Saturday, October 31, 2009

What is MY Purpose?

I've been a Stay At Home Mom for 9 years now! 9 long years!!!

The last paying job I had was working for AAFES, and I quit because we were due to come back to the States since Barry was discharged from the ARMY. So, I was a stay at home mom from the time I was 7 months pregnant with the twins till present time.

These last 9 years I have been a Wife and all that entails, Mommy, Homemaker, Housekeeper, Nurse, Doctor, Hairdresser, Lawn Mower, Garbage taker-outer, Christmas present wrapper, everything.

I am now everything but the Wife.

And I feel lost, confused, bored...everything.

Our plan was for me to get a job once the baby started 1st grade, which is in 3 years. But honestly, I don't know that I can wait that long. I might have to though, but I refuse to put the kid in daycare just to get a job. It's a conundrum.

I don't know what to do with myself. I'm so bored. I don't think there has been one day since the family left that we haven't gone out and done something. Either we're running errands, going to the mall, going to the library, going to friends' houses, or going on field trips with my Meet UP group. The thing is, this IS my life, this HAS been my life for the last 9 years, so why am I suddenly disenchanted with it?

I feel like I am a contradiction. How can I be a stay at home mom if I don't have a husband? Well, I do have a husband, but he's been stuffed into a nice wooden box on my entertainment center, and a plastic bag filled with extras that I requested for us to go to Build A Bear. If that sounds callous, you should know I just have to joke sometimes; Barry called it gallows humor. I never understood it until he died.

Anyway, I just don't see what my purpose is right now. I can still be a stay at home mom, I don't have to work if I don't want to, but I am bored and uninspired. I've thought about looking into some sort of schooling, but I don't want to do that till the baby is in school either. I can't take time away from the kids right now because they need me. I have tons of crafts to catch up on, I have a brand new sewing machine sitting on my hope chest that I haven't opened yet and I've had for 3 weeks. I could always sew, but right now I just don't feel like it. Maybe in a week or two. I've got two years of scrap booking to catch up on too. I am however, going to get my YMCA membership back, I think working out again in the mornings will really help me out, and waste some time as well. I've been feeling the need to let the elliptical trainer kick my ass again.

What suggestions can you readers give me on how to occupy myself other than crafting and sewing? Do you think I should get a job, or should I be here for the kids? And what the heck am I going to do next year once the baby starts Pre-K? I'll be bored out of my mind.

It's almost like I need another man to take care of*....


*maybe one day*

Friday, October 30, 2009

When?

I was pondering a few things this morning, most of them beginning with the word "When?"

When do I pack away his stuff?

I do know there is no right or wrong answer to this question. I simply do it when I feel ready. I did have to clean out his truck two weeks ago, and the house was inundated with his belongings. Most of it I have incorporated into the house, like the food he left behind, and his can opener went in the kitchen. I've taken over his computers, but do I really need 1 PC (mine), his lap top and his Eee PC? I have an extra BlackBerry Tour now, because we both got new phones in August. I also have his iPhone that he cancelled service with in August. I'll probably sell that one. The BlackBerry I'll keep because I have a BAD history with phones, and this one will be backup for me.

But what about his clothes? His blankets we will keep, and his foamy egg shell bed thingies I have in the boy's room to put on the kids' beds as soon as I remember to do so. I sleep with his pillow between my knees each night, and the last T-shirt he wore is folded up under my pillow.
When I packed up his truck, all the clean and dirty clothes were separated into different bags, but all stuffed into his big green ARMY duffel bag. They're still in there, sitting in a corner in my room. I haven't opened them in two weeks. I just don't want to deal with it.

All the stuff I had at the hospital for him is still in the bags. The last pair of shorts he wore, the book he was going to read, the chest hair I clipped off his chest after he died, the handful of crumpled up tissues I had when I was crying and saying goodbye, the body wipes he had used to wipe his face off before he died. Little things like that, I just have in the hospital bag. I looked at them this morning, but I haven't done that in a LONG time. I don't know what to do with them, do I keep them in the bag, or do I get rid of what I just want to keep? Do I really need to keep the tissues?

What about all the electronics? his DVDs? I'll be calling XM soon and cancelling one subscription, and keeping the other. I'm going to switch out our radios because his was the better one. But the other stuff...man, I have 3 blue tooth headsets, countless USB cables, XM antennas, adapter kids for the XM and iPhone/iTouch etc etc. I don't want to keep all that stuff laying around because it is clutter, but it was his.

I thought perhaps I should just go through it all, figure out what I can USE, and what I want to KEEP, and get rid of the rest. But not now, I'm not ready for it.

I do need to do it soon though, because my room is overrun with his belongings. Even his fridge is in there because there was nowhere else to put it, as is the power inverter he had too. There's so much stuff!


When do I stop blogging about him?


Again, I don't know the answer to this one. Honestly, I don't know if I can write about him every single day. It's so hard! It's emotionally exhausting because I think about him all the time. I know you all want to hear about it, but ugh! I don't know how to express myself all the time, every single day, in many different ways. How often do you want to hear how sad I am? Doesn't it get tiring?

I wish I had happy events to write about, that this weren't happening. He's been dead for almost 3 weeks, and I have not missed a day of blogging about him, and how we're doing. When is it time to move on from him? or just blogging about him?

Do you want good news? I'm making new friends. Yaay Me! That was meant to be sarcastic, if you didn't get that. In all seriousness though, R and C have been fantastic to talk to because they both have been in the same situation as me. I appreciate them so much! R you know you have helped totally distract me ;o) And that is a nice break from the usual day to day thing. And C, has helped me to grieve and just be sad and cry late at night. It's so nice to make new friends, but how desperately I wish it were under other circumstances. However, then we wouldn't have H.C.J. to talk about...hehehe

Enough with the code speak though. Please let me know if you are tired of me blogging about grief. Do you think I should write about other stuff? Or is my writing about grief so good that you want to come back for more? ;o)

Please give me some input, because I'm floundering, and not quite sure where to go from here.

Perhaps on Monday I shall talk about my trip to Costco to fill up Frances (the name my freezer was given, lol).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Today is a Good Day

I feel good today! I hope the mood sticks because I've needed a positive day for awhile.

I went to library story time today with my youngest, and saw a friend there from the kids' school. She helped orchestrate meals and donations for us, so it was nice to talk to her. Plus, story time was fun for the "baby", and it felt great to get out of the house and back into one of our routines.

Got home and my freezer was delivered. Not a big deal to some, but I have wanted a freezer for ages. I am so happy I bought one yesterday. I got a Frigidaire 9 Cf for only $250! Brand new from Lowes. I've put some food from my fridge freezer in there, but I am anxiously awaiting my trip to Costco on Monday. I want to stock it ;o) I'm going to do an inventory list as well, just have to find a good one on the internets.

Tomorrow we are going to a Trunk or Treat with a family from the kids' school that invited us, and then Trick or Treating on Saturday. We have a nice full weekend planned.

Yesterday was also the day of phone calls. Two in particular with some new friends. I had a great time talking and laughing. Thank you to R and C ;o) You guys have been such a help to me, and I really appreciate it.

This doesn't make me happy, but I've been wondering why I haven't been dreaming about Barry. Not once. It's been 3 weeks almost! I thought I would have dreamed about him by now. Maybe I will once I really need it? I don't know, but it is a bit disheartening not to have those "nighttime dates". I wish I could dream about him. It's hard to believe it has been almost 3 weeks. Time has flown by since he last came home almost 4 weeks ago. It's amazing to think how much our lives changed just in the span of a week, or even a day.

I am thankful that today has been a good day so far.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Questions

I realized yesterday after I had written this post that I forgot many of the other questions I have been thinking of.

Perhaps I will never have them answered, but death is a hard thing to find answers for anyway. There is no rhyme or reason to it, it's just death. It happens. Just like that saying "Shit Happens", so does death. It's hard for us to even fathom how life just goes on after that one person dies, but it does, it happens, everyone moves on.

To quote my husband:

"I think people fear death because it's an inconceivable state of existence. Dying is something we all must do, but nobody can sit around and really explain what it's like. Before the day of your birth, you can't possibly know, from a first-hand account, what life on this planet was like. Sure, you can read about it and even watch movies and listen to music made before your birth, but you have no real recollection of what it was like to exist back then. Death will probably end up the same way. The problem is that we can't seem to reconcile with that idea. We just can't wrap our heads around the fact that, after we die, things will continue on without us."

One of the hardest questions I have been thinking about is did he know he was dying? There is one moment I can recall in the hospital room that will forever haunt me, but I just can't share that right now. I'm not ready to relive it. Perhaps in time, but I don't think I have told anyone that. I've kept it tucked away in a little corner in my mind, not even thinking about it myself except in times like this.

I wonder, what was he thinking? Did he know what was happening? What were his last thoughts? Was he scared? I like to think his last thoughts were of me and the kids, but I'll never know unless I see him on the other side. I wish I could comfort him and give him a big hug and tell him it's ok to be scared, if he was. Tell him that I will always love him even when he is gone. That I'll always think about him. But then, I did that in the hospital. I did talk to him after he passed, and I did tell him all that and more.

And then I also think to myself, is he aware that he is dead? Is his consciousness still aware or is he just gone? I think maybe he is aware, but that's going into the ghost and orb stuff that I have mentioned before and don't care to get into it right now.

