Thursday, June 14, 2012

Twenty-One Years of Silence

This is the Last picture taken of my Brother & I on December 27th, 1991.
When I was ten years old I had a brother.  Shawn Ryan was born on June 14th, 1991 in Longview Washington.  I still remember his smile awaiting me as I arrived home from Mrs. Holcomb’s fourth grade each afternoon.  In December, for the holidays, we drove the then five hour trip to my Grandma’s in Ferndale.  It was an amazing trip; we went to Whidbey Island and spent time at my Great Aunt Sharon’s condo with the extended family and cousins.  Before we headed home on the night of the 27th, we made one last stop to see my Mom’s Cousin Michelle and her family.  My Mom had a tough time waking Shawn as Michelle insisted we stay the night.  But my Mom had to work in the morning and after an short visit, we reloaded our navy blue pinto and headed back home.   I still look at the pictures from that trip, everyone was happy, smiling, laughing and completely clueless to the tragedy ahead. 
When we arrived home just before midnight, Shawn hit a big baby milestone; he pulled himself up to stand in his crib for the first time.  We shared our bedroom.  When we were unloaded from the car, my Mom put us in our beds but we both were awoken.  I remember yelling out to the living room & telling my mom Shawn was awake, I brought Shawn out to my Mom and her boyfriend as they sat on the couch.  Then, another baby milestone; Shawn pulled himself to standing along the side of the coffee table.  Then, all at once for the first time and the last time, Shawn began to move his little legs and walk along the coffee table on his own. 
In the morning I awoke just after 5am, confused and in distress from the commotion.  When I left my bedroom and walked into the living room I face my worst nightmare.  I found my brother’s father and a neighbor doing Infant CPR to my precious Shawn on the coffee table.   I was then instructed to go outside and wait for the paramedics to arrive.  I was ten years old, barefoot in the leftover holiday slush and doing jumping jacks as the paramedics arrived.  Being a child, I was quickly pushed to the side & left behind as the ambulance raced out of my sight.  I sat for hours in a chair at a nearby family members apartment.  I still remember Lori’s black Camero pulling up and I knew by her domineer that something was wrong. Lori drove me to the hospital and of course everything said to me is a blur.
When I arrived at the hospital I was escorted by two nuns to my Mother.  I will never forget that image of how I found my Mother.   My Mom was alone, in a cold empty white room hidden behind a hanging sheet.  There she was, heartbroken, crying, and singing as she rocked my brother’s limp and pale body back and forth in a wooden rocking chair.  He was gone.  On December 28th, 1991 my brother Shawn died.  And with him, a part of my Mother died too.
Shawn at 3 months
My brother was left surrounded by a box of pillows on my Mom’s queen sized bed.  He crawled off the bed and got wedged between the mattress and a suitcase.  He was found by his father, blue and he had suffocated.  News paper clippings reported about our loss and our family came down from Whatcom County in a long recession of cars for the memorial and burial.  I remember so much about that short time period that the gloom over shadows other parts of my childhood that I can’t remember at all. 
The years following my brother’s death were dark, filled with abuse of all kinds; substance abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, you name it and it happened.  Finally in 1994, my Mom was ready so She packed the two of us up and left Longview to moved home to Ferndale.  We rarely, almost never spoke of Shawn in my family and still don’t.  Those dark years are not mentioned.  I spent my teen years filled with anger and rage from the whirlwind of darkness that had occurred in the previous years.  I filled my time up with activities outside the home to avoid the sadness of my mother’s eyes.  Few people knew of my brother because I didn’t know what to say.  People always had such a shocked reaction to the truth and I didn’t like telling a lie.  To this day many people think my brother died of SIDS and that is simply not true. 
To this day, my Mom has never sought out therapy for her loss and rarely makes mention of it.  She spent years avoiding babies, baby showers and baby sections at the department stores.  After high school I sought out a therapist who helped me through the emotions I was trying to keep deep inside.  I was able to come to a spot in life where I began to share my story with those close to me & truly opened up about my experiences.  I got a tattoo of my brother’s name on my ankle as a constant reminder.  I had thought that I had moved on, and put my loss and the darkness behind me and lived as if I had found complete closure for nearly a decade.  Until that May night that I became a Mother. 
I ALWAYS knew only two people could ever have a baby that would heal my Mom; her baby sister- my Aunt Nicole and her baby- myself.  When I became pregnant I knew I was going to have a boy.  I knew it was time for my Mom to have closure and begun to heal.  I knew it going to be hard on her but I also knew that she would NEVER turn her back on me.  I knew my Mom would be there for every second I wanted her too.  I knew it was going to be tough on us, but I did it.  My Mother was with me and Tyler through the entire labor and delivery of Issac.  She NEVER left my side and sat in a chair at the end of the bed and watched as I delivered her first grandchild.  It was emotional and once they declared him healthy, my Mom left the room to go weep. 
I knew that My Mom came unsure of if she could stay in the delivery room the entire day.  My Mom came unsure of how she would react and questioning if she would be able to hold Issac and love him the way she should.  But without a blink of an eye, after Tyler & I each had our time with our new son, I handed Issac to my Mom as she took a deep breath and a tear slide down her check.  She smiled like I hadn’t seen in years and instantly she was at peace.
The First time my Mother held my Son.

