Thursday, April 12, 2012

The song that took me back.....

     Have you ever had one of those moments where a song took possession over your heart and mind, so much so, that you were just....gone?  I had that experience tonight on my way to church while listening to a local Contemporary Christian radio station. As this song played, the tears started rolling, and I was taken back to when the doctor said  "85%  chance of Trisomy 18" with the word "fatal" right after when talking about the baby girl I was carrying.

"For five months and eight days my wife and I had waited Gettin' ready for our baby girl But when he called the doctor said I need to see you and could you come in soon then something died inside of me to sit with him and hear the tests that said our baby may not live to be a year..."

     I will never forgot the shock that we felt when the doctor gave us the results of a blood test. The excitement that Michael and I felt about our child grew rather grim as he explained how our baby girl had only a 15% chance of survival, due to a positive test result of Trisomy 18, which is a genetic disorder in which a person has a third copy of material from chromosome 18, instead of the usual two copies.

    The shock didn't wear off.  Telling family and friends that night was a breeze, really. Until I said the word "fatal" and it all hit me like a ton of bricks.  Fatal.  My baby girl is going to die. The grief took over that evening.  A part of me died that night. My strength, my desire....  I figured God was punishing my for something horrible that I did. I stood in the doorway of my room and shouted that I hated Him for taking my baby away from me.

     "......then turnin' to my wife and he said "whata you wanna do?" and she said...
I wanna give her the world I wanna hold her hand I wanna be her mom for as long as I can and I wanna live every moment until that day comes I wanna show her what it means to be loved"

     There was brief talk on what to do next. More testing, termination, or waiting it out.  Michael and I chose to wait it out and deal with whatever was to come.  I knew that if I could even have one minute with my child after birth, that it would be worth it. 

     The weeks went on.  The ultrasound came back wonderful.  However, that wasn't good enough for me.  I came straight home and hopped on Google and found several Trisomy 18 families that all had good ultrasounds come back, but their baby still died in the womb, or was born and only lived a short while longer. I didn't let myself believe that our daughter could be OK. Blood tests don't lie. Right?  

      " we spent each day, watchin' every minute and prayin' for our baby girl and I will not forget the way I felt that moment when she came into this world but they took her from the room just as soon as she was born and watchin' through a window I could see her holdin' on...."

     The day Hannah was born was a cautioned excitement. While everyone else was joyful, I was not. I was scared of what was about to happen. I can't say I was really praying. I was mad at God, with everything I had. But, I know that there were a good many people praying for her, for us. 
     When my doctor pulled her from my belly, the tears started flowing.  Michael's hands stayed on me, caressing me, but his eyes were glued to our daughter as they moved her to the other side of the operating room. It seemed like forever, but, then my anesthesiologist said, "Listen there, momma. She is crying like a little baby lamb."  And she was....when they brought Hannah Diane to us, we looked for the clenched hands and the clenched feet.  But, they were perfect.  We looked for all the "abnormalities" of a Trisomy 18 baby...but there weren't any.   God saved my little girl. 

    " I said everyday we've got to bring her home she's been out to prove the doctors wrong oh and you should see her now she's as pretty as her mom and there's a boy at the front door waiting just to take her to her high school prom...

     So, the blood tests were wrong. Our Hannah showed us that day that she was brought into this world by someone more mightier than doctors and all their silly tests.  She was saved by God, and Him alone! And forever, I will be thankful to Him, for our precious Hannah Diane. 

                                (Mark Schultz:  What it Means to be Loved)
  This song is powerful in my life for the story I just shared with you, and another that I haven't that is more personal and private for me...but I hope it touches each of you that read this as it did me tonight. Praise God for the hours, for each and every minute that we get to be parents.  What a blessing it truly is!  


Friday, February 10, 2012

Satisfaction with a company, or two, or three....

