Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Oh Crap!

Today was a long day.

I was up before 6 with Andrew, and faced blazing hot temps outside that only a toddler would love. We had too much tv time, as I tried to keep him cool, and I didn't get one non-baby-related thing done.

I also felt pretty lonely, yearning for adult conversation, but also for alone time and the opportunity to write and create. Mid-morning, I took Andrew to the fancy-pants gym to go swimming, but it was at least 45 minutes of prep and wrangling for 20 minutes of fun. I saw moms and their kids socializing in the gym cafe and wondered if/when I'd ever feel up to that again instead of trying to do this mom thing solo. Perhaps I'm doing us both a disservice by not reaching out for activities and playdates. I know that being busier and more plugged in would make our days go faster, but it just seems like such an effort.

Margaret stayed holed up in her room most of the day.

At 5:30 p.m., as Andrew and I played, Tim sent the dreaded "I have to work late" text. I'd been hoping he would walk in the door any moment.

When Margaret came down and smelled the prepared dinner I'd picked up at the grocery store to save time, she rejected it outright and claimed the odor might make her vomit. I'm not saying it smelled good-- it really didn't-- but when I didn't care for my mom's dinners, I'm pretty sure I kept my mouth shut and made myself a Lean Cuisine. At least I hope I did.

Anyway, after a "disgusting" dinner that Andrew loved, during which I taught him how to put black olives on his fingers, I took him upstairs to change his stinky diaper. Too late-- I could feel dampness seep through my dress as I carried him on my hip. Oh well, we were cruising toward bath time anyway. He wailed and flailed as I cleaned up his bottom, so I decided to let him have some naked time while I started the water. I didn't feel like wrestling with him any longer, and what was 5 minutes diaper-less? His wails turned to smiles as he got busy pushing Tim's new roller suitcase around our bedroom, his chunky tush getting a nice airing out.

When I'd readied the bath, I stepped into the bedroom to grab him and noticed moisture on the floor. A little pre-bath pee is not unusual, and easy enough to clean up. But something else caught my eye. Pile after pile of frothy baby poop-- that he was running over with the suitcase while making car noises.

Some days I'm kicking geriatric motherhood's rear.

Other days there's not enough ice cream in the world.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A-Camping We Will Go!

So remember last year when I took a 3 month old tent camping? With no running water? And my breast pump broke and I had to milk myself like a cow? Yeah. Well, a lot of you said this year would be even tougher because Andrew would be mobile.

Indeed he is.

In short, I'm a wee bit nervous. And, having been sick all week, my energy is WAY DOWN.

We leave in 2 days and I can barely fathom what this is going to be like. Well, I guess I can: It's going to be hot. Dirty. There is still no running water. But there are fire ants, ticks, bees, a river, boiling oil, a fire, and possibly bears.

There will also be mountains, family, and friends. And we bought a larger tent to accommodate a Pack and Play, so it could feel like a palace.

Will you say a little prayer for us? Specifically for Andrew's safety and my sanity? I'll be ready to report back early next week. In the meantime, tales of some of our earlier trips:

2013

2010

2009

2008

Friday, June 30, 2017

Learning about Marriage from a 14 Month Old

Margaret will be away from Andrew for almost a week. "I'm going to miss him sooooo much!" she said as we hugged goodbye. At 2 days in, he's already wandering around the house looking for her.

I'm glad this day has come, because it took a while for them to connect.

First, he was just so fragile and scream-y. Then he got cuter, but she was busy with school and sports. Their interactions were limited and brief. As I like to say, she reminded me of a Downton Abbey parent, content to have the baby paraded in once a day for a quick pat on the head and that was it. If you are guessing that she's Lady Mary and I'm the hard-working nanny in this scenario, you are correct.

Once she decided to pay more attention to him, however, it didn't go so well. She would swoop in after a long day at school and go in for a hug, to which he would fuss and give a straight-armed push right back. That would frustrate her, make her think he didn't like her, and she'd keep her distance.

Tim and I were talking about it one day, and this is what he said:

"She needs to let him interact with her on his terms. She can't just come in out of nowhere and expect him to react the way she wants to with a hug. They need to spend time together first. She needs to figure out what he likes and what interests him. If she'd get down on the floor and play with him more, he'd want to spend time with her and accept her affection."

I raised an eyebrow and said, "Does that sound at all familiar?"

The angels sang, and it all clicked for Tim.

