Sunday, December 11, 2011

Intermission Entertainment

We went to see Sesame Street Live at the Civic Center yesterday. 

Gianna was thrilled, to say the least.  The show was cute, but CLEARLY for little ones (unlike the Disney Princess Fairytale show last month that had me wanting a meet and greet with the characters!)
(This is Gianna when we got out of the car at the Civic Center and I told her why we were there.)


The BIG highlight was that we had front row seats and the characters came right up to us and Gianna managed to charm her way right into the arms of Super Grover, Abby Cadaby, Zoe, Tely, Ernie and a few other Sesame Street superstars.  It really was SO exciting.  She kept squealing, "I can't believe this!" and "Hey, can I go on the big stage with them?" 

Well, who needs a big stage when you have a few square feet in the Civic Center with some background music and an already assembled audience?  Not my little girl!  I couldn't stop laughing at her performance.  Want a taste of it?  I thought you might.  :)

Friday, December 09, 2011

Princess Play

My sister-in-law surprised us with a package a few weeks ago containing the ultimate dress-up princess dress.  It's a white Cinderella dress that looks like a miniature wedding gown.  So precious.





 Pretend play. Princesses. Girly girls.
No more toddlers....we've got little girls on our hands.
Oh what fun.










Thursday, December 01, 2011

A Widow's Peek....

Widow.  Ugh.  And I thought the term 'housewife' bothered me!  Oh how I would love to trade in my widow card for my housewife card.  And then just throw 'single-mother' title into the mix and you have a whole bag of fun.

I'm 3 1/2 months into this world of widow-hood and it's as brutal as you might expect.  Lately, the waves of grief crash with unrelenting force and there is little time between them. I can feel them coming on, almost like an emotional contraction, and as I take my cleansing breath I wonder how many hours or days the next set of waves will last before I might breathe again.

Gianna says it best when she declares, "I just wish Daddy will stop dying."  That's what it feels like to me too:  he keeps dying - and our hearts keep breaking - over and over and over.  It's exhausting. It's gripping. It's hollowing.  It's isolating.  It's lonely. It's humbling. It's excruciating.  It's the most vulnerable I've ever been.  It's my existence right now....and I won't lie --- I don't like any of it.

I miss him.  My soul aches. I have no words to describe the pain of longing and missing and wanting things to be different.  Sometimes I feel like a spoiled child yelling, "I don't want to do this anymore."  I have fantasies about God coming to me and saying, "Oh Maria, what a trial you've had to endure.  I'm so proud of you and how you have dealt with this, so as I reward I will be making all things as they should be. Go and get ready because I will be sending Iain back to you and Gianna in his happiest and healthiest state."

Oh, don't worry ~ I'm not delusional. Trust me when I tell you that I am very grounded in my reality these days.  I just don't happen to like my reality ~ AT ALL.  I know I'm not the only one.  I often think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” Luke: 22:42 I'm certainly not in the position to assume what Jesus' actual feelings were, but he wasn't just fully divine - he was also fully human, and in believing in his humanity, I would have to guess that he wasn't so excited about his cross either. His faithfulness is what we remember ("not my will but yours be done,") but his faithfulness doesn't erase his humanity ("take this cup away from me").  That's where I am....feeling the reality and depths of my humanity.

I think people assume because I am a woman of faith, that these kind of trials and crosses are somehow easier.  People have said to me, "You'll be fine. You have such strong faith. If anyone can handle this, you can."  I know they mean well, but it's almost offensive to me and it really invalidates my very human, very painful grief.  Oh, I can write a book on what helps and what doesn't in dealing with someone who is grieving - maybe not a book - but a post is in the works, for sure. 

I am not writing this glimpse into my grief to gain sympathy or pity.  (Trust me, I get looks of pity all the time - and it's not so fun.)  I just think people see me (and Gianna) in public fairly often - doing what we do - living our lives with whatever semblance of normalcy we can - and there is an assumption that life isn't so hard. People often tell me that are so impressed that we are doing so well. Sometimes I correct them, "Oh, I'm not okay - but I am managing." I feel like an absolute WRECK 90% of the time.