     Yesterday afternoon, from the comfort of my bed, I purchased everything we will need for our 2012-2013 school year!  It is always fun deciding what we will learn during the next year.  Sometimes, it can be stressful too!  Like after the grand total gets entered, sorting through the mounds of choices, or dealing with the publishers or companies that we deal with the make sure our children receive the best education possible.

    I placed large orders with several different companies yesterday.  Some of those companies were ones that I have used for quite awhile, while others are brand new to us!  It took three hours to make sure that everything was ordered correctly, that I didn't miss anything, etc.  And when I was done, it was a huge relief knowing that it was done! 

     Then the phone calls started rolling in! Uh Oh. 

     Yesterday, in the later afternoon, I received a phone call from Math U See.  The representative was calling to let me know that the email they had on file was sending emails back to them.  They wanted to just touch base with me that my information was correct before shipping out to me.  And yes, recently the email I used for businesses was cut off when we switched ISP's.  I failed to change that. Glad they called. Makes me feel safe knowing that they wanted to be sure that I would get what I had just ordered.

Click here to check out Math U See

      The second phone call came from My Father's World.  The gentleman that called me noticed that I ordered a deluxe package of From Creation to the Greeks, but two sets of student sheets from Adventures in My father's World.  He wanted to make sure that I didn't mean to order additional student sheets for Creation to Greeks.  I let him know that I already had the Adventures package and just needed to replace the consumables in that package.  Then he politely, and very respectfully explained how I could combine all the children into the Creation to Greeks year.  I told him that combining them just didn't work for us.  BUT, I was so happy to see that 1) He wanted to make sure that my order was correct and 2) That he took the time out of his schedule to make sure that I understood how the program was designed.  Too bad my kids just didn't work that well together, or else, we definitely would be doing that!

 Great February deals on MFW right here!

     Lastly, a new company that we have decided to try this year is called A Reason For...  .  The very nice gentleman called to confirm my order was correct because while he was getting ready to ship, he noticed that I did not order the teacher's manual to the two student handbooks that I ordered. He also explained to me the importance of the TM.   I explained to him that the teacher's handbook was being given to me by a current customer, so I didn't need it.  He said, "It is always nice to hear when homeschoolers are able to help each other save money."  I told him that we were very excited to give A Reason For a chance at spelling and handwriting and that their products really made me excited! He was very responsive to the compliment, and talked about the programs they offered.  I could tell that he knew what he was talking about and that he thoroughly enjoyed his job. 

A Reason For.....check it out!

    So much of the time, I don't know about you, but I find myself complaining about customer service at businesses.  Sometimes, I get the feeling like they forget who they work for ~  THE CUSTOMER!   I felt that it was important to share GOOD experiences with a business, and not just the bad!  I hope you will check out these businesses and support them with the knowledge that they truly care about what our needs are!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Aunt Maxine III~ The Second Cousin Drama

     Well, you have now read about who my Aunt Maxine was and how the Alzheimer's took over her life.  You know she died a little over one year ago too.  Outside of just sharing memories that I have of her, you would think that there probably wasn't much else to tell.  Think again.

     In the wee hours of the morning on Dec. 4, 2010, Aunt Maxine died. Her two grown daughters, referred to as M and L, from here on out, called my mom and dad to let them know of her passing and that they were on their way to Burlington (four hour drive) to see to the arrangements.  My parents were expecting M and L to eventually show up at the house to discuss those said arrangements; but they never showed up.  They never called. They never came by.  They left town.  And that was that. 

     Aunt Maxine's body was cremated the afternoon of her passing, and the girls were home that night, without so much as a phone call to make the rest of the family aware of what was going on.  The morning of the 5th, her obituary was in the newspaper...with survivors including two loving daughters. But, nobody else.  So what about a funeral for a beloved member of her church and community? Nothing.  No visitation, no funeral, no memorial service. NOTHING. In fact, her plot at the cemetery, next to her husband is EMPTY. She was to be buried, in her urn, between her husband and brother. That is also where my grandmother is buried and both of my parents will be.  However, the grave is empty. 

