Growing up

My baby is four. FOUR! I can’t even really believe it. Mark and I used to always talk about then the kids were 4,6 and 8 and how we were looking forward to it. No more “babies”… we could do more as a family without diapers, bottles, and wandering toddlers. And here it is. It would mean so much more with Mark here. Like most times, the days I expect to be difficult emotionally tend to be not as bad as I expect. Maybe because I’m “ready” for them to be tough. And then days I would never think would be hard can be awful. This is what happened yesterday.

‘S’ had just turned 3 a few months before Mark died. He was really little and didn’t understand fully what that meant (still really doesn’t). But as time passes, he is starting to understand that it means you don’t come back when you die. And most of the time he will say it totally matter of fact (‘yeah, daddy died.’ Or ‘Daddy’s not here because he died.’) So yesterday when he was getting cranky and I decided he should take a nap (late night celebrating his big day!) I was very surprised when he started crying for daddy. Like, a lot. It just broke my heart to hear it. I asked if he missed daddy, he just cried and nodded his little head. I snuggled him and told him daddy loves him and he eventually fell asleep. But I couldn’t stop crying. Seeing my kids hurting hurts me more than anything else.

Then ‘B’ and I had a heart to heart before bed. He still loves it when I tell him daddy loves him every night before bed (and will remind me if I forget). And ‘E’ is really struggling with the “why” because she has a better understanding of how it happened. Even last night she told me ‘what if they are wrong? what if he’s still alive?” When we were able to go see Mark’s body, I made the choice that the kids would not go. I wasn’t sure what he would look like because of how it happened. Turns out all injuries were internal and so I had my time for goodbye and closure. I am SO thankful I had that and do sometimes wish the kids had it too. But at the time (24 hours after it happened) it was definitely the right decision.

Anyways, all that to say yesterday was a pretty emotionally tough day. But today is a new day. And we woke up, got ready to go to camp, and sang and danced in the car on the way there. Every day is a choice. How I choose to act is modeling for my kids. And so I will face each new day with the decision to make it a wonderful day with much to be thankful for. I will always miss Mark… and some days will be harder to stick to that decision. But I am so lucky to have all that I do and I will continue to work hard to remember that.

PS… for those of you wondering… I am ALMOST to my 31 miracle goal!!! I am overwhelmed by the amount of support. People are good. Thank you for sharing my story or for placing an order! I am also opening up my fall calendar (beginning in September) for home parties! And if you are on my private facebook group, I will have a special for the first 10 days in August. Click here to join!

Thirty-One

I just spent the last 4 days with some of my favorite people.  Almost 3 years ago, I attended a vendor event at my cousin’s house.  She has people from different direct selling companies come, set up, and everyone comes to shop and have a fabulous time.  It has always been a ton of fun.  That year, after the party was over, we were sitting at the table chatting with my sister’s friend Alison.  She was a Senior Director and was talking about how much fun it was.  She asked me if I wanted to know how much she made at that event.  She told me $247 (I won’t ever forget that number, as I was SHOCKED!  I didn’t even make that much working 2 weeks at my part-time job!)  Needless to say, I was hooked.  I had 3 part time jobs at the time (all working with kids), a 1, 3 and 5 year old, and the idea of getting out of the house once a week and hanging with adults AND making some money sounded very appealing.

Long story short, because of my excitement, I quickly promoted within the company, adding women (who are now some of my best friends) to my team.  I made a lot of money, earned tons of free stuff, even earned the trip to Punta Cana Mark and I went on for our 10 year anniversary.  I felt like I had really found something I was good at and LOVED.  It was perfect for me and I got a lot of satisfaction not only from meeting all these new people at the parties, but all of the other Thirty-One consultants I met at meetings, conference and of course, all the new ladies who joined my team.

I worked hard to grow my business and make is something that could really be a source of money for our family.  I had parties booked last fall through the end of November… LOTS of parties.  In fact, I had parties booked both November 16th and 17th.  My team had grown to 34 women in just 2 short years.  Our team sales that month was almost $24,000.  I was at my peak.