Another question I have is Why did he leave me? I don't want to be angry at him, but I get so frustrated and overwhelmed with what I have been left with. I have seriously never dealt with so much paperwork in my life. Piles of it, and more coming. And then there is the stuff around the house that I haven't a clue on how to do...my brother in law had to teach me how to thread the weed eater! I don't know how to fix anything (thank you to Amazon for the books I have on the way for that) either. But perhaps the biggest stress for me is the responsibility. Now I myself am the sole provider and caregiver for our four children and 3 pets. I have the weight of the world on my shoulders and it is very heavy. I have to provide financially for the kids and myself. I'll have to buy a house by myself, maintain that house. I have to maintain our vehicle too. I haven't the foggiest on how to hook up our entertainment center, so when I do move one day, who's going to do that for me? (I told my sister last night that I would just toss everything, and start from scratch and have the Best Buy guys come do it for me! haha).

I'm the one who's going to have to teach the boy all the stuff his daddy wanted to teach him. I'm going to have to screen potential boyfriends, lol, for the girls. I'm going to have to say to them at all the important milestones in their lives "Your daddy would have been so proud of you", especially when they get married. I'm the one who's going to have to say to our grandchildren how awesome and cool he was, and how much he would have loved them. And I'm the one who's going to grow old without the love of my life.

Not to throw a hiss fit temper tantrum, but I just don't want to! I don't want to do all this on my own. I want to stomp my foot and yell at him and say "WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME! WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME SO UNPREPARED? WHY COULDN'T YOU TEACH ME ANYTHING MORE? WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME? HOW COULD YOU LEAVE ME WHEN YOU LOVE ME SO MUCH?"

So I'm not sure if I am angry, I don't feel angry, just frustrated and overwhelmed. I don't want to be mommy and daddy, I want to be mommy and wife and his lover.

I just want him back.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Questions

What I have really been pondering since Barry died is WHY and HOW.

I look at his pictures, and I can't fathom why and how. Why did he die? How did one person that loved life so much just die that quickly?

How does that happen? I just can't believe that he is gone. I know he is, but I can't believe it. Even looking at his pictures, he just has such a strong force about him that it doesn't make sense. One minute he was here and looking into my eyes, and then he was gone. His life extinguished like a flame just went out. Poof, he's gone.

I don't know that I will ever understand the how and why. I don't think it is even possible for me to really verbalize how I just don't get it. I don't understand!

He was such a wonderful man. He sacrificed everything for us. He loved us, provided for us, he was my life! So why did he get taken away when he was loved so much? I can't help but feel the tears roll down my cheeks as I write this. It figures, the ONE day I don't wear waterproof mascara, and I cry.

Is it ever going to be possible to know why and how? You never think something so tragic can happen to your family, but then it does and you're left dumbfounded. I wouldn't say I am in shock anymore, I know he isn't here anymore.

This morning my cell phone rang at 7:30 AM. I seriously ran to the phone, due to my typical response when he would call. But it was his ER doctor. Not Barry. At least I don't jump for text messages anymore in the morning. I haven't really felt his presence lately, not for quite awhile. But I know he's still here because I now have interference on my phone that I never had before he died. Yeah, I know you're all laughing at me. Go ahead, laugh. I know what I know. The funny thing is, I was talking to someone last week on my old cordless, and it was really really fuzzy, and I could barely hear her. When she came over, she brought me a brand new cordless from Office Depot, as a gift. Well, guess what? There is fuzziness, really bad interference, on this phone too.

I talk to him often. I say I love him mostly, but I still talk. It helps sometimes just to say it.

On that note, I'm off for now. Today I get to go to the hospital and drop off paperwork and pick up paperwork. I get to fax copies of the death certificate to 3 different places. And I was on the phone all morning again. I must have gotten like 5 phone calls and made the same myself.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fight or Flight?

So I thought I had this great post all written out in my head, when it just vanished. I completely lost my inspiration.

I can probably summarize it a bit, explain what happened to me today, and perhaps you can all give me some insight.

This morning I had an appointment to go to, but before I went I was a tense bundle of nerves all morning. I wasn't even nervous about the appointment though. I felt like I had a ball of wobbly gobbly goo in my belly (if you can guess that reference, you win a prize!). Or if you want to use an even better analogy, a big ball of snakes wriggling around. I don't know why I felt that way, but I felt like I had to get up and RUN. Just run, or jump, or even scream! It really felt like "fight or flight", super adrenaline I guess.

It eventually went away after I left the house and went about my day. I felt so on edge this morning, I was very tense and couldn't calm down. I wasn't yelling at the kids, nothing like that, but I just felt very very on edge.

I know it is common in this sort of situation. I felt it at the hospital when the Dr told me they couldn't find a pulse. At that moment, I screamed as loud as you could possibly imagine. Ears ringing screaming at the top of my lungs. That's also when I pushed past the doctor and ran full speed down the hallway to Barry's room. Now, I'm a big girl. I'm not skinny, and any sort of running hurts my shins. But I could have beat an Olympic gold medal winner for how fast I sprinted down that hallway. I didn't feel any pain whatsoever, except in my heart. It really is a "fight or flight", super adrenaline rush.

I'm sure to experience it again. I know it wasn't an anxiety attack, because I have had those in the past and this was very far from it. At least now I know what it is, and I can better channel that energy. I'm actually thinking of getting another membership at a gym, so that I can release some of whatever is inside me, besides excess chub.

In other news, I need advice on the boy. He is having a super hard time dealing with his daddy's death. He doesn't like to talk about his feelings, and hates to cry. I'm so sad for him because I don't know how to help him. We talk about daddy, how it's OK to be sad and cry, I give extra hugs etc etc. I'm even a bit more lenient with them, and today I even picked out some special presents for the kids at Toys R Us, for them to have a special surprise when they got home from school.

But he is acting out. Everyone is, but he especially. He's meaner to his sisters for sure. I have enrolled us in a family grief support group. Mostly it's for the kids, but the parents go. The first session starts mid November, and I am looking forward to going. I hope I can get some sort of insight on how to deal with kids and grieving. Any advice? A friend of mine gave me some ideas that I am going to put into play tomorrow afternoon when they get home from school again, but I welcome any advice.

I wish I could take all the pain and sadness away and just make us happy again. It really breaks my heart to see them so sad and crying.

Why is life so unfair?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kids and Grieving

Everyone asks me how the kids are doing. And I don't know how to answer.

I've noticed they are so very resilient, and have done very well during this time of adversity. But each kid grieves differently, even in our family I have noticed many differences between all four children. The older kids understand more than the baby does, they know he can't come back, but they are hurting too. They write in their journals about how they miss him. They write memories, but it's so sad. I hate seeing them cry because it just breaks my heart. Going back to school has really helped them though I think because they get to be with their friends. They crave normality, they want to play, run, jump, learn, and just be at school. This is also why I am trying to keep us busy. We're doing more things together. Today we went to a Halloween Party, and bought a new video to watch tonight. Tomorrow a friend is taking us to Chuck E. Cheese's and then we're going to a Halloween thing at the local book store.

I think what has really helped us through these last couple weeks is that my husband was gone all the time, so we were used to day to day life without him. They talked to their dad on the phone, and we saw him every 7 weeks or so. He was always home for a week, week and a half, and then gone again.

But with the youngest, she doesn't quite realize what has happened. She was a total daddy's girl, and ADORES her daddy. Yes I say adores, because she still does. She knows something is up though, and we have talked about it, and how daddy died. Today she asked my why he died. It hurts my heart to have to tell her over and over why Daddy died. In many ways she is so lucky because she won't remember the pain of losing him, but she cries for him every. single. day. It breaks my heart! I am just sick that she won't remember him though, and that all we have are videos and pictures, and OUR memories to share with her. How is she going to remember him at only 3.5? It's so unfair.

It hurts my heart, breaks my heart, and tears it apart to know that the kids have to grow up without their daddy. He loved them so much, he was so proud of them. And now they don't have him.

How am I going to teach the kids what their dad wanted to teach them? How do I step up and be mommy and daddy? Especially with the boy, how can I provide for him what he needs in a father? And the girls, they need a father figure too...but I just don't know what to do about that. I am thankful to have a wonderful brother who can be in their lives, but sometimes an Uncle just isn't enough. They need and deserve more.

I wish I could do it all for them, but I just don't know that I can give them all they need. I don't know how!

Why does it seem like everything has to be a blessing in disguise? Like the fact that I never took the kids to the hospital to see him before he died, so now all their memories are happy ones. Or that the baby is young enough to not remember how painful it was to lose him. Or the fact that when we purchased our van, we got that special life insurance on it *just in case*.

Sigh.

Edited To Add:
I wrote this post Friday night, but decided not to post it till Sunday.
Glad I decided to wait, because I have updates as of Saturday night.

Things I have noticed....regression in the 3.5 year old. She is sucking her thumb again and acting like more of a baby. She cries at the drop of a hat. And she is very antagonistic with her siblings. She just won't leave them alone! I think she needs some extra TLC, which I am totally OK with. Her and I have some fun activities planned for this week, including two story times at the library and a trip to the pumpkin patch.

