Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dreaming about Grandpa

Last night when I went to bed I was feeling sad because I was missing my Savannah and Sam. Trying to help myself feel better, I felt under my pillow for my Grandpa's Rosary and it wasn't there. Remembering I had just changed my sheets and put it up I got out of bed to retrieve it. As soon as I had it in my hand, a comfortable peace surrounded me allowing me to fall asleep.

A little back story on my Grandpa's Rosary... He passed away in January of 2010. This was particularly hard, because I was going through a divorce and had just moved (December 2009) to Washington. In addition, I had just found out I was pregnant.  Things were quite stressful and I was emotionally and physically drained.  Jerry (my now husband) was kind enough to watch the girls so I could fly to Chicago to meet up with my cousins and attend my Grandpa's funeral in Indiana.  It was a bittersweet weekend.  It was wonderful to see my family and for all of us cousins to be together for the first time in years, but very hard to say good-bye to the one true father figure that had been there for me my whole life.  In addition, it was heartbreaking to see my Grandma so sad.  One magical moment was when all of the cousins surrounded my Grandma in front of my Grandpa's casket and willed our love to heal her pain and hurt.  On Tuesday after the funeral all of us cousins were told to go pick something special from my Grandpa's Office.  I was happy to get his elephant, something he had as long as I could remember.  From there my cousins and I headed back to Chicago so they could drop me at the airport and just as we were leaving my Cousin Christi asked me if I wanted this Rosary.  I said yes and took the black beaded Italian Rosary and held it in my hand the whole way to the airport.  We didn't hit any traffic, which was a miracle and after I made it home safe and sound, my faith in the Rosary began.

Ever since then, I have spent most of my nights with my Grandpa's Rosary under my pillow.  As I progressed in my pregnancy I held the Rosary tighter.  I brought it with me to a late night Doctor visit when I began to have complications in my third month and when my belly grew I would lay it across my stomach so my Grandpa could watch over the new life I was growing.   When Max was born early and was in the NICU, the nurse hung his Rosary in his incubator.  After we brought him home I hung "Grandpa" (as I now called the Rosary) between my bed and Max's bassinet.  

"Grandpa" has gone with me all sorts of places, on Vacation, to visit family and even on my Honeymoon.  I joked with my Grandma and told her I took "Grandpa" on a Jet Ski in the Caribbean Ocean.  My Grandpa always meant so much to me and I feel that he is with me through his Rosary, as silly as that might sound.

One regret I have is that my Grandpa never met Max.  I whispered to him that I was pregnant when I said my good-byes, but that wasn't the same.  I was lucky enough to get to go back and visit my grandma last June and introduce her to Max, but sadly, there was no Grandpa there to laugh at his little quirks and to watch him share food with Grandma.

Grandpa and Savannah Summer 2006
Grandpa and Saxton
This is where my dream I had last night comes in.  My dreams are frequent and unbelievably eclectic, strange and sometimes very intense.  I often wake up and can't quite comprehend what the message was and most times, there is a fine line between a dream and nightmare, but not this morning.  Today when I woke up, I just felt happy.  I can't remember all the details, but one I do remember quite vividly,  was that I was on a path and had somehow gotten separated from Max.  I turned around to look for him and he was quite a ways back walking away from me holding my Grandpa's hand.  At first I tried to get a picture, but couldn't.  Then I just ran to them and scooped up Max in my arms, hugging him tightly.  Then both Max and I kissed my Grandpa's cheek.  It was so real, I could even feel his whiskers.  My sweet Grandpa.  I have dreamed about him several times lately, but this dream was my favorite.  He had finally gotten to meet my Max and I was able to kiss my Grandpa one more time.

I don't know the exact relationship between dreams and heaven, but I believe that sometime last night the two intertwined.  My Grandpa was with me again, loving me, meeting his youngest great-grandson and I was loving him back.

I love you Grandpa to the moon and stars and to heaven and back!    

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Missing my babies.

I remember when savannah was a baby she loved to sleep on my chest, her head pressed against my heart, her little behind in the air.  Sam was the same way, falling asleep as only a baby does.  There isn't a moment that goes by that I don't miss them and tonight is no different.  When I am at the point it physically hurts,  I often recall moments like these. I imagine their small bodies rising and falling with each breath I took, almost like they're floating on the sea, our hearts in perfect sync.

