Thursday, September 18, 2014

The "F" word

Yesterday, it happened. 

I wondered if it would happen one of these days, but I wasn't quite prepared when I heard that repulsive word. 

My 9-year-old daughter came home from school yesterday and said that a boy at recess called her FAT

At the time, I wasn't sure what to say. Of course, I have read things about self-esteem, about children's body image, but in that moment, all I could think about was what I would do & say to that boy if he were standing in front of me. 

Shoving those thoughts aside, I tried to be calm and I asked her if she told her teacher. She said she didn't have time, but she would try to tell her tomorrow. When she told me what had happened, she wasn't crying. She wasn't especially angry. It was actually more of a frustrated, but questioning statement. I told her she knew she wasn't fat, right? I told her that we all are different sizes - some people are bigger, some are smaller. That's how we're made. Honestly, we didn't have a whole lot of time to talk about it - we were late for a dentist appointment. (side note: just once, I would really like a sitcom life, where my child comes and asks me an important question or tells me something significant and I am just sitting there, reading a magazine or something. And I can calmly put it down and take some uninterrupted time addressing the issue and talking it over. And we hug. And then we both go our separate ways knowing that it has been discussed & solved. Yeah. Right.)

Since then, that conversation has been swirling in my mind & heart. This is such a sensitive issue & I really don't want to mess up here. The consequences for messing up are far-reaching. 

I know. 

I won't go into details here, but starting at about age 10, I started having body image issues. And, while I was surrounded with people who truly loved me and wanted to help, there were some things they said or did that actually made the problem worse. It wasn't until I was in my 2nd year of college that I finally started truly seeing myself as more than a number on the scale - and until my metabolism finally stabilized after all that dieting. That is a long time - a DECADE of some of the most important years of my life - spent berating myself, belittling myself, and thinking I was less because I weighed more

So - you can understand why I approach this with a bit of trepidation. Simply saying, as I did "you know you're not fat, right?" doesn't make everything better. The seed has been planted. The threshold has been crossed. And even if she hears it no more from that boy at recess, there is a very high probability that she will hear it elsewhere. The thing is, she is overweight. It's true. It's the reality. She has always been bigger, and now that she is maturing, it is more apparent. I believe part of it is genetic - she has a different body type than her sisters. And part of it is personality & choices. She has never really gotten into sports - she has been more of a music/art loving girl. She likes to eat. While her sisters are somewhat picky eaters, she is not. While I have to work to get her sisters to eat a couple bites, she is asking for seconds and sometimes thirds. 

So - what do I do? 

We usually tell her to eat a big helping of salad and some fruit and drink more water if she is still hungry. But usually - yes - she is still hungry after that. 

How do I handle a request for seconds without making it an issue?

In our home, we don't use the word skinny. We use the word healthy. We have talked to her - and our other girls - about how eating too much is unhealthy for our bodies. But, again, I have tried not to make a big deal out of anything. To my knowledge, she doesn't hide food, but I have heard it getting to that point and I don't want to be there. I don't want her to see food as the enemy - as I did for so much of my life. And I still have to fight that mentality. 

It hurts my mother heart that she is starting to understand the unfortunate reality that many people care more about what you look like than who you really are. 

That kid at recess, and others she has and will come into contact with in her life don't SEE HER

They don't see how last night she gave up her big bed to her little sister because she wanted it & she slept in her sister's toddler bed. 

They don't see her beautiful drawings of colorful tigers, fairy villages, and people she loves. 

They don't hear her practicing piano without help because her mother is musically impaired. 

They don't see how she makes breakfast for her family, complete with personalized notes for each of them. Just because. 

They don't read the wonderful stories she writes about princesses, queens, heaven, and fairies. 

They haven't seen how at the times when her mother's tears fall without end as she grieves the loss of her son, she has stayed by her side. Holding her. Crying with her. Not leaving her until she is absolutely CERTAIN that she is going to be okay. 

They don't see that. 

I'm worried that she will be that girl. You know - the smart one or the one with the pretty hair or pretty eyes, but FAT. I cannot even tell you how badly I HATE. THAT. WORD

The articles say be the example! And we try! I just completed a half marathon. We try to go on walks and to the park as a family. We hike. There is a fruit bowl which is always filled. There is a vegetable tray with fresh-cut veggies. We always try to have a vegetable & a fruit at every dinner. In fact, we just completed an 8-week healthy challenge that she participated in. I know we can always do more - but we're trying.  