And I found our oldest two girls crying in bed tonight after I tucked them in. I didn't want to disturb them, but I went in there and talked to them anyway. I started to cry as well with them, I wish I could just take the pain away for all of us. The oldest girl I knew would have a really hard time with it, and I was right. she was saying how much she missed her daddy. *sigh*

And there has been a LOT more fighting and bickering amongst the children. All of our fuses are short, but they just can't help themselves. I'm constantly hearing tattling, whining, screaming, and fighting from them. All the time. I don't have time right now, I am so busy still trying to close up Barry's estate, but I will be looking into counseling for them and SOON. I think we really do need it and soon. I've been given some recommendations by some friends of mine, especially about groups for kids only. There is also a 6 week course held at the hospital that started on October 7th that I wanted to go to, but it wasn't the right time. It starts again after Christmas, so I am going to register myself for that.

I wrote yesterday about how I was afraid to think about him. Tonight I made myself do something. I looked at some pictures, kissed them, told him I loved him. I listened to the music I had played at his memorial service. One song in particular is so etched in my mind that I can recall exactly what I was doing at that time. I was walking up to give my "speech" about Barry, and then I stopped right before I got to the podium to look at his face. Some of my friends were right though, I do need to look at the pictures and remember. I can't deny myself the pain. And you know what? I do feel a bit better. I can't handle it for long periods...I got about a half hour in tonight before it started to get to me. But hey, at half hour is a half hour, right? One thing I know I can't do right now is listen to his voice. That's not something I'm ready for. But at least I can look at his pictures once in awhile without being desperately afraid to do so.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I'm Afraid To Think About Him

Thinking about him is painful.

I've told other people I'm fine with doing the day to day stuff without him because that is what we're used to. Because he was gone for weeks at a time, and we mostly spoke on the phone, so I had to manage everything here on my end...but with his help.

If I keep busy, I don't think. I don't want to think. I don't want the edges of the pain to slowly peel away, revealing what is really going on in there, because it hurts too much. And when I don't think, I feel OK. Still incredibly sad, but at least I am not thinking about him every. single. minute.

Is that wrong of me? There is no right or wrong way to grieve, I know that. But I feel guilty for not wanting to think about him. But it's the only way I know how to cope! I just can't handle those sneaky little thoughts. I'm denying myself the right to think about him, because I am afraid to cry, afraid to feel sad, afraid that I will become a sobbing mess and distraught all over again.

I wish I knew if it was ok to do this, I don't know if I should, or if by denying myself the pain, that I am only prolonging my grieving. I still am grieving, but I avoid like the plague, the things that cause me the most sadness.

My husband was a HUGE, HUGE, fan of Opie and Anthony, a talk radio show on XM. He listened to them every. single. day. All the time, he was even somewhat obsessive with it, lol. On Saturday nights, they had another show on that channel called Weird Medicine hosted by Dr Steve. They did segments on Truckers, and Barry was supposed to be a regular contributor. On September 19th, he was on the show talking, and Dr Steve gave me the link to the show. Last night I listened to it and recorded Barry talking.

That was such a huge, big, incredibly stupid, mistake on my part. I cried so hard hearing his voice. I don't want to hear his voice, but I wanted to save the clip for posterity, so the kids could hear his voice down the road.

I don't think about him too much, I prefer to occupy my time with other stuff, but it's hard not to let that little sliver of Barry slip into my head, and then the waterworks start. When he died, I had this intense need to write down everything he told me. EVERYTHING. but then I started blogging, and I haven't wanted to do that. I just don't want to think about him. But how can I not?

So what do I do? Do I close my mind to thoughts of him? Or do I think about him constantly until I'm emotionally and physically exhausted? Is it wrong of me to not want to think of him, or is it completely normal? I don't want the kids to think I don't love their dad, that I don't miss him, that I don't want to talk about him, but it's so fucking hard to do that. I can't even look at his pictures. They can, but I just CAN'T. I don't want them to get the wrong impression, that I'm not grieving, but I have to be strong for them.

Am I doing him a disservice by not thinking of him? by avoiding him? I love him so much that my heart feels like it is splitting apart because I am so sad. I really don't know HOW I can go on and do this without him. I don't feel like it will EVER get better. Yeah, it's only been two weeks, but I just don't know how I will ever feel happy again. How I will ever get over this pain, this feeling of drowning and desperation.

I'm just so confused!

Friday, October 23, 2009

I am Blessed

The last few weeks the kids and I, and Barry, were very blessed by our community, our friends and our family.

While Barry was in the hospital, I had some meals brought to us, and families at the kids' school provided us with many, many, gift cards for various restaurants and grocery stores around the area. I have only used one of the gift cards, and am saving them for when we need them.

After Barry passed, my friends set up meals for us. This was just incredible. My MOPS group, the Kid's school (via a friend of mine), and my Meet Up group each took a week. I don't have to cook until November 1st. And actually, much later than that because we have so many left overs in the freezer. At Barry's service, I came home with TONS of lasagna, 3 are in my freezer, plus an additional few meals that we had leftovers from. Ladies from my MOPS Group fed us at the reception too.

Also, my oldest friend Rina, over at GottaLittleSpace set up a Pay Pal donation fund for us, family members, friend from school, and many other friends have donated to us as well.

I have made new friends during this time, and lost some. You really do see people's true colors during times like this. I have to say though, I am so very incredibly grateful for EVERYONE that has donated food, time and money to the kids and I. You really don't know what it has meant to us. I don't think that I could ever find the words to express our thankfulness, because there just aren't enough words to express what I am trying to say. I truly wish that this didn't have to happen, I would give it all back just to have Barry back, but unfortunately that is not an option. I am still thankful though.


Thank You a million times over!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The (Unintentional) Branding of a Widow

As my Aunt Christine said, you feel like you walk around with a big W tattooed on your forehead, where everyone can notice it.

I don't think that people do it intentionally, but you still do it. You look at us like we're lepers. A big W tattoo on our foreheads makes us untouchable, yet you act so sympathetic too.

And I hate it. I hate hate hate it.

Do you know how irritating it is to hear "I'm sorry", "How are you?" over and over and over and over, again and again? The sound or sight of those words are like nails on a chalkboard to me now. I don't want to hear them. Saying "I'm sorry" is not going to make me feel better, it's not going to bring Barry back for the kids and I, it's not going to make dealing with life insurance people and hospital bills any easier. It doesn't do anything but annoy me now. And how do you think I am? I just LOST MY HUSBAND. Sorry I can't be Mrs Happy Go Lucky anymore, but I'm a WIDOW and I'M GRIEVING.

And while I'm on the topic, why not say hello instead of just staring at me? Am I that untouchable that I seem contagious? Why not just carry a yard stick with you so you can just poke me when I come too close.

Not everyone has been this way, but I have noticed it. It's hurtful, and frustrating. And if you do know me personally, please, please, think of some other way to talk to me other than saying you're sorry, or asking how I am.

That is all.

Slaps In The Face

Every night I go to bed knowing that my husband is dead. I am unhappy about it, but mostly resolved to the fact that he is never coming back (I still feel like I am in a dream sometimes). And very happy that the day is over and I get to go to sleep.

But every morning, I wake up and the pain is fresh again. It's like somehow my mind has been wiped clean during the night, and then is re-set as soon as I wake up. Fresh pain all over again, with new realization that he died and is never coming back. I feel like I am being slapped in the face. Have you seen the movie 50 First Dates with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler? where every morning he has her watch a video of her accident and life and what caused her amnesia? I feel like she does every morning. Having to realize again, every single day, that he is dead and nothing can bring him back.

I noticed this morning though, that I didn't jump too quickly when the alarm went off, and look for a text message. I think that subconsciously I knew that it wouldn't be there. But again, not seeing it was like a slap in the face.

Seeing as yesterday was such an emotional day, having to relive the whole story to the reporters, I kind of figured that today would be hard. I certainly did not expect what happened yesterday, to happen. And today I get to read the article in the news paper too. I've only seen the online version of the article, I don't know if our picture was included in print, or even if the reporter used the donation information she asked for (crossing my fingers). I am going to pick up some copies today and get them laminated them as well.

I guess I still don't get it. Why has this happened to us? What did we do to deserve this? Why, when there are so many other evilpeople who deserve to have their live's snuffed out, did my husband die? A good, kind, loving man who did EVERYTHING for his family was torn away from us for no reason.

Why do my kids have to grow up without their daddy when there are so many dead beat fathers in prison? And why do I have to live without the love of my life when so many women out there hate their husbands and wish them dead? Take them please, and give us back our daddy and husband.

Please.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why does stuff keep happening to us?

When you think you're having a normal day, it all goes to fucking shit.

I was really tired this morning because I have just been so worn down. I spent all morning on the phone with the life insurance people, Barry's school, hospital finance and my sister and brother in law. I felt like throwing the phone against the wall because I am TIRED of talking. My hand hurts from holding the phone, so thank goodness I have speaker phone capabilities on my handset.

The baby and I had her WIC appointment at noon, and then had to head to the hospital to pick up the autopsy report and medical records. While I was there, I got a call from the county coroner. I thought it was quite strange, as Barry wasn't sent to the coroner. The Coroner called me because he and the health department both had been hounded for my information.

He was calling because there has been a media frenzy regarding my husband's death.

Unbeknownst to me, all this had been happening in the last week when it was released that a man around my husband's age had died of swine flu.

But I was never informed.

I found out today because the man that interviewed me had found out from the county health dept that it was confirmed to be H1N1. Thank you to the hospital for telling me he did not have H1N1. You suck. I had to be told by a news reporter. No one called me to think that maybe the wife might like to know how her husband got sick in the first place.