Tonight when Sam and I were saying good-bye, I couldn't hang up.  I wanted to find just the tight words to express how I feel, that If I could wish for one thing right now it would be that they could feel how much I love them and  how I would love to be holding them right now.

As I type this and cry my eyes out, all I can think is that Life is hard.  I've made so many mistakes.  However, no matter the wrong I have done, I think back to those babies sleeping peacefully on my heart and I know that they're the one thing I've done right.

I love you my sweet babies to the moon and stars and back.

Sam asleep on me summer 2000 at my mom's in NM

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reliving Childbirth.

Every year,  before my children's birthdays, I recount the hours (and sometimes the days) leading up to their birth.  I think back to what I was doing, how I felt and what the labor was like.  Today is no different.

Sage, my third born, will be eleven tomorrow.  I know that it is a parental cliche, but I truly can not believe how fast the time has gone.  As I look at Sage's baby pictures I feel a surge of nostalgia, happiness and love.  The tiny little baby that I see in the pictures is now a young lady full of opinions, ideas and gumption.

My pregnancy with Sage was pretty smooth sailing until the end.  The last few weeks were really rough with pre-term labor and even a false alarm trip to the hospital on Febuary 12th (I was four cm for almost two weeks).  I was able to time contractions down to four, five minutes apart for hours in the days before I actually had Sage.  I remember walking the hill by my apartment with my mom trying to bring on full blown labor.

The real deal finally began on on Feburary 21st.  It was a Thursday and I had attended a baby shower at my Ex's work.  When I came home, I felt a little off and I knew this was it.

After several hours of walking and watching Winter Olympics skiing (timing the contractions with the skiers going down the slopes was actually helpful), Sage entered into the world with a bang!  The last part of labor actually happened very fast and one thing I remember in particular, is that the nurse argued with me on wether she was actually coming.  She had just checked me and I was an eight, but with a quick change of position, (I had turned over and was on my knees holding on to the back of the bed for dear life) suddenly, I could feel that it was time.   She said I couldn't be fully dilated and refused to check me.  I have to give my Ex credit for what happened next, he told her I had already given birth to two other children (recently, I might add, my son was only one and my daughter three), and that I was laboring naturally, which meant no drugs, aka I COULD FEEL EVERYTHING!  After encouraging her to listen to me, they called for the Dr., (who by the way didn't have time to put on her glove.)  Moments later, with barely a push, she arrived into the world.  I was even able to help pull her onto my belly.

Sage was beautiful. Perfect.  She had this gorgeous olive skin and these black eyes that just stared into your soul.  There was barely a peep out of her and she nursed right away.  She was born just before two am, so everything was quiet and peaceful and I was left in my dimly lit world to love on my brand new baby girl.

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Eleven years later, I still remember the peace that I felt just after she was born.  I have always thought that if I had one wish for heaven, it would be the ability to relive the birth of my children (and every second after).  Having the ability to re-experience those moments, when the most amazing love-at-first-sight magically takes place, I'd know I was in heaven for sure.  Happy Birthday sweet Sage!  I love you (and all your brothers and sisters) to the moon and stars and back!  

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Naked Clam

Max headed to check out the ocean with his big brother Brayden.

A Clam culture does exist!  I was finally educated on this beloved tradition while visiting Ocean Shores this weekend with my family.  We headed up on Saturday to stay for the night at The Quinault and upon arrival noticed the clamming Woodstock that was taking place on the beach.  There were people everywhere and while they were not naked, after all the shucking that was said and done, the clams were.  I was intrigued.

After we checked in and got all our warm gear on, we headed out to the hysteria that was taking place on the beach.  The clamming craziness was in full swing.  Clammers, all decked out in huge boots, or even waders and rain gear were going at the beach with their clam guns and shovels as if they were digging for gold.  Our curiosity got the best of us and we quickly set out to find answers, first and foremost, what were these clam characters they were going after?  I looked down after the tide had drawn out and there was this strange thing wriggling in the sand.  Quickly I grabbed the strange creature and pulled it out of the soft beach, a clam!  (I later found out that just grabbing them like that was rare, normally you had to get down and dirty and dig for them.) A little while later I attempted to grab another one and tore off it's head, basically I murdered it.  Feeling terrible and not wanting to waste his life, the kids and I looked for some hungry Seagulls to share my find with.  They were more than willing to feast on my victim.

