Preparing to say Goodbye

“It is well with my soul”.  My heart, on the other hand, aches. Last week was one difficulty after another.  The final blow came when I was called about my grandmother.  My Granny. At 89 years old, her body is giving out.  Hospice has been called in. We’ve known for awhile that our time with her was growing short-just not this short.

The hospice is like no other.  It is being led by my very own father-my hero! I went to Granny’s Friday night and watched in awe at the strength of my dad who is a hospice nurse himself. He made sure all of the medications were ordered and delivered to help ease Granny’s pain and help her to leave us with dignity.  We met together to love on Granny, care for her, and care for each other.  I watched my father graciously explain each of the medications with detail like no other health professional I had met.  He taught how to give the medications, when to give it, and signs of things we needed to be aware of.  I’ve watched his strength and compassion-but if you know my Dad-that is what embodies him.

Our family was pouring in from North Carolina to New Hampshire. A bittersweet time to celebrate life, say thank you for being such an incredible mother, grandmother, and how much each of us love her. It was a sweet time to be with my cousin, Kelly, who is like my sister. I found myself having to be called out to go back to Granny’s at 1 Sunday morning. I delivered a baby monitor so my aunt and one of my cousins & his fiance could try to rest in between giving medications.  Kelly mentioned she was hungry.  None of us had really felt hungry at dinner.  My aunt’s face lit up and she said “lets go to breakfast”.  We joked about when the last time we’d been to breakfast at 2 in the morning.  Together, the three of us realized this was a special time-sieze the moment. It was a sweet time to make a memory-to be with one another and refresh one another.

Sunday was most difficult-Larry & I had been concentrating on shepherding our kids through the process of saying Goodbye on this side of life. Larry has been wonderful- knowing my number one priority is my children and making sure my babies are handling their grief. I have been proud of them, as each one made the decision to go see their great-grandmother when they felt they were ready. My daughter showed much grace as she said she would rather hold on to the memory of sweet visit 3 weeks ago.  It really was a blessed time. Granny was a bit more clear headed and so happy we had come.  We took her flowers, pies (her favorite chocolate cream), and watched part of  the 17 innings of the Orioles game.  Emily said that was one of the best sweetest visits we had had in a few months. I totally agree.  Matthew got up the courage to go Saturday, he stood in front of her telling her he loves her.  Granny’s eyes opened wide and she said “I love you too” with much clarity and strength in her voice.  What a sweet comfort and grace.  Thomas stayed near her as much as he could. I was blessed to see him talk to her.  Patrick also surprised me as he stayed around the family as long as he did.  An extra special gift to him was his cousin Noah.  The boys were born exactly two weeks apart.  Noah&Patrick were good medicine for each other. Other blessing were my nephews, Tony&Justin (Tony just happened to be in town for a wedding:) who stopped by.  Sweet reminders of times invested in two boys who have grown into fine husbands&fathers.  Larry& I showed these boys the same love we had learned from Granny.

Today we went by and now my Great Aunt Eleanor has joined the care team-she is also a hospice nurse.  What a blessing to be surrounded by so many who love and care for my grandmother.  The hugs from relatives and the promise I would stop in tomorrow to visit are sweet.  These are hard times yet we have been reminded to think about the legacy this woman is leaving. What kind of legacy will we leave?  I have more than just a simple treasure in this woman!!

 

A New Perspective

As I said in an earlier post, I need a new perspective. A refreshing of my soul.  As I’ve blogged about looking back-here I am a little more than a decade later, with a child who has the stomach virus.  Oh that’s right I didn’t blog about the stomach virus of 2000. That will be for another time. Alas, with all of my previous experience, I can tear through a house disinfecting it in no time. I’ve learned all the tricks to keep them hydrated. I know all the danger signs too.  This time around it is almost a blessing to be forced down again. I’m weary. Just a little too much shifting on the fly.

I spent spring break running to too many appointments. This past month has kicked my butt. Even the neighbor’s kids commented on our busyness. We’re adjusting to Larry being back to work, a little further away, and the changes in schedules once again… Lacrosse is fun and a wonderful outlet. The backyard is still full of kids every time I turn around.  Last night, one of the neighbor kids had been given baseball bases. Next thing I knew a kickball tournament was underway.  They played until 8:30 🙂

As the weather season changes, it brings us a bigger season of life changes.  We have major life decisions to make. Our oldest will be a senior next year. We’re continuing to work on the transition plan and living arrangements.  Our daughter will be starting high school. Our middle son will be in 7th grade, and our youngest will be leaving elementary school. Where has all the time gone??

