Thursday, July 22, 2010

I have to smile at this song because it reminds me of my sister-in-law saying she's always been scared to pray for strength. I prayed for strength. Pam's right. Don't do it. :-) I'm strong- but if it's the pain that makes you strong, and overcoming fear that gives you courage, well- I'd rather be weak and fearful.


I had the worst dream last night and I just can't seem to shake it this morning- so I'm going to write about it :-) Luckily, I lost most of my readers when I took a few months off of blogging.

The gist of what happened is that I dreamed Dave left me- without saying anything- just packed up and left. He was gone for a fairly long time (a week, a few weeks- not sure) and didn't contact me at all. The man just flat out ignored me.

Then we were getting ready for a family camping trip and he came to load the Suburban and just acted like everything was normal. But I was so mad at him for leaving me and not telling me why or even giving me a chance to know that there was something wrong before he left.

It makes me wonder if that fear has been lurking in my subconscious all along- or was this just a new twist on nightmares. Either way, the dream is lingering. This is one I'd really like to forget in the usual fashion of forgetting what you dream within a short time after waking.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Interview Evaluations Today

Golds!!!! Chris was awarded golds on both of his projects. He could have cared less, really. I, however, was stressing- and stressing a lot. Last night I finally took a deep breath and told myself, "he's only eight, how bad can it be?" Still, this morning, I was stressing!

He looked so cute and grown up in his new wranglers and crisp white shirt with blue tie. He very carefully packed his record book into the suburban and then he really didn't care what happened next.

The evaluations took place in an elementary school gym in Caldwell. They were so well organized, I was impressed (and it takes a lot to impress me- I used to be a county 4-H director before I was married). We checked in at the livestock and family consumer sciences tables and then we could go sit in the waiting area or there were an assortment of judging activities around the room for us to participate in. Chris didn't end up having time to judge before his evaluations- they were very prompt.

His first interview was for his Foods of Pacific Northwest project. His evaluator was a special ed teacher and he seemed to enjoy working with her. I'm not sure who did his sheep evaluation but he has a gold sticker on his book- so I guess it went well. He was so matter of fact and ho hum about the afternoon that you'd think this was only as important as a trip to the grocery store. It's amazing to think that he's actually completed two projects and his first year in 4-H. We could skip fair and be finished right now!

Of course, we're not skipping fair. :-) Next Tuesday we weigh-in, and we can hardly wait! Stay tuned for more updates...

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I am so proud of my son! I haven't paid as much attention to his sheep project as I probably should have. It's been a hard year and I've been dealing with other things (and being lazy) so for the most part I just ask him if he's fed them and checked their water, but I haven't been out there working WITH him and the sheep.

Today he wanted to wash his market lamb for the upcoming fair. It's just a first bath sort of thing. The lamb still needs sheared and then he'll have to be washed before fair (which starts next week) and again right before the show starts. We've discovered over the years that you can never start too soon trying to wash a sheep and get it clean. Plus it helps tame them down if you tie them to the fence and wash them.

As we went outside and he caught the largest lamb I was remembering washing my own 4-H and FFA market lambs. I remember having to be careful about how I tied them so that they wouldn't get loose- and they wouldn't kill themselves when they went wild as the water hit them and then again when I started scrubbing. Those lambs would leap up into the air! They'd spin, twist, shake, if you tied their heads too low they'd even flip over and try to break their own necks. It was a sheep rodeo!

That's what I was expecting. I tied Chris's lamb for him so that it would be very secure and high enough. Then I turned on the water and warned him to stand close to his lamb when the water went over it's back (you know, so the lamb wouldn't end up hurting him when it went crazy).

Silly Mom. That lamb didn't even blink. He just stood there... Chris washed his back, legs, belly, neck, squirted cold water up between his hind legs... and the lamb just stood there.

Chris has obviously been working with his lambs. You don't even have to try to catch them. Just put your hand out and a sheep head appears in your palm. I have no idea why I was worried. He's been spending hours outside and I knew he'd been in the sheep pen every day. I just didn't know how much actual work he'd been doing with the lambs.

The kid is good. He's going to be fine. Maybe he'll forget to switch sides when the judge walks around his lamb. Maybe he'll miss a couple cues to move around the arena because he's not actually looking at the judge... but overall, that kid will be just fine :-) He's amazing! This has been a good learning experience for him- and for me.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hope springs...

Today's a new day and things are looking up this evening. Chris and I worked on his record books for half a day and now all that's left are filling in a few details regarding meeting dates and getting his story written down.