My Mom holding Issac at 1 month old.

I knew how much the birth of my children would impact my mother, but I could have never been prepared for the impact it would have on me.  There is not one thing in my ENTIRE LIFE that has shaped the type of Mother I am more than the death of my brother Shawn.  The MINUTE we found out I was pregnant; we gave away our coffee table.  And no matter how smart I am, every time my children are at a house with a coffee table I am extremely tense while they are in the same room as I have flash backs.  I have at times found myself lying completely alert in the middle of the dark quiet night watching lil chests move up and down for hours, sleeping with my hand on top them in such a perfect position that I can feel their tiny beating hearts. EVERY time one of my babies reached that “pull themselves to stand” milestone I went days without sleep in fear of the worst.   I can name each and every person each of my kids has ever been left with, no day cares,  no strangers and until our anniversary last month, no nights away from their parents.  I have had an abundance of friends and family members tell me it is okay to leave your kids and it is necessary for your marriage. That is all great for you but I get highly freaked out & stressed when I am way from my kids.  One morning my Mom went to work and never saw my brother alive again. 
As a Mother I have to wonder how my Mom went on.  I can’t imagine how the loss of a child could affect anyone.  I have to trust my Mom when she doesn’t trust herself.  I have to trust myself when I second guess my own decisions. AND; I have to breathe.  Because I can’t let the past define me, only guide me to a brighter, stronger future.  I am one lucky girl though. Tyler is amazing.  He is beyond understanding of why I am the way I am and when I find myself freaked out or demanding about something to do with our children; he NEVER ASKS why or for any explanations because he understands it is what I need to feel at ease and that somewhere inside me I believe it is what is best. Tyler trusts me, even when I don’t trust myself. Tyler reassures me that my children will be okay when we leave them and he holds me tight when I need it.  
I have spent the past three years living with PTSD in regards to my brother’s death. Becoming a Mother has changed me forever, as it should.  However, becoming a Mother has also forced me to face my biggest fears.  When Josephine was in the NICU I went straight in to “fly or die” mode & unfortunately I didn’t fully come out of that until after her first birthday.  It became my daily struggle to love her without becoming overly attached in complete fear of my worst nightmare.   I tried to force myself to breast feed when she clearly was not interested in hope of a magical fix.  We bought a boat load of supplements but even those just took the edge out of my day.  I snapped on those closest to me and let people outside my personal circle see me at my worst.  I half-assed my last quarter of school, even dropping a class to try and ease my anxiety level but nothing worked.  Until that magical December day that Josie turned One.  Something about her no longer being a baby & becoming a toddler has put me at ease.  I have days that are bad and days that are good but for the most part my anxiety has reached an all time low since I became a Mother.  I learned a long time ago how to hide behind my smile & carry-on as if I’m numb to the pain.  But now I realize that I do what I do and I do it for a reason; because one day they can be gone.  One day you can kiss your child’s head and say “see you later”, but there will be no later.  One day everyone will be gone. 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Happy Third Birthday Issac

Issac on May 23rd, 2009 just after being born.

May 23rd was Issac’s Third Birthday. We can hardly believe that our itsy bitsy bundle of boy is a walking, talking, singing and mud digging preschooler. Issac loves spending his days outside in the backyard playing with dirt, sticks, water, cars and his sister Josie.  Inside Issac enjoys coloring, play dough, Legos, cars, dinosaurs and cooking on his BBQ.  In between his outside adventures and his play time in his room, Issac enjoys watching Disney movies, the Magic School Bus & Willa’s Wild Adventures. Issac enjoys the park, the zoo and almost any other family activity.
issac clinbing the bars at Angel Lake.

