Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Living In Christmas Day Heaven

     The title of this post was taken from the song Somewhere In My Memory.

     I had planned on making a Christmas post that would detail all of our adventures last week, but the stomach bug hit the house and then Jaxon came down with a sinus infection and things just haven't gone as planned.  
    On Christmas Eve my family came over to spend time together. We had so much fun. Michael brought his guitar, Tyler had her flute, and we sang Christmas songs together as we Skyped with Mom and Dad. I don't have any pictures or videos to share! It was a wonderful night. Uncle Dale came over and we ended the night by putting reindeer food out and sending the kids to bed. 
     Christmas morning started later than the kids would have liked but Sebastian had been up sick most of the night and we had been up late/early wrapping all the gifts for the kids. They had a good Christmas though and were so appreciative of all the things they received. I asked them later what their favorite gifts were; Sebastian - Studio Beats, Tyler - Kindle Fire, Mason - new TV for his room, Jaxon - everything ;). Here are a few pictures.


Jaxon - Ready to open his gifts.


Mason - So beyond ready!


Tyler - Waiting patiently to open her first gift.


Sebastian - This is what his sister got him :)


The crew :) John's niece Laura is visiting. Tyler is behind her.


Two very tired people. Jaxon hasn't slept well which means mommy hasn't slept well.

     The day after Christmas Mike's family came over and we exchanged gifts. It was so good to see them. Once again I didn't get any pictures! I'll do better next year. We had fun catching up and enjoying each others company. That was our Christmas in a nutshell.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

For Hate Is Strong And Mocks The Song Of Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men.

     The title of this post was taken from the song I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day by 
Henry Longfellow.

     I have had a post all mapped out in my head. I've just been looking for a chance to sit down and write it. I was going to write about the funky mood I've been in; about the remarkable lack of holiday spirit I've been experiencing. Things have been so crazy. While our tree is up and, usually, quiet moments enjoying the lights make me feel at peace, it just hasn't happened yet this year. Sure...there have been certain moments; moments when I get a glimpse of what Christmas is supposed to be but then they are over, leaving me feeling empty. Even the usual things that fill me with the spirit of Christmas like gathering donations for the Christmas Mother haven't touched me the way they usually do. I kept thinking, "When school gets out on Friday, I can focus on the important things. Then things will feel the way they are supposed to." But it didn't happen that way. I actually came home from school in tears on Friday. School keeps me busy and now I was faced with several weeks at home when I didn't feel anything except overwhelmed. All of this changed this morning.
     Sebastian sings in the choir at church. Today was the Christmas program. As the choir sang their first song, I couldn't take my eyes off Sebastian. I can't even describe it. This feeling of peace came over me. I let the music take me where I had not allowed myself to go. I teared up as I listened. I was completely overwhelmed with love for him and the young man he is turning into. In that moment, I also knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that his father was there watching over us. I just knew. All of the music this morning was beautiful. I'm beyond grateful for those that took the time to share their talent. Mason sang Silent Night with the primary. Though the little children were few in numbers, their humble, innocent voices reminded me once again just what this holiday season is all about. 
     Just a bit ago, Tyler had a flute concert at our church. She has been taking flute lessons from anther young woman who attends the same church we do. This concert was part of her journey in developing individual worth. Tyler has an amazing teacher who has helped her grow and learn so much. I teared up once again as I watched my amazing daughter play her flute with such confidence; such poise. There are not enough words to accurately describe my love for her. After the concert, I watched as John picked Tyler up in a big bear hug, let her know how proud he was of her, then kissed her gently, and put her back down. Today, John watched from the pews while Mike watched from heaven.
     This is what I've been waiting for. This is what I needed to get me into the Christmas Spirit. These small moments are worth so much more than the gifts that will be under our tree on Christmas morning.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's All That Matters For Now

The title of this post was taken from the song People by Awolnation.

     A few days ago we had one of those days in our house. The kind where everyone had six places to be, everyone needed something, and I was trying to get dinner ready. For about the fourteenth time Jaxon pulled off the shelf my Tori Amos box-set and was dragging it around the house. I took it from him and said:

"Jaxon (in my whiniest voice possible), please stop messing with that. Da...."

and then I stopped.

John noticed the pause in my sentence.

"What?"

"Well...I was going to tell him to leave it alone because Dad had given it to me, but it's not his Dad it would just be Mike to him."

"...Okay."

"It's just that I'm so used to just referring to Mike as Dad when talking to the kids, and I've never specifically said anything about him to Jaxon so it was weird to think about calling him Mike. He'll never know who Mike is and it just seems weird.

"Hun, Jaxon will know who Mike is because he is a part of our family. He's not a secret. We will tell him about Mike."