If Tim shows up out of nowhere wanting to get frisky, when days or possibly weeks have gone by with little interaction between us, he might be greeted with a straight-arm, too. If he has shown no interest in what's going on in my life, or forgotten little niceties such as "How was your day?", a hand brushing against mine on the couch, or saying good night, going for the gusto seems jarring and discordant.

Like Margaret did, he may see physical affection as a way to connect, which it is, but if it isn't backed up with a relationship, it feels wrong. Likewise, when Margaret (or Tim) feels rebuffed, it makes them want to withdraw, and the cycle continues.

 Life is so fun!

The good news is that Margaret "got it" and started doing things Andrew likes, such as playing outside, looking for butterflies, reading books, and chasing him around the kitchen. She started spending time one-on-one with him, so he wasn't always running to Mommy or Daddy, and their relationship grew. Now, he's her biggest fan and vice versa.

As for Tim and me, we are still learning. I mean, it has only been 25 years, so why rush things?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Stitch Fix for Him? Stitch Fix for TIM!

You know how much I've enjoyed Stitch Fix for myself, but I've been meaning to tell you about Tim's B-day Present:

Stitch Fix for Him! Ha ha! Now doesn't that look just like Tim?



Tim has been stuck in 10 year old clothes that are WAY too baggy for him. His pants are on the wide and short side, and his shirts look rumpled.

He does not like to shop, and although I don't mind throwing some socks or undies in the cart for him at Target, I long ago gave up on being his personal shopper. While I had success at getting him to cull out some of his no-longer-in-style clothes, I wasn't sure how to build his wardrobe up again.

Stich Fix for Men seemed like a great solution.

Margaret had fun helping him fill out a Stitch Fix profile, emphasizing trim and current clothes for a casual work environment, and before we knew it his first box came in the mail.

Our super-professional "unboxing" video was too large to post on this site, so a few photos will have to do! Looking Good!



They sent him this navy button down dress shirt for work, a henley-type heathered gray shirt, a short-sleeved button down by Woolrich, slim-fitting indigo jeans, and slim fitting khaki jeans.

Guess what? 5 out of 5, baby!

He LOVED 4 of the items, and liked one. He decided to keep all 5 to get the 25% discount, and ended up with a totally refreshed wardrobe.

Plus his new clothes even motivated him to get on Amazon and order 2 new pairs of shoes that were outside his comfort zone!

His next fix is scheduled to arrive in time for fall, and mine comes next week. While I love how Stitch Fix has worked for me, I think it's even handier for him. I know he keeps clothes for A LONG TIME, so the prices are completely reasonable, even low, when I consider how much wear they will get. And while I'm fairly likely to pop into Marshalls or TJMaxx for myself every now and then, I know Tim won't.

The convenience of having stylish clothes come to our door is HUGE.

If the man in your life wants to try Stitch Fix, I say GO FOR IT! I hope he has as much fun as Tim did!

#affiliate links included!


Friday, June 16, 2017

To Jack's Friends on Graduation


 I was trying write a speech for all graduates this spring, but I kept getting stuck. 

I wondered if it was because I was just too heartbroken to write about graduation, when Jack wouldn't be walking across a stage, collecting awards, and smiling for pictures.

There would be no party.

Then I realized that addressing all graduates, and trying to come up with words of wisdom was too much. How wise am I anyway? I really just wanted to address Jack's friends, the ones who knew him in the flesh. These are the kids who for a while would glance over their shoulders thinking he'd be there. They are the ones who likely can still half-close their eyes at a group gathering and picture Jack as part of the scene amidst the laughter.

To them, Jack is not an idea, a concept, or a cautionary tale.

He's just Jack.


To Jack's Friends on Graduation: 

Congratulations on your big day! We are so very proud of you and all you have accomplished! I'm not saying I couldn't have pictured all of this when you were goofy little kids, but I will say you've come a long way. You are smart, poised, generous and kind. 

You will always have a special place in our hearts, in honor of the place you had in Jack's life, and the big love he felt for you. As we've watched you grow and change, we've pictured Jack alongside you, and although that hurts, it is also healing.

I am so sorry that our family's struggle represented such a shift in your childhoods. You didn't ask for heartache and the harsh reality of death to crash into your lives at such a tender age. It was shocking and scary. It left you feeling vulnerable. I wish we could have spared you.

I am relieved those horrible days and months are far behind us all, but I believe there are fruits that have come from this hardship, things most people don't discover until they are much older, if at all. 

You learned so much.

You learned how to grieve and how to memorialize a loved one. You learned how to support each other and a hurting family in times of crisis. You learned that saying someone's name might feel awkward, but that it is a loving act. You know how to reach out, how to give a hug when all words fail, and how to persevere when life seems scary. I know the people you encounter will be blessed by this. 