Tonight it feels as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I don't know if the books and interview evaluation were worrying me that much or if it's just my moods cycling again. This morning I was still a little stressed but generally in a good mood. We worked on his books, ate lunch, ran to town to buy a new door knob (because the other one unexpectedly fell apart in my hand), and then I took a nap this afternoon (I have been having a horrible time trying to sleep lately).

When I woke up I was feeling lazy so we ordered pizza and sandwiches from Domino's (you've got to try those sandwiches if you haven't yet. I had habenero chicken and it's amazing). Grandma joined us in the kitchen for a pizza party and the kids drank pop while Grandma and I each had a beer. It was soooo much fun! I haven't laughed and visited like that with the family I live with in a long time. It reminded me how much we enjoy each other. I think that a weekly pizza party (or some kind of party) needs to be fit into the calendar.

Tonight I feel amazing. The overwhelming sense of loss and anxiety is gone (at least for now). Outside the air smells like mint and green, growing things. The sheep are quietly munching. The dogs are asleep by my feet (and they're touching each other and haven't fought in days!!!). My oldest son is watching a movie with me and asking questions about canning jars. My youngest son is in Grandma's room reading stories. The middle child is camping up near Stanley with his Grandpa, uncles, and male cousins (I hope they're having a blast).

Chris is scheduled for his interview evaluations on Monday. The Snake River Stampede starts on Tuesday. We work the Stampede on Saturday evening, selling concessions for the county 4-H program (I have to add a note that this is the most amazing and generous gift from the rodeo to the 4-H program. We usually make a ton of money and it's all due to the generosity of the rodeo board and the hard work of our county 4-H members and volunteers). Next Monday we begin setting up for fair- and it's all a blur for the rest of that week!

I've been stressing so much, and now it seems that the stress is ending and the fun is about to begin. I pray (truly) that things are going to be as good as they seem. What a life we lead! We are so lucky to live where we do, surrounded by friends and family and in a community of people who care about us and forgive us when we're a bit off our game. :-) I'm so in love with my friends and family at the moment they probably wouldn't believe it if I told them! If any of you are reading this- thanks for being you and putting up with me! I love you all!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

There will come a day...

I so badly hope there will come a day when I can look into the part of me that houses memories of Dave and it won't be like looking into a black hole. It's scary, painful, intensely compelling, and swamps me with emotion when I look into that place. In some ways it reminds me of looking down into the Malad Gorge. The compulsion that pulls at you to fall into space, allow yourself to be swept along in the current of the river at the bottom. This past month has been like traveling along the edge of the gorge for miles and miles. Every day traveling the distance and never leaving the rim.

I've avoided looking into the abyss in the months since Dave died. It was too painful and honestly I just couldn't bear the emotion. The days pass fairly peacefully around here. I can keep us all occupied- heck, fair is coming, we're more than occupied. I focus on the moment and truly do feel peaceful and content most of the time.

That black hole is waiting under my bed. Inside my closet. In the dark surrounding the house. In the quiet moments and the lonely moments. No matter where I go the black hole is hidden, just at the edge of my vision. If I'm careful not to look at it, I can pretend it isn't there. But it's there. I know it. You know it. The kids and the dogs know it.

I'd love to start dating again. In many ways I feel ready to date again. I loved being a wife. It was my dream job :-) I loved pretty much everything about being married. Losing Dave was like being fired from that perfect employment. Of course our marriage wasn't perfect. We aren't perfect. We had our struggles just like most couples do- but we really enjoyed our time together. There's no one I'd rather spend time with than my husband and kids. We had so much fun together and were so comfortable together.

Everything starts to feel very normal and I think I am back to being myself. Then something happens that reminds me I'm not. I'm still injured, still not totally whole, still not totally Janet as Janet should (and will) be. I can read now, which I couldn't for a few months after Dave died- I just didn't have the concentration and short term memory to make it work. I can watch tv programs- as long as I don't walk away in the middle- if I walk away I forget what I'm watching. My short term memory is kind of back. I'm not as likely anymore to forget appointments and conversations I've had. But- it's still not totally right.

There's nothing I want more than to be a normal, whole, healthy, happy individual. I miss being healthy. Physically I seem to have recovered- haven't had anything since March, even though I was ill the entire fall, winter, and most of the spring. Mentally- well the jury's still out on that one. I'd have to say that my actions and reactions still aren't as healthy as I'd like them to be. Adding the stress of a relationship to my life- oh my goodness! I am capable of a major freak out! That's news to me. Totally unexpected.

