December 30, 2008

Live Nativity

Each Christmas or Christmas Eve, we read the story of Christ's birth from Luke 2 and dress up like the characters and act out the scenes.

I sent Jovana a photo of our 2007 production before she came to live with us. It turns out I wasn't very clear in my explanation of what was happening in the photos. She thought that we dressed up for some sort of a religious naming ceremony for Evan (he was baby Jesus last year). Well, Jovana knows what it's all about this year ... she played the part of the angel. The boys were shepherds, Jocelyn played baby Jesus, and Tymon and I were Joseph and Mary. My dad read the story and my brother played the guitar and led the singing of Christmas carols. I like singing the songs as they relate to the story. It puts so much more meaning in them.

All Aboard!

Nana and Bapa gave the boys a train for Christmas. Each car has one of their names on it and each has something special for that child. There is a little "Evan" doll in Evan's box car. What's funny is that Nana has included two extra cars. We wanted to have two that explains one of the extra ones. After Evan died, we decided that having another boy would be fun, too. So, we'll see who the Lord blesses our family with next.

A gift that got my tears going was a car blanket that Evan gave the boys. Actually, my mom made it. It matches the one that we wrapped Evan in when he went to the hospital. It was with him when he went with the medical examiner and we just kept it with him when we buried him. When the boys unwrapped the blanket they were very excited. Graeden exclaimed, "Evan brought our blanket back!" They were a little put out that we buried the original, since it wasn't Evan's to begin with. We just happened to pick it up as we were leaving to go to the hospital that morning. I was touched that my mom would find the same material that she'd used to make the original. Tymon was very confused when he saw the gift. I'm not sure that he knew/understood that my mom had made both blankets. It was very startling to say the least.

I have also been working on a memory book for Evan for the past few months. I finally got it published and even though I paid for 2 day shipping for it to arrive the Friday before Christmas, I had to go to the Fed Ex sorting facility to pick it up on Christmas Eve...unless I wanted to wait another week to get it. Any of you who would like to see the book, go to MyPublisher and enter in the book id: 927362 and password: 2479335. It's a beautiful book with amazing pages. I found them through's website and am very pleased with the final product. On Christmas my family took turns looking and reading and the boys were more interested in some of their other presents anyway. But, we will read it together soon. 927362

December 28, 2008

Santa's Visit

Santa (aka our home teacher) came to visit the boys a couple of days before Christmas. He had a rough time with all of our snow and thought we should be shoveling the road. ha ha ha. Incidentally, a snow plow came through today so now we aren't forced into following the same tracks that someone made early on. The tracks had about a foot of snow on either side of them so at any point if you tried to get out of them, it forced you back in. The build up wasn't just powder anymore but rain and ice made it frozen slush. I may just be able to get my car out tomorrow. Yeah!

December 23, 2008

Frosty's Demise

My husband and children made me a snowman last night. They're so creative. I love it.

December 21, 2008

Cancelations Galore

So, not only has UPS, FedEx, and Costco Home canceled some delivery dates with us due to the snow, but church was also canceled today. It has been snowing since yesterday afternoon, all day today and probably will snow more tomorrow. I'm pretty sure I've never seen anything like this in the Seattle area before. Of course, I saw it frequently while living in Russia, but here?! Nah, snow is nice for a day or two and then it's gone. This is really weird.

The boys have been inside all day and took it upon themselves to find their own entertainment. Tymon found Jovana's sunglasses outside her room door on the floor and broken. When asked who was in Jovana's room, each boy responded that one of his brothers was in there. They tried to pin it on Jocelyn...but she can't even roll over, let alone crawl up the stairs, get into Jovana's room and find the glasses. Jovana doesn't care about the glasses, which is nice. It provided an excellent learning experience for the boys. Tymon taught them (I hope it sunk in) that we respect the belongings of others and they must stay out of Jovana's room. He also had them all share in the disciplining for the act, whether they did it or not since they all pinned it on someone else. I'm not sure how to teach the honesty here, but each boy gave Jovana a note expressing his apologies.

