I am so sorry I haven't posted since September 23rd. It has been very busy in our home the past 3 months. We started back to home school and piano, we finished up the Fall soccer season, we are attending lots of exciting Middle School church events, we have our normal family activities, we have church 3x's a week, we are going out with family and friends, oh and then add in the fact that we are also fostering a newborn baby girl. Now that makes for a busy life!
But you know what? I wouldn't trade it for anything. The busyness is exactly what we have needed. The beginning of 2008 seemed to go by soooo slow. It felt as though we would never get through those first few months of deep, dark sadness and grief. But now that we are in the last month of the year, we realize that even during the days/nights that seemed to linger and we felt like we were just stuck in that moment, we really weren't.....we were constantly moving forward each day. We do enjoy the quiet, peaceful, event-free days, however anyone who has lost a baby knows that sometimes those kind of days also bring about thoughts, feelings and emotions that cause your heart to ache, especially here at the holidays!!!
Because I am very behind in posts, I decided to make this one BIG post of pictures and brief descriptions to catch everyone:
September 27th - My 41st Birthday....leaving 40 behind
Wow, it's hard to believe I'm now considered over 40. I've never had a problem with turning another year older or even hiding my age, I think age is a state-of-the-mind so I just try to stay "young at heart". Of course having a 12 yr old, a 2 1/2 yr old and an 8 week old certainly helps keep you young and on your toes!!!!
The 27th of each month is the hardest and guess what? My birthday falls on the 27th and I turned 41. Like I said, birthdays don't bother me but this birthday was different. A part of me wanted to remain 40 FOREVER. A year older now means I am moving away from one of the most precious years of my life. During the year of 40 there were moments filled with excitement finding out we were pregnant for the 3rd time, surprised we were actually having a 3rd boy, thrilled at week 16 when we were told our baby boy was healthy, dreaming of blue nursery in our new home, devastated at week 20 when we were told our baby boy wasn't healthy and that he would be born with Trisomy 18 and would not live, thankful our baby boy made it to full-term birth alive on December 3, 2007 at 12:42 pm, in awe as we left the hospital with our baby boy in my arms, blessed beyond measure that we had 56 days and brokenhearted as our little boy quickly passed away in my arms on January 27th, 2008 at 4:40 pm.
I will never forget being 40 years old. Not only were memories made during that year but I can also say that I felt the Lord's presence in our life and in our family more than ever before. He never left our side and we are closer to Him today because of this past year. As much as I want to remain 40, I do look forward to the year of being 41 and seeing how the Lord continues to work in our lives and bless our family.
October 3rd - "My mom's birthday"
Trayc and I still live in our hometown so getting together for family events is easy because all of my family is still here and live nearby - we used to all live around the corner from each other until we moved (only 30 minutes away) last year. October 3rd is my mom's birthday. My parents, grandparents, sister/brother-in-law, Trayc and I went to dinner at 5-star restaurant called 95 Cordova in the Casa Monica Hotel and had an absolutely wonderful dinner. It was also fun to get dressed up, have adult conversations, not have to hold a bottle, fill up sippy cups and need to cut up food!!!! It's nice to have those kind of evenings. All the time? No, I love being a mommy and all that comes with it.
After dinner we went back to my sister's house so the grand kids could have cake and celebrate with Grammy too - this is where the "adult conversations" ended!!! We had a delicious chocolate cake that was topped with chocolate icing and vanilla ice cream and then the kids sat around Grammy as she opened her presents and cards they had made for her. Look closely at the card Tanner made. He put his name, Tayden's and Tristan's name hanging down on the little rectangles. It means so much to me that he never, ever, forgets his little brother.
I love you, Mom!
October 7th - "Unexpected call"
As most of you know, we received an unexpected call from the Placement Office and are currently fostering a newborn baby girl. Due to privacy issues I cannot say much, but please know that we are doing GREAT!!!! Countless people have said they just can't imagine taking in a new baby knowing the goal is to return them back to their parents especially since we've already lost our own baby. I know it must be hard to understand, but honestly Trayc and I feel as though who better to do it than us? We know first-hand what it's like to take care of a new baby knowing there are no guarantees, knowing we are not promised tomorrow, falling completely in love with them and then have to let go. For us, we are doing what we know best, we are living "in the moment", enjoying every day and taking lots of pictures - just like we did with Tristan.
I say all of that to also say that this road of fostering does get emotional sometimes and it's even harder when you are a family that is full of love. We love completely and with 100% of our hearts, not half-hearted and with that there is the risk of getting hurt. However, we truly feel as though this call was the Lord's will for us.