My red bird friends haven’t been around lately. I’ve been swamped with endless needs and countless meetings. I’ve advocated till I’m undone. And there are still so many miles ahead of us. I put myself in timeout this past weekend.  I had a severe case of the grumps and holding back the tears was getting harder and harder…What was the matter with me?  I have a keen way of critically evaluating myself.  My husband told me the other day to stop having a pity party.  There have been 3 distinct times he has said that. He’s only said it 3 times in all these years but each time he is dead on.

It caused me to go back & look at the root of what is bothering me. I lost my aunt unexpectedly five years ago.  She was one of my biggest cheerleaders. Her birthday would have been just a few weeks before mine. I miss her. With all that we’ve been through-I know she would’ve done everything she could to cheer me on.  We’re also thinking of my grandmother a lot more-especially as her health is quickly declining.   These past four years have dealt us some heartbreaking blows and along with it severed relationships.  Larry had put together that video album for my birthday-I love it.  It reminds me of the good times and the people that I love. The root of my sadness is I’m mourning what I had and having to make changes.

My timeout and the stomach virus has been a blessing in disguise. I’ve been yearning for a refreshing. In these past 6 days, a calmness has settled over us. Larry & I have actually had time to talk. I was relieved to hear he is thinking through the same issues I am.  Oh hello again best friend! I’ve been comforted to know I am not alone.  It still saddens us deeply to have lost some of our relationships with others. We’ve come to the conclusion we still have each other and we’re still a family-just a little different. We have major decisions to make but looking back does help you see that you’ve made it through tough times before and you can do it again.  It makes you appreciate those around you a lot more. It also gives you the opportunity to examine the lessons you’ve learned along the way and apply those lessons to what lies ahead.

Life can be difficult but in the difficulty you learn the beauty of living. My red bird friend showed up today 🙂 My husband has called to check in on us. I’ve spent hours blogging. The laundry is getting done, the house looks great, and I feel better. I told Larry I think I have adult onset ADHD-I keep jumping from one thing to another- he said  my humor is coming back 🙂 I’m thankful for the simple treasure of taking time.  The opportunity (grace) to reset my focus and priorities. I’m grateful for wisdom that comes through living 🙂 I’m grateful for the simple treasure of a time out and a stomach virus. I’m beginning to feel refreshed 🙂

Looking Back Part 2

I have forgotten how much life I lived since getting married some 18+ years ago. Adventurous to say the least.  Friends have said I should write a book.  Sorry, you’re stuck with this blog for now. Blogging is my way of holding on to my sanity-what’s left of it anyway 😉

Let’s see-some more stories. I remember when it was just one baby. My bouncing baby boy named after a  family member. I remember his first pair of shoes-Grandma started buying them at Stride Rite to carry on the tradition of how my grandmother took me shoe shopping at Stride Rite 🙂  His were white little walking shoes.  Of course we added the shoe string bell too 🙂 We lived in a gorgeous apartment complex with a wooden bridge in the common area that our porch overlooked.  We loved to take Thomas for walks. He was just about one.  He would get to the wooden bridge, go half-way across, and stop to stomp dance.  He loved the sound of the bells on his feet and how the wood sounded when you stomped on it.  Larry & I would laugh until we cried at this precious sight. Loved learning simple joys&treasures from my baby:)

Another family favorite is known as” The End of the Easy Bake Oven”.   Another Bunckin had a knack to stealthiness too.  This one, in particular, was gifted with ninja like abilities to drop off the radar.  This child was very quiet & moved at the speed of light. I think this one took notes from his sister.  And this one’s preferred mode was being a minimalist-no clothes or diaper at all-forget pockets.

One day I was nursing the youngest. The other three were playing together. Before I knew it, there were only two kids playing. I lost one. I thought I had heard a small sound in the large country kitchen. I figured the missing one was playing with the little tykes kitchen set. I listen and sure enough the sound matched kitchen set.  Until I heard something spill and roll across the floor. I quickly went to investigate.

We had a huge pantry that was gated off.  I forgot to mention this missing child also had monkey climbing abilities too.  I sprinted to the kitchen to find little colored sprinkles across the floor. As I traced the source, I found the missing child had climbed up the gate in their usual minimalist attire.  Before I could grab the minimalist off of the gate, I felt a warm splash on my feet.  A perfectly aimed stream went right into the easy bake oven and all over the sprinkles.  Talk about sprinkle when you tinkle 😉 That was the end of the Easy Bake Oven.

Like I’ve said before….all in day with the Bunches 🙂

Looking Back Part 1

I’ve spent some time looking back-thankful to my husband who made a video collage of my life for my 40th birthday. In these turbulent times of raising pre-teens and teens, I am constantly evaluating my abilities of being a wife and mother.  Lately, I have found myself lacking. I have been sanctified by having my sponge squeezed so hard that I thought I was having a heart attack last week. In my personal evaluation of myself I felt as if I had fallen flat on my face in the areas of raising a family.

