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Matt and I were together for 10 wonderful years - met in 1998, married in 2002, until his untimely death on November 15, 2008. We have two beautiful, healthy children - Jacob (born 5/04) and Sydney (born 5/07)... the most precious gifts he could have ever given me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sydney

Let me preface by saying that Sydney has only just turned two last month, so I haven't pushed potty training on her. I'm letting her lead on this. She's already gone pee pee on the potty several times, when she tells me she wants to go.

Last night before her bath, Sydney said "potty," so I put her on the potty and after about two minutes, lo and behold - POOP!

It's funny the things you get so excited about when you become a parent. I have to say, though - Jacob was/is just as excited as me. He's making sure to tell everyone we run into and talk to on the phone.

Sydney is talking a lot more, too - she can string several words together, like:

"I'll be right back" (with her pointer finger pointed up; sounds more like I'll be boop beck)
"No I didn't."
"I don't like."
"I love you" (sounds more like I ya you)
"Jacob, where are you?" (Jacob sounds more like Baycub)

Her vocabulary is quite extensive.

She's already recognizing some letters, too - the letters "O" and "S" so far. Maybe more, but I haven't taken the time lately to go through the magnetic letters with her. She can also count to five.

Sydney went through a stage recently where she would scream bloody murder when I'd leave her room after tucking her in for the night. After having a long talk with her one night before bed, she decided she would be a good girl and not scream before night night time anymore. =)

Occassionally I'll lay down with either Jacob or Sydney when tucking them in (usually it ends up being the last one tucked in). One time when I was laying with Sydney, I had my back to her while I started to dose off, and I felt her little hand stroking my hair so gently. What a love.

She has taken quite an interest in Jacob's two wheeler recently (which he has outgrown), and he is as anxious for her to start riding as I'm sure her daddy would have been. Jacob asked if we could get her a bike with training wheels, so we're going to go to the store on Friday and see if her little legs can reach the pedals on a two-wheeler with training wheels. I have no doubt that her big brother will take her under his wing with this endeavor...

Friday, June 26, 2009

I want to tell him...

Anytime something significant happens, my first inclination is to tell Matt. Even the mundane things I want to tell him.

Matt - guess what?! Michael Jackson died. You probably knew before we did, though... Strange how people around here seem to be dropping like flies now that you're gone. It's scary. I want to tell my Uncle Frankie to say hi to you and give you a hug for me when he gets to Heaven. A part of me is a little jealous that all these people get to see you now. I don't get to see you anymore, until someday when I die. For Jacob and Sydney's sake, I hope it's not for a very long time; otherwise, it really wouldn't matter to me. I would be so pissed if I didn't get to see you after I die, though... Matt, you would have gotten such a kick out of the kids this morning. They greeted each other with sleepy eyes, so happy to see each other, and were locked in a long embrace, full of smiles. You would be so proud of these kids. I told Jacob the other day (as I do often) that I am the luckiest mommy in the world. He said that I'm not, because my daddy died. I explained to him that you were his daddy, not my daddy - that you're my husband. I explained to him that because he and Sydney are my children, that still makes me the luckiest mommy in the world. I'm an unlucky wife for losing my husband, but was the luckiest wife for almost seven years until then. Matt, the kids and I are moving to California. I'm hoping to move by the end of August so Jacob can start school in time. I want you to come with us. I want you to be with us wherever we are. I wish there was some way I could see you again, or at least just talk to you. I wish I could pick up the phone and dial you and hear your voice on the other end. I wish that more than anything right now. The longing gets worse instead of easier to deal with. Maybe by putting this out there in cyberspace, the message will get to you somehow. I love you, Matt. I love you so much.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Preschool Graduation

The preschool graduation ceremony took place last week Wednesday for both preschool classes - the Sunshine Room (Jacob's class) and the Fireflies. Aunt Michelle, Aunt Jennifer, Sydney and I were all there to cheer him on. However, there was one very important person missing that day, and it broke my heart. Jacob seemed to be unscathed by Matt's absence, thank goodness, but I know he still felt it.

Jacob wasn't the only child there who was missing a daddy... I met a woman in my little town last Tuesday who also lost her husband just this past January. She has a five year old little girl. Turns out, her little five year old girl and my little five year old boy are in the SAME preschool class. What a small world... Privacy laws dictate that the teachers of the school couldn't disclose who was who to us, but we each knew there was another child in the class who lost their daddy the past year...

It was a tough day for her and I, and I'm so glad that we had met the day before the graduation so we had each other that day to lean on. We were both missing our husbands, and wishing they were there with us to watch this momentous event in their child's life.

I'm not exactly sure what order the kids were being called down from the bleachers, but Jacob ended up being the very last kid to have his name called. He was so patient the whole time, sitting up there waiting while everyone else's names were announced. The kid has a longer attention span than I do - I was starting to get fidgety and distracted by the time they got to him! A teacher helped a very excited little Jacob down from the bleachers, and I saw him turn to her and say, "I love my mommy!" She came up to me later and told me about it, just in case I didn't see that. It touched her as much as it touched me. My sweet little love...