The paradox here is telling her that she is more than a number on the scale. Her worth is NOT tied to her pants size in any way. Heavenly Father, Jesus, and her family love her without end, no matter what. Comparing herself with others never helps - it only hurts us. AND! And she needs to take care of the precious body she's been given. She needs to not eat more than is needful. She need to exercise. She needs to limit the amount of sweets she's eats. 

I would appreciate insight here - especially from those of you have have dealt with this before. How did you do it all without turning it into an issue, a label, something that will haunt her for years to come? She is so young. I lover her so much. I want to deal with this the right way & not screw up! THANK YOU!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

August Newsletter & Slideshow

Hamilton Newsletter
August 2014

FAMILY:  We truly enjoyed the last bit of summer this month. The first week of August, Heidi & the girls headed up to SLC to spend some time with family & friends. We enjoyed playing with cousins, having a baby shower for Aunt Trisha, going to a spaghetti dinner in GG’s neighborhood, having a sleepover at the Edwards, meeting our new nephew/cousin Caden! Having dinner with the Matthews and Warrens in Herriman, having ice cream with mom’s cheerleader friends, having a picnic in Murray Park with cousins, mom going out to dinner with her friend Gayla from high school, getting to meet some SIDS moms & kids at the Cottonwood Splash Park & then mom going to a nice dinner with the SIDS moms. Whew! It was a busy, but way fun time in SLC. The 12th was back-to-school night at North Elementary & we all went to meet new teachers, see classrooms, and sign up for some things. The 14th was McKinley & Ireland’s first day of school – so far they are really enjoying it! On the 16th, we decided to go on an impromptu hike up Cedar Canyon – to the Alpine Pond Trailhead. The sun was just going down & the colors were BEAUTIFUL! It was just a perfect night & a perfect hike. Unfortunately, on the way back home, we hit a small deer L It didn’t do any damage to our van, but the deer didn’t make it. L  The 21st – 25th was McKinley’s big Seussical Play! She performed 7 times (including 2 matinees), so there was a lot of running around, but we are so proud of her! The 22nd was the night that we went as well as the Hamiltons, Devenishs, Reeds, and Potts. It was SUCH a cute play & she did a great job! The Vogts came to see her as well J The 24th was Kezia’s start date for preschool. This year her teacher is Mrs. Clara & she is loving it! On the 27th, we headed to East Canyon Park with the Bealers. The kids had fun running around & playing (& getting muddy!).The last weekend in August, Labor Day Weekend, we headed up to Yankee Meadows for some camping. Unfortunately, our truck had some issues and had to be towed to Cedar, but we are thankful that a man was able to come tell Heidi about it (she was up the canyon while it happened), and we still were able to enjoy our time up there – hiking Henderson Hill Trail (lots of cows!), roasting LOTS of marshmallows, going fishing at Yankee Meadows Reservoir, playing baseball, riding bikes, playing games, coloring, eating yummy food, whittling sticks, and meeting a new friend named Ocean! It was a great weekend!

JASON:  While Heidi & the girls were up north, Jason did some “honey-dos” and also went fishing up to Kolob Reservior and catfishing at the Lake at the Hills J Jason got some good news about his job this month – he got a detail job doing fleet management. It should last 3-4 months. We are excited for this change & thankfully he will be able to stay in Cedar! Jason was a big help with McKinley’s play this past month. He picked up from practices most nights and helped out with the kids and ushering for 2 of McKinley’s performances. Jason & Heidi have been reading the afterlife book “Embraced by the Light” this month & it has been really good.