You learned how important each person, each life, is to this world, so much so that when he or she is absent, the world feels a little different. Your life is important. You matter. Your presence is valued, valuable, and needed. There will be times when you feel insignificant, hopeless, or alone. You will wonder if you are heading in the right direction, or if anything you do holds meaning. Remember that you don't get your value from what you do, but from who you are, and whose you are. 

You learned to lean on your faith and to see things from an eternal perspective. Yes, you had heard your parents talk about heaven for many years, but now one of your own was there, and it became even more important to live a life that focuses on what's real and what's true, not on the petty concerns of the world. You know that this is NOT the end.

You learned to persevere and to thrive. To trust even though things felt scary. To let yourself laugh and be kids. You saw us persevere as well, and this helped illustrate to you Luke 1:37-- "For Nothing is Impossible with God." Not even a new little baby-- eek!

I know we haven't seen each very often over the years. We were too new at grief to know how to navigate it and how to keep you integrated into our family life. I especially missed you as older brother and sister figures to Margaret, as I know you be if Jack were alive. I didn't know how to articulate what we needed, if I could have even figured it out. Yet you showed up again and again for special events and milestones. You snuck out in the wee hours and hung blue ribbons near our house for Jack's birthdays and crapiversaries. You culled your memories for any stories of Jack you could share with us. 

It would have been far easier to pretend we didn't exist, but you and your families didn't give up on us. You held a space in your life for our joys and our sorrow. We never once doubted that you still love Jack and you love us. THANK YOU!

I've mentioned some things we all learned from Jack's death, but what about from his life? Remember when Jack's Auntie came up with these at his funeral?  They are the way Jack lived, and I believe they are applicable to you today as you head off to college and to new adventures:

Be Kind.
Pay Attention.
Think.
Play.
Never Give Up.
Share Others' Joy.


Friend, we share in your joy today. 

And I know Jack does too. Remember in the Bible where it talks of a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on? Well, please know that wherever you go, you always have someone cheering you on. He's no longer the 12 year old boy you knew, or even the young adults you are now, but a soul with more knowledge, wisdom, joy and perspective than we will be able to get until we are with God. 

He wants the best for you, and so do we!

You have so much to offer the world, and we will watch with pride and anticipation to see how God uses you and your gifts. 

Love, The Donaldsons

Micah 6:8
Joshua 1:9


Thanks to my friend Carolyn, also a bereaved mom, for modeling this letter writing for me. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Grad Week

Just checking in to you to let you know this would be Jack's graduation week.

So far, we are doing well, even though it hurts. Andrew is keeping me active chasing after him in this intense heat, Margaret is wrapping up sophomore year, and Tim is busy at work. Tomorrow I am hanging out with another bereaved mom whose son should be graduating as well. We feel a strong kinship as we both lost our sons in freak accidents. We have no agenda. Just support and conversation
during Andrew's babysitter time.

photo credit: doriehowell.com

On Sunday, Father's Day, Tim will board a plane for San Diego for work. It will be his first trip there since his trip with Jack to Legoland.



So, we are doing well. But, as always, we appreciate your prayers and support!

Thanks, Loves.

p.s. When Tim gets back, I'm heading to a blog convention in Orlando. If you will be at BlogHer, be sure to say hi! I'm usually the one holding up the wall or looking awkward.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Before and After

On Friday, I was looking for an easy meal to make, so I pulled this recipe for Tortellini Soup out of my recipe binder. It's basically just a list of ingredients to dump together in a pot and bring to a boil.

My kind of cooking.



When I looked at the date, I was taken aback. My sister-in-law sent this to me one day before Jack's accident. At that point, I was gearing up for the new school year, planning quick meals I could make on busy weeknights of baseball, soccer, and scouts. I was wondering what it would be like to have a middle schooler in the house. On the bottom of the page, I'd scribbled a note about an upcoming field trip for Margaret's class. Nothing too exciting.

September 7-- mundane.

September 8-- shattered.

Oh how often there is a clear before and after in our lives! I remember looking through my mom's check register after she died. There she was paying bills and doing the routine tasks of life, until she wasn't.

Sometimes before and afters are positive. They can denote a marriage, a decision to take care of your health, a career change.

Other times, they represent the day the world came crashing down.

If there is a clear before and after in your life, due to death, illness, or a time someone harmed your body or your heart, I'm sending you love today.

After is different. After is often hard.

But after doesn't mean over.

Hugs.