Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

As we get ready to put 2010 behind us, I find myself reflecting on the past year. It's been a tough one. 2010 is a year that I will always remember - but unfortunately I'll remember it as the year that I lost my dad.

We've all gone through so many changes and transformations in the last year. We've experience so many firsts without my dad. Macey's first birthday, my 30th birthday - and the first without my dad calling to sing to me - the first labor day without my dad at the pond, the first holidays without buying him gifts, or having him there.

2010 has been very sad in all of those respects, but it has also been happy in many ways. Most of all we have to remember that we survived loosing my dad. Although extremly difficult, we made it through. Loosing someone so beloved can potentially ruin people, and spoil their attitude towards life. I am so proud of my family for embracing my dad's death as a time to make us all stronger and closer.

I am so proud of my mom for embracing being able to love someone new. Although Jerry will never be my dad, we are happy that he makes my mom happy.

I am so proud of my sister. 2011 is going to bring big change to her. She is going back to school after loosing her job. She is going to be the first one in our family with a Bachelor's degree. My dad would be so proud of her.

I am proud of myself for using my dad's death as a time to become closer to God. I may not go to church every week, but the experience has definetly left me seeking deep within my soul for answers, peace, and forgiveness for all of the miracles that were unanswered.

Monday, December 27, 2010

First Christmas Without Dad

Well we made it through our first Christmas without my dad. I am really proud of us - we made it through the day without any tears at all. We just wanted to make it a happy and fun day for the kids.

My nephew ended up with the stomach flu, so him and my sister left after opening presents. That was really sad for me, because it wasn't the same without her there either!

My neice and nephew loved their memory bears. They were made out of my dad's pants. McKenna at one point told me she was very sad because she missed her papa very much. It was very weird, and very out of the blue. But it makes me happy knowing she still remembers him and thinks about him.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

My First Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless
Christmas trees
around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heaven's stars,
reflecting on the snow

The sight is so spectacular,
please wipe away the tear
For I am spending Christmas with
Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
that people hold so dear
But the sounds of music can't compare
with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you,
the joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description,
to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart.
But I am not so far away,
We really aren't apart.

So be happy for me, dear ones,
You know I hold you dear.
And be glad I'm spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift,
from my heavenly home above.
I sent you each a memory
of my undying love.

After all, love is a gift more precious
than pure gold.
was always most important
the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other,
my Father said to do.
I can't count the blessing or love
has for each of you.

So have a Merry Christmas and
Wipe away that tear
Remember, I am spending Christmas with
Jesus Christ this year

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

T-Shirt Quilt



This is my mom's Christmas present. It's a quilt made out of my dad's t-shirts. I had one made for my sister too, but the quilting won't be done by Christmas. I am also having one made for me. It turned out so awesome. My mom is going to love it. What a great way to save all of his favorite t-shirts and display them in a cool way!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yesterday we celebrated Christmas with my dad's family. It was hard. There was a lot of tears. It was fine until Christmas Carolers from our church came in and sang Silent Night. My mom always cries at Silent Night - but of course it was way different this year. I looked at my mom and grandma and sister crying, and no matter how hard I tried - I couldn't hold it together. The rest of the day was really hard to compose myself. Any little thing set me off. Especially Christmas music. I think it brings back the many memories of Christmas with my dad. It brings me back to when I was a little girl. When my daddy was there, and all seemed right in the world.

I am looking forward to Christmas - but I also can't wait until it's over. Unfortunately Christmas is one of the last "first milestones" we need to make it through without my dad. The only thing left is his birthday and the year anniversary of this death.

Friday, December 17, 2010

As Christmas gets nearer and nearer - it just reminds me even more that this will be our first Christmas without dad here. I was wrapping a present this week, and the gift bag I was using was recycled from a previous Christmas. On the tag it said - Love mom and dad. It was an instant reminder that there would be no gifts for or from dad this year.

My mom had a hard time decorating the tree this year. A lot of her ornaments are homemade from us as kids - and a lot have all of our names on them - even my dad's. So that was a reminder to her that my dad is not here this year either.

I still plan to make the best of this Christmas. Last year was the worse Christmas possible. My dad got admitted the day after Christmas because his bowel reperforated. Christmas was spent tending to my dad, and panicking, and wondering if we should bring him to the ER. He was also really out of it, and didn't know where we were or who he was.

So because of that, I plan to make it the best Christmas possible. I am sure there will be tears and sadness, but I want it to also be happy. I know dad is there with us in spirit. How awesome for him - he gets to spend his first Christmas in Heaven. He gets to spend it with his brother Jerry, and grandbaby. I can only imagine what all of the christmas lights look like from up in Heaven. Yes - I know he'll be smiling down on us, and sending us lots of warm fuzzy memories all day.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Today it was announced that Elizabeth Edwards is loosing her battle with Cancer. She will be stopping her treatment. Knowing she is a mother of two small children, my heart literally aches for her. She released a statement on Facebook, and I thought her words were so brave and such a good reminder to all of us that are still healthy.

"You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces – my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human.

"But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. It isn't possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Milestones

We've had some major milestones in our house this past weekend! McKenna pooped on the potty two nights in a row! She's never done it two days in a row before. And never in my life did I ever think poop would be so exciting to me!!!

Macey got off forumla last week, and this weekend we took her bottle away from her. It was so nice not having to wash one single bottle the whole weekend. It is also bittersweet as that officially means she is not a baby anymore (sniff, sniff).

It was weird dropping McKenna off in undies today, and Macey without any bottles. My kids are growing up so fast!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Obituary

I just read my dad's obituary again. Not sure why. I came across it in my documents. Although I wrote it, I felt like I was reading it for the first time again. I was so numb when I wrote it, I forgot what it all said.

Although an obituary sums up a person's life - there is no amount of white space in the world that could hold the amazing qualities that my dad possesed. The qualities that made him so unique and loved by so many people.

Just because I think it's important to really remember who he was, I am reposting his obituary.

Ronald Maass, 61, passed away on Sunday evening, February 21, 2010, with his loving family by his side as God called him home after a brave and courageous battle with kidney Cancer. Ronald was born February 16, 1949, in Seymour. He graduated from Seymour High School in 1967.

The most important part of his life was his wife Colleen. They were married on May 22,1976; they resided in Seymour until 1999, when they moved onto their dream property in Black Creek. Ron was a true romantic — always surprising Colleen with gifts and flowers. The overwhelming impression they gave to everyone who knew them was that of an abiding love, respect, friendship and a true partnership.

He welcomed two daughters, Mandy in 1977 and Nikki in 1980 — who were the sunshine of his life. And so his journey of fatherhood began, with all its joys, fears, disappointments, and triumphs. Ron was an amazing father. He was always there for his kids and had a knack for making them smile when going through the trials and tribulations of life. Eleven years ago he became a grandpa for the first time and he was thankful he was able to develop a relationship with Taylor, Trenton, and McKenna. He was the best Papa and always had the time to fish, play, or read to his grandchildren. He cherished every minute he spent recently with his newest granddaughter Macey.

Ron was a true outdoor enthusiast and was happiest with a fishing pole or rifle in his hand and his trusty Golden Lab, Chloe by his side. He loved to deer hunt, turkey hunt, and specially goose and duck hunt. He was gifted in woodworking, taxidermy and gardening. Ron found pleasure, peace and joy in nature's beauty. He liked to walk or four wheel around his land, watch the birds from his patio, or sit on the pier of his pond. He was always up for a good campfire and a Diet Mountain Dew with a shot of attitude with his family and friends.

His infectious smile, distinctive laugh, and sense of humor could instantly make anyone feel better. Even during his roughest days of fighting Cancer, he still had a knack for cracking jokes and lighting up the room with his smile. And while the disease may have taken him, it never beat him. He was an amazing man, with amazing talent and a shining, irrepressible spirit. And though he's gone, he'll always keep shining.

Ron is welcomed in heaven by his brother, Jerry Maass; granddaughter, Nevaeh Onesti; sister-in-law, Mary; and close friends, Kenny, Cindy, and Lynn.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Tree Time

Jason and McKenna cutting down our tree:



First Ornament being put on by McKenna:



McKenna putting on the star:

Thanksgiving Past

Well I made it through Thanksgiving. I only got a little teary eyed once. For some reason I have so much Christmas spirit this year. I have almost all of my shopping done, all of my Christmas cards addressed, and my tree and decorations up.