The reason this was completely unexpected is because we have been praying since March that the Lord would send 2 little girls, between the ages of 3-8 years old, to our family. And we were specifically praying that the Lord would bring them to our home BEFORE the holidays knowing this year would be difficult without Tristan. We are excited about having new life in our home and at the holidays. We feel like this is His answer to our prayers. Maybe it's not what we had originally prayed for, but is His answer always what we pray for? Is His will always what our desires are? No, we have learned that this past year. We are trusting in the Lord again through this process and just like before, know without a doubt that He will carry us every step of the way and He will be there regardless of the outcome.
Thank you to everyone that has been praying for us and checking in on us.
October 26th - "18 yr Wedding Anniversary" & "Cardboard testimony"
FRONT OF BOARD:
BACK OF BOARD:
Trayc and I celebrated our 18 yr wedding anniversary. Every year we have gone out-of-town but last year, because I was 7 months pregnant with Tristan, the doctors would not allow me to travel so we just left the kids with family and went to a hotel here locally. Last year Trayc promised that we would celebrate HUGE next year. Guess what? Plans changed because we received the unexpected call about the baby girl, which was certainly well-worth staying home for. Our anniversary fell on a Sunday so we decided that since we were home we would do what we always do on Sunday - go to church.
The week before our anniversary we received a call from our church asking us to do a cardboard testimony. I have seen this on YouTube several times, and I cry every time because it is very moving. Our pastor has been in a sermon series called "In the Midst of Suffering", which have been perfect messages for us! He asked several people that have suffered greatly this past year to be part of the service. We had to think of something for the front and the back of our board for the Media Dept. to make.
On the morning of the service we had sound check at 8:45 in the church. Trayc and I took the kids over to the pew and left them with my parents and then we walked down in front of the church and one of the guys in the Media Dept. handed us our board. Okay, this is when the "I'm so strong and doing great" moment quickly faded.......I broke down the moment I saw Tristan Asher on the board. I was so embarrassed!!! Not that it was a problem for anyone standing around, they had all suffered and gone through great trials this past year like job losses/cancer/death of spouses, etc. but the emotions caught me off guard and without any warning. Trayc went back to my parents row and got me a Kleenex and I attempted to wipe my eyes without smearing black mascara all over my face! The tears just wouldn't stop. Finally, I was able to pull myself together and walked through sound check. I was fine until the actual service began and then I started crying again. I stopped and pulled myself together once more. I walked on stage (in front of 10,000 people), smiled with that same "I have it together" attitude and as I held my board up and glanced down at the TV screen on the floor in front of us and saw my little boy's name again "Tristan Asher". You are right, started crying again. They weren't tears of sadness, they were tears of remembering this past year and a half. Remembering all we've been through, the good times and the hard times and then realizing we were standing on that stage testifying to over10,000 people that our Lord has been faithful, He never left us and that we are remaining faithful to Him and not turning away just because we do not understand the reason for our loss.
This road of loss and grief is a hard one, something I never believed I could walk through. I remember begging Trayc, after we got Tristan's diagnosis, to not let this destroy us and who we were. I did not want to be the kind of person that would grieve the rest of my life, that never gets past it, that never moves on with my life, that wallows in my loss forever. Honestly I had a reason to be concerned, we had faced alot of things up to that point, but never anything of that magnitude and I was scared. Oh sure, there have been times that I wanted to crawl into bed and hide for days but I look at my 2 precious boys that are living and realize I didn't want them to have that kind of mother. I want them to see a sweet mommy, who loves Jesus, who walks the walk and talks the talk. I mean, how can I say, especially to Tanner at 12 yr old, that our prayers were answered, that the Lord had a reason for Tristan's life, that 56 days was his time, that the Lord has been faithful to our family and never left our side and yet not truly believe it or even act like it?
October 31st - "Happy Halloween"
You know, there are so many times I wished Tanner and Tayden were closer in age so I try to find things that will allow them to bond and make memories together. They are so close, especially for the age difference. We have also found some great advantages to the 10-year age gap, being able to do things all over again - a second time around. This is the first year Tanner has not dressed up for Halloween. His words were, "Mom, I'm in Middle School now so I'll just be myself." It's kinda sad that he had grown up so fast, it seems like just yesterday we were dressing him up in his Winnie the Pooh costume. Fortunately Tayden is 2 1/2, and is just beginning the fun kid things. His favorite character is still Thomas the Train which he calls "Cluck Cluck" but he has started to like Pooh, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Handy Mandy. We let Tanner decide and of course, he picked Pooh because he remembered being Pooh. Tayden looked so cute.