What I need is a fresh perspective. Like I mentioned my husband made a video collage for me-in it were the pictures of my precious babies. I look back& remember the times of having a pre-schooler and a cute little girl that gave me a run for my money. I remember my stint as a single mother while Larry was stationed at Ft.Gordon for a few months.  I was so enamored with my two little ones-then almost 4 and 9mos. that I wasn’t the least bit disappointed to find myself pregnant again shortly after Larry’s return home.  My oldest was the sweetest most compliant little guy-led me to believe future babies would be the same. My daughter came&quickly set the record straight but before I could figure out what was going on, I had two more little boys all within a very short time (while on birth control none the less- what is meant to be will be).

Some of my favorite stories were Emily living out Harold and the Purple Crayon on her bedroom walls during naptime-she was a stealthy one who would hide little things in her pockets.  Then there was the Desitin incident-having learned to give her a pat down before nap time, she learned how to climb out the crib. Since her pockets were empty Desitin became her new tool the color her bedroom walls with.

Now who paid attention to this-the younger brothers.  But what they managed to smear on their walls was much much worse. I had learned my lesson from their sister. .  I had every drawer safety latched and every thing they could possibly smear hidden.  BUT they made their own stuff to smear-I’ll leave it up to you to imagine. That is when I learned to disinfect and clean (with all organic cleaners mind you- an entire bedroom) all while making grilled cheese and reading to the older two.  My first born never dreamed of doing any of these things his younger siblings were doing.  The worst he ever did was have a reaction to a decongestant that made him delirious and wired.  I woke up to bananas squished all of the house one morning because he couldn’t peel a banana…ahh the memories 🙂

A Quick glimpse at Coffee Origins :)

I remember when I first started drinking coffee.  It was after I was the mother of two.  I had been on my own, with two kids, while Larry was stationed at Fort Gordon for a few months. I found it hard to keep up with a pre-school schedule, working full time (I was blessed to work for my parents and take my kids to work with me), and running a household on my own.  Somehow I developed the taste of coffee and that was it.

I can also remember the days of having four kids (umm yeah after #3 child I no longer worked outside of the home) and crawling to the coffee maker just to keep up with them.  I remember having a kindergartner, a 3 year old, a 16 month old, and a newborn.  Somehow I can’t remember how on earth I ever did it.  We lived in a townhouse with 13 steps up to just the front door.  I used to carry the babycarrier and tons of plastic grocery bags up those steps- all in one trip (with my kids you’d never leave them alone for long enough to make a few trips to get all of your groceries in). Never mind how I went through the commissary with four little kids-it was like having an octopus in the grocery cart. Trust me-everyone knew the Bunches were at the store 🙂  I always thought it would get easier as they got older.

Now a days I guzzle a pot of coffee and practically lick the grinds:) as I try to keep up with pre-teens and teens.  I cringe when I see the school number on the caller ID wondering what has happened this time. My hair is falling out along with my eyebrows (never knew that could happen-thank God for a brow pencil). I had to re-organize my day planner twice this year (and it’s just now May).  I’ve learned how to get the kids off to school, get ready for work, drive across three counties for an hour long appointment&back to work before lunchtime. I’ve been given mutliple times to perfect this skill. I’ve learned GPS is like my BFF as I have a tight schedule to keep, a to do list a mile long, and some kind of urgent matter that will require me to drive somewhere inconvenient, not close to home, and during rush hour. I have learned to shift on the fly. My simple treasures are coffee, a day planner, and GPS 🙂

Comic Relief- All In A Day

I woke up at 6:30 this morning to get the kids ready for our first Lacrosse Jamboree.  I picked an early morning rising so I could slowly drink my required coffee allotment of the day and maybe watch the morning news. We were on the field by 8:30 in the cold rain, drizzle, and breeze.  Fours hours later, fun was had by all and yes I bought T-shirts 🙂  Meanwhile, Larry had been at home prepping Matt for a fishing trip with his friends to our local park and driving the boys over.  Matt’s bike had a flat tire 😦 Yes, for the first time we allowed Matt to go fishing with his friends-all armed with cell phones, tons of fishing gear, and lots of snackage.

Larry drove to the park a few times to check on the boys.  We called to check on them too.  I arrived home with the other kids, soaking wet, cold, and muddy.  The kids and I changed, I posted pics to FB, and started washing Patrick’s uniform for tonight’s scrimmage at a local college during the half-time. Thomas & I caught up on his lastest news.  Larry & Em left to grill food for the remaining afternoon’s jamboree. I began organizing spring/summer clothes and packing/labeling winter clothes.  Things were going smoothly…….