I know having a three year old on Christmas this year is going to be magical. This is the first year she really gets it. It is so much fun. Santa had lots of fun shopping for her, and went way overboard!!

I've already decided that Christmas is going to be a great day. No tears. Just memories, smiles, and lots of thoughts about my dad. He would want us to enjoy the day. Especially for the kid's sakes. Even though we will be wearing smiles, I know that my dad will know how sad our hearts really are that he is not there.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I went to little Devin's wake last night. It was very hard seeing him lie in that casket. And what do you say to the parents? There is nothing you can say except your sorry for thier loss.

I have been grappling since last Thursday on why God would take this little boy. I've come to the realization that we'll never know why. Only God knows why. We just need to trust in God and understand he loves us, and doesn't do this to us to hurt us.

Devin's organs were donated to four special children. And maybe that was his purpose in this life. To be a hero and save four other children's lives. It is sad he had to die, in order for other children to live.

Macey got sent home from daycare last night with a fever and rash. I panicked and freaked out. After rushing her to the doctor, the reassured me that she would be ok -and put her on antibiotics for an ear infection. But seriously, could there be a worse time for one of my kids to get sick? I am going to be a wreck and a freak for a long time. Unfortunately any little fever is going to warrant a doctor's visit in my book.

My heart just feels so heavy. I know a lot of it is the sudden death of Devin. I know a lot of it is the time of year. My dad loved this time of year. Loved deer hunting. Last year at this time we were preparing for what we all figured would be our last Thanksgiving together. It doesn't seem right that my dad will not be at another Thanksgiving dinner. God, does this ever get easier?? I am waiting for the day that I am not constantly saddened by missing my dad.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Devastating Loss

A little boy that goes to my girl's daycare passed away yesterday from meningitis. This has shook me to the core. I have been bawling since last night when I found out. I am devestated for the family. One day your child is healthy, and the nexy he is gone. Why does this stuff happen? I wish I knew the reason.

This has brought back so many emotions of me losing Nevaeh. I know what the family is going through, but even I can't imagine losing a four year old. Nevaeh was only 6 weeks old. Yes it was devastating, but I can't fathom losing McKenna or Macey now. I literally would die.

I think because I lost a child, I am even more a freak about my kids contracting the meningitis. We were assured that it would be very rare for anyone else to get it. Since it is the bacterial kind and not viral, there is no preventative antibiotics. Last night, every time one of the girs moaned or made any noise in their sleep, I was right on top of them. I am a wreck. Yes it would be rare, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. Something like this really opens your eyes. Now every stomach bug or headache, I am going to be in panic mode.

I haven't told McKenna yet about her little friend. I don't think she'll understand anyways. I don't understand. I wish I could know and tell her why. But I can't. It really tests your faith going through something like this. I have a hard time putting my arms around God and faith and life when something as tragic as this happens.

Rest in peace Devin. I'll miss seeing your smiling face and bubbly personality every morning.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wow - 10,000 hits

I just noticed I've had over 10,000 hits on my blog. That is awesome! It's hard to believe that a blog I meant to have as a "pregnancy journal" has turned into so much more.

I know that a lot of people read when my dad was having surgeries for updates. I am amazed that people still read this to be honest! I think a lot of things I write are probably boring to most people.

Writing on this blog is the one true place that I can express all of my feelings. And I am thankful that you all continue to read and share my journey!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Death in general

I hate death. I know death is a part of life, but I hate it. I hate the fact that it can be unexpected. I hate the fact that in a blink of an eye your whole world can change. I hate the fact that at some point we are all going to die...but we can't control it and we don't know when or how.

Maybe it's because I've experienced a lot of death in my life the past five years. My daughter passed away in my arms. I saw my dad take his last breaths. I've lost several family memebers and friends. But death totally freaks me out.

I think I probably think about death more than the average person. I read the obituaries every day. I worry every day that something is going to happen to Jason or my kids...or me. I am not afraid to die...I know that there is a life for me after death, but I am afraid to die for my kid's sakes. I want to be here for them. And I want their dad to be here for them. I am scared everyday that someone I know is going to be ripped away from me. I know this is not healthy. I know we can't control it, so why worry? But I really can't help it. I think it's because I've experienced two close people being ripped away from me in an instant. I don't want to experience that despair again.

Jason thinks I'm crazy, over bearing and overprotective when I beg him to call me when he gets to work. Or how I freak out when he gets home 10 minutes late from work. But I don't ever want to get the phone call saying he was in an accident.

I think it really all stems back to Nevaeh's death. It's when I realized that we are not invincible, and bad things happen, and people die. I just remember the helplessness feeling and the praying and begging and barganing with god. I felt like my own life was ending and the breath from the chest was being ripped from me. I wish no one on earth ever had to feel that way. Especially me or my kids or family.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Prayers

My cousin's ex-husband, and the father of her seven year old son and my god-child got into a bad car accident Sunday morning. He is not doing good and may not make it. Please say an extra prayer for my cousin, her son, and both families.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cell Phone Update

So we did get some answers regarding the cell phone call. But it is still a crazy outcome.

My sister called my dad's cell phone number and a lady named Lauren answered. My sister told her she recieved 3 calls from her phone. Lauren explained to my sister that she had a voicemail from my sisters phone...and on it there was a little girl looking for her mom. My sister told Lauren that was impossible because her kids were older. She also explained to Lauren how her number was my dad's old number, and how he passed away 8 months ago. Lauren said she had goose bumps.

I really do think it was my dad working through Lauren to send a well needed sign to my sister. I mean, what are the odds that the person who has my dad's old number would call someone he knew? I think it is too big of a coincidence.

This has been another hard week for me. Not sure why. I visited my mom this week, and it's like as soon as I walk into her house, I'm hit with the fact that my dad isn't there. An instant sadness fills my heart. I can still smell him in the house. And I can picture him sitting on his favorite recliner, or grilling on the back porch. I just miss him so much. It still hurts so bad.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Phone calls from heaven

So the craziest thing happened this past weekend. My sister recieved three phone calls from my dad's cell phone. His phone was deactivated months ago. She said when she answered no one was there, and then the number called her back twice more. Each time it came up on her cell phone as "dad mobile". It is so strange. Of course I am trying to research logical and scientific explanation for it, but do kind of like the thought of dad calling us from Heaven.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Little Ham

Had to share this fun video of Macey!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Macey



Wow. I can't believe Macey is turning one already. The last year flew by so fast! I know part of it is the fact that her first four months of life were so crazy with my dad being sick.

In some crazy ways, Macey saved me more than she will ever know. When I would come home from a long day at the hospital with my dad, there was this tiny little baby reminding me that I had something else I needed to focus on other than my dad's illness. And when my dad passed away, I had this little baby to remind me that there is life after death. Having her in my belly all the months that my dad were so sick, kept me sane. I had to stay healthy and calm - for her sake.

Macey's personality is totally evolving! She is going to definetly be a little stinker!! She now can walk, and she has two new shiny teeth. She is such a little cuddler. Loves to snuggle up. When she sees strangers, she'll hold out her arms and wants to go by just about anyone. I've really enjoyed this past year watching her hit all of her milestones, and experiencing all the firsts with her.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dream

I had the most amazing experience last night, and I am sure when I share this, there are lots of you who may think I am nuts!

I had a very "real like" dream about my dad. I can't remember what he said or what he was telling me. But I remember it was something important. And it was something about death and his death. It's driving me nuts that I can't remember more of the details.

But all of the sudden I jolted awake, and I was literally sobbing and crying. My pillow was wet with tears.

I called my mom this morning to tell her about it, and cried the whole time. That's how real it was.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Random Memory

Meeting Macey



In honor of Macey's birthday, this is my random memory for the week. In all honesty, I really hate looking at this photo. My dad looks so fragile and sick. This is also around the time we began to realize that my dad's cancer was way more serious than we thought.