Tonight, we had a little Sunday School lesson. We read from Luke chapter 2 about the birth of Jesus. I love the Little People's nativity set. They were our visual aids and Tymon put on a show with them as I read from the Bible. We weren't so familiar with the actual scriptures, though. I thought the whole story was in Luke...but found that the wise men are actually talked about in Matthew 2. I think the boys really liked it, though. We should probably just find the entire story from start to finish with the quotes from the different accounts in whatever order they come in.

If you look closely at the people, you may find that Mary is an angel here...since the boys have temporarily misplaced her, we used the angel from our shepherd expansion pack to represent Mary. I think it's a nice touch. Mary was pretty much a living angel. They've also lost one of the wise men. We've got the one bearing a chest of gold...and since none of us really know what frankincense or myrrh is we thought we'd just combine those two gifts into one wise man. And in case you thought that was my camera's flash on the window...nope...that's the new star that appeared in the sky when Jesus was born. It's extra bright tonight.

Wrapping Party

The weather yesterday was okay, so we went out after staying home all day Friday. There was a Santa Breakfast at church. I'm not sure what happened to Santa...he didn't show up. I think he may have heard the party was canceled due to inclement of weather. So, one guy was there who was in a red shirt and had a Santa hat on and he became "Santa's Helper". It was great and the kids didn't care if he was all decked out or not...or notice that he had jeans on. Here's Jett:

Tymon didn't really have so many plates of waffles...but it kind of looks like it.

I just love living in a winter wonderland. Here is one of the views from the highway.

Yesterday evening, I fell asleep on the couch when the family was watching a movie and woke up after the kids were already put to bed. Tymon and Jovana had brought all of the presents and wrapping paper from our day on the town into the dining room and set up a station to get it all wrapped. Tymon doesn't actually wrap anything. He puts the name tags on each gift. There was one gift I refused to wrap, however and Jovana wasn't going to do it, either. I thought we could just bring it out and put it by the couch on Christmas morning. Tymon would hear nothing of that so I insisted that he wrap it WITHOUT wasting a couple rolls of paper. Here's what he ended up with:

You get bonus points if you can guess what it is.

I just love our cozy new family room. We finally have a fireplace for stockings and a port hole for Santa to arrive in. It has a great fire and we just flip a switch when we want it on. It's also great to see the boys and Jovana's excitement for Christmas and stockings. It's all so new for all of them. Jovana's stocking has the penguin on it and it sings Walking in a Winter Wonderland when you squeeze its hand. I just love the novelty of everything for her. I don't think I've ever seen a teenager display such pleasure for the sights and sounds of the holidays. We sort of lose that as we see and do the same things year after year. Ah, the beauty of a cross-cultural exchange!

Sweet Dreams

For the first time since Evan died, I dreamed of him. I've actually only started dreaming again (that I'm aware of) in the past couple of weeks. I woke up yesterday in a snuggly warm mood. I just wanted to lay in bed. I told Tymon about the dream right away so it would stay with me instead of drifting to the back of my mind and lost. Now I want to record it so that I can read it again and not have to rely on my memory. One of my college institute instructors taught us that the Lord blesses those who write down their experiences with greater experiences. So, if you get inspiration and take if for what it's worth and move forward with your life then you'll always know that the Lord helped you with the inspiration. BUT if you write down that inspiration as you move forward then the Lord will bless you with even more inspiration. Maybe I can get another dream of Evan since I'm writing this one down.

The dream: I was watching a college scene take place. Students were crowded in the halls of a building going to their next class. Some going up stairs and some coming down. I found myself up the stairs.

Dreams are always so weird, so I'm not sure how this part came in, but it did. After we were holding Evan that last time in the ER and the coroner came in, we left. Then there was another doctor who wanted to try out an experimental procedure on Evan. Apparently, she did it and we somehow found out until later that it worked. Evan was alive!