I was given the numbers of only two of the media outlets that wanted to talk to me, Kiro 7, and our local news paper. I was interviewed by both, and Kiro did a news story on us. I'll include the video at the end of the post. I did decided to contact them, on my own terms, to talk about what happened to us. And I am glad that I did, because perhaps people will see what a tragedy this is, how bad the flu can be.

While I was at the health department talking to the Doctor there, she gave me two prescriptions for Tamiflu, for both my son and I. We're both on it, and I am already noticing a bit of a change in how I feel. Since it was from public stock, it was also free. Thank goodness for that, because I would have had to pay $222 for two prescriptions!

Friday all the kids are getting their flu vaccines and the H1N1 vax. I will be getting the H1N1 as soon as I can find it. I will NEVER skip a flu vax again.

http://www.kirotv.com/video/21386995/index.html
sorry I couldn't find the HTML to post it.

Sorry if this isn't much of a very emotional post, or not very well written, but I am tired, exhausted and don't feel like writing much tonight.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Perfect Timing

I think he must be watching out for us. I can't see how this could happen any other way.

Today has been so hard, the first day without family around in almost two weeks, no friends around, and people going about their normal lives. I thought I was going to be ok, but every time I really needed something or someone, it happened, and someone was provided.

This morning I had a really nice visit with the funeral home director, who gave me some good information about my situation with my husband's father. I know we're ok now, and don't have to worry about anything. I also had to run to Wal*Hell to get some medicine, as I am now getting what the boy had. I got it last, and my brother in law Bryan got it really really bad. Anyway, at Wal Mart, I was feeling really down and sad, when who do I see but Ken, the pastor who did my husband's service. I got a hug, a nice 5 minute talk, and I felt better. It was just right.

later on in Wal*Hell, right before we were to leave, I ran into a friend of mine. Which again, really helped because I just needed to talk to someone.

At Safeway, I was checking out and feeling shitty because I just bought two papers with my husband's obituary in it, and thinking of the contact paper I had to buy to laminate it, when my mom called. Her and my step dad were at their weekend place, and the clubhouse phone kept ringing and ringing. she thought it was me, so she called me. Nope. But I got another phone call when I needed it.

And then tonight, it quieted down a bit. The kids are watching TV after their showers, I'm feeling bummed out and melancholy because I can't talk to him, and who calls but my cousin. Who has always been so good to me, so kind, and loving, and just a good friend. So Red, if you're reading this..I love you. Thank you for that phone call, it really helped me.

I hadn't cried all day till she called me. I think that however much we might not want to, we all need to cry. I needed to cry today, it was a sad day. I find being alone with my thoughts is dangerous, I don't want to be, but sometimes I have to. If I keep avoiding it, all that is going to happen is that the reality won't set in for me. I need to be sad, I can't avoid it forever. Sooner or later, the dam is going to burst, and I need to be prepared for that. Right now it's at a steady trickle, but the crack is getting bigger each day.

I'm really afraid of what is really going to happen when the full reality sets in. How am I going to be? How am I going to be a good mommy and support my kids?

Right now the kids are ok. I've been talking to them about it, and telling them it's ok to be sad, ok to cry, and ok to talk about him. But luckily for them, they are resilient. They are still laughing, playing, having fun and being kids. They miss their daddy, but we are so used to him being gone that it is much easier on them. I'm the one who has the most trouble with it because I know what happened. I don't think they will ever fully grasp what happened, or maybe not till they are older.

In some ways, I wish I could be just like them.

Today

I can't even think of a good heading for today, so Today it shall be.

Today I got the older girls off to school. I still have the boy as he is not allowed to go to school if he has had a fever over 100 in the past 24 hours. Hopefully tomorrow he can go back. His temps are normal.

Today I had to miss MOPS, which I am quite upset about, because I have been dying to go back and see my friends. But the 3d of November it will have to be. But guess what the topic is on the 3d? Grief. Yes, grief. I'm a little unsure of going, but perhaps it will be good for me.

Today I am angry at my husband's father. For reasons I care not to get into, he has decided to choose his dead son, my husband, over his 4 LIVE grandchildren. Today I am disgusted with him because of his behaviour. And today I think he is pathetic because he threw a big hissy fit temper tantrum last night, and stormed off and left without saying goodbye to the kids. He has not seen his grand kids more than twice in 8.5 years, and he left for Pennsylvania without saying goodbye.

Today I get to go talk business with the funeral director. That should be fun. Actually, I'm not worried about it, they will help me out. I was going to order a plaque for my husband's urn, but today I am not so sure I want to do so. I'm not feeling a strong urge to do so, and I am sure my husband would understand. The urn turned out beautifully with the engraving, and I am sure that is enough. I just don't want to do it. I might wait, and think about it, and see how I feel in a few weeks. He never specifically requested that he have that, he just mentioned it in passing once a few years back. What would you do? He's not here to make decisions anymore, but I also don't want to dishonor his wishes. Even if it was a wish, I can't really remember clearly.

Today I get to go buy some more jeans because I have lost 20 pounds in two weeks. I haven't weighed this in two years.

Today I get to go return stuff that was in my husband's truck that he never got to use. Deodorant, razors, socks, jeans. Stuff that still has the tags on it, that I don't want to keep.

Today I get to come home for the first time without any company, without seeing a big white Kenworth in the driveway, all by ourselves. I'm doing OK so far today, but I don't know how I am going to feel later in the day. Yesterday I saw his truck being driven away for the very last time. It was so incredibly hard, and I cried buckets. Today my alarm went off and I jumped up again looking for a text message or bbm. I hope that with time this will pass, but it has been my routine for years, and I mean YEARS. It is going to take a long time to get over it.

Today I will just try to be.

Monday, October 19, 2009

First Day of Almost Normal

I say Almost Normal, because my son isn't going back to school today, just the girls. He hasn't been feeling well, and had a fever yesterday, so today I'll keep him home.

But is this really normal anyway? for us I guess it is. Up at 7, me showered, kids get dressed, off to school and the "baby" and I go out to run errands or do something fun.

So while I guess this really is a normal day, it really isn't either. When my husband was alive, practically every morning, unless he had to sleep or was too busy to call, he would send me a text saying "time to get up baby". This morning when my alarm went off, I grabbed my phone from my bedside expecting to see a text from him. And then I realized it wouldn't be coming. ever again. Talk about a crushing disappointment.

I wish it were a normal day. I wish I got my text or bbm (blackberry message) this morning telling me to get up. That would mean he would be calling me in approximately 20 minutes now.

Instead, today I get to entertain my in laws for one more day. I get to go to the bank and deposit checks that, while I am very very grateful for, were given to me in sympathy of him dying. I also get to call the funeral home and make an appointment for tomorrow so I can order his plaque. Oh, and let's see, I also need to call the life insurance companies again to see if my paperwork has been sent.

So it's not an Almost Normal, or a Normal day; it's a Craptastic, Craptacular, Shitty fucking day.

My aunt was widowed 8 years ago around the same age as me. She was 32 though, instead of 29, and had two young kids at ages 3 and 8, also same as me except for my7-year-old . She told me that one day I will be ok, one day. But it's going to take a long time. I know that, I wish it were easier though.

But one day, in the future, I will be ok. The kids will be ok. And we will be happy again. One day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Is this what Desperation feels like?

I don't think that anyone who hasn't lost a spouse truly knows what it feels like to feel this way.

I thought I was doing ok. I thought I had done all my grieving the first two days when i was at the hospital, and when my mom and sister were here with me. But then starting Monday, I was composed, getting everything done this past week, just plugging away. I didn't even really cry when we planned his service.

And now I feel desperate. I know I have to be mommy first, but how hard that is. I want to grieve, yet I don't want to grieve. I'm in denial because now it setting in, the finality of his death. He is gone.

I feel like I am grasping at straws. Or an even better analogy would be that I feel like I am in quicksand, and not able to find a branch or vine to grab ahold of to keep me afloat. I don't know where to go to make myself feel better, to feel happy. I don't know how to move on from this tragedy.

Sometime this week I will be finding some counseling for the kids and I. Or a support group, or something. We really really need it.

And with the pictures, I had to move them last night. My sister told me it was OK. I just couldn't stop glancing at them. My eyes were constantly drawn in that direction, and it was too hard to look at him. So I put them all into a box, or out of my line of sight in this room so I wouldn't see then anymore. I feel incredibly guilty for doing that. I want him to know I still love him, but it's just too hard.

Today my in laws are coming again. We have two full days with them, and they leave early early Tuesday back to Pennsylvania. Today I have to clean out my husband's truck. It's being picked up tomorrow late afternoon. I'm sad, and relieved at the same time. I don't really want it here, but it's like the one final reminder of him. How can it not be? It's like the big elephant in the room that no one wants to mention, but you can actually see. This huge white kenworth is sitting outside on my driveway. It's an eyesore. It's painful to look at. But then again, I will be sad to see it gone because that means he is never coming back home in that truck again.

I've been told I should write a book about my experiences. Maybe one day. I think he would encourage me to do it, and be so very incredibly proud, but how sad is it that a tragedy like this has to happen to make the words flow from my head into my fingers and onto the keyboard.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I don't want to talk about it

I hate being asked the hard questions.

I realized last night that I hadn't really told everyone how Barry died.

Someone asked me on facebook and it just hit me how I hadn't told anyone. Only the close friends and family know, with the exception of everyone that came to the Memorial service.

But the thing is, I just don't want to talk about it. It was so tragic, so awful, that it hurts my heart to relive it. At least I have comfort that I was able to be with him as he passed. But again, that in itself is not always enough.

