Loss and Gain

When I woke up this morning I did not plan to be writing a blog post. Although I had been anticipating this day – and feeling many emotions regarding it, I did not think I had anything to say. What do you say on the anniversary of a loss? It is certainly not the type of anniversary to “celebrate”. If anything, it is just a reminder of what happened a year ago today. We lost Grant. My dear, sweet, feisty nephew. It was awful. It was painful. He was only four. Reliving the memories of that day isn’t exactly something I want to do. And I am not even going to begin to pretend like I know what it’s like to lose my child and how the last year has been for June and Michael. Or any other parents that have lost their little one.

This morning I was pulling laundry out of the dryer to fold, and pulled out a shirt I have seen many, many times. The words on it read, “If Grant can do cancer, you can do this.” I immediately got very emotional. Grant may not be here physically, but he is still so very much a part of how I live my life. His journey has taught me – and should show all of us – to view things differently.

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Perspective. If anything, I have gained an entirely different perspective on life from little Grant. His may have been far too short, but it left a large impact. Make the most of each day. Make the most of each relationship. It also gave me a new perspective on loss. On pain and suffering. On understanding a little better how to not just sympathize, but empathize with others. I may not always know the right words to say, but my heart has been opened more and feels deeper because of Grant.

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Family. The day Grant passed away, we found out we were pregnant with Ruby. Very bittersweet, but Grant taught me to see my children and family differently. To cherish every moment. To spend more quality time together as a family. To love my husband more deeply. You never know when things can change or when you may no longer have them. Life passes too quickly. Cherish relationships and cherish family. Over this last year, it has be so hard to look at Jude and not think of Grant. He is two, the same age Grant was when he was diagnosed. They also have so many similar personality traits and interests – I swear they are kindred spirits! I would have loved to see them grow up together. Jude even just started pointing using his middle finger – the same thing Grant always did that made us laugh. These things that make me think of Grant remind me to hug a little tighter, read more bedtime stories together, get on the floor and play more, and make the most of the present. Not just with my kids, but to soak up more time with James too. Life is just far too short.

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^ Grant and Baby Jude  ^

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Strength. Again, if Grant can do cancer, you can do this. I still remember walking down the halls in the cancer wing of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and just losing it when I passed room after room and bed after bed holding the tiniest of bodies. Little children, babies even, in pain and fighting for their lives. Grant is my hero.

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But, for me, when I think of Grant’s journey and what it has taught me about strength. I think of mostly of June – and in no way am I overlooking Michael, but as a mother and female, that is who I relate to. When I think about today, as sad as it is for me already – I think about a mother’s love. About a mother’s pain and suffering when it comes to her children. And my heart aches for June and what those two+ years in the hospital were like and what this last year without her baby has been like. I have indeed been blessed by her strength and her faith. No doubt there are many dark moments behind closed doors, but I am in awe of how she has handled everything and I hope she knows how inspiring she has been to me and I am sure to many others. She is a rock. She reminds me that if she can do the last difficult four years of heartache, I can do whatever cards life deals me as well.

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Faith & Hope. Lastly, Grant’s journey strengthened my faith. My faith in people that reach out, love, serve, and support in times of need. And my faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. That because of Him, families can be together again. We will see Grant again. I know that. That hope makes the current burden of physical loss easier to bear.

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So today, when I didn’t think I had anything to say, I am grateful I came across that shirt in the laundry. I am grateful that it made me reflect on the many things gained out of a painful and still ever present loss. I am grateful for the happy memories – for his smile and cute little voice. That so much about Jude reminds of Grant in ways that make me smile. I am grateful that, in hard times, Grant has given me more hope and strength to know that – I can do this.

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Many hugs and prayers for peace going out to family today – And to those who are in the cancer battle or dealing with loss. xoxo

Past posts from Grant’s diagnosis and journey: Grace For Grant and Life During Chemo

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Our Favorite Learning Apps for Toddlers

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Screen time on the iPad is definitely not something that happens too often at our house. In fact, I keep the iPad out of sight as often as I remember. For Jude, it is totally out-of-sight out-of-mind. Though for those long days of running errands, road trips, or for those extra rough times when I need something to keep my toddler still and quiet for longer than 15 minutes – These are our favorite learning apps for toddlers for teaching and motor skills…