In this photo, Macey is a couple days old. My dad had just been discharged from the hospital a couple weeks before from his perforated bowel surgery. He was too weak, and his immune system too compromised to come to the hospital to meet Macey. So we made a special trip over there the following week she was born so my dad could meet her.

As I placed Macey into my dad's arms - for a brief moment it looked like every worry melted away. He was just so elated to meet his newest granddaughter. I know it was a bittersweet moment for me, because deep down, I knew my dad wasn't going to be able to hold her much, or get to know her, or watch her grow. But I am thankful that my dad was able to meet her and that I have this picture to share with Macey someday.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Letters from the Heart

Before my dad passed away, he wrote a letter to my neice Taylor and nephew Trenton. It was agreed that the letters would be given to them on each of their birthdays. My nephew celebrated his birthday on Saturday, and finally got his letter from Papa.

I think what the letter contains is a true testament to my dad's character. He told Trenton to be a leader and not a follower. To help people and treat them good. To do well in school. To listen to his mom because she always wants the best for him. He told him that he enjoyed taking him on the four wheeler.

I haven't read the letter since my dad passed (he let me read it as he was writing it) and I don't think I am ready. As Trenton was telling me the contents of the letter, I got really weepy. But what a great thing for Trenton to have and hold for the rest of his life. I am kind of sad that my dad never got around to writing my girls' letters. He just got too bad too fast. But I know it wouldn't mean as much as it will to Taylor and Trenton, because my girls sadly will not remember him.

In some ways I am glad that we knew my dad was dying ahead of time. Because he was able to write these letters, and tell us everything he ever wanted too. And I think that has been one of the greatest gifts he has given any of us.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What We Can't Explain at the End of Life: Who and What You See Before You Die

This article which is also written by David Kessler and featured on Oprah.com, gives me so much hope and joy - knowing I am going to see my dad again. I think we lose focus about that fact not long after our loved ones die. I think we get so wrapped up in grief, and we forget that beyond this life, there is a spiritual life waiting for us. This article reminded me of that fact.

Throughout my years of working with the dying and the bereaved, I have noticed commonly shared experiences that remain beyond our ability to explain and fully understand. The first are visions. As the dying see less of this world, some people appear to begin looking into the world to come. It's not unusual for the dying to have visions, often of someone who has already passed on. Your loved one may tell you that his deceased father visited him last night, or your loved one might speak to his mom as if she were there in the room at that time.

It was almost 15 years ago that I was sitting at the bedside of my teacher, Elisabeth K├╝bler Ross', when she turned to me and asked, "What do you think about the deceased visiting those on their deathbeds to greet them?" I replied quickly, showing my knowledge back to her: "You're speaking of deathbed visions, most likely caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain or a side effect of morphine." She looked at me and sighed, "It will come with maturity."

I thought to myself: "Maturity? What did maturity have to do with anything?" Now, years later, I look at the events we still can't explain that happen at the end of life and realize what Elisabeth was saying. It would be arrogant to think we can explain everything, especially when it comes to dying. My mother died when I was still a preteen. My father remained an incredible optimist his whole life, even when he was dying. I was busy trying to make sure he was comfortable and pain-free, and at first didn't notice he had become very sad. He told me how much he was going to miss me once he was gone. And then he mentioned how much he was saying goodbye to: his loved ones, his favorite foods, the sky, the outdoors and a million other things of this world. He was overcome by sadness I could not (and would not) take away from him.

My father was very down-hearted for the next few days. But then one morning he told me my mother, his wife, had come to him the night before. "David, she was here for me," he said with an excitement I had not seen in him in years. "I was looking at all I was losing, and I'd forgotten that I was going to be with her again. I'm going to see her soon." He looked at me as he realized I would still remain here. Then he added, "We'll be there waiting for you." Over the next two days, his demeanor changed dramatically. He had gone from a hopeless dying man with only death in front of him to a hopeful man who was going to be reunited with the love of his life. My father lived with hope and also died with it.

When I started compiling examples to include in my book Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die, I was surprised by how similar they were. In fact, it was hard to pick which ones to use because they were all so much alike. Now I realize the very thing that makes them repetitious is also what makes them unique. As someone who has spent most of my life writing, teaching and working with the dying, I can't prove to you that my father's vision was real. I can only talk about my experience as a son and about countless other occurrences that take place every day. I used to believe the only thing we needed to alleviate was the suffering of the dying by providing good pain management and symptom control. I know now that we have more—we have the "who" and "what" we see before we die, which is perhaps the greatest comfort to the dying.

Some interesting and unexplainable items about deathbed visions:

Visions people experience at the end of life are remarkably similar.

The dying are most often visited by their mothers. It shouldn't be too surprising that the person who is actually present as we cross the threshold of life and take our first breaths once again appears at the threshold as we take our last breaths.

Hands passionately reaching upward to some unseen force is witnessed in many deathbed encounters.

Visions mostly occur toward a corner of the room.

Those family members at a deathbed are not able to see the vision or participate in the conversation.

Visions usually occur hours to weeks before death.

Visions don't seem to appear in other frightening situations where death is not likely, such as stuck in an elevator, lost in a foreign city or lost hiking.

If you find the concept of a dead loved one greeting you on your deathbed impossible or ridiculous, consider what I finally realized as a parent: You protect your children from household dangers. You hold their hands when they cross the street on their first day of school. You take care of them when they have the flu, and you see them through as many milestones as you can. Now fast-forward 70 years after you, yourself, have passed away. What if there really is an afterlife and you receive a message that your son or daughter will be dying soon? If you were allowed to go to your child, wouldn't you?

While death may look like a loss to the living, the last hours of a dying person may very well be filled with fullness rather than emptiness.

The morning my dad passed away, he was reaching up at the ceiling towards something. That was a moment in my life that I will never forget. I just wish I knew who he had been reaching for!!!

Why Birth Is Not a Beginning and Death is Not an End

I found this article on Oprah.com this morning. It was a reawakening to me. I wanted to share it. Hopefully you will find it as insightful and inspiring as I did.

As John Adams, our second president, lay on his deathbed, his last words were, "Jefferson still lives." What he didn't know was that our third president, Thomas Jefferson, had died a few hours earlier. Both men died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. You may think this is about to become a history lesson, but it's not. It is a discussion of the afterlife and an exploration of the question: "Do we really die?" Many believe that for Adams there were deathbed visions of a world yet to come. As we die, the veil between life and death is lowered for the dying. You would be surprised to look into the afterlife and see someone there waiting whom you thought was in our earthy world of the living. I believe, as many others do, that John Adams saw his friend waiting for him and realized not only that death is not an ending, but that we continue to live. Jefferson lives!

We have all been taught that, if nothing else, death is the end—our end. Death is a broad traveler in our society today. It is sometimes the result of violence, sometimes a kind act of nature, sometimes the end of a long disease. We watch it in our homes on TV, we pay to see it on movie screens and we play with it in video games. Perhaps we hope that the more we view it, the less we will fear it. Albert Einstein pointed out that time is not constant, it's relative to the observer. For now, we can only observe time and the dying. As my work has brought me closer to this unwanted visitor, I have found more peace in death, and I have come to know on a very personal level that it is not an ending.

We live in time and die in time. While we inhabit our bodies, time is a useful measurement. Yet it has only as much value as we give it. Webster's Dictionary defines time as "an interval separating two points on a continuum." Birth appears to be the beginning, and death appears to be the end, but they are not—they are just points on a continuum.

Two weeks before my father died, I moved him into my apartment. I had a hospital bed brought into the living room. There he would receive one visitor after another. In the evening, friends and family would pull up chairs surrounding his bed. In illness as in health, he was the center of attention. The circle of loved ones remained right up to his death. After he died, we spent time with him, but we suddenly realized his body was no longer given any attention. His body was no longer the center of attention. We were still talking, crying and laughing, but our body language and our focus was now on his spirit and not his body.

If you have been with a loved one who has died, you quickly see that his spirit has left his body. That spirit that is beyond description that made our loved one who he is—a father...or a mother—is forever gone from its earthly body. The spark of life has left. Before us lies the body, like a suit of clothes he wore his whole life. We love it. We are familiar with the look of it, and yet we know that who the body is...is so much more. And that "so much more," also known as his spirit, no longer dwells in the body.

