck at home, looking like a slob and a mess, stuck on a couch. =/ My doctor told me, that if I have another round of pre-term labor as intense as the last was a few weeks ago, then I’m hospital bound. I would so die! We have at least 3 months left (preferably four). To spend 3-4 months in the hospital on bed rest would kill me! Honestly it would! Because I’d be hospitalized at Banner Estrella, not exactly close to my home, my babies, my church/friends/community/family. I’d miss my babies!!! So, instead of not seeing them at all, I sit here, and resent the couch, and the house; because at least I get to see my babies every day, and I wont miss thanksgiving or Christmas with them.

I still can’t stop from feeling jealous of these other moms and pregnant women, having no issues. I’d LOVE one day, just one, where I didn’t have high blood pressure, where I wasn’t in pain, or having contractions, to just explore with my boys. I like getting dirty and messy with my boys. Playing in the dirt is fun! I’m sure they’d love to get out of the house, longer than a few hours to go to church. I know, it will be all for the best in the end, but I can’t help but to wonder how it would be to have a NORMAL, non complicated pregnancy. Just once, or even for a little bit. I just keep reminding myself that soon, we will hold our healthy baby Colton in our arms, and that will make up for all of this.

I feel guilty when I feel jealous, but I can’t help it.

Poop Painting Artwork

I’m really at a loss for words at the moment. My boys have pooped painted their walls, toys, beds, and each other before. They haven’t since we’ve moved into our new house. Well, until today that is! They are in separate rooms now! They no longer share a room, and I guess I foolishly thought it would cut down on the bedroom shenanigans. Today, those sneaky, quiet little boys painted their rooms in poop!!!! OIY! Now I had TWO rooms to clean, instead of just one.

The sick artist side of me wants to be slightly proud, because when I asked Jayden why he did it, he said, because he wanted to paint…………… If it’s any cancellation prize, when I asked him what he painted a picture of, he said it was an airplane, he made a really good picture of what looked like an airplane; I could see the propellers, the fins, the cabin.

I honestly didn’t know what to say, so like last time I made him help me clean it up. Zechy just is not coordinated yet to help clean.

HOW DO YOU PUNISH this????? He has to know that painting his room in poop is NOT acceptable! I honestly thought poop painting was over with for Jayden since he has been doing SO well potty training. Did they conspire to BOTH do this on the same day, during the same nap???

I’m ALL for creativeness and expression, but can’t he chose to express his artistic side with something OTHER than poop! IT WAS EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Luckily very minimal on the carpet, just a dad and it came out with no issues. My walls had to get a good scrubbing, and luckily it didn’t damage the paint too bad, not enough to be noticeable from afar.

Seriously though, how do you punish this??? Making him help clean it up did no good really, he likes to help clean.

Honestly I should start cutting chunks of my wall out, framing it and selling it. (JUST JOKING!) Would anyone buy poop paintings from a pre schooler? They are always looking for new mediums, right? Ugh!!!!!!!!!!!

They need to sell chastity belts for little boys, and name them the No More Poopy Painting Belts!!!!!!!

Putting my mind to dinner, can’t think of this right now. Maybe I can figure out a “creative” way to avoid this and punish this behavior while I cook.

“Drug Addicts, Are they scum? What do you think?”

Every morning, after I get the kids from their rooms, come down stairs, make their sippy cups, get them their breakfast and change bums, I sit down as they are eating, and eat my breakfast. I check my news outlets via my smart phone, and then I check facebook (sometimes) and a mommy site of mine. It’s sort of my Hello, wake up, since I’ve had to cut down on coffee, being pregnant. =/ Oh, how I miss my morning coffee!

This morning, there was a post, “Drug Addicts…. are they ‘Scum‘ What do you think?” After reading this women’s post, she apparently had made another post prior to this one, talking about her drug addict daughter, and how she was arrested, and how the women on this site were so mean and ruthless about her daughter being scum. That the evening news was even worse about it, because her daughter was picked up during a sting operation.

I felt for this women, not because I felt the nasty replies were less than legit, but because I felt for her pain of losing someone you love to drugs. I sat for a minute or so, before I finally decided to reply, with my two cents.

My family has been riddled with drug abuse and addicts, (thankfully never myself, I watched it tear my family apart and nearly destroy some of my good friends, and I never wanted anything to do with it. I did however go through a time of heavily drinking; a short 6 month period of time.) My parents were into drugs when we were young children, I don’t remember when they started, all I know is it was the foundation of their demise, divorce and set the wheel in motion for our family to be shattered into pieces. Although my parents both EVENTUALLY cleaned up, it was not without consequences. The end result was we, the three of us children, aged out of the foster system. Our file had been deemed return to parent/s for the longest time. Then one day, suddenly it was changed, to “State Ward.” There would never be a chance again we’d be a family. In fact we all three went to separate state run group homes. By the time they changed our status to “State Ward” from return to parent, we were teens, no one wants to foster or adopt a teen, especially those with significant baggage. I fought long and hard for the three of us to be as close as possible and to remain in our schools we had grown up in, because I guess I just knew somehow that we needed some sort of familiarity with our chaotic life. We needed our family, which were our friends that became our family.