After Mark died on November 15th, clearly I did not host parties.  I was in “the fog” for a good 2 months.  Honestly people will tell me things that happened during those months and I do not remember.  I was in pure survival mode.  My director took over my team, I took a leave from 31 (officially) and had until March to decide what I wanted to do.  A huge part of my heart was gone.  My motivation and desire disappeared and I couldn’t figure out how to live day to day, let alone figure out how to appear happy at thirty-one parties.  Slowly, the ladies on my team dropped off… and without adding new ones, my team started shrinking.  Because of some of my amazing loyal customers, I have been able to maintain not only being “active” but also my Director title.  When the registration for National Conference came up, I just wasn’t sure.  Was this even something I wanted to do anymore?  Maybe that ship had sailed.

Well, the day before registration opened, I texted the girls I went with last year from my team.  The response was a little overwhelming.  All of them said, if I was going, they were going.  No going back, I was in.  After a hectic time packing after our road trip, we were off to Columbus.  I won’t bore you with the details, but let me just say, being there reminded me WHY I am doing this.  I MISS that part of me that got confidence from doing well in my job and leading my team.  I MISS our team page, where we would interact and have fun.  I MISS going to parties, and meeting SO many new people and laughing and having fun.  All that to say, I want it back.  And unlike Mark, this is something I COULD have back.  So I’m gonna try… with all my might.  This is where you come in! 😉  If you or anybody you know loves Thirty-One, please let them know I am working to get my $1000 in sales by July 30th!  I need 20 (well, 19 more, thanks Kim!) orders of $50 to do it.  Any orders placed on this link (click here) will receive a chillicious thermal in August (see pic below) for either $5 or FREE (local ladies will be free, shipped orders will pay their extra shipping cost).  Better yet, collect $200 in orders and get another for just $5 as a hostess!  I will also be booking home parties (AHHHHHHHH!  I’m nervous!) beginning in September with the new Fall Catalog, so please let me know if you or anyone you know would like to host.

I am SO nervous about the prospect of starting this all over again (because after 8 months, that is what I am doing).  But also really excited at the idea of having something that is mine again, because I was GOOD at this and it felt like me.  I’m not going to let Mark’s death take everything from me.  I’m gonna work hard to get this back.  Because I realized I really do need something for me.  And my team and my family are all here to support me… so I’m going to let them.

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(And host a catalog party and close before August 10th and I’ll pay for your hostess special… the lunch break thermal you see in the pic above!)  Okay, sales pitch over 😉

 

Coincidence? I think not.

So it’s been almost one month since the closing of the house.  Something happened that day that I think was actually pretty amazing, but one more recent thing made it even more interesting.

I always sort of felt like Mark played a part in the house selling so fast.  I’m not really one to necessarily believe in “signs” or anything like that.  I think it would be nice but I just think it’s a little bit out of my belief in logic.  Anyways, at the closing for the house, the man buying my house mentioned he was a teacher.  My dad (who was with at the closing) asked him where.  He named our town.  I said, “what school do you teach at?”  It is the middle school in Mark’s district.  I had mentioned to my mom the night they came to look at the house that I heard him say (while in the boys’ bedroom) ‘I know that guy’ so I was not completely shocked.  So that in and of itself isn’t totally that strange as it’s a large district and he WAS moving to be closer to work.

Then we get to talking about their wedding.  They are getting married on August 16th (Mark and I were married on August 8th).  ‘Oh, where are you getting married?’  Same place as Mark and I.  Again, not totally crazy since it’s all in the same town, but still quite coincidental.  I do think all of this is now becoming a sign.  Like it’s Mark’s way to let me know he is looking out for me.  So cheesy I know, but there it is.

Okay, as if this weren’t enough (and I haven’t really told most people about all of this for fear they will think I’m crazy!) I had a playdate with my neighbor”s last week.  I asked if they had met the new people that moved in.  They said they had, they were really nice, blah blah blah.  She then says, ‘Yeah, the kids met their dog, Milo.’  Okay, if I wasn’t sure before, I know now.  Milo was one of Mark’s nicknames growing up.  I am more convinced than ever that everything plays into a bigger picture and I’m reassured that I did the right thing by moving and these were the right people to buy our house.

Each day brings its own challenges and heartache, but every once in a while, things happen that encourage me that I’m on the right path.  The path I’m supposed to be on. I hope I can continue to have these “signs” as a way to know things are moving forward just as they should.