None of us knows what will happen after death, but I believe—if you look deep inside, deep in your soul—you will know you have always existed and always will. Spirit is eternal. If you think back, you'll remember you never felt as if you didn't exist before you were born into this life. Rather, you felt as if you always existed and always will. That's why this death will not be an ending. You may not have life as you know it once you die, but you will continue. If you have lost a loved one, he still continues. The dying still exist. Now when someone I know is dying, I don't say goodbye anymore, I just say...until we meet again. Marianne Williamson always reminds those at her lectures about A Course in Miracles that birth is not a beginning and death is not an ending. There is a shift from the body identification to the spiritual identification.

I was so gratified after the last article I wrote about how many people were willing to share their stories about deathbed visions on Oprah.com, Facebook and Twitter. These people who decided to share their stories online are a validation that our loved ones live on. And for each person who shared a story online, there were probably hundreds to thousands who have stories they didn't share.

We must continue to examine the meaning of death because death is central to the meaning of life. If death is an enemy that triumphs over us when our lives end, if death is a horrible trick of nature that defeats us and our health, then our lives are meaningless. But if we understand that we are born, we flourish and when our time comes we die physically but not spiritually, we will live our lives from a meaningful place and live our deaths in a meaningful way.

No one can really claim to understand death, unless they have actually died. We're only observers until our time comes. What I teach about death is what I have learned from it. While my medical training touched on the subject, I learned most of what I know about death from the countless people I have had the privilege of caring for, and sharing with, in these most precious, final moments. What I know for sure is that love is a house that even death cannot knock down.

David Kessler is the author of Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms (May 2010).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Happy Birthday McKenna



Happy 3rd birthday to my wonderful princess McKenna!! I can't believe she is three years old already. Where does time go?

McKenna will never understand how much she means to me, or how much she saved me. She was the sunshine for me after a long rainstorm. I didn't replace Nevaeh, but McKenna came at a time that showed me that it was possible to love another child, and that life had to go on.

McKenna reminds me so much of my dad. She has this little spirit that is so energetic and bubbly, and she is so funny! She definetly loves to be the center of attention.

I am sad my dad is not here to witness McKenna's birthday, but I know he is here is spirit, and definetly looking down on us.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Random Memory

McKenna is Born



In honor of McKenna's third birthday this week, I had to post this picture. I remember how proud and happy my dad looked when he held McKenna in the hospital for the first time. I think it was especially happy for him, since he was with me the day Nevaeh passed.

I remember my dad was suppose to have a work meeting, but he called and told them he was not going as he had to meet his new granddaughter. My dad was such a great PaPa. Him and McKenna really had a strong bond. I am sad that he is not here this year to see her another year older. I know how much he would be enjoying her right now - and how much she would love him.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Watching the Packers this season makes me miss my dad. I am the huge Packer fan that I am because of my dad. I really miss watching the games with him. I just miss him all around right now. It must be the time of year, because lately I have been having a really hard time. Right now I am in the angry stage. I am very angry that Cancer happened to him and to our family. I am very angry I had to see my dad like that. I am angry that my kids won't remember what a wonderful man he was. I am angry that I am planning Macey's first birthday party and my dad won't be there. I am angry that death has to be part of life. I am just angry. And I know it's okay to be angry. I know it's part of the grieving process.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dreams

The last two nights I've had some pretty intense dreams of my dad. The reason this is very weird, is because this is the first time since he has passed, that I have had any dreams about him. I use to wish I would have some dreams with him, just so I could see his face again in some sense.

This weekend marks a year ago that my dad went into the hospital with his perforated colon. A year ago is when my personal hell really started. I am not sure if that is why all of the sudden I am dreaming about my dad.

I dreamt last night that he had the chemo hooked up to his port and he was saying to me "If I do this one last chemo, I really think it is going to literally kill me this time." So I reached over and yanked the chemo out of his port as fast as I could.

The dream Wednesday night I saw his healthy smiling face, and he was telling a joke. He was always really good at telling jokes. He was so animated, and would really get you going so the punchline was extra funny.

Although I am happy that I saw his smiling face in some sense again, it also makes me sad. I miss him so much. And even when I have happy moments, I am fully not completly happy, as there will always be a part of me sad and dead. It is true what they say - when a loved one dies, a peice of you dies too.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Random Memory

Games


This picture makes me smile for two reasons. It reminds me of all of the "family game nights" we had as a family growing up. This game day was on Christmas morning. We would usually get a new board game every Christmas, and then we would play that game as a family on Christmas day. This game was Guesstures - like Charades, and my dad was so good at it!! We kept the game day tradition up to just a few years ago. Once my kids were born, it was to hard to play games and entertain kids. The second reason this picture makes me smile is because of my dad's red sweat pants. He must have had those pants for ten years, because I have so many memories with him wearing those pants!! He'd wear them camping, lounging, fishing, but thankfully never in public!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Random Memory

Boating




Some of my best memories of my dad include fishing and camping. Our family vacations were always camping for a week during the summer. My dad is the one who taught me to fish. I know my dad was frustrated by my fishing skills. I never wanted to actually touch the fish and take them off my line. I eventually learned how to bait my hook (only worms, I left the minnows and leeches to my dad). I even would buy fishing tackle and lures on vacation, and started my very own tackle box.

My dad would not have a lot of patience for me in the fishing boat. A lot of times it was our whole family in the boat, so there wasn't a lot of room. I would always get snagged. I also lost patience very fast if the fish were not biting. I would get bored and sprawl out in the boat and try to catch some rays from the sun, or read a book.

My best fishing memory is when we were on vacation at Kentuck Lake in Eagle River. The crappies were biting phenomenally. The were actually boiling to the surface. You could throw a bare hook in, and get a bite. That will always remain the funnest fishing trip to me. Even though my dad had to take like 100 fish off my line that night, I know he still had loads of fun too.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Random Memory

The Sweatshirt





I bought my dad this sweatshirt for Christmas one year. I was young and in high school, and when they didn't have my dad's size of XL, well I thought - "3-XL can't be that much bigger, right?" So I bought the sweatshirt and when my dad opened it, he immediately laughed and was flabbergasted at how big it was!! In fact, it was so large, that me and him could fit in it together. Which is what we exactly did for this photo opportunity!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Random Memory



Playing Doctor


This picture makes me laugh!! My dad was the best dad growing up and was always very involved. I think what made him such a great dad was sense of humor and his willingness to act like a kid again! I was very young when this picture was taken, but I still do remember him letting us do this to him several times.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Random Memory

Every once and awhile I feel compelled to go through old photos of my dad. It brings me both joy and sorrow. I love remembering how he looked and the memories we had, but then the ache shoots through my heart as I remember just how much I miss him. For some reason photos make me sad and bring me back to the reality that he is really gone an never coming back.

I want these memories to live on, and the photos to be shared, no matter how much it hurts. So I am going to share some random photos and the memories I have about them. It's my way of keeping my dad's spirit and memory living.

Graduation

The first photo is from my graduation from the Tech. I remember the day vividly. There was a huge snowstorm, and I was due to graduate at 11 a.m. I was also delivering the commencement speech so I had to be early. My dad was so nervous for me to drive by myself in the storm. Like it was the first time I had drove in snow!

I made it just fine, and the ceremony and my speech went just great. I remembering looking out and seeing my mom and dad's faces, and seeing the look of pride on their faces. I guess I never fully understood the feeling, until I became a parent myself. But there is something to be said about watching your child accomplish something.




After graduation my dad came up to me and hugged me with tears in his eyes. He was so proud of me. And I was so happy to have two loving parents that supported me and helped me in any way possible get through school. If I close my eyes really hard, I can still smell his leather jacket that he has on in this picture.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It’s hard to believe that in the blink of an eye, with the exhale of breath, in a heartbeat so much can change. In just one split second everyone who knew and loved my dad experienced major change. Just as he transitioned from one life to another, so did we – from a life with him in it to a new life without him.

In the months since he died so much has happened to all of us – new milestones are being reached every day. For me, my new normal is filled with happiness that is colored by memories of my life with my dad.