At some point, I was back at the school and I realized that it was not only for older students but also for younger ones. I wanted to see if Evan was in school so I was hanging out in one corridor hoping to get to see him (never mind that he would have only been 18 months old right now). Somehow I knew that Evan had been gone from us for 2 months (actually 3 months). There was a teacher's helper with a young class coming up the stairs and I stopped her. (The girl is one that was in my sister's graduating class in high school. I can't remember her name right off, but I've seen her around town a few times over the last few years and she has a son in kindergarten this year at Graeden's school.) So, I asked her if there was an Evan in the class. She wasn't sure but thought there might be. A few kids walked by and then another teacher and a couple more kids. Then there was Evan. His body had aged a couple or three years. But he was the same age. (During the dream I knew that it was him...only he was bigger. I told myself that the doctor must have been feeding him some super powered formula that has the right combination of all the right nutrients that can create such growth.) When we saw each other we hugged. And hugged. And hugged. He knew me, even though it'd been a couple of months and he was living with some sort of foster family. I'm not sure why the doctor didn't tell us that the procedure worked and Evan was alive as we would have definitely wanted Evan back. But all I could think of in my mind was that I was going to take him home with us...but also knowing that you just can't take kids, even if they are yours. So, in my mind I was trying to work out how to get him back. The teacher was telling me that she was going to the circus that evening with the foster family and would run it by them that I had Evan. I just wanted to get Evan home as quickly as possible and get our family photo taken. Sometime in here, I woke up.

One of my pains is that I don't have a family photo that includes all of my children. I know that each time we have a new photo taken I will feel that pain. I saw one blogger's family photo that included one of the kids holding a photo of their deceased sibling. Other families wear a charm/pin/necklace/etc. that symbolizes the missing family member. We haven't decided on any Evan photos/symbols and in fact the family photo we had taken last month doesn't do anything to "remember" him. But I still think about it.

I want traditions that remember Evan. Now would be the time to discuss those with Tymon as we are quickly approaching our first Christmas since Evan died. If you have any ideas on traditions we can build that help us to remember Evan, please post them. Thank you.

This photo is one that I found recently on the internal memory of my camera that I got last year for Christmas. Such a present! I love how Evan liked eating the wrapping paper far more than whatever his gifts were. This year, I feel a little guilty that I don't miss him taking all of the ornaments off the tree and unwrapping presents and making messes in general.

December 18, 2008

Love Note

Tymon led the boys in carving out a love note for me this morning. We've got more snow than we've had in years...and years. I saw Elliott out there (when I just thought they were tromping around) and the snow was up to his knees and a little higher. Graeden and Elliott were pretty good staying on the path that Tymon made, but occasionally they got off. So, Tymon fixed one error by making an arrow run through the heart.

Graeden hasn't had school all week and the next two weeks are off for Christmas break. Jovana went to school on Monday and Tuesday but it's been canceled for the rest of the week. We've got a lot of our driving instructors taking time off for Christmas. I'm glad. It means not as many appointments need to be rescheduled...but there are all those that do need to be rescheduled that create havoc.

I ventured out today to go to the dentist. I could have canceled, but I wanted to finish the work I needed done before the end of the year and there weren't any more appts left before then. And now I have a beautiful new porcelain crown where I used to have a cracked amalgam filling.

We used to live in town where it was hard to comprehend why people don't drive when it snows. Well, now we live on a hill and have several corners and inclines to handle if we drive in or out of our development and I understand completely. My first downhill slope today had a guy walking around outside near the bottom of it. I'm not even sure why he was out near the road but he stayed off to the side. That was fine until I started skidding toward him. I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYONE RUN SO FAST IN THE SNOW! He really had to work to get out of my way. I think I over-corrected a bit (all the while telling myself to do gentle movements, don't lock the brakes, aim at my target down the road) and so I then started sliding toward him and a ditch on the other side of the road. I narrowly missed the ditch and headed right for a parked car. I am pretty sure that I only missed the car (and guy and ditch) because we had family prayer before I left in the morning and asked Heavenly Father to keep me safe. There's just no other way I avoided hitting anything. I'm sure there were several others on the road after me this morning wondering why I was going so slow. Well, they obviously weren't with me when I nearly had 3 disasters.