Yes, I got to say goodbye. But I said goodbye. I will never hear my husband call me again, say "Hey baby". We won't ever do our little "I love You" smooch "I love you" smooch "I love you" smooch hang up the phone ritual ever again. I never get to feel his arms around me. Never get to hear him laugh and tease and have fun with the kids. Never get to smell him. Oh god did he ever smell good, he had such an amazing scent. Never get to tickle his collar bone again. Never hear him on the other end of the phone.

Never. Everything is over. How can I go on being a good mommy when I feel so destitute? I feel like I have no hope right now. How will we ever be happy again without him here?

I suppose in time I will be ok to share how it happened, but not right now.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Family Does a Body Good

Seriously though, it has been so healing to have the family here this week. Especially yesterday and today. I am really going to miss them all when they leave. Three leave tomorrow to go back to Minnesota, and the last 5 leave early early Tuesday. My mom, sister, and brother leave tomorrow as well. I'm just really going to miss them all.

I've found we've bonded a lot. They've helped me and the kids feel better about things. And it is so incredibly good to laugh, and cry and just be. To talk about our feelings, to have fun together, to be sad together. My brother in law and sister in law took the kids and I to McDonald's for lunch, and then to Toys R Us and bought the kids each a nice toy. That was just awesome of them to do that. Especially when we're all feeling sad, it is nice for the kids to get something to brighten their days. My brother in law also did a bunch of stuff around the house for me that my husband was never able to do, obviously. Only one thing left to do and that is fill in the holes the dog left. I'm thinking I might put my father in law and other brother in law to work doing that this weekend.

Tonight we went out for dinner as a family to my husband's favorite restaurant, a Chinese buffet. Seriously, he LOVED this restaurant. He had actually said he wanted to go there while he was home. So it was nice to take all 16 of us out and eat there in honor of him. I know he wants us to have fun and be happy, and we did that. It's just been a big party it seems.

I seriously love having all my extended family around. I am really really going to miss them when they're gone.

On a different note, we keep seeing orbs in pictures around me. They're all concentrated in front of me. We took a ton of photos today, and we could see them in every picture. And a lot of us have said we can feel his presence in the house. I always wanted to believe before, but I really do now. I want to do a bit of research about it all, because I find it so fascinating. Isn't that strange?

I'm so exhausted right now, still going on little sleep and not eating a ton yet. I have a feeling that the sadness and reality is going to hit me really really soon once everyone leaves on Tuesday. The truck will be gone on Monday night...I'm ready for that. I just need it gone because it makes us too sad to have it here. My husband's friend from work is coming to pick it up Monday night. I'm still feeling peaceful right now, but I do attribute that a lot to having a big family around. Please continue to read my blog though, like I said yesterday, I'm having good days right now. I'm on auto-pilot and doing what I have to do, but it will get worse and I will write some heart wrenching posts. I know people love that kind of thing, so please keep coming. And I'll keep writing.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Today Was Healing

Today was the service. It went exactly as I wanted. As he wanted. The songs played well, but we had a bit of a laugh because the funeral director couldn't figure out how to use my iPod touch and right before I had to say my "speech" he screwed up the sound, so I went back to the sound room and fixed it. haha.

Anyway, it was just a really nice service. I, my brother, his brother, his dad, my sister, and his friend all said such wonderful things about him. I loved hearing it all. So many of my friends were so generous with food. We got sent home with 6, yes 6 lasagnas and french bread AND salad. That fed the crowd of 21 tonight, with 3 left over in my freezer.

Today was such a nice family day. We spent time with my in-laws and we laughed, cried, joked, had fun and told stories about my husband. We all got to know each other again and bonded. That in itself was healing. It was nice to laugh and joke and have fun. My hubby would have wanted it that way, he wouldn't want us to be somber. He always lived his life like it was a party, and enjoyed it to the best of his abilities.

The funeral director gave me the extra ashes that didn't go in the urn. I'm going to put them into some vials, and then we're going to go to Build A Bear and put the vials into the bears. That way we can give Daddy a hug anytime we want. But the thing is, I have so much extra ash! I can't possibly use that much ash in 5 bears. It's quite strange to have it actually. My husband always said that I should keep the ashes in the back of the van, and if I ever got stuck in the snow and ice, to throw him under the tires and get going. I was always horrified by that thought, but who knows, right? haha I don't know what I'll do with them actually. Maybe I'll just keep them put away. Quite honestly though, I don't feel like they are him. It is the remains of his body, not him. My mom said it perfectly yesterday, that it was just his shell. Not him, just a shell. The real him lives on in our hearts, and our memories, and our stories, our jokes and our laughing.

So while my post today might seem like I am doing ok, this was only one good day. There will be worse ones. And there will be better ones. And I feel ok today because of some certain things. When we took some family photos, and I put them onto the computer, there were orbs around me. Different angles, different lighting, different areas of the house. I even dusted off the lense because I thought it was dust. Nope. I know he is here, and I know that is here to take care of me and protect me and the kids. Because he loves me and the kids. And now I have confirmation that I did feel his presence in the house when i came home last saturday. I feel at peace with this. You can believe what you wish, but my family believes in "ghosts" so to speak, and I know that it is him. This has never happened to my camera ever,and when I took pictures at the service today, there was no dust on the lens then either.

So I am going to go to bed tonight being peaceful, and happy knowing that I was able to give him what he wished. Knowing that he loves me, and will be with me always.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Numbness then Anger

I am numb. I feel like I just have no emotion right now. Nothing but anger.

Yet I feel guilty for laughing with my sister, for giggling into the nighttime as we talk in bed beside each other, laughing at funny things and how I talk when I am half asleep. I feel guilty for being normal, for going about my day without being a snivelling mess. I'm so used to being by myself with the kids that I feel ok with him not here, but only because i am used to it. He's hardly here most of the time anyway, I just miss talking to him! And I just feel guilty for feeling ok with that.

I feel guilty for not breaking down when I was planning his service and picking out his urn. But I did cry when the funeral director told me they had his body and he would be cremated today. And I did cry when I read his obituary in the paper. I am even ok a bit with seeing his pictures now. Last night I put together his memory board and it was ok, I was just fine with doing it. I got a little teary eyed, but the crying now happens only when i remember little things. And I feel guilty for not sleeping in his t-shirt last night. I felt I was ok to use my regular pajamas.

I cleaned out part of his truck this morning. I was laughing at some of the stuff. He was looking for his black beanie cap and didn't even know where it was. I found it. I also found bottle after bottle of half used water, gatorade, powerade, orange juice, and diet coke. He was notorious for not finishing what was in a bottle. And I probably found close to $60 in change, if not more. I'd say closer to $75.

The things I miss are how I won't see him standing at his sink anymore shaving his head and beard. How i won't hear him laugh. How I won't see him smile. HOw I won't get another text message, phone call, email. How I won't get woken up by a bbm or text saying "time to get up baby".

I'm having so much trouble coming to the finality of it all. It DOESN'T seem real. How can someone who loved life so much be here one minute and gone the next? Why? I feel like this is all a bad dream and he will just pop right in here and say hi. It doesn't make sense why he is gone. WHY WHY WHY ">WHY WHY.

And besides numbness, I have been ANGRY. FUCKING ANGRY at him. Why did he leave me so unprepared? Why do I have to shoulder all this responsibility right now? He was going to put more RAM in my computer, but who does that now? Who is going to hang up the bike hooks in the shed and fix the coffee table? Who has to get the brakes fixed? Who's going to remind me to check the fluid levels in my van? Who's going to put in the weed eater thread. Who's going to hang up pictures? Who am I supposed to talk to when I have a problem, when I don't know what to do about something? Who is going to help me make major decisions? Who IS going to make the big decisions? Who is going to fill in the holes that the dog dug? Who is going to hug me and kiss me and love me? Who is going to smack my ass again?

How on earth am I going to do all this? how? I DON"T KNOW. He never showed me how to do it! I dont know when to check it, how to check it, how to do any of it. I absolutely hate with every fiber of my being, the fact that I am being stuck with this responsibility. I don't want to deal with it. I don't want to be a single mom, I don't want to be a widow, I don't want to be financially responsible for 5 people and 3 pets. I DON'T WANT TO DO IT. I am so furious right now, so angry that I just want to scream and yell and ask him why he did this to me. Why didn't he think to prepare me more for anything?

Yesterday I was so mad that I had to buy outfits. That I had to buy everyone new shoes, each girl a dress, me some pants and a nice top, myself a new coat, the boy pants and a dress shirt. And when are we ever going to wear this crap again? Do I really want to wear the funeral clothes again? I know we probably can, but still. UGH.

I am just so angry. So very very angry.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Grief, Again

What else can I write about?

I just don’t know.

I think grief is funny in some ways. It just has so many different facets and you keep finding new ones.

Today was a hard day for me. Especially hard was buying an outfit for his memorial service. I found a beautiful sweater and slacks to wear, I love the outfit and I feel pretty in it. But I kept breaking down in the store while I was trying it on. It was so hard to buy it.