I let these memories of him inspire and push me forward smiling when I encounter little reminders of him like songs, smells or places. This time of year was his all time favorite - goose hunting season. I think that is why I miss him so much right now. I know he would be sitting in his goose blind, the wind on his back, smiling in the beaming sun. All of these memories and thoughts remind me that moving on isn’t about leaving anything behind, but about integrating those things we have lost into our new way of living. And letting them empower us to do more, be more and hope for more than we ever thought possible without regretting a single thing.

Monday, September 6, 2010

So yesterday my sister and I decided to clean out all of my dad's clothes. My mom wanted the space, but she couldn't bring herself to do it, so she asked us. I wanted to take the t-shirts and make a quilt out of them. My sister is making some pillows.

So we started digging through all of his stuff, and it was way harder than I ever thought it would be. We cried the entire time as we dug through all of his familiar clothes. You could still smell him on the clothes.

We made three piles - one for me, one for my sister, and one for Good Will. My good friend Mel helped us bag everything up. It was so hard. It was almost like getting rid of his clothes made it real that he was gone. Like we were finalizing it. It felt so wrong to get rid of so many years of clothes.

I tried reminding myself that his clothes are just material things. Getting rid of them does not mean we are getting rid of his memory. It was just so hard. Especially when I found a pair of jeans with his belt still in them. I couldn't bear to throw the belt away. I have no idea what I'll do with it, but I couldn't bring myself to get rid of it.

Now I can start the daunting task of cutting everything up for my quilt. I think that will be so hard to. But I guess I can make this into a very theraputic thing.

Friday, September 3, 2010

New Love



So I've been debating about posting this for awhile now. But I think most people know now. A couple of months ago my mom started dating again. She is dating an old friend whose wife died two years ago. Jerry and his wife Lynn hung out with my mom and dad. My mom ran into Jerry at a bar when we went away on Mother's day. It was a sign I think that it was meant to be. They went to dinner to catch up, and ever since have been inseparable.

At first my mom said she felt like she was cheating on dad. And I can imagine after spending 34 years with your husband, you would feel that way. And I have to admit, at first it was really hard to see my mom dating again. Just because it was weird. But no matter what, I want my mom happy. That is all that matters to me. And I am mature and grown up enough to know that just because my mom is dating another man, it doesn't mean that she loved my dad any less, or isn't hurting anymore. I get it all. She is just looking for a little slice of happiness again. And I am so happy she has found it.

Me and my sister couldn't be more thankful for Jerry. He is a wonderful, caring man. He leaves my mom loves notes and cards, takes care of her lawn, cleans her house when she is at work, and loves spending time with her. He even likes spending time with us! He loves my kiddos. McKenna calls him "Jury".

In no shape or form, I know Jerry is not trying to take the place of my dad. No one EVER could. I think about my dad daily. Sometimes I smile, and sometimes I cry. But I am happy that my mom is not alone, and that she has such a stellar guy in her life again. I look forward to developing my own relationship with Jerry. I know even though he is not my dad, he loves my mom, and he is still older and wiser and can provide the type of advice I miss getting from my dad.

I picture my dad and Lynn up in heaven, looking down on my mom and Jerry smiling. Like this was meant to be. Like they were put together to help each other and comfort each other. Perhaps, a match made in heaven.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another Milestone

This weekend will be another milestone without my dad. Our annual Labor Day celebration at my mom and dad's pond. Some aunts and cousins and their kids all come to my mom's house and we eat and grill out and fish and just have one last "summer celebration". My dad would always love this get together. He was so proud of his pond, and was so happy to share it with people and love people enjoying it. I know he'll be looking down on us, but it's still not the same.

I

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hips are good!

Macey had her tests done today, and everything is good. They tried doing the ultrasound, but couldn't see enough. They said the older babies get, the harder it is to see on ultrasound. So they brought her in for x-rays instead. She did so amazing, acted like such a big girl. She didn't cry once! She would kick her legs once in awhile in irritation, but other than that she was perfect. I couldn't believe it. And we are so happy to know that everything is fine!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hip Ultrasound

Tomorrow we are going in to get an ultrasound of Macey's hips. At her 9 month old well baby check last week, the doctor noticed one of her skin folds on her one leg is much bigger than the other. He said it can be an indication that her hip is not forming properly. She did have a click right after she was born in her hip, but went away by her first pediatrician appointment. I hope that everything is okay. I have been watching her leg and how she holds it since her appointment, and it seems okay to me. It doesn't seem out of place or anything. Let's hope everything is okay, and we get the results rather quickly.

Friday, August 20, 2010

So Blessed

I am so blessed with so many good friends and family. I always knew it, but yesterday on my birthday I was truly blown away by all of the texts and messages saying happy birthday. I also recieved so many special gifts! I always knew that the best gifts come from the heart, but was reminded of it yesterday. Like my husband bringing me home a six pack of Guiness beer, a birthday cake, and grilling me steak. Or McKenna saying "happy birthday mommy" as she wiped the sleep from her eyes in the morning. Or spending the day shopping with my mom. My friends from work bought me a gift certificate for the yoga classes I love. I am so thankful for all of the friends and family who make life worth living! My 30's are going to be great!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another Milestone

Another milestone is here without my dad. My first birthday without him. My 30th birthday. I have to admit, I miss my dad calling me and singing happy birthday to me. I have tears in my eyes as I remember his voice singing every year.

I know my dad is smiling down on me today. Even though he is not here to personally wish me happy birthday, I have to believe he is in heaven looking down and is going to give me an awesome day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lasting Impressions

It was this time last year that my dad got the news that Wired Outdoors was going to come and hunt on his property with my dad. He was beyond excited. It was the best hunt of his life. He was so proud. My mom sat praying for geese, knowing it may be his last hunt.

My mom recieved an e-mail from Larry at Smart Sticks, who was part of the hunt. He sent a message to all of his hunting buddies, saying:

Hi All,

Getting Ready. It's once again that time of year filled with great
anticipation. The time just before Fall, and hunting, and reunions with
hunting partners. Exactly at this time last year 8 hunters were getting
ready to hunt with Ron Maass. This year as we get ready to hunt, our
friend Ron is in Heaven.
The attached Word encourages us to Be Ready as we will indeed see
Ron again.
Fall is my favorite season!

Looking Forward,

Larry


The words he had attached were these:

Be Ready Luke 12:32-40 (NRSV)

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

"Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

"But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."

It makes me happy to know that he made such an impression on these folks, that after only hunting with him one time, they constantly remember him. I wrote back to Larry and thanked him for remembering my dad, and letting him know how much the hunt meant to my dad. He responded back with some photos, and this story:

It was indeed an honor to have shared this earth for a few hours with your Dad. Kindred spirits.

Will keep you guys updated as the PA team will be here 9-12 Sept this year to capture a little more WI goose footage. Their goal is to produce a complete episode of goose hunting including a highlight of our hunt with Ron.
Time will tell.

During our hunt: Since the blind was full, Your Dad and Eric Olsen stood in the cattails at the N end of the pond. A small group of geese went past and the blind and not shooting real well, we got all but one goose that escaped to the North. Ron promptly dumped that goose and instantly there were audible cheers of "All Right" (both for his good shot and that he helped take the whole flock). Later, Ron told me privately, "You know Larry, that cheer out there, that was the best part of the whole hunt for me". That still makes me happy.






It makes me happy too. I know my dad's heaven consists of a big pond, endless fields, and an unlimited amount of geese.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cheese

This morning I was slicing a few pieces of cheese for McKenna, and it made me think of my dad. It made me remember the time he came to my apartment to watch a Packer game. I had some cheese and sausage out. My dad was harrasing me about how thick my cheese was sliced, and what an awful job I did. That Christmas my dad bought me a cheese cutter as a gift. I still have it and use it.

This is another example of how the simplest things remind me of my dad. On a daily basis I think of him at least ten times. I know its because he shaped me to be the person I am today. But I also think its because I have so many fond memories of him for 29 years, that everything in life is going to remind me of my dad. And because all I have left are memories...I think it's a good thing. Even if it is something as simple as cheese.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Missing you dad

I miss you so much dad....
so much that sometimes I feel like I can't breathe.
Everything in this world reminds me of you in some way or another...
every smell, every taste, any song, everything that I see provokes some memory of you.
It seems like so long ago since I saw you....
but really it has only been 6 months.
I think the longer it is...
the harder it gets.
I can't imagine never seeing you again in this lifetime...
the thought is still unfathomable to me.
I miss you so much dad...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Shelf

This past weekend my grandparents had to move into an assisted living facility. They really should have moved there long ago, but they are quite stubborn and set in their ways. They've wanted to remain in the only place that they knew as home.