Back to Reality

So I am officially back from our 8 day road trip through Ohio, North Carolina and South Carolina.  I went with my sister and her two kids (14 and 11) and it was, in a word, amazing.  I wasn’t sure how it would go, being in a mini van with 7 people for all that time. All in all, I would say 95% of the trip was positive, which is saying a lot considering!  We visited the Columbus Zoo, spent 2 nights in a cabin in the hills… the kids explored the forest and tried to catch crawdaddies in the creek.  We went to an awesome Museum where the kids got to lay on a bed of nails and discover all sorts of “cool stuff” and walked through downtown North Carolina.  The kids went in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time and built sand castles in Myrtle Beach.  They played in the splash park, and sang songs and made up dances in the hotel room when the thunderstorm forced the pool and beach closed.  All 7 of us slept in one hotel suite for 8 days straight.  And even when we were forced to drive straight through from Myrtle Beach to home (16 hours) they didn’t complain (not really at least!) and arriving at 2am was a much welcome sight.

And so now it begins…. the waiting game until my house is ready.  School starts for the older kids one month from today.  I am really hoping that we will be in before that.  But if not, we will manage.  The past few days we have been home have been hard.  ‘E’ has been having a hard time, really just missing Daddy.  It is still hard to know what to say, other than, “I know, I miss him too.”  But the good news is, this vacation was not as hard as Mexico.  I still thought about Mark pretty much every single day.  Thinking how much he would have liked what we were doing.  Thinking, I don’t even know if he ever went to South Carolina and thinking about him playing in the ocean with the kids.  I know they miss him because he was the fun one… always willing to be a big kid with them.  Playing games and throwing them in the water.  I make a real effort to be both, but it can be exhausting.  One of me and 3 of them and they all want me, for everything.  But, we are figuring it out… this new life as a family of four.

Please keep your fingers crossed that the house moves along as expected… I know we are all anxious to move in to our new place.  I am so thankful to have such a nice place to stay while we wait, but will be happy to have my own “space” again (I’m sharing with ‘E’ right now, which actually has been nice, we have fun night time talks every night before bed). 

I’ll end with a quote, that really made sense to me.  It says, “Life after loss is choosing to start over when you would rather not.”  That sums it up.  The life I want is not the life I can have, so I have to choose to start again, and make a new life.  Even typing that makes me sad.  But each day I make a decision to make the best of the life I have.  I look at my kids little smiling faces and know I will do whatever I can to make their lives the very best it can be.  Hopefully the worst is behind all of us and we can look forward to happiness in our futures.

Missing Mark

I simply miss Mark tonight. I miss talking to him, seeing his smile, watching law and order svu and him telling me we’ve already seen it but I just don’t remember so we watch it anyways. I miss the life I use to have… It was simple and easy and my kids didn’t ask questions about cremation and heaven. I miss my partner, the person I did everything with. Sometimes even though I’m surrounded by people I feel so alone. Because my true other half is gone. I know people say it, but I never really understood that. He really was the other half of me. I don’t know how to “be” without him here. So tonight I’m just allowing myself to be sad and to miss him. Because he was so important and my life will never be the same without him here.

Another “first”

So another “first” holiday has come and gone.  It was a little rougher than I expected because the 4th of July was always a holiday we celebrated at our house.  In some ways I am glad that we never had to have a 4th of July party without Mark.  Since our old house (it’s so strange to write that) is so close to the park, we always got suckered into hosting a party.  You can see the fireworks perfectly from the front lawn.  Since we are out of the house, we weren’t really sure what the plan would be.  We ended up going to my sister’s house, which was nice, then drove over and found a nice spot close to the park to watch the show.  ‘E’ was a little bit sad, which of course made me sad.  Lots of changes for everyone and it can sometimes get to be a little overwhelming, especially when you didn’t want or ask for the changes.  That is what I am working on now.  The future I WANT is not the future I can have, so I have to figure out a way to make my “new” future the best one it can be.  And I think so far I’m taking steps in the right direction.  Step one, new house.  In just a few short months, we will be in our new house, settling into a “new” life without Mark.  I hate that, but each day it hurts a little less.  In just 6 shorts weeks I will have a 1st and 3rd grader starting school… our first “back to school” without daddy.  I keep telling myself I just have to get through this year and hopefully then it will really get easier.  I hope it does.

In 3 days we leave for a 10 day road trip… I just feel like we have to do things that make us happy and I’m done waiting for the right time because NOW is the time we are guaranteed.  No more waiting, just experiencing and living.  So our first trip out to the east coast… can’t wait to see what adventures await us!!  So if I’m not back on for a while, that is why… I’m busy enjoying our summer vacation!