This afternoon my mom and I also went to the funeral home and planned his service. I thought that would be so incredibly hard, but it actually wasn’t. The funeral director was so very kind, and we actually have mutual friends. I am so glad I chose them because they have just been everything everyone has said. I was able to pick out my husband’s Urn, plan everything, and I think I only cried once. I remember the original urn I picked out had to have the ashes just placed in there without the protection of a plastic bag, but I didn’t like that idea. So I suggested to the funeral director that he place the bag inside and make sure the edges were outside and overlapping, and pour his ashes in with a funnel. Somehow that just struck me as the funniest thing and my mom and I started laughing. It was so healing to laugh though. And last night when my mom, sister and I were choosing the songs for his service, I played the last one for them and we also started laughing like crazy. It was just SO him, so Pompous, just like him to chose a song like this for the end of his service. He had expressed his wishes to me in the past when we had talked about it, so I was happy to do that for him. But the song just makes me laugh.

Did you know that when you are grieving you often lose the desire to eat? When you eat, it’s only because you have to, and everything tastes like sawdust. everything. When he was in the hospital, I lost weight as well, but more than I thought I did. I have no appetite even though my stomach rumbles to eat. My mouth tastes like paste, NOTHING tastes good. Now don’t get all alarmed when you read what I’m about to say, but I’ve lost 11lbs in just over a week. 11lbs. And that’s ok, because I have a lot of weight to lose. I just wanted him to be able to enjoy my svelte hot body, lol. Now he’s going to miss it. Seriously though, my appetite has taken a hike. Even when I am hungry, I can’t overeat. My body just doesn’t let me.

The hardest part for me tonight was figuring out specifics for the service and program and obituary. My mom and I wrote his obit together, and it was just heart wrenching trying to write it, just awful. Also, I had to pick pictures for his obituary and his memory board that we’re making. I hate looking at his pictures. HATE HATE HATE “>HATE “>HATE “>HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE it. I fucking hate it. I don’t want to see his face. I dont want to be reminded of what I have lost. Why, WHY did he have to be taken away after only 11 years of knowing him. WE WERE ONLY MARRIED ALMOST 10 YEARS. It’s not fucking fair! I would weigh 500lbs if I could just have him back in my life. I would do anything, ANYTHING to have him back.

Little things irritate me and I’m really on edge. Like the kids being noisy…that is really getting on my nerves. And my sister playing with her camera…I was about to throw the damn thing out the window for all the annoying beeps it made. And my mom not liking some things that I chose, or wrote. I desperately want help,but then I don’t. I don’t want to have my choices and decisions about what I do for HIM to be questioned. I KNOW what HE wanted. It has NOTHING to do with anyone else but me, the kids and him.

I’m so exhausted, I feel like I’m running on pure adrenalin. Off to a busy day again tomorrow. Bank, dentist, outfits for kids, etc etc. sigh.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Ebbs and Flows of Grief

Today my grief has just come and gone.

At times I feel ok and know that we will be ok. And I know that Barry wants me to be OK. He doesn't want me to grieve forever, and I know he wants me to move on and be happy again. Today while I was going through his twitter account, I just felt like he was sending me a message. I happened upon a message he sent to one of his followers, but it just struck me. To quote him, he said: "But in realizing death we must also remember to live. Time heals all wounds. Grief is normal and it will pass" I am so afraid to be without my love.

But other times there is just crushing sadness. No one will ever know the true pain of this unless you lose a spouse. It is the worst, raw, unimaginable pain you will ever know. I cry at the drop of a hat.

At the hospital I was angry, full of adrenalin, screaming and yelling and pushing people out of my way to go stand at Barry's side as they did CPR. I threw a temper tantrum or two, and I screamed so loud in the stairwell that I made my ears and the walls ring.

Tonight my wonderful friend Sara brought us all dinner. I was enjoying it so much, and then as I was buttering my bread realized how Barry would butter his bread, and enjoy it so much. He loved it when I made bread. And then it made me sad, and I tried not to cry at the table realizing that he will never be there with us again to enjoy a soft loaf of bread with butter. He'll never sit in his chair again that is now mine. He'll never be again.

It's the little things that really bother me. like when I remember something like I just mentioned. The tea that I had for him in the pantry will never be made for him again, he'll never drink out of his favorite cups again. He'll never make his famous spaghetti again. Never never never. It's all over. That just saddens me beyond description.

I can't begin to describe the grief that i feel right now.

I went out to his truck today to spend some time alone. I thought I would lay on his bed and wrap myself in his blankets, but made the decision to leave his clothes and bedding alone as long as possible to prolong their scent. Instead I went through his items and picked a few things to take inside. I got all of his change which I will be using for whatever, his back pack with his school items. His iPhone, his last Fiber One bar, and a few more items. I just can't clear it out, I need to have that space that is his, to be alone with my thoughts some times. I will be sad to see it leave with Jeff and Dusty when they come for his funeral (they are his friends from work). I'm going to record the sound of his truck horn for the kids. I'm also wearing his slippers, and I'm wearing his pendant around my neck. Don't know when I will take it off unless I'm sleeping.

I've had this intense need to journal. To write down every single memory I can think of. Everything Barry has ever told me about his life, and things we have done together. I also plan to have a memory book made for the kids and will let anyone who wants to, to write information in it.

Tomorrow I will be going to get his wedding ring re-saudered (we had to cut it off in the ICU because it was just too tight and his fingers were swelling due to all his medicine), buy a chain for it. I'm also off to Border's to buy myself some notebooks. And I also have to find myself an outfit, as well as something for the kids to wear. we're also going to meet with the funeral director as early as we can. And on tuesday morning, mom and I will be going straight to the bank to set up a fund for the kids and I in lieu of flower donations. Honestly, I just need cash...cold hard cash for the kids and I to survive on till we get the life insurance. Tomorrow is going to be a really hard day for me.

In time I will be able to express my thanks to some certain people. These ladies have been my everything in the last two days helping me take care of everything. You guys know who you are and I will forever be in your debt. Especially the two that were at the hospital with me yesterday. You will never ever know how much it meant to me to have you there with me as I said goodbye to Barry. Thank you.

And thank you to everyone who is making donations for us through Rina's site at http://gottalittlespacetofill.blogspot.com The money we are receiving is going to go towards a freezer for the kids and I, a costco membership and stocking that freezer. Barry always wanted us to have a freezer, but we never got around to it. I figured that it would be a good purchase because I am not going to feel like cooking for a very long time.

And as much as I would like to mope and be sad, I still need to do stuff for my kids. I have laundry to put away, kids to play with, still have to be normal. I have to be there for them.

I miss his smell

so I am going to bed in the last set of dirty clothes he wore before he went into the ER. They smell like him and I am sleeping in them. Ive been wearing his shirt all day and I will put on his shorts in a few minutes here when I go to bed.

I also have the wash cloth they had over his forehead when he was having trouble breathing this morning and it smells like him too, so I have that actually drying in my bathroom, but it will be accompanying me to bed tomorrow night.

I'm just exhausted. I dont want to be a widow. I'm angry at life. I even wished today that more women were widows so they would know how it feels. I'm afraid to go through life without him. So desperately afraid that I want to crawl into a little ball and rock myself and scream.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My heart is broken

My husband passed this morning. I was able to be with him as he passed which gave me a lot of comfort. I was able to say goodbye in private.

Today has just been a whirlwind. i dont know when i will post again. my heart is broken and I need to help my kids.

I think that Rina, over at gottalittlespace.blogspot.com is setting up some sort of donation fund through paypal, so contact her if you feel so obliged.

My husband was a wonderful, caring, loving man. And I will miss him and love him forever.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Good News!!!

Today my husband was released from the ICU/CCU into a regular room. I was able to help him move, which was really nice as I got to say goodbye to all the nurses and the RT's. I plan to send them a thank you note, as they really helped me out this week.

We expect him to be released monday or tuesday morning! Isn't that great news? He's on antibiotics intravenously, but tomorrow they are going to try tablet form. And his O2 levels arent' quite good yet, so that is why he's staying a few more days.

He was very alert this morning and finally recognized me and was able to to hold a conversation. I am thankful for that, because as the morning went by, he got really cranky, rude, belligerent etc etc. It was really really hard for me to be pleasant with him because of his attitude. I think he was still very confused because of all the sedatives he had been on for so long. He even told me he didn't want me to come visit again.

Then I decided it was time for me to leave before I got too frustrated with him, and the situation got worse.

Today there was a thing going on at the kids' school, so I thought I could go to that before going home, but figured I'd just take time to myself. My mom was there with them, so I figured they would be ok without me. I went to McDonald's and had a hamburger and fries and sat and read my book for a while. I then headed across the street to Safeway and did some grocery shopping for the next couple days. It was so refreshing to get some time alone.

I was able to get a hold of him later on after he had eaten and taken a little nap, and he was much more pleasant. I'm going to go visit himfor a while tonight, and then tomorrow morning. Today has been one of the worst days for me, apart from Tuesday, because I was just hoping that he would be nicer. I was sad that he was so irritable. I've spent so much time at the hospital, 8+ hours a day when he was on the respirator, and it was so much easier to deal with him. I could wash him up, rub his feet, talk to him, help the nurses etc etc. Now I feel like I'm not needed anymore and he doesn't want me there.

I'm just happy that we're almost done with this. Hopefully he will get back to his old self really soon because I just don't know how much more of this I can handle.

I also want to say how thankful I am for the outpouring of support I have received. Especially from some of my friends, my meetup group and the kids' school. They have really blessed us and I don't think I could say thank you enough. I have received some gift cards for meals, and I have meals being delivered next week as well. It is such a relief not to have to worry about meals for the next week. Thank you everyone for helping!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Some News

sorry if this is just one liners and not complete paragraphs. Today has just been so exhausting for me.