My mom helped move them. My aunt was telling my mom how my grandma did not want to take a shelf that has all of her angels displayed, instead she went to the attic and dug out an older smaller shelf. My aunt couldn't understand why she would want this smaller shelf, especially since all of the angels wouldn't fit on there.

When my mom was helping my aunt unpack, she came across the small shelf my grandma was so insistent on bringing. Here it was the first shelf my dad ever made and gave to her. My grandma thought this shelf was perfect and beautiful, even with all of it's imperfections of being small and uneven. This was the shelf she wanted and holds so much sentimental value to her.

My mom and aunt placed the shelf over my grandparent's bed, with some of the angels displayed, and of course my dad's picture. I can't imagine how they must feel outliving a son. I am sure they miss him as much as I do. I just think it is very touching that my grandma remembered that shelf and wanted it along on their new journey to their new place.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Nicole's Favorite Things

www.taaz.com

This is a fun website where you can give yourself a makeover, using real products and colors that exist. You can change your eye color, eyeshadow, lip color, plump your lips...you can just about do anything. You can also make yourself over according to different celebritie's styles. This website is lots of fun!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Nicole's Favorite Things

Flip Video - UltraHD Camcorder

I am not a gadgety or electronics kind of girl, but this camcorder is one of my favorite things. It is small enough to carry in my purse or diaper bag whenever I go somewhere. It is also easy to shoot, you just turn it on, and with a push of a button you can record with only one hand. It is also great because you don't need to worry about having blank video tapes on hand. You just plug it into your computer via the USB port, and upload your videos. You can save them, upload them to your favorite site (I use youtube), or you can burn them to dvd's. The software that it comes with makes it very easy. You can also combine all your small one minute movies, into a longer video. It is also great because it makes sharing your videos on blogs and Facebook so easy. It is also very reasonably priced at $199.00.

Product Features
Weighs only 6 ounces
Simple user interface - Features one-touch recording and digital zoom
Large 2" antiglare color LCD screen
Holds up to 2 hours of HD-quality video
On 8GB of built-in memory; no tapes or additional memory cards required
Convenient flip-out USB arm
Plugs directly into your computer to launch built-in FlipShare software
Rechargeable battery - Recharges through built-in USB arm while you're plugged into your computer. Supports the use of 2 AA batteries for additional power options
Captures HD 720p H.264 video
Compatible with Windows Media Player, QuickTime and iTunes
Watch videos instantly on TV
Instant playback -Pause, fast forward, rewind, zoom and delete functions

Friday, July 30, 2010

Harder as time goes on

So I am feeling the loss of my dad more than ever. The last two weeks have been really hard. I find myself crying at random times. This week I started crying during meditation time at yoga. I am just so sad. I think it is hitting me so hard now for two reasons. The first reason being I am starting to miss his presence even more, and the second being, that for the first time since my dad passed away, I am allowing myself to feel. Instead of blocking out the feelings, memories, and emotions, I am letting them in and out. It's hard. I wish I could feel his presence, and I wish I could know that he is okay. I hardly even dream about him. I wish I could have a dream where I could see his face and smile again. It's just so hard to fathom not ever seeing him again in this lifetime. He was such a wonderful man. I just hope that I am making him proud (here come the tears again)! I think back to my Eulogy I gave about him at his funeral. I know he would have been very proud of me in that moment. I turned a church full of crying people, into a church full of laughing people. I can just hear him say "that's my girl".

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nicole's Favorite Things

Ecotools Bamboo Eye Brush Set, 6 Piece

Another eye shadow favorite! This eyebrush set is very affordable at under $7.00. I bought mine at Walgreens. It has all of the perfect tools to apply eyeshadow perfectly. The set includes:
Large Eye Brush to apply and blend shadows
Angled Crease Brush that softly applies color to crease for definition
Petite Eye Shading Brush for accent colors for a bold look
Highlighting Brush perfect for highlighting the brow bone and inner corners of the eye.
Smudge Brush smudge shadow and liner along lash line for a smoky look.
Cosmetic Case with Mirror conveniently store brushes

The set is also earth friendly and is made from highly sustainable bamboo handles!


Nicole's Favorite Things

120 Color Eyeshadow Palette 2nd Edition

This eyeshadow palette is so much fun, and has endless possibilities. Some of the colors are so bold I probably will never use them other than for Halloween costumes, but with all the colors in the palette, it is easy to mix and blend for even more color combinations.

I bought this palette for $26.00 plus shipping and handling from Amazon. It was a great buy, as I won't be buying eye shadow for a very long time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

McKenna asked to talk to Papa

Last night McKenna wanted to call grandma. She is in the stage where she loves to talk to people on the phone. Even if it is people she doesn't know. Last night she requested I call grandma Maass. I dialed the number and she told my mom that she was "being sassy and jumping on the bed". Then she said "I wanna tell that to Papa." My mom got caught off guard and asked her what she said, and she said "I wanna talk to papa". But just then she got a look on her face like she realized what she was asking. So I kinda think that she "gets it" a little where papa is.

It was just sad. It made me sad. But it was also weird because she hasn't asked about Papa in several months. This past weekend I was having a hard time missing my dad, and me and McKenna were kissing the pictures of my dad we have on our shelf. We said "Love you papa, miss you" and we would kiss the picture. So maybe that is what brought him back to the front of her mind.

Makes me sad, because I know how much he would be loving and enjoying both Macey and Mckenna right now. He was such a great Papa!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bad Dad Day

For some reason, I am having a really bad dad moment. I guess because one of my co-worker's was telling me her dad called her on the phone. I got to thinking how I would give anything in the world to hear my dad's voice again on the other end of the phone.

Breakdowns happen so far inbetween these days, that it takes me off guard when I do have one. It just seems like it was forever ago that I saw him. It's only been five months.

One of our friend's step dad passed away last weekend of a heart attack at the age of 48. Just tragic. It got me thinking about my dad, and made me thankful that even though it was so painful, and a horrendous experience, I am glad I lost my dad to cancer. I am glad I had many opportunities to say goodbye to him. I am glad that I had almost a year to prepare myself for his death. It would have been so tragic to me for him to just be gone one day. And in a strange way, I do thank god for being able to say goodbye and comfort him in his last moments of life.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nicole's Favorite Things

The Instyler

So I was very skeptical of this product when I saw it on an infomercial. It is suppose to straighten even the most curly hair. Since I have some very unruly naturally curly hair, I got suckered in. I did some research on the internet, and found that alot of people really like the instyler and it really works for them. Still unwilling to pay the $100 for one, I went onto Ebay and purchased one for $60. I can say this is one of the best inventions ever.

It tames all of my crazy, frizzy, curly hair and leaves it shiny. It also cuts down the time it takes me to straighten my hair. The only downfall is that it gets much hotter than a normal straightener, and I have managed to burn my face and neck several times. But other than that, I highly recommend this product!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Nicole's Favorite Things

Oprah always shares her most favorite things. I have been thinking about doing it for awhile, but didn't want to take the focus of my blog away from my dad. But I am starting to learn that focusing on my dad and his death 100% of the time is not healthy. So I will be doing a feature called Nicole's Favorite Things.

First up - Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
This stuff is amazing! For anyone that wears any type of eye shadow, this product is a must! I was pretty skeptical at first, and a little leery at paying the 18 bucks for it. But I can say that I am beyond thrilled with the results. My eyeshadow looks almost perfect at the end of the day. Even after a sweaty yoga session, my eye makeup looks almost as fresh as it did in the morning. The only down fall to this product is that the staying power is SO good, that it can be hard to blend your eyeshadow.

Crappy Service

I don't usually use my blog to complain, but I had two horrible experiences this week that I would like to take the time to complain about. Both were in regards to medical visits.