I'm learning how much energy it takes to do 'normal' things - especially in public.  Going to birthday parties, weddings (brutal), and church (longest hour of my week) are not always miserable - but it takes every bit of energy to survive them.  Even just to grocery shop it takes me isles and isles of Hail Mary's just to make it to the car without losing it.  And just because you don't see me cry or Gianna fall apart - doesn't me we don't.

There are SO many people who are struggling with all sorts of pain and grief which I'm sure is amplified during this holiday season - you know, the happiest time of the year.  I wonder how many people in our lives are begging to be reached out to and are suffering in silence as the rest of us complain about too many party invitations, how we'll manage to get our shopping done and how we don't have anything to wear for Christmas day.  Yeah, it's all small potatoes, folks. Even if you pick an angel off a tree at the mall to buy presents for, even if you donate a Christmas basket at church - this just a reminder to actually  connect to with real people - in person (facebook and texting is a nice 2nd best - but isn't the same as a phonecall or visit). 

* * * * * * * * * * *
Before I close, I do want to say that there are times of joy and fun and normalcy in my daily life.  I know I seem morose - and I am, I guess - but I am not hopeless or without faith - just walking through the fire of this journey of grief.  The very best thing that people tell me is that they are praying for us - all of us - Iain too. Thank you to all those people who have continued to lift us in prayer.  May you be richly blessed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jelly Book vol. 8

I've been keeping a Jelly Book for three years now, documenting all the things Gianna says and does that I don't want to forget.  Here's my Fall 2011 entry:
* * * * * * * * * * *
I know lots of folks like the kids show Yo Gabba Gabba.  I, however, am not one of them. The silliness is excessive and it just annoys me to no end.  (Not to mention the fact that the one episode she saw was about the tooth fairy which caused to be terrified that 1) her teeth were going to one day fall out and 2) someone was going to come into her room at night while she was sleeping and reach under her pillow and take them.  Lovely.

Anyhoo, one day a preview of the show came on Nick Jr. and she says to me,
"Okay Mommy, I know you do not care for Yo Gabba Gabba, but I DO care for Yo Gabba Gabba. Do you think we can work something out?"

She says she wants to a doctor but, we just may have an attorney on our hands, folks.

* * * * * * * * * *
We got Gianna got some cute little brown expensive Mary Janes for really cheap. This is the conversation that happened after she put them on.

G:  Mommy these shoes don't fit.
Me:  Are they too big or too small.
G:  Ummm...too small.
Me:  (checking the fit)  Gianna, look at all this room for your toes.
G:  Yeah, well - Mommy (pause) I just don't really like them.
Me:  Gianna these are so cute.
G:  Mommy, they look like Santa shoes!
Me:  Hahahahaha

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Often when she's frustrated, disappointed or angry she'll say:
"Oh, this is just impossible!"

* * * * * * * * * *
Me:  Gianna, you don't like that cookie? (after she took one bite)
G:  No Mommy, I'm not a big fan.

* * * * * * * * * *
I haven't really introduced the concept of a Christmas list or a letter to Santa - just because I don't want the whole focus to be about 'getting.'  Well, a precious 11 year old friend filled her in today and asked her what she was going to ask Santa to bring her.  She quickly replied,
"A Barbie Jeep and some Christmas Eggs." 
Hmm.  We may need a little remediation on holiday symbols.

* * * * * * * * *
I was rinsing the shampoo out of her hair and she said,
"Ahhhh.....easy as pie."

* * * * * * * * * *
Lately when I give her something Gianna replies,
"Thank you, your majesty."
(And no, I didn't train her to say that...nor do I correct her! :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

G Speaks

Every now and then I remember to video a conversation with Gianna at various stages in her development.  I asked if I could interview her - with the reward of a lollipop.  She'll do almost anything for a lollipop (except poop on the dang potty!)  Anyway - this is really for me for my video vault - but I thought some of my family and friends might get a kick out of it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Potty Training Hell

Oh crum.  I had this post saved in a draft and didn't realize it was saved for later publication. I wasn't planning on posting until we had complete success.  Oh well.