Halloween was fun!!! We started out trick or treating in the neighborhood across from us because most of the houses were lit up with lights of all colors, the home owners were all standing at the door ready to give out candy and the streets were full of families walking together going door-to-door. Tayden didn't really understand at first but finally he got the hang of it and he would run up to the door and knock. It was sweet watching Tanner hold Tayden's hand as they walked the neighborhood.
After that, we attended a Fall Festival at a nearby church. My parents and sister/brother-in-law and kids met us there and the kids played games, rock-climbed, slid down huge slides, ate hot dogs and my and Tanner's favorite part - ate cotton candy!!!!
November 1st - "My dad's birthday"
My dad's birthday is November 4th. As I mentioned earlier, all of our families live here in town and that also includes my dad, step-mom, step-sister/husband and their kids. My step-sister thought it was be sweet to throw my dad a surprise birthday party (FL/GA football style) - something we've never done before. Needless to say he was VERY surprised!!!!! It's not easy buying gifts for your parents, they seem to have everything but I truly believe what they really care the most about is TIME. My dad said his party was the perfect gift.....his 3 girls, their husbands and all his grandchildren together. We had so much fun celebrating with my dad, step-mom, step-sister/husband, their 4 children and my sister/husband and their 2 children.
I love you, Dad!!!!
November 27th - "Happy Thanksgiving"
We had a great Thanksgiving. We cooked most of the morning, making dishes that have been passed down generation after generation. Tanner loves to help in the kitchen, he snapped green beans, cleaned the potatoes and helped with the stuffing. Tayden, well he helped by sitting quietly with a bag of Sweet Sixteen chocolate donuts!
We finally sat down to eat about 4:00 pm. We missed having Tristan at the table this year, it would have been his 1st Thanksgiving. We were also reminded that it was, once again, the 27th which means he has been gone 10 months already. We reminisced about last Thanksgiving and how I was days from having Tristan, how we were busy painting our bedroom at 12:00 midnight and preparing our home believing that I would be in the hospital for 3-4 days and then come home and prepare for his memorial service. Oh how blessed we were, we came home on day 5 and had 51 more days.
Even though we have suffered a great loss this year, there is so much to be thankful for: my wonderful husband of 18 years who has walked this journey with me, for my 2 precious boys (Tayden and Tanner), for my miracle little boy(Tristan) that shared 56 DAYS with us, for the sweet newborn baby girl that we are fostering, for both of our families, for our wonderful friends and Internet friends, and for the readers that have followed our blog daily.
November 28th - "Black Friday" shopping
My sister and I have always been the crazy shoppers that hit the stores the day after Thanksgiving, but this year Tanner wanted to go with me. We got up at 4:00 am and left the house at 5:00 am. We were driving down the road and Tanner said, "It's still dark outside. I can't believe we're really going shopping at 5:20 in the morning!" I thought it was a cute moment to take a picture.
We went to Walmart and Target and made our way through the 100's of shoppers looking for the great sales!!! As we walked into Walmart they had big bins of PJ's for ages 12 months-5T and people were grabbing them and then tossing them over to other shoppers as they called out what size they were looking for. Tanner said, "I'm little, let me do it." He got down on the floor and ducked under all the other shoppers and started digging through the PJ's and as he found them he'd say "Here mom" and throw it to me. He laughed so hard and then walked away still laughing. It was a great mother/son moment.
We were hungry by 9:30 so we headed to Cracker Barrel for bacon, eggs, hash browns, biscuits and some much needed coffee (for me!).
After our bellies were full we were ready to go again. We went to the outlets and shopped until 12:00 noon and then headed home for a nice LONG nap until 4:00 pm.
This day started out mighty early but we talked, sang and laughed so hard, something I've really needed to do. Tanner has my personality so we always have a great time together. His sweet, sincere and yet funny attitude is what has really kept me going on the difficult days. Again, we made some very special memories, ones that I'm sure we will talk about for years to come.
So, that's a little glimpse of our home the past 3 months. We miss our little boy so much. On Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), we already began experiencing the moments which are sure to be bittersweet as we approach this coming week. Tristan's 1st Birthday is Wednesday, December 3rd and the will go right into the 56 DAYS we shared with him which also include Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, New Years Day and the day he passed away, January 27th. So, these 56 DAYS and the holidays will be hitting us just days apart.
Please join our family in prayer as we begin the upcoming days/months. We are asking the Lord to hold our family tightly in His hand and to give us sweet reminders of our little boy's precious life. Thank you for your love, support and most especially the prayers for our family while on this journey.
We love you all!!!!