The first one happened at my OBGYN's office. And I have to start out by saying that I love the office, I love the doctors and staff there. And it really wasn't my doctor's fault.

I have been having some testing done for some pelvic and abdominal pain. The nurse practitioner I have been seeing has been extremly proactive and helpful. She ordered an abdominal and pelvic ultrasound. I had it done last week, and went in for the results on Wednesday. They didn't really find anything significant other then scar tissue from my c-sections, and they also said I have some angry ovaries. Here's the bad experience though. In the radiologist's report of the ultrasound - it stated - "Patients gallbladder intact and in good condition". I got my gallbladder out 7 years ago. It even went into saying the duct leading to my gallbladder was good and free of stones. Furthermore, I know I have a kidney stone due to a recent CT scan I had in the emergency room. I know I didn't pass it yet. The radiologist also didn't find the stone at all?

My doctor recognized the mistake right away since she knew I had my gallbladder out. She said she would call the radiologist to see what he was looking at, or if it was a typo or what. Of course I haven't heard back whether or not that was followed up on. The whole thing has left me completly miffed. Did I get the right person's results? How competent was this radiologist?

My second experience happened the day after. I woke up on Thursday morning with all the lymph nodes in the left side of my neck swollen and extremly painful. I didn't sleep all night because my neck hurt so bad. I couldn't turn my head to the left or to the right. Thinking that I have to have some kind of infection or something to cause my glands to freak out this much, I made an appointment with a family doctor I have seen a few times.

First off, she said my glands weren't swollen. Somehow she missed the golf ball protruding out of the left side of my neck. I took her finger and showed her the several lumps I had, including the red, swollen lump on top of my head. She said the lump on my head was also a swollen gland. After lots of research on the internet, I found out that you do NOT have glands in your head. She said that it is normal for lymph nodes to get big when fighting an infection. She told me if they didn't get better in a week to two weeks, to come back and they may have to biopsy them. No strep test, no looking in my nose, nothing. I left there crying and in pain.

There is nothing worse than visiting a doctor and leaving there feeling like a complete moron, that there is nothing wrong with you, or they simply don't care about you. Last night my glands got to golf ball size, and the whole left side of my neck was swollen. Today the swolling is down, but I can still feel lumps in my lymph nodes, and they are still very tender. I just keep thinking that I must have some kind of infection. Like strep or a sinus infection, or something. Why wouldn't she evaluate me more? If not to put me more at ease. I feel like it was a total waste of my $15 co-pay. I feel like writing her a letter to express my dissatisfaction.

But above all, is it so hard to find a doctor now days that gives a shit about you, or follows up, or returns your call? I understand they are all busy, but whatever happened to the doctors that truly care so much for their patients, they go the extra mile?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thinking of Nevaeh

Yesterday was four years ago that we lost Nevaeh. The crazy thing is, I didn't even realize it until today when a friend e-mailed and said she was thinking about us. Is that bad? I guess it is okay that I forgot the anniversary of her death. I remembered her birthday, and I would like to focus on the positive things, the happy memories that she was with us. The day she passed away was one of the worse days of my life. I guess it is not such a bad thing that I forgot about it being yesterday.
Doesn't mean I don't think about her or miss her constantly.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Testing

So I've gone through lots of testing this week. A cystoscopy of my bladder - which came back fine. Today I had an ultrasound of every organ that exists in my stomach. I still have no results, as I don't meet with the doctor until Wednesday. I just want to feel better already!!! I am sick of random sharp pains in my abdomen and side. If everything comes back normal, then I think I am going to request to have my IUD removed. As this pain started after I got it put in, so it is the only other possible thing causing it.

We've been super busy the last couple of weekends. I can't believe another 4th of July has come and gone. I remember spending the 4th with my dad last year. McKenna had a horrible ear infection, and we decided to go spend it with him anyways. I am really glad we did. I really never beilieved it would be our last 4th of July together, but I thought it was possible. Sometimes I miss my dad so much that I can't breathe.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dad's Ashes



Yesterday we had a small memorial service for my dad to spread some of his ashes in the pond as he requested. I didn't realize how much I missed him until yesterday. We had the video my sister made playing, and everyone was bawling. I just miss him so much. It was also very emotional knowing part of my dad was now right where he wanted to be. In the pond that he made and loved, and spent so much time. There were 3 small paper mache leaves with his ashes in. My mom, me, and my sister all got to let one go. McKenna helped me float mine. My mom realeased hers right in front of my dad's duck blind. I know he is smiling down, as part of his remains are right where they belong.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Answering Machine

Is it wrong of me to tell my mom to change her answering machine message? It breaks my heart everytime I call and get the message saying "You've reached Ron and Colleen Maass, we can't take your call right now".

I totally get why she doesn't want to change it. I still have my mom's number programmed in my cell as "Mom and Dad". I still have my dad's cell phone number programmed in my cell. These are all things I am not ready to change yet. I think I will know when it feels right to change them. So I guess it is none of my business telling my mom to change her answering machine. I think she'll know the right time too. I guess until then, I will just hang up before getting her machine, and text her to call me instead.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More Testing

So I went to the Urologist today. He doesn't think it is my kidney stone causing me pain at all. He thinks the pain is coming from something in my bladder. Bladder spasms can cause flank pain I guess. He is also concerned about the blood in my urine.

So next week I have to have two separate tests done. A cystoscopy - which they will insert a scope through a catheder and look at my bladder. The second is called a CMG which measures the pressure in your bladder. They are on separate days, so if the first one is bad - I have time to back out of the second one :o)

I am really freaking out. Anyone that knows me well, knows I hate pain. And you also know that I will sit and reasearch the procedures, and freak out until I have them done.

I am still not convinced that the pain is not from my stone. I mean my kidney feels bruised. When I push on it, I have pain. So I don't know. I guess I should trust the specialist as he probably knows what he is doing. He put me on some medication that is suppose to help me not pee so much, and also help with back pain. So we'll see.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kidney Stones

So I've had this nagging pain in my back for two years now. Yes, two years. It started right before I got pregnant with Macey. It was January 2009, and I was in New York for work. It started with a stabbing pain in my back, and also I was peeing a lot. So I thought I maybe had a kidney stone or a bladder infection. I went to my doctor, and he said I did not have a bladder infection. He did an x-ray of my back, as some kidney stones will show up on an x-ray. That came back clean, and I was told it was probably muscular.

I got pregnant with Macey, and complained often about the pain. I even went to the emergency room. They told me that I had a very bad UTI. They put me onto antibiotics. Through my whole pregnancy I had this nagging pain. My doctor told me it could be the baby laying on my kidney funny.

After my dad passed away, the pain reappeared. I didn't want to chance anything, epecially what I just watched my dad go through. So I made an appointment with another doctor. The first doctor I had saw moved practices. So I went through the whole history with the new doctor. She did a CBC on me. That came back clean. She also did an x-ray, which came back clean. She told me that kidney stone pain does not come and go, and it's usually exruciating pain. Again she said the pain was muscular.

By this time I am starting to feel a little crazy. Because when the pain comes, it is quite debilitating. The weekend of Jason's birthday, that Sunday I thought I had the stomach flu. Lots of nausea, light headed, tired, but the stabbing pain was back. So on Monday I decided to make an appointment at my OBGYN's office. They got me in on the Friday. I explained to her the mystery pain. She ordered an ultrasound the following Thursday. They did say however that my white blood count was high, and I had a UTI. SO I have been on an anti-biotic since then.

Last night the pain got really intense, and I started to have blood in my urine. I decided to go into the emergency room. As I was sitting in the emergency room, the pain subsided again, making me think I was crazy. They said my urine was clean and I did not have a UTI. She suggested we do a CT scan. She came back in the room and said I had a 3mm kidney stone, high up in my right kidney (right where the pain has been all along). She said since it was not acutally passing, there was not much she could do except for give me medicine for the pain.

I called the doctor who I saw last Friday, and she suggested I go to an Urologist. So I have an appointment tomorrow morning. I hope that after almost two years of going through this, they can give me some explanations and hopefully fix me somehow.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

For you Dad....

You were there the day I was born,
and every birthday there after.
You gave me a lot of fatherly advice,
and provided lots of laughter.