Larry&Emily came home.  Then the door flies open and in runs Matt.  Apparently the snackage must had contained lots of sugar because Matt was off the hook.  Following Matt  was the neighbors who had gone to pick the boys up.  Matt was soaked from head to toe with not only wetness but some sand too-I’d expect nothing less.  Then I notice he only has on one shoe.  Then the neighbor chimes in and says “Larry & I are going back to the park to look for Matt’s glasses.”  That doesn’t shock me either.  This is his spare pair because…..he lost his glasses twice already.

Don’t forget we have another game tonight too.  I continue my laundry tasks.  Matt gets showered and changed.  He begins to tell me of the adventure.  First, they caught a baby catfish in the minnow trap.  They found a beachy part and just had to try to fish from there.  Matt tripped and fell into the sand.  He didn’t realize his glasses had even fallen off of his face.  Then he was excitedly telling me about a “water moccasin“-  he was sure that was what it was-one of the boys had hooked with a three inch minnow.  I love to hear Matt tell of his adventures 🙂

Larry and the glasses search party return-without glasses.  They also show me Matt’s shorts-Larry took him some pants, at one point, to help keep him warm.  The shorts have a hook somehow tangled in them.  They can’t find his other shoe.  No that doesn’t surprise me either. I’m already laughing at the sight of this dear boy and his excitement over his adventurous day-oh yeah he woke up at 7 so he’d have 3 hours to get ready to fish 5 minutes from our house.  I think he must of snuck some coffee too 😉

I realize I can’t remember where the lacrosse tickets are for tonight’s game-but I’ve got to get Matt some new glasses.  I call four places and score an appointment tomorrow morning- eye exam and new glasses-if are in stock-will be ready same day.  Now to look for the tickets.  Now to tear the house apart and get side tracked with organizing the papers that have been piling up on the kitchen island.  Now to remember to switch clothes to dryer.  Take dry clothes out to fold them.  Look up ticket prices and check for availability.  Now to look at the clock….AHHHHHH!!!!

Somehow I’d lost track of time-I have no idea how that happened.  Larry was going to take Patrick & Em to the game tonight.  They have fifteen minutes  to be at the stadium-it usually takes at least 20 minutes to get there.  Yeah, I call coach to tell him I’m a ditz, they are on their way, and will have to buy tickets when they get there, so they will be a little late.  Coach says “No problem, matter of a fact I think I have 2 possibly 3 tickets left over.  Tell them to meet me and by the way you don’t have to be there for another 45 minutes.  I think you got your times mixed up.”  Really??? You don’t say.  How could I have done that 🙂

And so that is my story.  My simple treasure is precious memories being made today!! In the midst of all the craziness (which is normal for us:) all I can think of are the stories we will be telling about today in years to come.  Now to go make dinner-yeah I forgot to put the roast in the oven.  We’ll be eating a little late 🙂

Settling Dust

Dust….seems to be the theme.  For this week though it is settling dust.  And man does it feel nice.  The past two weeks have been full of everyone falling apart.  From teenage daughter drama, to anxiety attacked middle child, more calls about oldest child, trying to figure out the right direction for the youngest, stomach virus, strep throat, and praying a job for my husband. What a turbulent storm of calamity.  I actually ended up crawling in my car while at work one day just to cry it out-there was no longer any way to hold back the tears.  Something had to give.

As with any storm, the clouds do pass.  The sun does shine again.  Today we get our youngest discharged 🙂  Our middle one has calmed down and has been giving this mommy surprise hugs-just his way of saying thanks and I love you.  The oldest one has been so excited to be at home on the weekends again.  And our one and only daughter is talking more with us, excitedly starting the lacrosse season, and staying up late just to have mom&dad to herself.   We’ve had a few nights of the kids climbing on our bed to talk and hang out with us.  We’ve played games with each other.  We’re beginning the sports schedule juggle.  We’ve shared laughter and tears.

Our living room has a poem stenciled on the wall:

In this house…

We do second chances.

We do grace.

We do real mistakes.

We do I’m sorry’s.

We do loud really well.

We do hugs.

We do family.

We do LOVE.

As hard as these times have been, I wouldn’t trade them or any of my kids, (my husband-maybe) no seriously not him either, for anything in the world.  We are family-we just do things a little different around here.  And it is from these times that I have learned what it means to be steadfast in love and commitment, to hold on and hang in there even when all you see around you is a huge disaster, the amazing way to find joy in the smallest of details, how blessed you are to be surrounded and encouraged to keep going.  I have loved the stars at night as I ponder their creation, the thrill of seeing a falling star the other night, the elation of hearing laughter in the house….I can’t even put into words all of the positive that has come from these challenging times.  I can say the positive does outweigh the negative.  Hey, my husband signed a job offer yesterday and starts a new job on the 19th!  So the dust is finally settling.  I love that even when all looked desolate there was still hope for a better day….. And all of this, I simply treasure! 🙂