Called the ICU this morning to make sure it was ok to visit, so I did and went at about 9:30. Stayed till 1:30. They kept checking his blood gas and O2 levels to see any improvement and there was some.

The nurse told me he wasn't ready to come off the vent, but then the RT (Respitory Therapist) said that the Dr had ordered a "test", so technically he had been off the vent from 8AM and was doing all the breathing on his own. That was great! Also, on the vent his O2 levels had been brought down to 40%, which is what they wanted him to beable to maintain.

So, Dr comes around again and tells us at noon or so they can try to extubate him. They did, everything went ok and he's been off the vent since noon today, so almost 12 hours.

He is taking a really, really, really long time to come around. He was very confused today. And very feisty. And EXTREMELY surly. I finally had to leave at 1:30 because his attitude was just too much for me. To give you an example, when I asked him what my name was, he called me Bitch. lol. It doesnt bother me, I thought it quite comical. When they took out his Art line (artery line), Colleen, his nurse, was holding his wrist really really tightly to get him to clot because it was in an artery. So he told her to stop squeezing him so hard or he'd break her arm. Oh, and the language we heard was quite colorful, to say the least. See the surliness? that's quite normal apparently.

One funny thing was that when I asked him what his name was, he said in a drunken voice, "Master Of The Universe". HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I'm still laughing at that one.

So I went home and came back about 6 hours later, and just got home again. I spent about 7-8 hours at the hospital today. I would have stayed longer today, but he was still just exhausted and not really making much sense, so I figured I'd just go home.

The RT was there tonight (there is a new one every day it seems) and as I was leaving, she told me she was going to put a Bpap or Cpap, one of those two on him, to help him sleep. He might have some sleep apnea, and they just want him to get a good sleep. He's seriously been sleeping for almost 12 hours straight not being on any sedation. But he sleeps like that all the time anyway, and will sleep for a day if you let him.

Don't give me any crap for saying this, but the sound of him snoring was so annoying. It was much quieter with him on the vent. And it doesn't help that his attitude wasn't very good either, so even though I do know he can't help it, I was still slightly annoyed.

Tomorrow should be better, and he'll be more alert. Looks like he'll still be in the ICU/CCU for another day or even more. There are no empty beds upstairs and they will just keep him where he's at.

Oh, and his O2 levels are ok, but not superb yet, so he still has a lot of recovery time ahead of him. At least he is breathing room air though.

So that's my update! Now to go to bed and get some sleep myself. IN the morning mom and I are heading to JoAnn to get my sewing machine, and then I'll head back to the hospital to hopefully find a more awake and cheerful husband.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

This Gets Old Fast

No news yet. Nothing has really changed except they have lowered his O2 levels to 50%, which is good. But his blood gas still isn't high enough. Maybe they'll try get him off the respirator tomorrow, but they don't know.

people keep asking me if he's going to get better and I just don't know. I don't have any answers and I'm tired of getting asked that question. I understand everyone wants to know, and this is just a normal response, but I just don't have the answers. please don't be offended if you're one of those who asks me, it's just that as a whole, I really hate it. If anyone wants answers, it's me.

He was responsive again, and was able to communicate with me a bit by hand squeezes, blinks and head nods.

I'm tired of this hospital routine and it's only been 4 days, almost 5. It's physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting. I know he wants me and needs me there, but I can only handle a couple visits a day. I usually go in the morning and late at night. It's ok to do this, right? He knows I love him, and I'd do anything...I just need a break from it all.

I'm so testy lately with other people, I can't tolerate idiots so today at the grocery store I saw some woman park her car maybe two feet in the parking spot, and the rest on the "aisle", so I wrote her a note and stuck it on her windshield telling her to learn how to park. I just can't stand stupid people right now, and I'm tired of being asked questions all the time.

Right now I'm just trying to get through the weekend. I will have to deal with a whole new routine on Monday because it's half days all week, and mom won't be here. I have to rely on friends again to help out with childcare. I'm scared I won't be able to find someone to help me with the kids, even though some people said they would. I know I cant go to the hospital from 1PM till the kids are in bed, so I need someone from 9AM till 12/1PM, and then 8/9 PM till 11PM.

I miss my husband so much. I hate seeing him like this. I need him to get better. I just need a hug from him

Another Update

I've been at the hospital a million times in the last few days it seems.

I wasn't able to go today till after lunch, as I had a dental appointment this morning and the kids' school had late start.

So he's doing ok, a little better than yesterday. His O2 levels were 100% yesterday in the morning, and they've slowly been lowering them to 60%. He is still on the respirator, has a feeding tube, and all that other stuff.

Today he was really agitated and kept trying to write something. he was making the motion with his right hand that he wanted a pen. I kept telling him no, and he kept getting upset. He was also trying to talk to me, and lift his head. So the had to sedate him more because he was getting too upset. I told him to blink twice if he loved me, and he did. <3 He looked at me too, and recognized me, so that gave me great comfort. I was able to calm him down a few times, but at one point his heart rate went up to 200.

Right now i don't know what's going to happen. We're all hoping for the best, and he is on the road to improvement it seems, but he is still very very sick.

I don't have anything much to post, but perhaps tonight I will have more information.

My mom is here, so I can stay long tonight if I want. I'm going back tomorrow for the morning. And then tomorrow night. Over, and over and over again. It's a routine now, and i feel very friendly with the nurses, lol.

I'm sorry if I don't seem distraught, upset, whatever. I'm just plugging away at it and trying to keep my head up for him and the kids. Sometimes I just need a break from the hospital. I'm sure he understands, I can't stay there all the time. I'm still scared, and I miss him desperately. I really really miss him. I just wish I could feel him hug me and kiss me.

'm sorry if I don't seem distraught, upset, whatever. I'm just plugging away at it and trying to keep my head up for him and the kids. Sometimes I just need a break from the hospital. I'm sure he understands, I can't stay there all the time. I'm still scared, and I miss him desperately. I really really miss him. I just wish I could feel him hug me and kiss me. Honestly, I'm kind of running on auto pilot now. My appetite is almost non-existant, I've had just yogurt and a banana today with a glass of milk. I'm just not hungry. I've lost weight already, I weighed myself last night and I was down a few pounds in just a couple days. I have managed to eat dinner, last night a friend brought us some delicious spaghetti. it's just nice not having to cook. Someone else is bringing us dinner again tonight. If anyone I know is reading this, then dinner would be most welcome next week. I know you all told me to ask, so here I am asking! Please call and ask. Or if someone can watch our youngest during the day, I would love it.

This morning I found some photo paper that I had, and printed off some photos for him to tape up on his wall. I thought he would like to have some of us that he could look at once he is feeling somewhat better.

Until later...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

And yet, another update

Thanks to my wonderful friend and neighbor Sara, I was able to visit him this evening for a couple hours.

First off, let me say how much those hospital masks SUCK! Seriously, my face is numb from the foam in them. It's so freakin uncomfortable.

Secondly, I did NOT know this, but the CCU is the same as ICU. So for those wondering, he is in the ICU.

Ok, so, I got there shortly after 9PM tonight and they were examining his air way. They haven't been able to get in a feeding tube , and will be doing it by Xray tonight. Probably now actually, now that I am gone.

There is no change right now in his condition. I can't really even pretend to understand all that medical mumbo jumbo. All I know is that he is on 70% pure O2 with the Respirator right now. There is blood in his lungs from the bad infection too. He needs to be able to maintain 50% on his own. I guess how they do that is wait till they see some form of improvement and once he gets somewhat better, then they can turn the respirator down and let his lungs do most of the work. But honestly, I couldn't even understand that. I don't know what his levels have to be, what they're at. Whats best for him right now is to be on the respirator and to let his body get healthy.

Tonight was a good visit though, he was lucid and partially awake when I went in there, meaning he was responsive to me. They actually turned down the sedation a bit. When I got there he was a bit agitated from the nurses poking and prodding him, and once they stepped back, i went up to him and held his hand. He looked me in the eyes, which was great. And yes, he did recognize me. A wife knows, we just know. I was really happy to see that. I asked him a few minutes later if he was able to hear me talking smack about him with Rick today, and he shook his head no. I also got a couple hand squeezes from him, and some eyebrow wiggles or whatever you call them. He couldn't open his eyes, but wiggled his eyebrows at me.

I went in tonight armed with nail clippers and foot lotion for him. I gave him a nice trim, lol, and a good foot massage too. Afterwards I was trying to exercise his legs for a bit, but he did NOT like that at all, and pushed against my hand and wiggled his toes. So I stopped.

The rest of the night, I talked about anything and everything. I also had brought some trivial pursuit cards because we like that game, and asked him the questions and then answered them for him ;o)

Tomorrow it looks like I won't be able to visit for awhile. I have a dental appointment in the morning to get a couple broken fillings fixed, and then Sara will be watching our youngest for me. But since she has somewhere to be, then I will most likely just come straight home and go visit him once my mom gets here. At least with mom coming, I dont have to worry about how long I stay. And then I can also come late at night after the kids are in bed too, like I did tonight.