HEIDI: Heidi really enjoyed her time up north – getting to meet with so many friends & family –not to mention getting to see her brand new nephew Caden! She really, truly enjoyed meeting & connecting with some of her SIDS mom friends. They went out to eat at the New Yorker & were there for FOUR hours, just talking! It is wonderful & healing to be able to share, learn & understand. She is so thankful to her mom & sister who helped out so much with the girls while she met with friends. It was a scramble to get everything ready for school this year & she really didn’t feel prepared. It seemed (yet again) that the summer went to fast & she wasn’t ready to have her children gone all day. It has been nice to get back into routines, though, and she enjoys spending more one-on-one time with Kezia & Noelle. She continued the 8 week healthy challenge & it is ALMOST over! She doesn’t think she will win, but she has lost over 10 points, so she is excited about that! She also got to get in a couple training runs with her dad – one was down Butterfield Canyon (super-steep!) and one was down Cedar Canyon. It was nice to not have to do the long runs alone.  Heidi also enjoyed reading “The False Prince” this month.

-McKinley enjoyed going to Salt Lake & getting to sleep over at Michael’s & she LOVED getting to see her Herriman friends, Jack & Lizzy J
-This month was McKinley’s BIG PERFORMANCE of Seussical! She really did well! Her costume was SO cute – and she was so animated when she sang. It was fun to see her solo at the end, too “I do not like them Sam-I-Am!” J Unfortunately, the combination of the stress of play practice & starting school (she was up at 7:15 for school & had to go straight to play practice after school, not usually getting home till about 10) proved to be a bit too much at the end & she had quite a few tears & meltdowns. The week after the play was over, we had her go to bed at 6:30 to have some much-needed “down time.”
-We had some last-minute confusion with which teacher McKinley was going to have for 3rd grade. They originally placed her in a 2/3rd grade class, but mom & dad didn’t feel like she would get challenged enough & the other class was full, so it was Mrs. Heap’s class that McKinley was placed in. She was worried about a boy named Austin bothering her, but so far she has had a good experience in Mrs. Heap’s class. Her whole classroom is decorated with a jungle theme & there are monkeys everywhere J
 -Even though Joshua had basically given up on the kids 8 week challenge, McKinley kept going. It was so nice for mom to have a partner to share the challenges with & even though it was hard for McKinley sometimes, she really did a great job & didn’t give up! Great job McKinley!
-McKinley continues to enjoy playing the piano whenever she gets a minute. She has about 4 songs memorized. We hope to get her in lessons soon. Great job McKinley!
-McKinley still deals with a lot of fear every night. She will tell mom she’s scared. She has a list of about 20 things she can do (read scriptures, listen to primary songs, etc), but she doesn’t always want to do them & she just has a hard time some nights – even after Grandma tried to help her, too.

-Ireland is in 2nd Grade now! Her teacher is Mrs. Willden and so far Ireland has really enjoyed her class.
-One day mom took all the girls to Walmart & let them each pick an outfit for the first day of school. Ireland looked for a dress, but they didn’t have the exact one she wanted. She said she wanted twinkle toe shoes instead. Mom told her if she got the shoes, she wouldn’t be able to get a new outfit, but she didn’t care. She wanted the shoes! So – she got the shoes!
-At the back-to-school night, mom was with Ireland going down the hall & Ireland saw someone in the hall & ran up to her & yelled “Hey – I forgot about YOU!”
-Ireland seemed to have a hard time at the end of the month with McKinley getting all the attention because of her play, so she was pretty naughty – breaking things and making huge messes L
-One day, Ireland said “Mom – you and dad are TATTERPATED!” (as in, twitterpated) J
-On Sundays, we usually get out the nice China to eat on. One Sunday Ireland said “We’re going to eat off the Chinese plates tonight” J
-We watched a video online about a woman doing the Ninja Warrior obstacle course. She was really amazing. Ireland said “Mom – you could totally do that! You were famous in gymnastics!”
-August was Ireland’s turn for her lunch date. Mom got to take her to Arctic Circle & then to The Fix for some ice cream! Yum!
-Ireland’s eczema seemed to get worse this month so we’re trying to stay on top of the hydrocortisone.