After the ceremony, there was a very sweet slide show that had pictures of the children from the beginning of the year until now. Jacob had such a baby face at the beginning of the year... it's amazing how much all the kids have grown in just nine months. Looking at those early pictures, I was thinking to myself, that was when he had a daddy. When life was good.

After the slide show, we all went back into the classrooms to see the projects that the kids have been working on throughout the year. One of them was a collage of family pictures with captions. It's titled, "My Family." I had forgotten all about the request at the beginning of the school year to bring in some family pictures. The next pang of pain came from the Father's Day project that Jacob did for Daddy.

We all ran through the rain to get back to the van. I gushed over Jacob about how proud of him I am and how well he did, and told him that I'm sure his daddy is very proud of him, too.

By the time we got home, I was emotionally spent. I held it together really well the whole time at the school, got the kids home and tucked in, and then I fell apart. It really makes me mad that everything good that happens in our lives will be bittersweet from now on.

Growing Up

Jacob took his first shower by himself last night! He's taken one or two showers before, but that was a long time ago when he was a baby, and they were with Matt. Matt held Jacob's slippery little body in his big, strong arms, and as much as Matt wanted to have him in the shower with him was as much as Jacob didn't want to be there. He didn't much care for them then, but he's ready now! I wasn't sure when independent bathing started, but I guess is the start of it for Jacob, at five years old. He was so proud of himself, taking a shower like a big boy...

"Does the water come out of the top part up there? Does it come out like a watering can? My friend Sam takes showers. I can use the other soap now, right? Can you take all the toys out of the tub? I'll do it myself, Mommy..."

...and on, and on....

Today is his last day of preschool, too. I'm trying to convince him that he's not going to Kindergarten next week, that there are a couple of months with no school before he starts. He happily announced to his teachers this morning that he is taking showers now!

Miss Linda and Miss Norita, Jacob's preschool teachers, have been doing their jobs for over 20 years, and it's evident that they are in the right line of work. They have made Jacob's first year at school a very positive one, despite the fact that it was the most challenging year in his little life so far. They handled every difficult situation with patience and love. They are a blessing to every child they have in their class. Everyone in that school is just wonderful. I'm kind of sad that Sydney won't have the experience of going there.

This morning, a friend of mine at work said that she's reading a book and came across a quote in it that made her think of me: "Nothing changes if nothing changes." A good quote to start the day with...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another note about this Father's Day...

Sunday, while we were driving to Matt's aunt and uncle's house for a Father's Day picnic, I told the kids that on the count of three, we're gonna shout, "Happy Father's Day" to Daddy as loud as we can so he can hear us in Heaven.

"One, two, three - HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!!!!" shouted Jacob, Sydney and me at the top of our lungs... At least if Matt didn't hear us, everyone on the way to Aunt Mary's and Uncle Rick's did!

Last night we went to a little get-together with some friends. While all the kids were at the kids' table eating their dinner, Jacob orchestrated another shout out to Daddy with the rest of the kids, and we heard another loud "HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!!" to Daddy that echoed through the neighborhood.

With a big smile on his face, Jacob said he just wanted to make sure Daddy heard him in Heaven.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day.

You know the saying, "Anyone can be a father, but it takes a special man to be a Dad."

Matt was a real Dad. He lived his life wholesome and full. Kept himself healthy, active, educated, happy. Provided an excellent example for his children. He was his nephews' and niece's favorite uncle, and when he had children of his own, he reveled in his role. He did more things with his kids in the short time he had them than many men do throughout their whole lives.

My brother. Another man who takes on his role as Dad with his whole heart and soul.

My Dad. He can't do enough for me and my kids lately, and it's been so wonderful to have him such an active part of our lives through all this. Just having him near is comforting for me.

My father-in-law. He and Matt really grew close the past few years, and it was a beautiful thing to see. He loves me like one of his own, and is a wonderful grandpa. My heart goes out to him today.

A couple of weeks ago, one of Jacob's teachers told me that they were going to be doing Father's Day projects with the kids. She wanted to know if I wanted Jacob to do his project for Grandpa instead, or something else. I told her that it's perfectly fine if he wants to do something for his Daddy, and that I'd prefer to leave the decision up to him.

He drew a sweet picture for Daddy, and wrote a story on the back:

"Dad and I used to ride our bikes in town. We would go fishing, too. Dad would watch Polar Express with me. It is my favorite movie. Brown was his favorite color. We would play with my trains, too! I love my Dad... A Zillion!
Jacob

Happy Father's Day, My Love.

And Happy Father's Day to all the other great Dads out there - whether here or in spirit.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June 10-15, 2009

What a week! I flew to California to go house-hunting. My goal was to find a house I like, put in an offer and get it inspected. Mission accomplished.