Clamming is not for the faint of heart.  It is a cold, wet and very dirty, sandy venture and all for just fifteen clams.  The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife States:

“The first fifteen razor clams regardless of size or condition must be retained. One daily limit of fresh shellfish may be in possession. Additional shellfish may be possessed in a frozen or processed form. Razor clams may not be returned to the beach. For razor clams, holes do not have to be refilled as is required for hard-shell clam digging.”

This is serious business and I began to notice this was a family affair, even toddlers were booted up and part of the mayhem.  I asked a friendly fellow to explain some of the rules and he informed me that adults have to have a license, but children, as long as they were with a licensed adult, could also procure fifteen clams.   One father noted that this was true, however he made sure his children took part in the process and helped dig and retrieve the clams.  However, what he didn't tell me, and what I soon realized, was how hard the digging actually was.  

Saxton trying her hand
at clamming.
A clam in the sand next to clam gun.
As we headed down the beach we came across a nice woman and her nieces and nephews.  They were really struggling to find and acquire any clams.  They were really working hard and not having much return.  After attempting to help them for a little while, we all caught a break when a good Samaritan stopped and gave us a clam-digging-101 lesson on using a clam gun.  First, you need to locate the bubbling hole which is hopefully holding a clam, then face the incoming tide and prepare to stab the shore with your gun. (Facing the tide is done for many reasons, but the most important reason is so you can see the approaching rush of the sea and not get caught off guard.  This happened to us and we all got soaked. Even me in my boots.)  Next he showed us how you place the gun at an angle and proceed to swivel it back and forth as you quickly (key word) maneuver the gun into the sand. Then you plug the small hole on the underside of the handle and pull the gun (now suctioned) out of the sand.  (Truthfully, this is back breaking, muscle wrenching work.)  After you pull the gun out, you have to move with super sonic speed in order to sift through the sand for the clam and if it's not there, plunge into the icy cold hole with your hand and fish for your prize.  After I got the hang of it, all of the kids wanted to try and we actually found several for our new found friends.  At one point I looked around at all the smiling faces and was happy that each and everyone of us was enjoying themselves.   

Our new found friends.  
Not long before we found our new hobby our son Brayden wasn't quite enjoying our venture out onto the beach.  However, I noticed that after a little while his face turned from sulking to smiling.  He soon became an expert clam grabber and attacked the wet holes with a passion and helped to take more than one into custody.  Clamming was no longer an unknown culture, but now a beloved experience.  As I talked with our sitter Kate who we brought with us, she recalled her own special childhood memories with her family.  We laughed when she came to the revelation that her parents most likely brought her along in order to claim her fifteen clams.  Growing up in Indiana, the only thing I shucked was corn, and I was as grateful for this new experience as my children were.

As we watched the sun set on our day and I watched my girls enjoy the ocean and the Sunset, I was very grateful for the gifts that the sea bestows on us.  Some our tangible, and some are carried with us in our hearts.  My family and I didn't know the lessons we would learn when we headed to the shore Saturday, and I am glad.  Sometimes the best things are life's little naked surprises.        

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

2:44 am love letter and thank you note

Do you ever wish you could teleport yourself? I do, all the time. I have all these beautiful people spread across the country who I just would like to give a hug. I want to thank these people for walking some of the darkest paths in my life with me. Some held the light for minutes and some for months or even years. I love these wonderful people. You gave me friendship, you gave me hope, you gave me all kinds of love, even the tough kind. Some gave me a place to sleep when I was at my lowest point and needed refuge. Others traveled great distances to be by my side when I needed them. Thank you. Hopefully over time I can thank you more fully than I am right now... Just know I love you and you will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Let's help Leo! The goal to help a little boy with brain cancer live life to the fullest.

Picture courtesy of Leo's Facebook Page.
Life is precious.  As parents we do our best to make our little ones happy and to allow for their childhood to be filled with wonderful memories, smiles and laughter.  This is the goal of Auction for Leo on Facebook, to provide opportunities for Leo and his family to enjoy life to the fullest!