The three of us and our friends were all of our family we ever had, for the longest time. I kept my private life quiet. People who had known me my entire life, had NO idea what I was going through. I feared they would NEVER understand. See, our school, our home was in a “rich” area. We went to Garden Lakes Elem, which was considered a rich school, very charged in extra circulars, sports, and academics. After all I was on the advanced track. I just didn’t think that my “preppy” (as other schools claimed us to be), friends, classmates, peers could ever understand my deep dark secrets. They knew I lived with my grandparents for a long time, but they didn’t know about the abuse we endured, they didn’t know about the hell we were living through. They could never understand that I was working full time to support myself in my own apartment, they could never understand that I survived off of two to three hours of sleep, to make sure I finished all of my advanced course homework, after work, which was after track/cross country/band practice. They simply wouldn’t understand that I bought my furniture from Goodwill’s, and was sleeping on a little pull out cot. That I barely had enough food to sustain me. They would never understand that I lived on 83rd ave and almost McDowell, and I had to walk half a block to the bus stop at 430am, just to catch the bus, to take it to the Glendale Luke Link, so I could sprint another half a block to make it to the school bus stop by 6:45am, just to make it to school on time. There were no city bus systems that went anywhere near my school, when I was in high school. For two years, my Jr and Sr year, I lived through this. I was too poor for a car. I had no one to buy me a car. I felt jipped, my friends were getting their cars for their 16th  birthday’s and having a blast just being high schoolers. I was barely making it. On occasion I went a week without electric living out of an ice cooler until I could pay the electric bill that pay day. I finally got an amazing job January of my senior year, and I finally was able to buy this junk car, I paid $500 for it, and it worked right up until the moment I could afford to finance my first car, then it literally blew up in my face. Only a few of my CLOSET friends knew ANY of this, they never dared to speak of my secrets. They never dared to mention why I left my home, my school, my friends/family for three months my freshman year, when CPS ripped us out of my grandparents home, because the abuse got worse, or how hard I fought to get back. They never pointed out my bruises, cracked ribs, bald spots on the back of my head from having being dragged by my hair, and so on. They knew my secret, but we never spoke of them, we just went on as business as usual.

Why do I divulge these terrible secrets that very few knew about me? Because the ball that rolled down the hill, that created this life for me, was set in motion by drugs, drug addicts. My life was ripped apart, I lost my childhood, even before what I just described, I lost my family, and I lost me for a while.

When I was 6, I had started 1st grade, no one was home to watch my siblings, and even at 6, I just couldn’t in good conscious, leave my siblings at home. I used to go to our backyard (We sublet ted a small apartment home on a farm property, that usually had no electricity) and pick a grapefruit, or an orange, and feed it to my siblings, before getting them cleaned and ready to take them to school with me. I would walk a mile with them to my school. Then I would hide them in the bathrooms, I swear the teacher must have thought I had a bad bladder or something, because I was checking on them as often as I could. I would sneak my lunch outside, behind the building and bring my siblings, and would feed us. Then back to hiding them in the bathroom until school was out. When we got home, I would find whatever I could in the house for us to eat for dinner. I did this until my brother was in kindergarten.

Why do I bring up these events? Because again, drugs made my parents forget they had three small children depending on them. We ate like royalty on the weekends my grandparents would show up and take us to their homes for the weekends. One weekend it was my moms parents, the next it was my dads mom and step dad, the following it was my dads dad and step mom, and on the fourth weekend, I would shamelessly call my aunt, or a grandparent and get them to come get us. I would sneak food home from their houses, so I could feed us. Once I walked all the way from 35th ave and Bethany from my moms house, to 83rd and Mcdowell, all night, with my two sleeping siblings in the wagon behind me, to my dads, who took us to my grandparents so we could eat, we had not eaten in two days. This is what drugs do to a family.

Honestly I can’t tell you why, at 5,6,7, and 8 years old that I did what my parents should have been doing. I’ve been told that if it were not for me, and thinking about my siblings, who were younger than me, then none of us would have made it out alive. A blessing and a curse. These stories, are not fairy tales, they are not stories, they are my life, they are true events, they really happened to me, us. I can’t change them, I try to ignore these memories and have even tried to completely forget about them, but I can’t.

So, when my sister started using drugs in grade school, I knew I had lost the battle. To her, it was easier to fall into that trap, than to fight out of it. I was wholly devastated when I learned she had gone to juvi the first time for drug possession. I tried and I tried to help her. I offered her a clean, nothing much, even had to share my bedroom with her again, apartment. She pulled a knife to my throat one day when I came home for lunch, because I asked her to move so I could get into the fridge for lunch. She was high and cleaning my title with a brush. I realized that day, that I could no longer help her. That the only way she was getting help, was if she wanted it, and she didn’t. I basically started to mourn the loss of my sister. Drugs, they change you, the people we used to know and love are not the same when they are doing drugs. My sweet, loving, giving, beautiful, Dr. Doolittle (female version) sister was a monster, that I no longer recognized. There was no hint of her left when she is on drugs.