Incidentally, on the way home this afternoon, that parked car was gone. Who parks their car on the side of a steep hill in the snow? We actually watched a jeep slide all over the hill on Sunday. It's a good thing there was never any oncoming traffic.

December 15, 2008

Uh, yeah, so that's the real Tom Cruise

So there were two things Jovana told me about this evening when she got home from spending five days in New York City. First, she met Tom Cruise this morning. Here he is giving us his profile. Jovana has a Serbian friend that tells her she has this ugly nose...that it's the same one Tom Cruise has. Well, what do you think? Same or not? I bet this girl never thought Jovana would manage to get a side by side comparison shot. And I think Jovana's nose is A LOT better than Tom's. Actually, she looks like the movie star here. I think Tom's a little wrinkly...maybe too much botox gone bad?

Or maybe he just looks better at a distance. Notice that's Jovana hugging Tom.

Jovana is still glowing after this encounter. It's great to see her enthusiasm. The second thing Jovana shared with us during our family night was that she saw the Manhattan Temple.

December 14, 2008

First Snow

It snowed a little yesterday but melted pretty quickly...then last night and this morning a few inches fell at our house. The boys got up pretty early for a Sunday morning to go and play in it. We still have a mud pit out back...I mean an unfinished back yard, so I instructed them to stay on the deck. It worked for the most part, but the big boys did venture down the back steps toward the end of their play time.

We went to church today and left quite a bit earlier than usual. It was nice to see several of the families in our development sledding down the road in our cul-de-sac. I just love seeing families play together. We barely made it up the hill to get to the main road. We got stuck at the top...then we decided to try something we'd NEVER done before...we tested out the 4 wheel drive feature of the truck. And ta da! It worked! Even with leaving early, we got to church 3 minutes late. Not bad. We saw plenty of skidding along the way but we were safe. Tymon's planning on taking the truck to work tomorrow. That means I'll be home all day with the boys. Graeden's school is we'll have to think of something fun to do.

Reflection: Babies everywhere

Has your loss affected your relationship with friends who have children the same age as Evan? How have you acted around them? How have they responded to your loss?

I have a cousin and a friend who have sons just two weeks younger than Evan. They were all born in Evergreen Hospital on the same day, the same hospital that Evan died in. This cousin and friend are two of the most wonderful ladies in the world. I don't know how much our loss has affected them, except I know that they were devestated with us. From my perspective, our friendship is constant and sure. I act normal around them...not the old normal, but the new normal. I talk about Evan if I feel like it. I don't if I don't. My friend has twins. She and her family came to my surprise party last week and when they were leaving, I just had to hug the one she was holding. And she happily let me. I look at these boys and see Evan in them. He's about that size and doing about the same things.

I am finding that I have more and more in common with so many women. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to take home a lady from a church luncheon that we both attended. She's maybe 75 or 80 and told me that she had a son who died in a car accident at the age of 25. I asked her if she still thought about him everyday and she told me that loosing a child is something that you never get over. The pain lessens, but it never leaves completely. Wow...this is from a woman I have known my entire life. Known but not known. As I look outside myself and my grief, I see so many others who are grieving. There are 5 families that live in our cul-de-sac (including us). Three of the five have lost children. How many other women and families are out there that are silently grieving? Silently breaking down at night when the day is done...

My dear Evan, I love you. I miss you. I miss putting on your shoes, pulling you off the table, and your great big hugs. I miss your laughter and the spirit of peace you brought to our home.

I am happy for my friends that have children Evan's age. They have loved me, hugged me and cried with me. I am not bitter toward them. I want to hear their stories. I imagine my Evan doing some of the same things. I am grateful for the love and kindness from those around me who have shared very personal experiences with me about their own losses and how those have affected their lives. Grief is a powerful force that can build strength if you allow it. Evan will always have a presence in our lives. He motivates me to become a better person.

December 12, 2008

Poll Results

Who does Jocelyn most resemble?