"It was just a weird moment."

"I know."

On a day to day basis I don't look at the kids and divide them as Dawson and Mullineaux. They are all my kids. John doesn't do this either, but sometimes I forget that Jaxon and Blake will have different family/life experiences than Sebastian, Tyler and Mason. It goes both ways. Jaxon and Blake will grow up hearing their siblings call their Dad by his first name, and I'm sure I'll wonder then if that is weird for them. What an odd family we are.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

We Try So Hard To Be Good, To Lead A Life Worth Living

   The title of this post was taken from the song Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

     I've been writing this Thanksgiving post in my head for a week now. I'm still not sure what to say. I am consumed with gratitude for the many things I've been blessed with. When I think about Thanksgiving it's hard not to remember all the Thanksgivings before. Growing up, we spent every Thanksgiving at my Grandpa Arritt's house. The whole family would come in and the kids would play while the women cooked and the men worked on cars. I miss those days. 
     I think about the early years of my marriage with Mike. How we would have small Thanksgiving dinners of our own before getting together with our families. Looking back at pictures, I have to chuckle because the meals were anything but elaborate. You couldn't have convinced us that there was anything better. We were proud of our little family.  
     I think about the first Thanksgiving after Mike passed away. How difficult it was for me to find joy in anything. Nothing felt the same. I still couldn't imagine my life feeling normal. I can't even recall many memories of that time because my grief was so consuming that I just don't remember much. 
    I think about the life I've created for myself. I have four beautiful children that bring such amazing joy to my life. Yesterday, Sebastian came up to me and gave me a hug and then rested his head on mine. I am blessed to have a fifteen year old that cares so much about his mother. I can't help but smile as I watch Tyler helping and playing with her younger brothers. She has such a kind heart and loves to help whoever needs help from her. Then, there's Mason. Every morning, no matter how busy things are, Mason will look at me with his big blue eyes and say "Snuggle?" He just wants to start his day with a quiet moment with his mom. I often ask him what he's going to do when he can no longer fit on my lap. He just shrugs and says, "That will never happen." As I walked in to get Jaxon up this morning, the biggest smile graced his face. How inspiring it is to know that this amazing little boy finds comfort and joy in seeing his mother. And, of course, there is John. Dear sweet John who came into this family knowing we were broken. He took on this confusing role in our lives and never seemed to question our crazy. I know I repeat this a lot but it means so much to me that I feel it often bares repeating. He doesn't try to change our grieving process. He hasn't tried to take the place of Mike and it doesn't matter that the older kids call him John. There is no push for them to call him dad. One of my favorite movies is Step Mom. One of my favorite lines comes near the end of the movie when the mother is talking to her children's step mom and knowing that she is dying of cancer says...

"But the truth is, she doesn’t have to choose. She can have us both. Love us both. And she will be a better person because of me, and because of you. I have their past. And you can have their future.”

I like to think that, if Mike could, he would say something similar to John. In my heart I know that he would be grateful for this man that works so hard to help raise these kids with all the values that were important to him. Most of all, Mike would be grateful for the fact that John includes him in all he does with the kids. They don't have to choose...Mike had their past and he has their future. We have created this untraditional family that is so full of love and life. I am so beyond grateful to share this time in my life with John.
     I'll end with some pictures that we had taken at my Grandpa's house last week. I have an amazing family which includes those here and those in heaven. So from our crazy family to yours: We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Make memories and cherish your time with those you love. Life is short and we aren't guaranteed any more tomorrows, but what a joy it is to live today.



Mason


All four and a half of my kids :) Only nine weeks and three days, okay give or take a few days :), before we get to officially meet Blake.


Our family


This shot has become a yearly tradition. Someday I'll post all of them together.


Dear heavens she is beautiful!


My little Moose Goose.


He looks just like his dad. I love him so much.


Mason


Tyler


This is how I usually find Sebastian...listening to music while reading a book.


John and Jaxon <3


Tyler


Sebastian, Mason and Tyler


My reasons for all I do.


John and Jasper. Oh my goodness I love this dog. He has played a huge role in helping the kids heal.


My dear sweet Jaxon.

Monday, November 17, 2014

On My Way Home I Remember Only Good Days

    The title of this post was taken from the song On My Way Home by Enya.