Here is Leo's Story courtesy of information on his Facebook Page:

Leo is a nine year old boy who lives in Belfair, Washington.  Four and half years ago Leo was diagnosed with Glioblasoma, a type of Brain Tumor.  He has had to overcome three surgeries, as well as countless rounds of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in hopes to destroy the tumor that is wrapped around his brain.  Sadly, his last MRI (done over Thanksgiving weekend) showed that the tumor had not shrunk as they had hoped, instead, the Doctors found it had doubled in size.  As a result of this heartbreaking diagnosis, Leo's medical team have informed the family that they have done all that they can and have given him a prognosis of six good months to live.

Through his Facebook Page, Leo has a few wishes that we would like to help make true.  One is to meet his favorite singer, Katy Perry.  Another, to visit Disneyland, is one he was able to realize thanks to donors.  Unfortunately, another huge burden is the mounting medical bills, especially since his Medicaid was canceled.  What is happening to Marna and Jon, Leo's mom and dad, is any parents worse nightmare.  They deserve the opportunity to enjoy every second with their son and not have to worry about finances.

The group, Auction For Leo on Facebook is an awesome resource for fundraising.  Please join the group and check out all the phenomenal items up for Auction or you can make a cash donation to: on Paypal or

Marna Palmer
P.O. Box 3082
Belfair, WA 98528

Leo also has a bank account at any Key Bank under Leo Palmer Donation

Please take some time to check out Leo's page and to become a part of his Facebook Family.  Together we can make a difference in not only his life, but the life of his loved ones.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Faces of a family.

On New Year's Eve 2012, my 24 year old sister got married.  The experience of watching my "baby" sister go through the rite of passage of becoming an adult was a bit difficult for me.  After all,  I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday.  I believed she was going to bring good luck to our family because I saw a full rainbow the afternoon of her “birth” day.  While she didn’t bring luck where my parents were concerned,  she brought smiles and love into my life.  I view that as lucky.  Growing up in our family was different than most of my friends.  We didn't just go through life together, we survived life together.  My little sisters and my older brother were my life and at times I was not just their sister, but their guardian, their parent and their best friend, as they were mine.    
Proud Parents
As I watched my little 'leen prepare for her wedding, there was that moment when I realized that this was actually happening, my little Colleen was going to be someone's wife.  I wanted to go all “big sister” on her and tell her a thing or two about growing up, maturity and marriage, however I quickly stopped myself (for the most part.)  When I was 24 I had two babies and was in a mess of a marriage, what did I know?!  Maybe now I could speak from experience, from the position of being older and wiser, but I realized that she had to live through her own “24” and figure things out.  I could drop a few hints, offer up some sisterly advice on love and commitment and I did, but I needed to cap my guidance before it bubbled over and she would no longer be willing to grasp any of it. 

My sisters, my friends.
Family is funny.  I look around at mine and wonder if I met these people out in the world, if we weren’t related, would we be friends?    Honestly, maybe so, maybe not.  We are so different, on different paths that literally lead to far away places.  Yet, no matter what, we eventually come back together and when we do, it’s not always perfect, but it’s wonderful.  It’s love.  There is always that first embrace, when you are almost squeezing the life out of the other person, or maybe you are trying to squeeze all your love back in, a metaphorical fill-up.  Those moments are one of my favorites, the feelings are so raw and real, the love palpable.  I am home. 

A big kiss from my little sister.
Love full circle!
We had a lot of fun during the week of my sister’s wedding, but like all family gatherings, especially during stressful times, there were some bumps.  But the beautiful thing about my family is that we get over it, we find some understanding, hand out some forgiveness and move on.  These wonderful people may be difficult at times, but ultimately they are my family and they’re encrypted in my heart forever.  Hey, I am not perfect, I have made and I am sure will continue to make mistakes in my life.  My path has been bumpy and rough at times and through all that my family has been there for me.  They might not always agree, but they don’t judge.  They love me unconditionally, as I do them.  

My loves

My son and daughter dancing!
If I could teach my children anything, it would be the importance of family.  Throughout their lives they will need that one person who will pick them up, dust them off and right their spirit again, they will need the unconditional love of family.   

I love you my sweet family, to the moon and stars, moon and stars and back!