Issac is an adventurous eater and enjoys almost anything we give to him.  For Breakfast he typically enjoys pancakes, fruit, toast, cereal, yogurt and eggs.  At lunch time Issac will ask for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, mac & cheese, chicken & fries, chili or tuna fish.  At dinner Issac will eat almost anything served. Issac really enjoys broccoli, peas, corn on the cob, Caesar salad, mashed potatoes, rice and egg noodles, chicken cooked anyway, turkey burgers, and turkey meatballs.
Issac finger painting during Josie's nap time.

Our little man is a total Gemini just like his Mamma.  Issac does everything a specific way and in his own time, not responding well to pressure. If you try to push Issac, he will throw a fit or give you a dirty look that may include some hand gestures like a tightened fist & put his nose in the air and walk away. I especially have a laugh when he crosses his arms on his chest & sticks his nose up.  Issac is a first born and it shows because he loves to be in charge and tell Josie, other kids and even Mom & dad what to do.  His personality is playful and silly. He enjoys being tickled and dancing to any happy beat that comes on the radio or TV.
The kids playing in the back yard.
When it comes to his shoes and clothes Issac has become very picky.  He will refuse some items for random reasons and want to choose his outfit.  Issac can be most picky about what goes on his feet and what goes on his head; his shoes & hat.  Sometimes he rocks his Halloween Mario hat at the park just because. I pick my battles and allow him to wear whatever it is he wants as long as it is not a special occasion or if he wants to wear shorts in the cold, which is often an issue.  So sometimes he will be wearing a turtle neck with shorts, HA!!! So guess what socks and sandals kid, your one of us, a true Washingtonian!!!
Issac climbing in a tree in our front yard.

Tyler & I are lucky that are children love to play together.  Although some days Issac will hit Josie on the head with a toy dinosaur or buz lightyear, overall Issac is a caring brother.  Issac will give Josie a toy she drops or bring her milk when they sit down to watch a movie.   There have been times at the park where he has pushed down another kid who touched Josie saying, “NO, that’s MY SISTER”.  I have to tell him to be nice and it is okay.  But secretly there is a little spot inside me that is smiling. 
Issac awaiting his party guests as Shobi, Tyler & i set up the backyard.
To celebrate Issac’s 3rd birthday we held a BBQ in our back yard.  Issac picked out the theme and it was easy to find a plethora of Lightning McQueen party ideas online.  Although it would be super cool to build cardboard cards & have the kids race them all afternoon, that is a party idea aimed at older children and our guest list was all 5 years old and under.  So I kept things simple.  We had a great turn out of friends and family and Issac was a lucky little boy who received some amazing gifts.  Including two pools, two tents a bunch of lightning McQueen toys and of course the red Lightning McQueen bike he had wanted. 
happy to recieve a Mater flashlight form Auntie Nicole.

For food we did hamburgers and chicken apple hot dogs.  Then my Mom made homemade baked beans and Tyler’s Mom made pasta salad.  For decorations I ordered a rainbow pennant banner online and had Tyler zigzag it across the back yard.  Then we covered 2 tables in black for the adults and one table in packaging paper, with a road drawn on in sharpie.  Each child received a goody bag with a Lightning McQueen bouncy ball, a jump rope, a juice box and crackers, crayons and stickers to decorate the table and then a car to drive on the road. 

Issac happy on his 1st bike.  An 18inch Lightning McQueen bike.
Each child also received a PIT PASS or name tag.  I like this idea because it was easy for all the adults to know each child’s name.  I found the printable images on a blog and emailed them to Tyler.  Tyler used adobe illustrator at school to construct and print the Pit Passes.  Then I cut and glued the pieces together before placing them in the lanyards.  I will say, the Pit Passes turned out FABULOUS and EVEY parent liked them. 
 We made 12 Pit passes for our guests.

I got the idea for the cake off Pinterest.  It was a total combined effort.  I baked the cakes, four rounds to be exact, two rainbow chips and two chocolate on Wednesday night after everyone went to bed.  Then Friday night after Su4K outreach, Shobi and I went to my cousin Erin’s house to decorate the cake.  I cut the rounds, placed the cakes and did the under frosting.  Then Laurie sketched the blocks, Erin did the white squares and Shobi did the black squares.  Laurie paved the road and I drew on the dotted lines and placed the cars.  Erin did the grass and the red outline.  The cake was amazing.  It looked great and tasted great, everyone loved it.