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  1. Zoo Train – Jude is obsessed with trains, and this cute app contains five train games that involve puzzles, music, building, and spelling. Now that he is older – 2 1/2 – he is doing great with the spelling and actually trying to repeat the words! It has helped with speech because he NEVER will say what I ask him to repeat. 
  2. Peekaboo Barn – This app is adorable and VERY basic. The barn doors shake and you tap on the door to reveal a new animal. It goes through 16 and a cute nighttime scene of them sleeping. Although basic, Jude still loves this one and while playing, this was the first time I ever heard him repeat words. Since he has struggled so much with speech, it was huge!
  3. Duplo Trains – Again, for the train lover! This one has a lot of interaction to build the train, load it, punch passenger tickets, fill up with gas, build bridges, blow the whistle, pick the train’s speed, and more. Very cute! It keep him engaged for quite a while.
  4.  Daniel Tiger – I bought the bundle of 4 apps. They pair perfectly with the show he loves to watch. One has all the things Daniel Tiger does when getting ready in the morning and then when he goes to bed at night – bathtime, brushing teeth, going potty, getting dressed, setting the table, bedtime story etc. . . The Grr-ific Feelings app includes mini music videos of each of the songs from the episodes and Jude will play these OVER and OVER. And lately in the Explore app that has the entire town that you walk through and full of activities – he is a huge fan of cake decorating in the bakery lol…

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5. Nighty Night – This is my favorite! There is Nighty Night Circus and James has the Nighty Night Farmhouse on his phone. Designed as a bedtime activity, you click on all the lights in the tents/rooms and turn out the lights to put the animals to bed. Each animal makes noises and does cute little things when you tap on them. Jude giggles so loud every time the bear in the circus pops his balloon animals that he’s trying to make. I love how things rarely get old for toddlers!

6. SoundTouch – This was the first and only app we had for a long time when Jude was younger. It is kind of like sound flash cards with lots of animals, vehicles, household objects, and music instruments that when you tap on it pulls up a real life photo of that thing with the noise it makes. It does not show the same picture or make the same noise each time either – but has about 5 or 6 variations for each. I’m pretty sure this app is why Jude connected noises to everything before words. He still loves it!

Jude also spends a lot of time with Disney’s La Luna app – you can just watch the short film or put it in storybook or interactive story mode. He also really like Tony the Truck – if you child is into Mighty Machines type vehicles, this is a great app!

If you look into it, you’ll notice that all of the apps do cost money – generally $5 and under. Some have “lite” versions that are free and only have a few features, but in my opinion, it’s worth paying a few dollars for full versions. I had a handful of the free ones and ended upgrading and paying for them all anyway. Besides, it gets annoying when Jude is constantly clicking on ads or stuck in the “purchase more” section of the free apps.

Side thought: Isn’t it crazy and scary how quickly little people catch on to navigating tablets and phones? They get addicted quick, too! Which is why I try to stay on top of minimal screen time. Though at the same time, some of these apps are what got Jude speaking better. Ugh – So bittersweet.

xoxo

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The Two Kid Adjustment

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I feel like we have spent a lot of this winter sick. Between croup, ear infections, and colds we have also spent a lot of time cooped up in the house. It doesn’t help that with a new baby #2, I also don’t feel very brave to go out in public juggling a newborn and a toddler. I am getting better at that.Getting out the door takes so long. SO long! Even when I try to plan ahead, we are still running late. Always. Trying to get Ruby into the Ergo carrier by myself in a public parking lot is also not something I want to tackle (with that newborn insert it is complicated – or my arms aren’t long enough for the back buckle), so I just make sure that if I have to go out – I go places that have carts large enough to accommodate the carseat and Jude + groceries. So that narrows it down to Costco and the big car cart at Publix that Jude loves pretending to drive. And it helps out our budget when I go to Target because Jude and Ruby take up basically the entire cart and I can’t buy as much.

There was one Saturday that I convinced James to stop by Target really quick – we were on our way home from getting breakfast with the kids – so I could get diapers and such while they waited in the car. And I may or may not have kept them waiting an entire hour. Ooops! I didn’t have the kids, you know, and I was trying to “quickly browse”. I was judging my time off of whether or not James would text asking if I was done yet…which he never did. An hour in Target flies by so fast, I swear! And James has learned that there is no such thing as a quick Target run. Even if he is waiting in the car.