I've got so much responsibility right now, I just don't know what to do about all that. I've got the work thing figured out, I am going to call in the morning and get it taken care of. The school I have to call too, but I did leave a message for his advisors to call me or vice versa. Honestly, the most pressing issue for me is the financial one. I don't know what we're going to do financially. I don't know how to pay bills if there is no money coming in, and that really worries me. He could be in the hospital for a couple weeks, and then he will need a bit of recuperating time at home, so what do we do? I know I can put off the bills for a little while, but what about groceries? gas? And those bills that HAVE to be paid like credit cards and insurance? can't miss those. I hate that money has to be the one issue I worry about, but it is a true worry. Me getting a job is not going to help things, so please don't even suggest that. I'd have to pay for day care, and for what...a month? just get a job for a month? I don't even think we could go on TANF/welfare for a month.

On a lighter note, if you want to call it that, I am amazed at the strength I have been able to pull from places I never knew existed. From this morning, I am a completely different person. I took care of things I never thought I could do, and I am proud of myself for that. But I wouldn't have been able to do this without the help and support of my friends and family. Mom, Maegen, Sara, Lisa, Angela, Janelle...anyone who has talked to or seen me today, they have just been an incredible support. And if you know me and can help next week with childcare, please please let me know. Sara has to go back to work on Thursday. starting Monday it will be just myself, and I can't not visit him. I know I have a couple ladies lined up that are willing to watch our youngest, but I just need more options. Even if you came to the house after they went to bed and sat for a couple hours while I visited. Anything. I'll even drive our youngest to your house during the day! I just wish I was able to visit him more often next week. I will only have the mornings though as it is conference week and the kids have early release and get home at 1PM.

I am physically and mentally and emotionally exhausted right now. I need to get a good nights sleep. Thankfully tomorrow is late start day, and the kids don't need to be on the bus till 9:30, so we can sleep in a little bit. I might give myself till 7:30 unless the nurses call me and pass on information.

Please keep us in your thoughts and hope that something improves. Again, I will update as I can.

Tuesday PM Update

I went back to the hospital this afternoon after I made myself eat something.
I sat with him for a couple hours, made a few phone calls etc etc. I got some sort of response from him, he squeezed my hands a couple times. But he is completely unconscious, so it could just be reflexes. Either way, it gave me comfort.

The Doctor said he most likely got a staph infection in his lungs, and these infections typically get worse before they get better. He will be on the respirator for a few days as well.

I know he knows I am there, even if he doesn't know that he knows. I just know. I was able to calm him down a few times when his blood pressure went up just by talking to him and soothing him

I sit and talk to him, I joke around and say silly things. I taped up all the pictures and cards the kids made for him on his wall. His nurse Rick is really funny,and he and I were making jokes about him. He had his beard shaved off, so now he looks like a bald bowling ball, lol. He has a big head, which is why I say that, and he also shaves his head. Tonight I am going to visit again for an hour or so after the kids go to bed, and my friend Sara is watching them while they sleep. I am going to cut his toe nails, LOL, he never got around to it for a couple weeks, and I joked to Rick that I should paint his nails. I don't think I will, but I will give him a nice pedicure.

I wonder if he can hear me, and is thinking up all these smart ass remarks to give me once he wakes up again. I tease him and tell funny things about him to the nurses and the doctor, so I might be in for it when he wakes up.

Until later....

Oh, and thank you to everyone for your well wishes and thoughts. I appreciate it so much.

Oh, and I haven't gotten a chance to do this, but I want to thank all my friends/acquaintances that have passed on their help, offered dinners for us, their well wishes. I will be sending out quite a few thank you cards I think.

One other thing I forgot...
I had to take his phone and computer home with me, and while looking on his phone this afternoon for some info, something made my heart skip a beat. I dont know why I didnt notice this before. A couple weeks ago I took a photo of the sunrise that turned out really neat. He never said anythign to me about it, but guess what was on the background for his blackberry? Do you know how good that made me feel? It was like an invisible hug and love from my husband. I just was so shocked to see that. I love that man.

so here I sit

I'm home for a short while while my husband is being taken care of.

I got the call this morning from the doctor that he was being transferred to the CCU, Critical Care Unit, because he wasn't getting better. I then called the nurse in the CCU who told me to come as soon as I could. They took blood from his artery and his O2 stats were 50%. Then they put him on the CPAP, which is 100% O2 and his levels only went to 69%.

When I got there, I got a glimpse of him through the glass door of his room and just lost it. He had a whole big plastic mask on his face. I waited till the nurse brought me a mask to wear to go in.

I was able to talk to him for a short time and then all these people started coming in, and I heard the word Anesthesiologist.

As you can probably guess, he is now intubated. He is on a respirator that is helping him breathe. They had me leave for 1.5 hours while they got him taken care of. When I came back, they were still working on him, and I only had time to gather a few of his possessions like his computer etc. I'm at home right now because I just couldn't take it anymore. So I'm here for lunch, and my sister is talking to me on the phone. I had to call her because the silence here is deafening. Our youngest daughter is at my friend's house and I just didn't feel like picking her up. I'm going back to the hospital in another hour or so, and then I'll do my best to be home by the time the kids get off the bus.

Thank goodness for friends. A friend from our old city is bringing us dinner tonight. Another friend is watching our daughter while I am at the hospital. And tomorrow my mom comes.

I don't want to admit it, but I am so fucking scared I will lose my best friend. Scared to pieces. How do I keep it together for my kids when I am broken inside?

I have the weight of the world on my shoulders right now. I have to find out a way to fill out his trip packs for work. I have to call his school somehow and figure out what to do for that. I have to figure out what to do about financial issues. He's going to be in the hospital for up to 10 days. And let me say this...I am so thankful for life insurance. No one wants to think about it, but do you know how relieved I am to know that the kids and I will be taken care of if something happens?

My poor husband has been working on his beard for years, it is his pride and joy. And they shaved it off. he looks like a bald bowling ball.

I love this man so much and it just breaks my heart to see him like this. How do I keep it together when I am so scared and worried? I am trying to make life as normal as possible for the kids,. Today was pajama day at school, and I let them do that. Our daughter's birthday is on Thursday, and i am making her cupcakes. Saturday is her party, and my mom will be here so we are still going to have fun. I ordered her cake yesterday, and we're going to go have fun at Glow Golf in our mall.

My tummy is rumbling and I need to eat something even though I don't want to. I just have no appetite.

Please keep us in your thoughts, prayers, whatever it is you do. I appreciate any and all of that.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Please keep us in your thoughts

My husband is in the hospital, and is very very sick. We know he has pneumonia, but they don't know how he got it. They think he had swine flu first, and it got worse and turned into this.

When he came home last night, I had my friend Sara come over and watch the kids and I drove him to the ER. We were there for 5 hours and I finally left to come home and get some sleep. he was admitted last night, and i was able to see him for maybe 20 minutes this morning. I had our youngest daughter with us, and I had to put a mask on her. Myself, I had to put on a gown/gloves and a mask. They won't let me bring the kids to visit at all because he is so sick and they don't want the kids to catch anything.

He has been on Oxygen all day and his levels are not getting better at all. They're going to put him on 100% O2 if he doesn't improve. IF that doesn't help, then he will be put under and intubated. He told the Dr that he would be too claustrophobic to be awake, so they're going to keep him sedated and "unconscious" till he gets better, if it comes to this.

I feel lost, helpless, scared...everything. He's supposed to be home right now, and I feel like part of me is missing. his truck is outside and I hate looking at it because it reminds me that he isn't home, but lying in a hospital bed 10 minutes away. I don't know what to do, and I am so afraid of losing my best friend. The Dr told him if he hadn't come in, he would have died in a couple days! He's the sickest patient there right now, and this is a BIG hospital. I know I have to keep strong for the kids, and act as normal as possible, but I'm really struggling to keep it together. I can't help but think of the worst. I know that isn't healthy, and good for me or the kids, but I just can't help it.

Please keep him in your thoughts, and myself and the kids. I hope that the tide will turn tomorrow or tonight and we will see some sort of improvement.

I'll update as needed.

9PM update: Just talked to him and apparently is O2 stats are up slightly. So they probably won't have to intubate, thankfully. He is feeling slightly better, and managed to keep down some food. He's not out of the woods yet though, but I am just happy he is feeling somewhat better, even if only a little bit.

I Love The Fall

I am so happy we made it through summer! While our summer wasn't terribly hot, except for a few weeks of 100F+ weather, I'm still happy it is over. School is in full swing, we're back on a schedule, the air has a bite in it and the leaves are changing colors. I love the fall, I thrive in it. It is my favorite season.

Over the weekend the kids finally persuaded me to put up our Halloween and Harvest decorations. I hadn't really been feeling the urge to do it, but I figured I may as well so I don't get bugged about it anymore. I'm happy I did, because the house looks really cute. I forgot what goodies I had tucked away!

Now that it is October, it is time to start doing some Halloween and fall themed crafts. I like doing them with our youngest daughter because she isn't in pre-school, and it gives us a fun activity to do together. I need some ideas though, what are some of your favorite fall crafts?

One idea I had was to have her collect some leaves that had changed color, put them between some wax paper and iron them. Then we can cut out the shapes together and hang them or put them on the fridge. And who can forget the classic leaf rub? just put the leaf under the paper and color over the shape of it on the paper. We could make this Fall Fingerprint Tree, or even this fun Paper Strip Pumpkin.

For Halloween, there is a plethora of craft ideas. FamilyFun.com has a whole section dedicated to Halloween Crafts. You can get a new idea for every day of the month with this 31 Days of Halloween Printables Calendar. I have found a ton of ideas on the Family Fun website, so I will definitely be using some of the craft suggestions.

Anyone have any good ideas they can share? I'm open to suggestions!