Back in May 2011

We've been potty-training.  For almost two weeks I hardly left the house.  Torturous.  She has had remarkable success IF she walks around 'bottomless'.  It certainly is something to be proud of, however, that behavior might throw a wrench in our social endeavors. And while she totally gets the idea of it - she's definitely not bought into the concept yet.

And for Gianna, I think it's more about the reward than it is about the milestone.  She is totally motivated purely by those little gummy treats.  She actually tries to 'make' herself urinate just to earn a little gummy treat.  One day she announced her potty success and invited me to "Come and see...and let's go get a treat."  The potty was dry and I said, "Gianna, there's nothing in your potty."  Her reply...
"Well, I know, but can I just have a gummy treat?"

We tried underwear, which she loves, but it must give her that familiar security she's used to and she doesn't want to bother with the removal of them.
Not long after she donned her first pair of Tinkerbell undies she told me,
"Oh wow....that sure is hot."
"What's hot, Gianna?"
"My teetee on my legs."
One step forward, two steps back.
We even had success in the #2 department.  The first day we wore ourselves jumping up and down for joy.  I've been horrified by people taking pictures of their kids' first poop in the potty. It was during the day and I'm ashamed to say I even took a picture - which I have edited for you all so as not to lose my loyal 7 readers.  Actually, I texted the unedited picture to Iain because I knew he'd never believe me.

Girl Interrupted

Then we went on vacation to Florida for a week and a half and really threw a wrench in our training efforts.  We started back up upon arrival home and then our house went under contract.  The goal was to re-start once we moved into our new house.  Well, that fell through...and then a week later Iain died.  Yeah, let's go ahead and add a grieving mom and pre-schooler to the mix.  That's added quite a bit of resistence.  She completely breaks down if I mention sitting on the potty to poop.  It's really quite pitiful. "I'm just a little kid!  I'm NOT big. I just can't DO this anymore."  Tell me about it!

I honestly couldn't give a flip if she's potty trained right now.  I love the convenience of it and not having to scope out decent bathrooms in every place we visit/shop/eat.  The problem comes into play that I'm struggling to keep my head above water these days and could really use a mother's day out once or twice a week.  I recently called our church with is right up the road and was so excited about their program.  As I was getting ready to hang up, I had the presence of mind to ask about their potty training policy.  "Oh - they definitely have to be potty trained."   I cried for an hour.
I decided that I'm going to start praying to Padre Pio for assistance in this area. 
No, he's not the patron saint of potty training (I'm pretty sure there's not one) but I chose him because of his initials.
(P.P. -- Ha!!)

M&M's and Skittles worked well at first (for #1)  and then candy corn came in to save the day.  At this point there are no prizes or charts that really entice her but guess what has caught her attention?  An invitation to Disneyworld once she's got dry panties for a month or so!  Okay, that's extreme, but desperate times call for desperate measures and I am planning on taking her in the spring anyway.  So, between Padre Pio and Mickey I'm looking for some serious results in the coming months.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Vintage Tee

Going through old boxes and found some keepsakes from my eighth grade year THIRTY YEARS AGO! I found an old cheerleader tshirt that might make a nice little pajama alternative.
Stylin'
Silly little girl.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

All Soul's Day

November 2nd was All Soul's Day, and there was a beautiful candlelight Mass at the cemetery where Iain was buried.  The liturgy, music, homily were spirit-filled and consoling.



 Following the mass, the priests when to each grave of those gathered in prayer and blessed it and their families.  It was a special way to reverence our newly departed husband/daddy.
 Gianna has a lollipop because she was an absolute angel during Mass.
(I was nervous since it was so late.)
I should have waited to be nervous the following Sunday.
Church is challenging these days.
Pray for us.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Brought to you by the Letter "G" and the Number "11"



For all you Gleeks, this is a Sesame Street Spoof on the show - called "G" - So darn clever.