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Having two children is a definite adjustment; however, I can’t decide if life is difficult right now because we have two kids or because Jude is a firecracker of a toddler. Either way, my hands are full. I tried the potty training thing with Jude – which was a complete success after a couple of days – and then it was a complete failure. More on that some other time, but the kid is in diapers (per his request) until I have the mental and emotional capacity to tackle that again. He is only two and a half though.

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Life is crazy right now. James is super busy with his last semester of school and still working full time. He gets home late and leaves early. I am losing my mind most days, but that is just motherhood in general. We are looking forward to Spring + graduation like you wouldn’t believe. Until then, we anticipate our weekends and pack them with as much family time and “rest” as possible.

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xoxo

Also, some of my FAVORITE bows for Ruby + bowties for Jude: NavyLaneHandmade

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Ruby Gossling

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Our family was blessed with a sweet new little love – Ruby Lavinia Gossling – on November 27th 2016. (She was named after my Great Grandmother – Lucy Lavinia – We get a lot of questions about that middle name)

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Sometimes we refer to her as Ruby Sunday because she was born on a Sunday instead of the Monday we had her scheduled for. Ruby was a repeat c-section and we had it all planned for the 28th of November – two days before her actual due date. Jude was six days late, so we figured that our scheduled delivery would work out well. But the little girl just could not wait another day, and Sunday morning it was.

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Contractions hit me – like they usual do – in the middle of the night about 3:30am. Luckily, since I already had a scheduled repeat c-section for the following day, it was not as long of a wait to head to the hospital. I really was hoping to avoid the whole contractions bit of delivery, but at least it only lasted about 4 hours before I was in the OR and numb.

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Everything went well enough. I was nervous (surgery does that to most people I think). I remember the first thing that the doctor mentioned was that Ruby had plenty of hair and was a chubby little thing. 7:55am – 8lb 8oz. She was beautiful and I was in love.

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James snagged all the first photos in the OR on my phone since I was numb and strapped to the operating table. One downside to c-sections. But I am okay with knowing that each of our babies get their first hour in the world snuggled with their daddy.

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Ruby is the sweetest little thing. She slept wonderfully from the beginning, nursed well, and cried only when she had to be unswaddled and changed. Or when she spit up – which was frequent those first couple of days. The poor thing had a lot of amniotic fluid coming up and lost about one pound pretty quick.

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(^^Meemaw Tutt & Grandma Goose^^)

We were fortunate to have my mom fly in from Arizona the day after Thanksgiving, and Ruby was born two days later. She brought Jude to the hospital that first day. I was anxious to see how he would react to the baby, and he loved her from the beginning. He asks, “hold?” often and is constantly covering her with kisses and hugs. He calls her, “Beb- bee!”

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Jude and Daddy

Jude’s delivery left me super sore and I was hardly getting up and moving for a week. This time around, I forced myself to get up out of bed on my own and move. I mean, it may have taken me a couple minutes to lift myself out of bed and I walked around at a glacial pace, but I was moving! They always told me that the more you move, the easier the surgery recovery would be. So true! Granted, I did not labor naturally for 16 hours before the c-section like I did with Jude. My body and muscles were so worn out from that day.

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This time around we actually were discharged from the hospital after 48 hours! We could have stayed for four if we really wanted, but we were ready to get the heck outta dodge and be home with Jude.

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Below is a photo of her from the hospital right before we left. I swear her face looks so chubby straight on!…

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I can hardly imagine life without our little Rubes. She is so perfect to me in every way.

xoxo

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Fall is Here

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Come October, the weather has been nice enough for boots and more time spent outside before evening. Jude, as always, loves helping with chores and going on long walks down by the river. I am always snapping pictures on my phone of our everyday moments, so this is a iphone pic post. I am trying to get better at doing things with all the photos I take.

Nights have been crisp, which is perfect for campfires. Perhaps we can fit in an evening camping before it gets too cold.

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pumpkin cookies

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I always try new pumpkin recipes every year – and usually am disappointed. Maybe I can blame it on my oven, but whenever I try baking breads, they are dry or underdone in the middle. With pumpkin cookies – they are too cakey or doughy or with hardly enough flavor/sweetness for my liking. This time around, I realized that I prefer the cookies after they are fully cooled or even chilled in the fridge as opposed to hot out of the oven. And I would say the recipe was a winner; however, I have a couple more from friends that I want to try out.

Recipe I made – that does not use eggs – can be found HERE! 

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Jude has an obsession with this hat of my Grandpa’s. No matter where I put it, he finds it.

xoxo

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