      I don't have the biggest house and it does not look like anything that would come out of a magazine. We have a list of projects from when we moved in that we still haven't been able to accomplish because they require time and money we just don't have. Honestly, none of that matters. None of that is important. Ten years from now my kids aren't going to remember what color the bathroom walls were or whether or not the bathroom towels matched. They are going to remember the wrestling matches we had, the board games we played, the movies we watched, and the laughs we shared. So, I try really hard not to stress out to much about all the things I'd like to do that just don't get accomplished. I also think about the home I grew up in. We had the same carpet in most of the house until well after the kids were gone and my parents could finally afford to remodel. My parents just made due with what they had because they were to busy raising four kids and securing their futures. 
     I'm pretty hard on myself though and I often look at all the things left undone at the end of the day and wonder what the heck is wrong with me. Sweeping our hard wood floors doesn't get done every night because after a long day at work I have to fix dinner and then cart kids wherever they need to go that night. I often go to bed overlooking the toys on the floor because picking them up just takes a little more energy than I have. During these moments I can get really angry for not being the supermom that I want to be. Then I have to remember that I have nights like Saturday night, nights that Jaxon is awake for several hours and then refuses to sleep unless I'm holding him. Granted that doesn't happen often, but he has a cold and he would not sleep in his crib. So, I held him from four in the morning until he woke up at eight and of course I didn't sleep. That was just in time for us to get ready for church. There are nights that I have to stay up later than I wanted to because the kids have projects due that didn't get started until the last minute. Two weeks ago Mason had a diorama due for science and so we stayed up late working on that. The following week Tyler had to make a plant cell and label the different parts. We made brownies and then used candy for the different parts. Then there was the night that Sebastian had to finish a powerpoint for English, a powerpoint based on a book that he put off reading until the last minute. Or the other morning when I had thirty minutes left before I walked out the door and Sebastian says "Hey mom, do you know how to cite sources? I need to cite these three sources for school today." so we did. I put those things ahead of the house and most of the time ahead of my own needs.
      The other day I took the kids for haircuts because we had family pictures taken this weekend. At the last minute I decided to get my hair trimmed. I told the lady to just trim the dead ends and we would call it  a night. She looked at the kids and then back to me and said "It's been awhile since your last cut, huh." It had been. I can't even remember the last time I got it trimmed. A year ago? I told her the kids always seem to come first and I can't always afford to do stuff for myself. She laughed and said she understood. She had four kids of her own. I told her usually my hair gets pulled into a ponytail because I'm so busy helping the kids get ready for the day and I just don't have the time to focus on me. 
     I get that I need to do more for myself and maybe even slow down a bit but I look at my kids and their accomplishments and it makes the sacrifices worth it. Sebastian tried out for the barbershop quartet at school and made it. Tyler has all of her scales and music memorized for her all area band tryouts this week. Mason, despite his not so great teachers, is making good grades at school and is ready to start basketball. When I see them excelling at and growing their talents it makes all I do worth it. I did tell John the other day that once all the kids were grown it was going to be really hard on me. I've had children at home since I was barely 20 years old. I don't know what I'll do when they all start their own lives and move away. I panic a little when I think about that. I guess I should start focusing on myself a bit more so I'm not totally lost when that happens.  Until then I'll try not to let the little things bother me and know that despite how insane our house and lives look we have a good life filled with adventures.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

And The Memories I Never Can Escape

     The title of this post was taken from the song Amnesia by 5 Seconds of Summer.

     This morning, as I was getting Jaxon ready for church and then snuggling with him on the couch, I couldn't help but smile and cry at the same time. I love this boy so very much. He has brought so much joy to our lives.


When I have moments like this, I can't help but think about what I lost with this gain. If Mike were still here, I'm assuming we would still be married. I wouldn't have met John. We wouldn't have Jaxon but I'd still have Mike and the older kids would still have their Dad. Likewise, I think about all John went through to end up with our family at this very moment. He went through a tough divorce that completely destroyed him. He had to rebuild himself, reevaluate all of his life choices, pick up what pieces were left, and try to move on. While, at the time, I feel like it's not something he would have chosen, if he had not gone through that, he wouldn't have met us. Which means he may not have had the opportunity to experience being a father. It's still a bit crazy that this is where my life is now. I think, at times, John feels the same way. In these moments, I have to chalk it up to the circle of life and remind myself that I didn't choose this future for myself, but I AM choosing to make it my own. 

     On another note, do you guys use the Timehop app? It shows you day by day your old posts from Facebook; you can even re-share them if you want. I freaking love this app! I like seeing where and what I was doing in my life years ago. This week the following popped up.

I remember taking these pictures outside at our old house. I love these pictures. It's hard to believe they were taken six years ago.


This was from the morning after Sebastian's freak accident. 

I was so happy to bring him home. 


This was from one year ago. 