     My second cousins have now gone and sold her house, and done Lord knows what with all of her possessions.  The jewelry that we used to play "dress up" with that was promised to me is gone.  The old family pictures that are only cherished by me are gone.  All of the Christmas stuff that her and I decorated together with is gone.  My mother said that while Aunt Maxine was alive, M and L would ask her to go through pictures and figure out who they were.  However, she suffered from Alzheimer's and couldn't. SO...they threw the family pictures away and deemed them useless. 

     M and L didn't visit Aunt Max from May of 2009 on.  They stopped calling too. Why? Because she wouldn't remember if they came or called anyway.  And now, they have alienated the three remaining family members they have~ My mother, daddy, and myself.  They have not called since that morning. M recently returned a call to me regarding the family pictures and said that my mother took them; which is a lie.  And with that, I am done with them.

     There comes a point in life when you have to cut out the toxic relationships for your own sanity. I can't live my whole life wondering why they didn't give my Aunt a proper farewell. There are thousands of people that loved her around Burlington.  I loved her more than I ever loved anyone. I can't sit around and pine over the fact that I have nothing physical to remind me of her, except a card that I located recently with a handwritten note inside. I can't worry about all the lost family mementos  and photographs, because there is nothing I can do about it now.

     My cousins can't take away the years of memories that I have with Aunt Maxine. 

     In closing, I would encourage each of you to consider what I have shared with you in my last three posts, and take it to heart.  Don't stop spending time with your family members that suffer from Alzheimer's.  That is selfish of you!! Not to mention, there may be that one moment where they remember you, such as the one I don't want to miss that!  Somewhere deep down inside, they know who you are, and they love you. Who cares if they ask you 200 questions, all the same, in a row? And please, don't ever block your family from saying goodbye.  I will never experience proper closure. I keep reliving the pain and hurt from her death because it never seemed "final" to me.  I just want to be able to say goodbye. =* (

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Aunt Maxine Part II

 ***This was originally a facebook note that I wrote the day my Aunt Maxine passed away, one year ago today.  I wanted to share this with all of you again, before I present a new post on what has gone on in the last year concerning my Aunt, my cousins....I just felt that it was important to get these two posts on Bended Life, rather than leaving them hidden on facebook. Thank for reading. Remember, this was from one year ago, today.  There will be an update in the next couple of days ***

As we had a girls night IN at my mother in law's house last night watching Gone With the Wind, my great Aunt Maxine's health was going downhill fast.  As my household lay sleeping, she passed on to be with our amazing Lord God and is probably singing praises to Him right now! We all know how much she LOVED singing! Especially when praising God! What a remarkable angel God has brought home.
     What a remarkable woman my family will miss.  Last night, as ALL of the girls were watching Gone With the Wind, I couldn't help but be reminded of my Aunt Maxine. Of course, I had no idea that this would be her last night...but, I am so glad that I was passing on the love of Gone With the Wind to my little ones that she passed to me so many years ago.
     After my mom called me this morning to let me know, it was hard, because I was the quiet of my house. Michael was working some overtime and all of the children were sleeping. It was nice to have those few moments of weeping to myself. I was able to eventually get through to Michael at work and he was able to come home early. I let my mother in law know too...her reassurance that all will be OK and that I was free to do whatever I needed to do was good.
     One by one the children awoke to find their momma sobbing in bed holding onto Alena tightly.  It was so comforting to realize how much Aunt Maxine has touched their young lives already. Dylan and Amanda have their own stories to share. They love hearing about her life...because it was such a full and sometimes hilarious life. 
     My reflections of the day have been all centered around her. Pretty much everything that has happened today, has made me remember something else about her. Aunt Maxine's love of chocolate cam about because Michael bought me some chocolate comfort foods. My Christmas tree all lit up and my house decorated made me think of how much she LOVED decorating for Christmas.  A commercial for KFC made me remember how much Aunt Max LOVED her fried chicken! While I was out and about earlier, I remembered her horrible driving skills. When we passed by a furniture store in Herrin, I thought of all the dreamin' we used to do every year for my birthday! When I prayed today, I remembered how Aunt Max always wanted everyone to hold hands to pray...NO MATTER who was sitting next to you! So many memories....I know it is probably hard to imagine that I could possibly have so many wonderful memories of my great aunt! In most families...a great aunt seems distant. But, not in mine....I am a better person because of her and having her have a helping hand in my life.
     Of course, for the past several years her memory was fading worse and worse. Eventually, she forgot who I was. She no longer had the wonderful memories of me as I had of her. However, she would hug me so tightly and tell me she loved me...the past few visits, she did remember me for about five seconds. That was enough. I know that I was in her heart.  Alzheimer's is hard on the family, no doubt. BUT~ let me get on my soap box for a minute and unleash some hurt that I am feeling right now...if you have a family member that is suffering from Alzheimer's and you are NOT going to visit them any longer because you feel like the visit is pointless, I tell you it is NOT! I never stopped going to see her when I went to Iowa. I didn't care if she asked me where I lived or who I was 150 times in five minutes! She was my aunt that I loved...and that didn't stop just because she didn't know who I was.
     I love my dear Aunt Maxine...and although right now I am hurting....I know that she is SO happy up there!