And how 'bout the nifty date today?  11-11-11! 
Saying a prayer of thanksgiving for all those who have served our country and sacrificed so much - as well as their families.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Muddy Puddles

Lately, Gianna has become smitten with a sweet little British cartoon:  Peppa Pig.  There little five minute short videos are strung together to form a 30 minute show found on Nick Jr. As a matter of fact, Gianna started calling Iain, "Datty" before he died and it took us a weeks to realize she was sporting her best British accent.
Anyway, this cute little family of pigs LOVE muddy puddles and pounce about giggling all the while.
Gianna thought it was more than enticing when she found a muddy trough on the firetruck at the park.  I heard a maniacal laugh and saw mud and water flying all about.
Looks like someone was recreating her favorite cartoon.
 
 Gross.
 AND it was much colder than we anticipated.  Good job, Mommy.
And this little runt may have well been a pig.  She could not have been happier. 



Hmmm.  Do you think the laughing adults and the videotaping momma were helpful in deterring the behavior?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Skype

We've been video chatting quite a lot lately.  Iain's family all live far away, my brother's been in Florida for several months and I even have a friend in Thailand who we've skyped with.  Well, my parents wanted in on the fun (even though they only live 14 miles away), so they got their computer guy to hook them up. Not sure who's having more fun, Gianna or MeMaw and PePaw.
Watching them online made me laugh and think of a recently video of an older couple that went viral not long ago.  Hope you laugh....

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

"Whatever Jesus Sings"

I finally dug her karaoke machine out of storage - and she's definitely making up for lost time.

I also retrieved the keyboard which she played around with this morning.  It has quite a few programmed songs and she sang along to her favorite christmas carol.  She's a little rusty on the lyrics, but I sorta liked her version.


"Whatever Jesus Sings"   That's a classic!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Comin' and Geaux-in

Comin'
Yesterday Gianna and I had a big treat. Two of Iain's closest friends from college and young adulthood came to visit.  Carrie, Dave and Iain attended the University of Kansas ("Rock Chalk Jayhawk" -- which is the wierdest spirit chant of any school I know!) back in the day and all migrated to Lake Charles for a brief chapter as they began their engineering careers. So gald Iain stayed in LC!!
(This was taken several years ago when we visit KU in Lawrence, KS. 
I'll bet he's not missing posing for silly pictures at the request of his wife.)

These days Carrie lives in Houston and Dave and his family are now in Denver.
 I was humbled and thrilled that they made the trek to visit us.  They had never met Gianna, so they were sweet enough to spend time with her. 
She ate it up. 

I know Iain's heart must've been full.  Mine was.

* * * * * * * * * * *
Geaxin'

Okay, I'm not a big sports fan. I do enjoy a good game when I have the time and attention span to sit and watch, but it doesn't happen often.  I have no emotional or personal attachment to LSU.  It's just part of the culure in this area.  I did happen to catch the LSU vs. Alabama game yesterday. (Okay, well, parts of it as I flipped back and forth to HGTV (hoppin' Saturday night in Lewis Land.)
Maybe she'll be more into sports than her mom and dad.
(And to show you how into sports I am - I originally posted LSU vs Auburn - and was kindly correctly by a TRUE fan.)
Or maybe she'll just look cute in game day colors. 
Makes no matter to this momma. 
I love this girl to her core.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

In 2008 we took Gianna and our godchild to the Pumpkin Patch the day before Halloween, only to discover it was closed for the season.  Thankfully some friends had decorated their yard and let us take pictures there.


In 2009 Gianna was newly toddling...




In 2010 it had officially become tradition...




 
Well, during the last hour it was open for the 2011 season, we finally made a visit to the pumpkin patch.  It was Halloween Day in fact and I just didn't want this year to be the year we didn't go. Iain and I always took her and boy, did I miss his help this year.  She wasn't poorly behaved, it's just the wrangling and trying to snap a few shots that always takes so much effort. We did it though.



 






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