You listened, talked, played, and read,
and aways found some time for me.
You taught me and led by example,
and made me be the best I could be.

Now your gone...
and I miss you so much.
Your voice, your smile,
your laughter, your touch.

I miss hearing your jokes,
and calling you on the phone.
I miss calling you daddy,
even though I am all grown.

I was lucky you were in my life,
that you are a dad worth missing.
A dad I can say I was proud to have,
a lifetime of fond reminiscing.

I've dreaded this day for months,
and since the day that you died.
The first Father's Day
where you wouldn't be by my side.

No phone call today,
no card or present to give.
All that is left of you,
are the memories to relive.

Remembering all the years,
and the Father's Days passed
and you telling us
how kids grow too fast

I miss you today dad,
and I will always and forever,
but I carry you with me
in my every endeavour.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hard Week

This week has been hard on so many different levels. There are two things that are really weighing heavy on my heart right now. I can't write about one, as I feel like I would be divulging things that someone doesn't want divulged yet.

The thing that is weighing on my heart and mind the most, is that Sunday is Father's Day. I have tried to approach it like it is no big deal, that it is just like any other day. I will just try to make it extra special for Jason and my kids. But the fact of the matter is, I am really, really sad. This is the first Father's Day that I don't have a dad. No dad to call and say "Happy Father's Day". No dad to buy a special card for. No dad for me to buy a gift for. And I find that all of the Father's day sales, commercials, etc. are just a slap in the face, and make it hurt all the more. It's a constant reminder that my dad isn't here, and for the first time in my life, I am not celebrating Father's day with him.

I find myself bawling as I write this, something that doesn't happen very often. My crying spells are more infrequent now, but when they happen, it seems like they last longer.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Jason



On Saturday it was Jason's 32nd birthday. It was also the 12th anniversary of our first date together. We had a low key day, and had my family over for some steaks and birthday cake. McKenna insisted that we all wear party hats for the occasion. She even picked out the sponge bob hats herself at the store.



McKenna thought it was great being able to celebrate her daddy's birthday. She loved singing to him...and of course wearing her party hat and eating birthday cake.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Down Syndrome

The groom of the wedding we were at this weekend has a sister with down syndrome. I have to admit at one point during the night I lost it a little bit and cried as I watched her on the dance floor. I can't explain it, because I always knew in my heart how special people with down syndrome are, but it hit me full force Saturday night. Even Jason made several comments that let me know he was thinking of Nevaeh.

I've come to realize that we are actually the impared people. I think people with down syndrome have a totally different and unique perspective on life that we could all benefit from. I think we are the ones that are sheltered. And that's what hurts so much. It hurts because I regret all the bad thoughts I had when hearing Nevaeh's diagnosis. I am very ashamed. Ashamed that it took me so long to really realize all of this. I wish I could go back four years and have a totally different perspective. I know that Nevaeh has changed me as a person. She has made me more open, accepting, and understanding. I just wish she could be here right now, as I know she would provide me a life full of lessons, laughs, tears, and revelations.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Grumpy Flowergirl



This picture pretty much says it all. This picture set the moood for our entire day. McKenna was stubborn and tired, and I ended up carrying her down the aisle!

When the music started - she had a ball!



And this is a funny picture...we can never get a decent family shot with two small girls.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wedding

This weekend McKenna gets to be a flower girl in Jason's cousin's wedding. It is very nerve wrecking, and I am hoping for the best outcome possible! My little girl is just so stubborn, I have a hard time coercing her or bribing her to do anything if she doesn't want to do it.

In preparation for the wedding, I have been playing our wedding video to McKenna to show her Taylor all dressed up and walking as a pretty flower girl. It was really hard watching the video. I haven't watched it probably in two years - but it was really hard seeing my dad. But it was good too. He looked so young, vibrant, and healthy. Him giving me away on my wedding day, is one of my favorite memories of my dad. It was his kiss on my cheek that set me off bawling before walking down the aisle. It's funny, in the video, walking down the aisle out of the church, my dad did a little jig dance. That was so him. It actually made me laugh. My dad, the twinkle toes.

I miss his smile. That's the first thing I noticed on the video. I said outloud - "there's that beautiful smile I miss so much." God I miss him. Everyday. Life will never be the same without his smile, guidance, or encouragement.

I think I will not watch the father daughter dance tomorrow night. I know I can't handle that yet. That is something that I hold so close to my heart. I remember that dance so vividly in my head. We danced to Wind Beneath My Wings. At least I have the fond memories to always cherish forever. And a wonderful video with my dad smiling.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Nevaeh

Today would be Nevaeh's fourth birthday. June 1st is always a hard day for me. A day filled of "what if's" and wondering what my life would be like today. I wonder what she would look like. I wonder how different our life would be. Would we still have McKenna and Macey in our life? There are so many questions - questions that I will never have answers to.

I can't believe that it was four years ago that I lost my first born daughter. In some ways it seems like yesterday. In some ways it seems like forever ago. In some ways it seems like it was all a really bad dream. It's amazing how much your life can change in a blink of an eye.

We celebrated Nevaeh's birthday yesterday by visiting her grave in the morning. Then we had cake and icecream at my mom's house. McKenna wanted to sing happy birthday, and blow out candles, so I let her. She was convinced that it was her birthday. I kept telling her it was Nevaeh's birthday, but I know it is hard for her to understand something so complicated. She only knows Macey as her sister. Someday she will understand who Nevaeh is.

I had a total meltdown last night at my mom's house. I think it was the overwhelming feeling of my dad not being there, intensified with Nevaeh's death. I bawled all day, and snapped at my mom. I feel awful about that. Then when I just got myself calmed down - I found my dad's glasses on his work bench. I just lost it all over again. It's weird how something as simple as reading glasses take on a new meaning when you lose someone. It sounds strange, but I crave touching things my dad has touched. It makes me feel like a part of him is still here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Door County

Jason and I had a wonderful time in Door County. It is amazing how a trip away from kids can reenergize you. I think taking time off occassionaly actually makes me a better mom. I couldn't wait to get home to the girls yesterday. I swear Macey grew. Her legs are so chunky now that she gets stuck in the bumbo chair!!

Door County is beautiful. Living in Wisconsin almost my whole life, I am almost embarrassed to say that I have never been there before. On Thursday we went to Penninsula State park and hiked all day. On Friday we did some of the winery tours, and toured the Cana Island lighthouse. On Saturday we just drove around visiting all the different towns, and went to some of the small shops. And of course we had so many fabolous meals. I think I gained five pounds! Among my favorite things was a dish called Mac and Beer Cheese. It was so yummy. I could have ate that for every meal. I also had the best coconut gelato ever. I definetly will go back to Door County someday - probably just for the gelato!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tomorrow is 3 months since my dad died. Still feels like yesterday. I miss him and think of him everyday.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Anniversary

So this Saturday would be my mom and dad's 35th wedding anniversary. I know the day is going to be the hardest thus far for my mom. It's hard for me too, since Jason and my anniversary is on Friday. We would always celebrate our anniversaries together by going out to eat. Even last year we did.

Before my dad passed away, I promised I would take care of my mom. I promised him that I would send mom flowers on their anniversary every year. When I asked him what kind of flowers, he said - "you'll know". Today I called to order the flowers, and it tore me up emotionally. It surprised me that something as simple as ordering flowers for my mom would be so hard. But I could hear him, just as plain as day like it was yesterday, and the conversation about what kind of flowers I should get her. After I ordered them I left for lunch and had a good cry. I think it is so emotional for me because I am fullfilling a promise that I made to my dad.

I had the flowers delivered on Thursday, a couple days before her anniversary. I know that day will be hard enough. Hopefully by getting the flowers on a random day -they will make her smile a little bit too - along with the tears that I know will also be there.

As I mentioned before, it is me and Jason's 5th wedding anniversary. Our anniversary also falls on the three month anniversary of my dad's death. We are going to go to Door County for 3 days. I am so looking forward to it. It will be nice to have my mind occupied and not solely focus on what would be my mom and dad's anniversary. Jason deserves my whole attention for our anniversary. We still need to celebrate us too.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My little singer

How can this not put a smile on your face?? Make sure you turn the music off at the bottom of my blog!