Thank you for reading and letting me share my love for her with all of you!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Aunt Maxine Part I

*** This was written November 16, 2009 after a very emotional visit with my Aunt Maxine, as most of you know, my Aunt Maxine passed away December 4, 2010.  As the one year anniversary to her passing approaches, I feel the need to get some of these "notes" that I wrote on facebook moved over here. Anyway, this week will probably be mostly devoted to my memories of my beautiful Aunt ***

     The role of a Great Aunt can be significant for some people. Myself included. This past weekend, we had an "all girls weekend" in my hometown, Burlington, Iowa. On that visit, as all the others, I went to visit my Great Aunt Maxine.

Unfortunately, She has no idea who I am anymore.

My Aunt Max used to be quite the life of any occasion. She could also be a bit, eccentric. She has worn a wig of curly red hair for at least 40 years, but usually can be found wearing purple clothing that totally clashes! Her favorite colors of course are purple, orange, and royal blue; everything she owns is in those three colors for the most part.

She is also quite the talker. Aunt Max would talk to anyone for as long as they would let her. lol. My Aunt, although quite smart and full of life experiences, came across as a naive ditz sometimes. I say that with all the love in my heart...because I know why she was like that. She was so old fashioned at times, BUT, knew enough about my life growing up that she seemed modern.

I will never, ever forget the many family gatherings spent at her house~ especially Christmas! Aunt Max loves Christmas decorating. I will never forget spending my birthdays with her as we played pretend...event hough I was old enough to not "pretend" she taught me that it was fun to make believe as well as all the many life lessons she taught me on those days when I thought it WAS just pretend. SO many things learned. SO many stories shared. SO much history that I will cherish forever.

Aunt Maxine has Alzheimer's now. She gets confused about where she is, how old she is, where she is going, etc. She forgets things and asks questions over and over again. But, what hurts the worst is that, as of the Summer of '08, she has no idea who I am anymore.

She hugs me, and says things like "I know I love you, even though I don't remember." When she hugs me, I feel that she knows there is a strong bond between us, but, then she asks who I am, or where I am from, etc. She met Alena for the first time yesterday at church. I told her that her name was Alena Mae, named for her mother and sister...and she said "Yes, Mae...Edith Mae and Wilma Mae." She has no idea that they are my grandmother and great- grandmother. She then asked if any of my children would be named for her. =* (

Alzheimer's is so hard. It is hard for her, I am sure...but, she doesn't remember, which makes it easier...but those of us that do remember, it is extra tough. I miss my Aunt.