So, here are the questions of the moment: Does the freak out occur because I'm just not ready? Is it too soon? Am I going to be this weird for the rest of my life? Will waiting longer prevent me from freaking out when I start a relationship with someone new? Or, will the first relationship cause me to have to deal with everything all over again- regardless of when that first relationship takes place?

I'm so frustrated with myself and with life in general at the moment. Anyone who has insight or ideas for me- I'd welcome them. :-) By nature I'm an insomniac and having all these conflicting thoughts and emotions whirling around inside my head is NOT helping. I just want healthy and normal (normal for me). How do I attain that?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Some days more than others I feel Dave with us. My life is moving forward and I was so blessed with the years we spent together. I think he's still here in a lot of ways. :-) There's one ghost I'll always be happy to welcome into my home!

By Skip Ewing and Donny Kees

Every now and then
Soft as breath upon my skin
I feel you, come back again
And it's like, you haven't been

Gone a moment from my side
Like the tears were never cried
Like the hands of time
Were pulling you, and me

And with all my heart, I'm sure
We're closer than we ever were
I don't have to hear or see
I've got all the proof I need

There are more than angels watching
Over me.. I believe.. ohh, I believe.

Now when you die, your life goes on
It doesn't end here, when you're gone
Every soul is filled with light
It never ends, if I'm right

Our love can even reach, across-
Eternity.. I believe.. ohh, I believe.

Forever, you're a part of me
Forever, in the heart of me
I will hold you even longer
If I can..

Oh, the ppl who don't see the most
See that I, believe in ghosts
If that makes me crazy, then I am
Cuz I believe.. ohh, I believe..

There are more than angels watching
Over me.. I believe.. ohh, I believe.

Every now and then
Soft as breath upon my skin
I feel you, come back again..
And I believe..

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A song for the new week

"You'll know just the moment when I've had enough. Sometimes I'm afraid and I don't feel that tough... but I'll stand back up!"

It's been a rocky month and I've been fighting anxiety for weeks now. I hate the anxiety. It wasn't there before Dave died. After Dave died I kept having panic attacks. They don't feel anything like I thought a panic attack would feel. I thought they were about being scared. They really feel like someone just shot you full of adrenaline. It's hard to breathe, my heart pounds, I start to shake, my concentration is shot, my vision is affected, and my body generally goes into fight or flight mode. This is highly disturbing when it happens and I'll reach out to anyone, anywhere, whoever can help me the fastest... just to distract me and keep me from totally freaking until the adrenaline rush is past.

I haven't had a really large panic attack since early January. In fact, the past few months have been pretty peaceful except around holidays. Holidays really are hard, and I tend to be moody and irritable, but they don't usually make me panic.

This month was something different. The anxiety came back like it was in December and January. There are a lot of things going on in June and July. I'm assuming that might have something to do with the anxiety. Fair is coming up, and it's always a stressful time- even when Dave was alive. We've celebrated several birthdays (including Dave's) and there have been quite a few "family" events. It's always bittersweet watching other families. I love my family and I'm very content with what we are- but I still have trouble being quite so complacent about not having Dave with us.

The anxiety kept building and building and I kept trying to defuse it. Something bothering me? I tackled it. Something needed to be done? I tried doing it. Someone confusing me? I tried asking for clarity. It didn't help. I did accomplish a lot of things that I just needed to get accomplished- but it didn't make the anxiety dissipate.

I try not to dwell on the panic attacks. That means I don't usually do a lot of reflecting about them once they're finished. I forgot that every time one's happened in the past it actually was a time of healing. I try so hard to suppress them- because I hate feeling weak- but they really do mark progress and healing. Maybe it's my body's way of breaking through mental/emotional barriers that I wouldn't tackle quickly otherwise.

On Friday I had a doozy- right before the party I'd been planning for weeks. Strangely, I don't think the party had anything to do with the stress and anxiety I was feeling. In hindsight I'm glad that the attack happened when it did because it meant there were a lot of people around me fairly fast. At the time, I thought the timing sucked! Today I'm thankful for the timing... and for the friends who made the evening so much fun.

Once again the panic attack seems to have marked forward movement in my journey. I will never say that I'm thankful for the panic or that I enjoy it's affects- but I can say that maybe next time I won't fight quite so hard to stave it off. They hover out there, just out of reach, until I break down and can't breathe. Once I've been through the worst I'm exhausted but the next day I feel fabulous. It's the strangest cycle I've ever been part of. In all actuality I will fight the next one just as hard as I've fought to prevent every panic attack.