-Kezia loved going to Salt Lake & seeing her cousins. When we were at GGs spaghetti dinner, there was a girl that came up to us & asked what the names of our girls were. We told her & when we said “Kezia,” she said “that’s my name, too!” She even pronounced it exactly the same way! We had to get a picture. Don’t know when that will ever happen again!  
-Kezia says she wants to be a princess when she grows up. She’s says she’s changing her name to Aurora. Mom asked her what she will be if she’s not a princess & she said “A mom. And I will go to the beach and lay in the sand & eat cotton candy.” Amused, mom asked her who will do all the cleaning & laundry & errands while she is at the beach. Kezia said “My husband.” And mom persisted by asking who would then pay the bills. “A friend!” she replied. Makes so much sense!!
-Mom had bought some hydrocortisone cream for Ireland’s eczema & put it in the bathroom. One day mom found the hydrocortisone opened & on the counter. Mom came to Kezia & asked why she was playing with it. Kezia got big eyes & said “that’s not the toothpaste? I brushed my teeth with it! I thought it tasked funny…”
-Kezia probably comes into our room at night 4 out of 7 nights a week. Mom will usually look over to see the rocking chair moving. Kezia tries to sleep in it. She will go out of the room & come back in & then finally sleep on the futon. When we ask her about it the next day, she usually doesn’t remember anything. One night Kezia came in & slept on the futon. Noelle was having a hard time –crying. We could hear Kezia softly singing. Mom thought she might have just been singing in her sleep, but she said she was singing Noelle’s goodnight song to help her sleep.
-Kezia says she’s going to name her child Rosetta.
-There was a picture where mom had woken up & still had makeup on. Kezia pointed to the picture & said “Mom, you look scary in this picture.”
-Lately, Kezia has been talking a lot about mom’s “carriages” (miscarriages). Whenever we talk about how many people we have in our family, she always counts the “carriages.” J
-Kezia started PRESCHOOL! She has Mrs. Clara this year, but she also gets to see her teacher from last year, Mrs. Kristie and Mrs. Lynette, which she LOVES. She already knows a couple people in her class – Emi Daniel and Hadley – and we get to carpool with her friend Paige Hillstead. The only thing that makes her sad is that she can’t go every day like her sisters L
-Kezia earned a date this month! She chose to go swimming & then out to Sub Zero with mom J
-Kezia says “grateful for this wonderful world. For these beautiful trees. And for the earth.”

It was so neat this month to meet more families that have lost babies to SIDS. We sat & talked about you, Link, and about all the other baby boys up there with you. We can’t help but think you all play together and come together to help & support your moms & families through the missing of you. There have been quite a few babies join you on the other side this month & we hope you will welcome & love them as well. We love you. We miss you. We talk about you every day. Daddy & mom have been reading “Embraced by the Light” & it gives us a lot of comfort about the glory that you are living in on the other side. We haven’t been good with family history lately & we are so sorry, baby boy. We hope to get back into it once Noelle reaches 5 months old.

-August was a stressful month for mom with Noelle being the same age as Link when he died. We are so thankful she is still with us.
-Noelle is getting so good at grabbing her feet. She likes to grab her toes & turn to the side. She still rolls from her belly to her back, but hasn’t really rolled from her back to her belly yet.
-She is still our spitter-upper. Mom is trying to keep bibs on her more.
-Noelle still loves to get her hands in her mouth whenever possible. One time she was taking a bath & mom was washing her hands & she stuck them right in her mouth – bubbles & all. She wasn’t sure what to think about that!
-Noelle is getting to be a pro at all her toys – she hits the toys & makes the music go on her overhead gym – she can also spin the middle rattle. She can pull the cow on her chair & make it sing “old McDonald” and she is getting really good at the exersaucer, too!
-She still sits in the Bumbo at the table when we eat & she is definitely getting more & more interested in food. And – don’t put anything close to her because she will grab it & spill it!
-This month, we moved Noelle from her little vibrator chair to the crib. We moved the crib right by our bed. We also got a sleep guardian. It’s a blanket that fits on half the mattress like a fitted sheet and then there is a thing that you can strap them into it so she can’t roll over. It does provide peace of mind – especially with the Snuza on her. And we have the video monitor on her pretty much all the time as well. We have let her cry at 5, 10 & 15 minute intervals. It’s hard since she’s right next to us in bed, but it makes comforting her easier. She also sleeps with a little floppy dog that can hold her binki & she does like to watch the mobile.
-Noelle usually naps in the portable crib, the regular crib, or the swing.
-She still eats every 3 or so hours. She seems to be better with going longer. She fought the bottle for a while, but she seems better at taking it lately.
-Her hair coming in seems to be a bit lighter than the hair on top. I guess we’ll have to see how her hair turns out!
-Noelle LOVES to stare at the picture of our family taken on the day of Link’s blessing. She will just look up at it, stare, and sometimes babble to it. We’re pretty sure she was there & recognizes that day!
-Noelle LOVES to be outside – she loves to watch the cars on the freeway from our deck. She loves to swing in grandma’s hammock on her deck. She loves to hang out when we camp.
-Noelle has quite a few songs that we like to sing to her. Her goodnight song is the most important:
(sung to “The First Noel” J )