Tyler & I want to thank everyone who took the time to come and celebrate Issac’s birthday.  It truly was a perfect party.  The perfect guest list, the kids played so well together with no injuries or fights.  The weather was perfect.  And the food and cake was amazing. I can’t wait for this next year; I enjoy watching the kids grow, develop and change.  They are both becoming amazing little people. I’m one lucky Mom.
The kids awaiting dinner, Issac wants something we said NO to so he's giving a dirty look, LOL.
I can’t believe issac is 3 and Josie is 18 months, how time flies.  Tomorrow I will be taking the kids into the Pediatrician for their check-ups.   I also have their pictures scheduled for next week. So until next time. 
XOXO

Monday, June 11, 2012

Magical May


It is already June.  What happened to May?  In April I had started a couple of different blog posts for the month but we got busy with life.  May was a busy month full of fun filled activities and many sunshine filled trips to the park.  Tyler’s work has been super busy so he worked some overtime.  We were blessed with an amazing amount of warm weather in May so the kids & I packed up many picnics and explored some of the area parks.  A few of the days we had some fellow adventurers, Cousin Erin & Jackson and Jen & Lily.  The kids LOVE the park.  Josie can spend hours on the swing and Issac has begun to scare me on the climbing bars.  But May also brought us many celebrations and milestones.
 Both kids love going to the park.

On the 5th Tyler & I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary with a trip to Lake Tyee on Mt Baker.  We left the kids at my Mom’s house in Ferndale for two nights.  Friday night was stormy; we arrived late, couldn’t find the key to the cabin & slept in our car.  We enjoyed a quiet moonlight walk and long conversations.  Saturday we awoke to sunshine, made a phone call & located the cabin key.  We enjoyed the peace and quiet of the mountain as we enjoyed chocolate covered cherry pancakes, turkey sausages and mimosas, some chicken Caesar salad and biscuits for lunch, and a long afternoon nap.  When we awoke from our nap we took a walk, a dip in the hot tub and barbequed up some steak and shrimp kabobs for dinner.  It was a peaceful trip.  Tyler & I soaked in the kid free quality time we needed.


For Mother’s Day I wanted to celebrate just us four. Every year we have spent Mother’s Day with our Mothers but I told Tyler I wanted to do it just us this year.  I awoke to a beautiful rose bush and cards on the table as Tyler made breakfast and packed us a picnic lunch.  We enjoyed a warm afternoon at the Zoo.  It was a perfect day & we saw some animals we had yet to see in our previous visits including the new African Warthogs and Malaysian Warty Pigs.  For dinner Tyler barbequed steaks and even did the dishes.
 Above is Josie at the zoo.
Bellow is Issac enjoying his 1st Slurpee, after a skinned knee.


The third weekend of the month Tyler worked on Saturday and we arranged a babysitter for Sunday.  We left the kids for a few hours and went to go shopping for everything needed for Issac’s Birthday party.  As it turned out, the 16inch Lightning McQueen Bike we PROMISED him was sold out at two different stores.  As Tyler saw the panic on my face, he got out his phone & started to call other locations and located the size & exact style Issac had pointed out to us.  We also went to purchase the flatware, goody bags and condiments.  Then we enjoyed lunch at Applebee’s before heading home. 


Memorial Day weekend we were blessed with AMAZING weather for a Lightning McQueen themed backyard BBQ with all our favorite friends and family members to celebrate Issac’s Third Birthday.  For once I was completely calm and prepared.  We had chosen just the right amount of guests, decorations, food and beverages.  Everyone had a great time and I’m almost finished a new blog post completely dedicated to Issac and his birthday.  On Sunday we went enjoyed the morning with Auntie Nicole and grandma Mel before they headed home.  Then we took a nice long family walk and had some quiet time at home.  Monday we went to the lake for a picnic and Tuesday we were back to our normal routine. 
 Above: Issac's Birthday Cake.
Bellow: Issac waiting for his party guests.


June is almost half way over and it has been busy too.  I hope to catch up on all my posts by the end of the month, planning on posting three this week.  To cut costs we canceled our cable and internet last Fall.  So I often write my posts in a Word Document and then copy & paste in to the blogger while using my Android’s wi-fi Hot Spot.  Wow what a crazy world we live in these days! Where did the rotary phone go? 

Sending Everyone Nothing But Hugs & Loves- The Sipress Family