67% of the 31 of you who responded think she looks like me. I did the look alike meter on us three different times. Once she looked more like Tymon by 3%. Once she looked equally like both of us and then this last time, she looked more like me. I just love the science of this! ha ha ha. And that it changes depending on which photos you use.

December 9, 2008

Getting out of the Doghouse...

Tymon showed me this video a few days ago. Amazingly enough, it's a commercial. But even more fabulous is that I asked for an external hard drive for my computer for my birthday. My computer runs so slowly that I just want to take my photos off of it and then erase the entire thing and then start from scratch again and see if I can get some speed back. Well, for my birthday, my loving husband got me one with a huge memory that will serve all my needs and a card that reads, "Bridgy Bridge, thanks for the memories. Tymon" And, I love it...maybe I'm not like some other women...but watch the video. It's fabulous.

December 7, 2008

Surprise Party!

On Tuesday I will celebrate my 33 years on this earth by going to my yoga class. I started yoga 3 weeks after Jocelyn was born and I LOVE it! I love the stretching and finding out how strong my body is. I miss my aerobics class, but I don't miss the 5:30am start time. It's just so hard to get out of bed in the morning, especially since Jocelyn has been up late every night lately crying about being tired. I'm not sure how to teach her that she just needs to go to sleep and the problem would be solved.

Because I will be with my yoga class on my birthday and because I mentioned to my husband that I wanted a surprise party last winter at a surprise party a friend threw for her husband, Tymon and Jovana arranged a party for me last night. I HAD NO IDEA and was totally floored. While I have been to many surprise parties, I've never actually been to one for me. I think that it's so cool when those you love plot behind your back to give you a party. Tymon and Jovana tried to get my phone on several occasions so that they could get some of my numbers. Apparently, I'd had the capability of seeing emails on Tymon's computer that he left up accidentally but I didn't ever notice. Conversations took place between friends in front of me but I was totally unaware.

Last night, we were just going to go to dinner for my birthday but since I had to return something at Lowe's, we stopped there first. Then we went to another store to pick up a frame for a photo of Evan I'd enlarged earlier this week for a memorial service at Evergreen Hospital. We weren't even really hungry but had a bite to eat at Canyon's before coming home. Our street and cul-de-sac were packed with cars. I couldn't believe how many there were. It was obvious someone was having a huge party. I checked each of our neighbors homes as we drove in. Some didn't have lights on and others didn't look like anyone was around. As we were pulling into the driveway, Tymon suggested that perhaps someone on the main road was having a party and we didn't think to check out those houses before passing. ha ha ha. He was so sly. It took a moment for me to register what was happening when I came in the house. The house was dark and then someone flipped on the lights. There were a ton of people yelling "surprise!" and then singing happy birthday to me.

So, even though 10 months ago I had mentioned that I wanted a surprise party, I didn't think anything about it after I'd said it. Poor Tymon has been thinking that I knew what he was planning because of that comment. Nah, I forgot I said that 5 minutes after I said it.

What I never expected were the thoughts/feelings that accompanied this party. I'm so thankful for a loving husband who wanted to do something nice for me and REMEMBERED a comment I'd made last February. I'm grateful for my family and friends who helped make the surprise complete. What was really weird was feeling like a guest in my own home. Since I didn't plan the party, I didn't feel comfortable doing the tasks I normally do at a party at my house. I wasn't the hostess. It was so different for me. I was also overwhelmed at the number of people there. My family was there and some of my cousins and an uncle. Tymon's family was there. We had some friends from church and some of my friends from college there as well as some of my brother's friends. I felt like I needed to talk to everyone but there were too many. There were different friends from different parts of my life combining. I didn't know how to act. It was just so weird for me. Graeden wanted me to open my presents and I didn't feel like I could. My boys just wanted to hug me and so that's what we did. Jocelyn was pretty hungry when we got home...but I didn't feed her for 45 minutes and she was passed around and kept calm. I did slip away after a bit to feed her...and that brought feelings of isolating myself at my own party. Once again, it was so weird for me.