 (This is a picture of My Aunt Maxine and myself. Not my most flattering picture, but, it is priceless to me. See, if you look closely you will see tears in my eyes. Right before this picture was taken, she said my name for the second time in a year and a half. She would only remember me one more time after this picture was taken before her death.) 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

When a home falls apart and becomes a house ....

     Earlier this evening, my ex-husband informed me that he is letting our marital residence fall into foreclosure. I knew that this was a possibility, because I was served papers about the house being foreclosed on about a year ago. That suit has since been dismissed, but there seems to be another one brewing.  As much as I would love to be able to save it from foreclosure, I can't afford the $1500.00 mortgage on it.
     This house was a beautiful, dark brown brick ranch house, with cedar siding on the sides and rear. There are an abundance of windows, some of them in rather unique shapes and sizes.  The most prominent feature when looking at the front of the house are the beautiful burnt orange double doors.  There is a perfect little entryway with nice hardwood floors. From it you could get to the formal living room, and a little bit down that same hallway was the family room. The family room was my favorite room. It had the most beautiful fireplace I have ever seen.  It had floor to ceiling stone and a glass front. The mantle was a very thick, rustic wood that went great with the decor. On each side of the fireplace are two floor to ceiling, vertical windows. Everything about this house was a dream. The landscaping, the back yard, the house, the square footage, the neighborhood. All perfect.
     Until my marriage fell part eight months into living there. Then my beautiful home became my prison.

(This is how the house looks today (11-26-11) after being abandoned since 2004)

   I won't get into all that right now, but, I will say that I loved my house. It is where we had some of the best memories when Dylan and Amanda were small. Each room has a wonderful memory...and a painful one too.

    I gave up on my marriage on 9-11-2001.  I wasn't brave enough to actually file for divorce until August of 2002. And I moved out of the house in April of 2004. Nobody has lived there since. He has moved stuff in, and out, but he hasn't stayed the night in there, to my knowledge.  In 2009, a tree fell on the house during the crazy "May 8th storm," leaving a large hole in the roof. In fact, the tree was in the family room and kitchen! He didn't get it fixed right away, and he let water sit in there.  He had the roof fixed, but, little else. The house never has looked as good as it once did.

(This is the damage from where the tree came in the house on 5-8-09; never cleaned up or fixed. It is because of this hole that water got in the house, and just sat ) 

                                                    Jump to today . . . . .

    Amanda had some stuff at the house in her bedroom that she wanted to bring home, since they never went over there anyway; they couldn't!  A 32" Flat Screen TV, a PS3, lava lamps, disco ball, strobe light, all the Rock Band equipment, etc. Just a ton of stuff.  He told her that it would be fine to go ahead and get her things out of the house, simply because he was letting it foreclose and he has nowhere to put any of it anyway.  He did tell her that he sold her TV. But, everything else was still in their boxes.  Then he told me that I could help myself to whatever else was in there. He had a brand new couch and loveseat, and some of Amanda's bedroom furniture, etc.  So, I was just fine with that.  So I went ahead and grabbed some of that too, along with some of my items that I had to leave behind. My great grandmother's sewing machine chest, a pillow that she made me, some cards from my beloved aunt, a few pictures, etc.

     HOWEVER, when we went into her room. ALL of her things were GONE!  She had a bed, and two dressers left. And her jewelry box. That was it. He obviously sold the rest of her things. I am SO proud of my girl for not being upset. I think she is annoyed about it, but, she didn't once complain. 

    What I wasn't expecting hurt the worst. When we made our way to the family room, which is off from the kitchen, we noticed that the the floor was sagging. Then, in the kitchen, the floor had completely collapsed. The appliances, cabinets, were hanging down. We could see that the floor from the laundry room had collapsed with it. The clothes that were all over the laundry room were scattered down this massive hole. The washer and dryer were down too....only being held up by pipes.