It was so hard to leave my kids for almost a whole week, but I knew they would be miserable getting dragged from one house to another, and I knew they were in good hands.

The real estate agent and I looked at 23 houses in two days. It wasn't until the second-last house that I felt the love... A house I can see my little family living in, and in a neighborhood I can envision raising them in!!

When we drove down the street to go see this house, the first thing I noticed was (other than how beautiful the street was and quaint the neighborhood seemed) the children playing in the front yard across the street... Jacob's and Sydney's ages! The house is a beautiful little Spanish-style bungalow with a nice little yard that seems easy to maintain. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, fenced in back yard, complete with a clay tile roof! I am in love...

The elementary school is literally right around the corner within walking distance, as are some parks, hiking, and places for Jacob to ride his bike. Did I mention my kids will have friends right across the street, too??

The woman living in the house is a sweetheart, and I promised her that if I get the house, I will take good care of it and make sure that it's always filled with love. Now I'm just praying that the deal goes through with the bank...

The more time I spend in California, the more right this feels. My children and I are going to be happy here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pain

Picture baiting a hook with a worm... you know how they writhe in pain, squirming in vain to get away? That's how I'm feeling on the inside. On the surface, I'm trying to hold it together, but inside, I'm squirming and writhing in pain. At times, it's unbearable and I try to push it aside and not feel it so intensely, just so I can function.

I just woke up from a dream in which Matt was killed in a different way. The helplessness I felt in the dream is the same; the inability to be there to save my love. The inability to go back in a moment in time and somehow alter the course of events. If only just for a moment...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June 2, 2009

This morning, I dropped Sydney off at Aunt Jennifer's and Jacob at preschool, and then came home so I could finish cleaning for the showing. I pulled into the garage and sat there, looking around, taking it all in, knowing that I won't be looking at all this familiar scenery for very long. I looked out at our long driveway and remembered how well Matt even cared for that, sealing the black top every spring. I looked at the shed - the shed that's probably built better that some people's homes, and picture Matt, his dad and Jacob as a toddler, all working on it together. Three generations of Row boys...

I looked to my left where Matt's truck is parked and tried as hard as I could to see him sitting in it. Just like when I give the kids a bath, I look behind me at the door and try so hard to envision him peeking in, and then coming in to sit with us while the kids are in the tub. Kind of like when I'm laying in bed, and I try to hear the garage door open and close, the sound of his footsteps walking into the house, and into our room. Kind of like when we're at the dinner table and I look at his empty chair and try to picture him sitting with us. Lately when I'm driving around, there are times when I actually see someone in a truck that looks exactly like Matt - tuft of hair on his chin and all. I see him everywhere.

I had to force myself to move so I could get out of the van. Had a minor breakdown as I was getting the rest of the house cleaned up. I was just finishing putting some nice, fresh vacuum lines in the carpet when at least ten agents showed up at the front door.

As I expected, they ooohed and ahhhed - loved every square inch. One of them said she wanted to buy it! The reason they were there was a bit painful (they all have to see it so if people call to inquire, they will know what they're talking about), but it felt good to get a chance to share the beautiful house that Matt and I built with these people who see other people's houses all the time, and to hear the great things they were saying as they walked through each room taking pictures. One of the agents was on the phone with a client, telling them about the house as he walked through.

As soon as they left, my attorney called with an update. I get off the phone w/him, and there's a knock on the door from a man in a police uniform, and of course my pulse quickens and my heart drops into my stomach. It's Matt's friend Dave, who he used to play softball with. He saw the sale sign that the agents just put on the lawn and stopped by to say hi and see what was going on. Said he's been keeping an eye on the house for us, but wasn't sure when it was a good time to stop by to say hello. It's nice to know that people are looking out for us, even when we aren't aware of it. After a short visit, he left and I went my doctor appointment. I won't even get into that one...

I left their office, get in the van, and call my sister to give her the update on my crazy day so far. She tells me she talked to my mother today and got some not so great news about my Uncle Frankie.

Again, I have a hard time forcing myself to move, so I finally muster the strength to leave the parking lot and go grocery shopping. While I'm in the store, my real estate agent called. They already have two interested parties to show the house to - one at 7pm, one at 7:30. Holy shit.

I made arrangements to have the kids stay with Aunt Jennifer for the majority of the evening so that while the house is being shown, I would go to dinner with my friend Kim and take a breath.

On my way to pick up the kids, I got another phone call from my real estate agent, telling me that one of the interested parties is actually very interested and that he would get back to me in the next day or so with more information. Oh my goodness.

It wasn't long before Matt died that I actually vocalized the words, "I feel like I'm living the Groundhog Day movie - same thing... day in and day out." I am eating those words now. All I can say now is, be careful what you wish for, and also be cautious of the words you say outloud. They are very powerful.