Noelle, Noelle our sunrise girl
You bring such light to our whole world.

Noelle, Noelle we sing to you
Your goodnight song, know we love you.

Now rest your head, our little one.
We’ll see you when the night is done.

A couple other songs we sing to Noelle:
Noelle, our bell (sung to Michelle by the Beatles)
Hello, Hello – primary song
So, she’s a big of a spitter-upper (sung to “fixer-upper” from the movie Frozen)

Monday, September 8, 2014

5 months

5 months old. 

Noelle is 5 months old today. 

I was so anxious and stressed-out when she reached the actual day of Link's death, but not until she has now hit 5 months do I feel like I can breathe a little easier. Her brother was so close to reaching 5 months. For the past year and a half, every time a mother would tell me that their child was 5 months old, my heart would feel a stab of pain. Why did their baby get to reach 5 months old and not mine? I have been so obsessed with making sure she reached 5 months old. I know the SIDS risk is far from over at this point, but she is getting closer and that makes me a bit more hopeful. Last night I could hardly sleep. At 1:30 when she woke up to eat, I was almost in tears, just thinking, OKAY. Okay. She has finally made it to 5 months old. She will LIVE. 

I can't really even begin to describe the emotions over this past month. It's been like a huge, heavy weight pushing down on my chest. I didn't feel like I could breathe. Even with the Snuza on her. Even with the video monitor on her all the time. Even with the Sleep Guardian, I would check on her. Again & again & again. I HAD to see her chest rising & falling. I HAD to hear her breath. I HAD to make sure her color looked all right. It's horrific, the effects of March 26, 2013 still have on my heart and mind. I mean, I am looking at her, seeing her beautiful smile, thinking "oh, she is so sweet." and then the next thought -  "maybe that smile is her telling me goodbye?" and my heart would start racing. I would take a cute video of her, or hear a song on the radio & think how perfect it would be in her funeral slideshow. These are NOT things a normal mother thinks. Yet... it is life after losing a child. Your mind and heart are NEVER the same. 

Holding Noelle these past few weeks. Seeing the things she's doing - the sounds she's making. My mind processes all these things and automatically compares it to my time with Link. This is the way he felt in my arms before he died. These are some of the sounds he was making. This was how his skin felt against my lips as I kissed his cheeks again & again & again. There are moments when I  think "Well, he was only 4 months old. People have lost children much older than that." But I look at Noelle & think "She is as much a part of our family as our 9 year old daughter. She is a little PERSON!" And I cannot fathom losing her. And it makes my hurt & longing for Link that much deeper. 

I pray that now that she is 5 months old, I am able to actually ENJOY her a little more. I feel like my sole purpose has been to keep her alive. There is a part of me that has been guarding my heart against her, saying "don't get too attached! It will hurt more when you lose her!" (again - NOT things a normal mother thinks). Of course, of course I am too attached. She lodged herself into my heart the moment I found out she was coming. But now that my fear is a little lessened at losing her, I hope my heart will open up that much more to enjoying her. 

Noelle truly does bring light into our family & our home. I believe her brother watches over all of us, but takes especially good care of our sunrise baby girl. I have a large picture of our family on Link's blessing day right by my computer. She sits on my lap a lot when I type & she will just stare up at that picture. She loves to talk to it as well & I cannot help but think she recognizes that day and was present when that picture was taken. I tried to take a picture of her looking at it, but this is as good as I could get. Can you see her reflection? 

We love her SO much. And my heart is daring to believe that we will get to witness all the milestones that we never got to see her brother reach. WE LOVE YOU NOELLE!! Happy 5 months! :)