 (This is the gaping sink hole in the kitchen. See how the dishwasher is on it's way down. The other side of the wall is the laundry room. You can see all of his clothes piling down. What you can't see from this shot is the washer and dryer in the hole. )

       I looked at the wall between the kitchen and dining room and noticed that the floor had fallen two feet from the wall. Of course, it was even lower away from the wall. Just horrible. The rest will go soon, and I do mean soon.

 (This is the dining room caving in. The doorway leads to the family room and kitchen.)

      We gathered up all the stuff we were going to take, but my brave husband decided to shimmy his way on a very weak floor to get to the garage. In order to do that he had to walk through the kitchen, and laundry room.  See, the day I moved out, it was not pleasant. He didn't even live there, but he showed up, and demanded that I leave and take the kids.  Why? Well, him and my nanny were having a "relationship." And they didn't want me in the house. So I lost my house and my nanny in one day! I couldn't grab everything that I wanted to. And by the time he left the house again, they had either stolen or broke/ ripped all of my things.  They broke the legs off my dining room table. They broke a leg and damaged the wood on my great granny's sewing machine, they slashed my leather furniture, they ripped pictures, broke frames, but worst of all...they stole my great grandmother's compete set of dishes that I had displayed in my dining room. They were worth the neighborhood of $3,000 - $5,000....but, to me, they were priceless.   I feel very fortunate to have been able to get a few things tonight that were still there, including a card from my Aunt with a beautiful note written inside. I also have the broken sewing machine cabinet.

      I can't describe the feelings of walking into the house and seeing it in it's current state. I can't help but think about how similar my marriage was to the floor, now caved in.  The floor hole is like a bottomless pit, that looks as if it were gobbling everything up....or like quicksand.  My marriage took something away from me self worth, my ability to trust people, my contentment, my peace.  Those are things that I may never get back. I fear him and what he is capable of doing to me.  Nobody that hasn't been through domestic situations could ever possibly understand that even after all of these years later....I still fear him. I still cry over the things that happened in my beautiful home....that in all actuality, is just a house.  A broken down, former beautiful house that harbors so many memories of my former life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Little Less of Yourself . . .

     In the hectic routine of mundane activities we call life, have you ever just taken a day or two to step back and take in who or what is going on around you?  It is a radical experience to do nothing at all. Ever try it?

     I recently did just that; nothing.  My husband and son were at a youth retreat. My oldest daughter was with a friend for the day.  I had the three little girls, that was it.  I had nothing going on but, there was plenty to do.  However, this day was different. I woke up with a heavy heart and knew that this day would be spent in self reflection and examination.  I would do nothing at all. 

     A mother of five doesn't often get the chance to do nothing.  Luckily we have lots of TV channels and a Wii that kept the girls busy during my Saturday adventure!  *gasp*  Yes, that is right. I used the TV and video games as a babysitter for the day! 

     The more I prayed, the more my heart was opened. The more I cried, the more clear my sight became. The more I read, the more enlightened I became.  I can't describe the thoughts that were going through my mind. Some was anger at myself, at circumstances, at things in my past, mistakes that I have made, and ones that others made against me.   The anger turned into forgiveness and the desire to put away, no, to dispose of all the negativity that I was harboring in my heart.  I needed to let go of the hurt, sorrow, and pain.

     I am a firm believer that my circumstances in life have led me to where I am today. I could whine and complain about my life and the hand I was dealt, or I could deal with it, embrace it, and move on.  I could think about all the people that have hurt me, or I could spend my time being thankful for the ones that love me.  I could concentrate on the "what could have beens" in life and let the blessings that I do have slip away.  I could let myself rot away with anger and resentment for all of the issues that I have had to deal with since I was a child, or I could learn from them and appreciate the experience.  It is a choice.

                                                   Pure and simple. A choice.

     My choice, my revelation,  this past weekend was to let go of myself. Let go of my fears, my worries, my anger, my sorrow, my bad feelings of lack of accomplishment....and feel free again!