So, after weeks of living with a horrible anxious, insecure version of me (I really don't like her- she should take her toys and go somewhere else), today I am ready to say, "I'll stand back up!"

Breathe, just breathe...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Children and their questions

Today a new widow on facebook shared the following status update:

Katie asked - Will I die from a germ? Chloe keeps asking why Daddy isnt coming home.

I remember those questions. My boys worried about their hearts "blowing up" and they worried next that I would die. They asked if they were going to grow up to be old men. Jake asked when his Dad was coming home. Sam worried that Grandpa and Uncle Andy were going to have heart attacks. Chris just keeps asking WHY his dad died.

It's hard. It's so hard. Losing your spouse feels as if your soul has been torn. Dealing with the grief and anxiety your children are feeling is like having the heart ripped out of your chest in addition to the damage to your spirit.

There are no good answers. You really can't promise them long, healthy lives. Oh, I WANT TO! There is nothing I'd love more than to be able to guarantee that for my children. In all honesty I can't tell them that they will live as long or longer than their father. I also can't promise that I'll never die. I can't promise them their future spouses and children will outlive them.

Here's how we handled (and still handle) these questions. I wear Dave's wedding ring on a necklace. When they ask questions that have no good answers I remind them that life and love are both symbolized by that ring. Although our physical bodies have a birth date and a death date our spirits do not. Our spirits live forever with God. Love, like our spirits is not limited by the physical bodies that house us. LIfe and love are both eternal, no beginning and no ending- just like the circle formed by the plain gold band on my necklace.

This is the promise I make to my babies, "I will love you FOREVER. Your dad loves you FOREVER. God loves you FOREVER. Someday we'll meet again. For now KNOW that YOU ARE LOVED!"

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Dance

"Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music." ~ Ronald Reagan

Finished with the crying for today, now on to the living. Happy Independence Day!

Holidays are the worst...

I thought today would be ok. June was an anxious month with Dave's birthday, Father's Day, and Sam's birthday all happening within a couple weeks of each other. I made it through June and really thought today would be fine.

My best friend is here (staying with her parents) with her family visiting over the holiday. We're headed over there for dinner and fireworks this evening. I'm still looking forward to it. Last night was just fine, anticipation of seeing my adopted family (we've been friends so long her family feels like my family), planning the food I'm making for the event (macaroni salad and banana dessert), thinking about another friend of ours who is flying out to visit while Amy and I are both here... I went to bed happy and expected to wake up just as happy.

As the day progresses I am feeling more and more sense of loss. The special summer potluck foods (we tend to usually bring some variation of the same theme) make me think of Dave and how much he enjoyed those dishes. I remember arguing with him about whether or not there should be eggs in the salad (I hate hard boiled eggs). I remember his pride in me and what I could do- because oddly he loved sharing my cooking with others. I remember him playing with the boys outside while I would cook in the kitchen- the sound of laughter drifting in the window.

I remember him always spending way more money on fireworks than I thought was necessary, lighting fireworks in the driveway while our kids hid in the house. My husband was a pyro- I can still picture the joy on his face as he lit the fuses. We'd put the kids to bed once our fireworks were finished and then we'd sit outside and watch all the illegal fireworks going up around us. Oh, and I remember a couple of very memorable 4th of July parties in the years before we married. We loved this holiday!

It surprises me every time a day spins out of my control like this one has. "Choose happiness," is my motto for the year- because you can choose whether to be happy or miserable. It's not your circumstances that dictate your outlook on life. However; I can't choose not to be sad. Some days it just hits- like today. I can't choose to avoid noticing the large hole left in our family.

My hope is that if I stop and take a moment to accept the grief I will be able to move past it tomorrow. This has happened often enough that I've seen the pattern: Grief hits like a truck one day, cry and grieve and drink a bit- then- the next day is actually better than the week before. It's as if I have to stop and cry and acknowledge the loss before I can go back to being my normal self.

:-) I live in anticipation of the holidays when I don't have to stop and have a little breakdown.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Just a reminder...

Today we live in one of the most free countries in the world. Many have fought and died for the ideals expressed in this simple letter. We read the Declaration of Independence in school but then many of us never read it again. Please take a moment this weekend and read the Declaration out loud to your family.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such disolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room