     It's almost to hard for me to wrap my mind around how much things have changed. I've said it so many times but I'm so different from the person I was before Mike passed away. I'm broken and damaged and all I can do is try to put the pieces back together little by little. I'm grateful to have someone in my life that loves me and all my broken pieces. I know Mike is happy for me...he's happy for all of us. We are anxiously awaiting Blake's arrival at the end of January. I'm still amazed at how lucky I am to call these children my own.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

God Help The Outcasts Or Nobody Will

The title of this post was taken from the song God Help The Outcasts from the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

I haven't posted in awhile. Honestly, I've been crazy overwhelmed these last few months and the thought of sitting down and even typing things out was more than I could handle. This is me with no make up on after a long day that started at 3:00 am.  Just so you get a sense of just how exhausted I've been. I've had a lot of ups and downs and everything in between. Here is a quick catch up on the highlights and then I'm going to try and do better about blogging more often.



 I haven't posted it here but I'm seven months pregnant with a little boy. His name is Blake Edward and I'm due Feb. 1, 2015. We wanted Jaxon to have a sibling close in age and I'm not getting any younger. This will be my last child though. We are very excited and so are the kids. Tyler cried when she found out she would have another brother, but she is warming up to the idea of having four brothers in the house. This pregnancy has been much easier than the last, but I'm still pretty tired. 


In other emotional news at the end of September the engine in the Equinox started to go. This was Mike's car and being that I've already replaced the engine twice I couldn't justify putting in another. We had to trade it in and get something else. This was really hard for me on so many levels. As we sat in the dealership waiting to sign paperwork tears spilled onto my cheeks and slid down my face. John just held me as I survived that difficult moment. The kids were understanding but I know it was hard for them. So we said goodbye to MYNOX.



Then at the end of September my parents left to serve a mission for our church. They will be gone for 18 months. WHAT?! I know crazy. This was something they deeply wanted to do and so we support them in this. That doesn't mean there aren't days that I don't feel selfish and want them home, but I get to talk to them on the phone and we text a lot so that helps. It's just hard not having them right here with us. Here is a picture of them the morning they left.


In other news


Jaxon got his first haircut. He has the most beautiful curls but they were getting out of control.


We kept up the tradition and took the kids to a DC United soccer game.


Tyler finished cheerleading. Their football team won the Superbowl and they did an amazing job.


Sebastian had his first high school choir concert and it was amazing! This concert was Disney themed and my favorite part was when they sang God Help The Outcasts from the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I will admit that I cried each night they sang this part of the song. I'm beyond proud of the man Sebastian is turning into. 



Saturday, August 9, 2014

We Could Leave This Town

The title of this post was taken from the song Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard.

Goodness I'm behind on posting. It's been a busy summer that hasn't felt much like summer. I feel like we have been so busy that I really haven't had a break from anything. Anyway, here are pictures from the last few weeks that I've been meaning to post. 


Tyler made it back from Girls Camp and absolutely loved it. I was a nervous wreck, but I'm so glad she had fun. I should note that she is still singing camp songs and she has taught most of them to Mason. Sebastian is not happy about this.


Jaxon wants to play piano :) 


Two days before we were to leave for vacation Jaxon came down with a cold. He was miserable. We decided that it would be best for John to stay home and care for him while I took the kids to Carowinds. It was very hard for me to leave them and it caused more than a few panic attacks. He is feeling much better now.


John made breakfast for us before we left on vacation. Mason loves to help cook.


We made it to Carowinds and Mason decides to get eaten by a dinosaur. Notice how his brother and sister just watch.


Tyler being a great big sister and riding some of the younger rides with Mason. Don't be fooled Mason rode all of the roller coasters that he was tall enough to ride.


Ummm...Sebastian. I think you might be to tall for this ride :)


We were able to have our names printed on Coke cans. So cool.




You can't see Sebastian and Tyler on this ride but this was one of the roller coasters they rode.


2/3 of our groovy little family. We missed John and Jaxon very much.


I snapped this picture of Tyler one morning as she was getting ready. She is beyond beautiful both inside and out.


Tyler is standing in South Carolina, Mason in North Carolina, with 1/2 of Sebastian in each. They thought it was really neat that the state line ran through the park.


Sebastian and Tyler rode this ride and I could hear Tyler screaming "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!" over and over again.


Tyler was our official map reader for the two days we spent in the park. She takes after her Papaw Arritt :)


Good grief what a cute face! Waking up to this toothy grin every morning is amazing!


We love family time and try to have as much as possible. Last night we rented the movie Divergent and John made pretzels for us. They were so good and we had so much fun just being together! John was also using this to show the kids that he is not as thrifty or as cheap as me. When we were at Carowinds we didn't eat a lot in the park because it is expensive and I'm super cheap. At one point they wanted pretzels, but at almost $6 dollars each I just wasn't willing to spend that much so we all shared one. In my defense we had just eaten lunch and it's not like they were really hungry. John just laughed at me when I told him and made a point of letting the kids know that they each had their own pretzel to eat last night :) good times.