I am grateful for the surprise party experience! Thank you Tymon and Jovana and Brett and Amber and all those that helped "keep the secret" and initiated our home with its first party.

December 5, 2008

More Tears

It is difficult to measure growth in the midst of a trial but I can now see some in me. I used to think about death as a part of the life cycle. If you have a faith then you lean on that for understanding. All of my grandparents and one of my uncles have passed on. I cried for all of them. I've known several others that have died and also shed tears for them and their families. But until Evan died, no death touched me so deeply that my whole person was consumed with it. I ache for Evan, to hold him, to pull him off the table, and put on his shoes as he waits on the bottom stair ready to go.

On Thanksgiving, a friend in our ward was in a collision and had some serious injuries and head trauma. She passed away Tuesday evening leaving behind her husband of 14 years and 5 children. So, I cry for Heather and I cry harder for Eric as I think of the decisions he is making now. There are so many details to take care of...details that you don't even want to think about...but details that are so important. I think back to the first days after Evan died. The lack of sleep at night and the days filled with running around to the funeral home, the cemetary, phone calls to the morgue, detectives coming to our home investigating the death. I am SO GRATEFUL that I had Tymon to lean on and to share the pain and burden of arrangments. I am so grateful for the family and friends that stood by our family and helped us in gentle ways to just live. I'm thankful for a Bishop and Relief Society President who visited with us and took painful tasks away from us and delegated them out to others who wanted to help us.

My tears for Eric are for the loss of his companion and friend. I know that he has a lot of family in the area that have come to his side and church leaders are organizing the rest of us to bring in meals and take care of some basic necessities, but he has lost his partner. And Heather's death more than any other besides Evan has brought on deep emotions to me this past week. I can feel my compassion expanding. It's not the same as when Evan died. I'm still living and concerned with normal every day things. I'm not surprised (like in the first days after Evan died) to read the status updates of my facebook friends to find that they're still enjoying life despite my loss. So, this time the mourning is different. We're outsiders looking in on great sorrow.

December 4, 2008

Poll Photos


I thought you might like these photos for comparing faces. This one of me was taken 3 weeks before Jocelyn was born (on Labor day...I was really hoping for Jocelyn's labor that day...but I'm glad she waited). And this was one of our family home evening activities.

Cutie Cute Cute Stuff

Graeden and I took these shots today of Jocelyn. She's getting cuter every day...and a little fussier. But that's easily stopped if you feed her or hold her. I'm so excited that we caught her with this little smile on her face.

December 2, 2008

"Come what may, and love it."

I just read the press release that Elder Wirthlin died last night. I got sentimental knowing that his family is mourning. I also clicked on the link to his last conference address and found some amazing helps for me right now. The italics below reflect his words.

How can we love days that are filled with sorrow? We can’t—at least not in the moment. I don’t think my mother was suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I don’t think she was suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness.

I think I'm MORE sensitive to others' grief since the passing of my little one. And I'm sure, over time, I will see growth in other areas of my life. Right now, I'm too entrenched in the grief to see much else.

Learn to Laugh

I'm at the point now where I can laugh at Elder Wirthlin's examples. I hope to be able to laugh more at daily happenings that go wrong instead of feeling angry or hurt or slighted.

Seek for the Eternal

I know that some people feel the the spirits of their loved ones after death. I know that I've felt my grandfather's presence before. Unfortunately, I have not felt my Evan close to me. It took some time for me to accept his mission on the other side. I wanted to think of him as a 15 month old baby that someone needed to tend to rather than a full grown spirit with a work to do in the world of spirits. I believe as I come closer to the Lord and accept the passing of my son, I will feel his presence and better understand the Plan of Salvation.

The Principle of Compensation

I can only imagine the tears of joy that will come when we get to see Evan again.

Trust in the Father and the Son

It's hard to accept the Father's plan when I just want to see Evan again. The haze of grief is getting thinner...but it's only been 2 and a half months since Evan's accident and death. It's amazing to me that I still have fits of denial that this really happened.

The way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.

I'm working on my reactions...

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