I wanted NO part in that life, or lifestyle. I didn’t want to ruin my life, and be scumming for the rest of my life. I did the only thing I knew I had to do, I walked away from her, and I told her to never return until she was clean. I still sometimes mourn the loss of my sister, yes, she’s still here physically, in body, but her spirit, the person I knew and loved, isn’t here any longer, and hasn’t been for a long time. Truth is, she may never come back, not after over 10 years of heavy drug use. If my mother couldn’t convince her on her death bed to get clean, and I couldn’t convince her with her nephews, so she could be an aunt in their lives, then I’m afraid nothing will bring her back. For me, I know it’s not a question of IF I will get that call to identify her body, it’s a matter of WHEN. She has no desire to change, and I can’t help her or make her, until she does want to change. I can’t have that around my children, family or in my home though. So she knows she can’t come here. Things end up missing when she does, and that’s because she hawks it to get money to get high. She leaves for hours down the street to get high. I simply can’t have that filth here, not around MY INNOCENT children. They deserve a better life than I had. It might not be perfect, and they may not get everything they want, but they are loved, and every need is taken care of, and then some.

The last time I physically saw my sister, was this past Spring, she scared the living tar out of me. You could see every bone in her body. I was out working on homework for a class assignment. I figured since I was in the area, and had not heard from her since Christmas, that I would stop by briefly, just to see if she was still alive. When I pulled up, she excitedly wanted to show me something she had done. I had my camera on me, so I didn’t even think twice. Her druggie boyfriend, friends and her, had dug out under neath their mobile home and across the culd a sac to the drug lords house, a tunnel, and living space. It had “bedrooms”, a bathroom, a living room, a kitchen, rooms where the meth was being cooked, rooms where the weed was being grown. The entrance was in the shed out back, covered by a heavy tool box, that they built stairs down into, that they CARPETED! Yes, seriously! She was so proud of this! Yes, it was ALL underground! From their house to the drug lords house. She was so pleased with her self that she decorated it down there. WHO in their right mind does this? I was shocked, and I felt like it was going to cave in at any time. I wanted out of there fast.

I cried all the way home. My sister was truly gone now. THIS is what drugs do to people!!!!

A drug addict, IS NOT the person we remember them to be, and they never will, until THEY chose to clean up. This was not my sister. This was a monster, in my sisters body. We really have not spoken since then. She just barely found out that we moved and are expecting a third son. Still, it doesn’t phase her. She will end up dead or back in prison. I’m just waiting for that call. So yes, do I think drug addicts are scum? Yes, especially when they are using. Because drug addicts are not the same people they were before the drugs. You can’t even call them your loved one when they are using, because they simply are not. Drugs change people, and kill the person we love. There is nothing you can do to change that.

I do plan on one day to tell my children about my life, and how drugs affected me, who never touched a drug, and how it took their aunt from us, how it killed my aunt. I do plan on telling them how drugs destroyed our family, on all sides. I don’t know when that day will be, or what exactly I will tell them, but I do know that I will be honest about it, and I will tell them, that drugs don’t just ruin and destroy the person using, they ruin and destroy those who love them. That my wish for them, is that they never touch one single drug, that if a friend offers, that it’s not “uncool” to say no, and walk away, because they will thank their lucky stars when they are older.

I have several friends who made it through drug addiction, and are WONDERFUL people today that I LOVE so much. The difference between them, and my sister, or other drug addicts, is THEY chose to change. It was a choice they made. No one could make that choice for them.

Sadly, this is how I feel, and what I think, based off of my experiences. I pray everyday that the Lord heal my sister, and remove the monster holding her hostage, and I pray every day that she chooses to come clean, and change. One day I hope she makes the choice before its too late, because I would LOVE IT if my children could have their aunt. My heart hurts, because although my husband and I over compensate to give them everything they need and some of what they want, they are missing out on some family. They have three awesome Uncles on my husbands moms/step dads side who love and adore them, and are always there for them. However, their only biological aunt, is not in the picture, their uncle, my brother is out of state, and trying to get back to AZ. Their other aunts and uncles on my husbands dad and step moms side, don’t even know them, and they don’t know their aunts and uncles on that side. It’s complicated. But it breaks my heart. The size of a family isn’t what matters, it’s the quality of the family. Between my dad, husband, my husbands mom and step dad, and my husbands brothers on that side, including myself, they are a very loving and high quality family dynamic. That’s the most I can ask for, to give my sons, the life I never got to have growing up.

I was able to break the cycle my parents fell victim to, and I have brought myself a LONG way from where I was. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty, but I did it, I accomplished a lot! I’m so proud of where I came from and where I am today. However, that doesn’t change what I feel about drug addicts.