Monday, December 17, 2012

I Need Help

I have a problem with my blog that I need for assistance.  I thought the best thing would be  . . . to blog about it.  I haven't been posting very much and that's because I pretty much generally include photos.  But it says that my space is all filled up and I can't upload anymore pics.  I tried downloading Picasa to see if I could add them from there, but nope, no luck.  Apparently, it only works for Picasa web albums.  And I don't really want to delete old pics.  Thoughts?  Help?  Anything?


Monday, December 10, 2012

Grandpa Barney

Grandpa Barney passed away on November 6th, 2012.  We will miss him: his sweet smile, his compliments, his kindness, his everlasting love of golf and sports, his self-deprecation, his desire to hear about our lives, and his willingness to run errands for anyone, anytime :)
Even though we weren't there, I'm so glad we were able to write him a small letter and say good-bye.  I wish I could have been there to give him a hug and kiss and selfishly pass along a message to our daughter.  But we were able to make a last minute drive to Utah to attend his funeral.  And I am so so so glad we were able to be there.  I can't imagine missing it.  Even though it's hard, I have felt that there is something so incredibly sweet about grieving together as a family.  Some of my favorite moments from that day:

- Briz, Libby, and Kloey being so excited to sing "I am a child of God," during the funeral with all of their other cousins, that they ran up to the podium a few minutes too early.  They stood there next to "Pops," while he was still talking.  And while I was playing the piano during the song, I could hear Libby belting it out.

- Looking at pictures of Grandpa Barney, and seeing all of the family genes that have been passed down through the Barneys.

- Seeing all of our cousins, aunts and uncles, and just giving each other lots of hugs, taking a lot of pictures.  I love Nick's extended family.  It feels weird to even type that because really, they are just my extended family :)

One of the most special things for me was to see Grandpa in his casket; different, but he looked so handsome.  I had two overwhelming feelings when I saw him:
1) I was reminded, no not reminded, almost like smacked upside the head with the repeated affirmation that life is eternal.

2) I grieved a bit of Holland's death as well.  This is the first funeral that I have been to since hers and even though it was so extremely different, I was reminded of seeing my baby girl in her casket.  I realized that there are so many different elements to grieving, and often the big, heavy, ugly parts of it (like trauma) drown out everything else.  This is a part of grieving that I hadn't done yet.  I grieved for those moments in the viewing when I sat there with my girl, watching people watch her (some for the first time).  This isn't something that anyone should have to go through.  And even though it was extremely spiritual and powerful, it was really really hard.  And I just wanted so badly to pick her up and for her to miraculously have life.  I wanted people to understand that she was SO much prettier in real life.  I wanted people to see her blue eyes and hear her cooing voice.   I had seen her dead quite a few times by this point, so compared to all of the other horrific things I was going through, this didn't seem that bad.  But being in there with Grandpa's body, I was able to deal with Holland's viewing in an isolated way and appreciate it.

I love thinking about Grandpa Barney being with Holland and getting to know her better.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Highs and Lows of November

November has overall been a bit of a difficult month for us.  I am sure just the onset of Holiday-ness doesn't necessarily help because it brings up all kinds of feelings.  But in an effort to be concise, I will share some of our highs and lows:

- Lost my wedding ring.  Briz decided one night to take my wedding rings to bed with her because she wanted to sleep with treasure (my fault for leaving my rings in her bathroom).
- Car was in the shop all month.  We finally got it back the day before we left for California only to have it break down on the freeway in San Diego on the way to Legoland.  Turns out we need a new engine because the people who repaired it messsed up.  SO . . . our car is getting a new engine in San Diego.
- Struggled to rent our house.  Paying double mortgages is not fun.  I bet that's quite a shocker to most people
- Mitt lost the election (see last post)
-Grandpa Barney passed away, so we made a last minute road trip to Utah, in the snow.

- I found my rings!  I was looking for almost a month and they randomly showed up on the ground.  I swear sometimes it's God's way of reminding me that he's in charge, just to mess with me.
- I bought a high quality wedding ring with Sam at Wal-mart in Vegas so now I have two wedding rings.
- I had an awesome weekend with friends in St. George.  I miss them.  I wished we had a  monthly girls weekend.
- Went to San Diego and then Palm Springs for Thanksgiving week.  It was a blast (More detailed post about that to follow).  We played in the sun and spent time with our family.
- Saw some of our Ainge family for a few hours.  It was so great and made me wish I saw them more often.  Briz had a blast with her big cousins.
- I am driving a sweet dodge caravan around.  No really, I do love it a lot.  I feel cool too because I now fit in with my minivan friends, even though I'm only a temporary member of the club.  Plus, I am very much reminded of my high school days, driving around in my minivan, turning up the base and listening to some rap.  Still pretty much the same, except I have a three year old to dance along with me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thoughts About the Election

Here are some of my thoughts about the election:

- Having worked on the campaign for this last year and in the 2008 campaign for Mitt Romney, I obviously have grown pretty attached to this presidential campaign season and election.  But I was surprisingly objective going into the Election night.  I would say I probably guessed a 40/60 chance that Mitt would win.  I knew that we had less ground people in Ohio and I thought it would come down to Ohio.  But once the night came around, I was surprised at how nervous I was.  I was also extremely surprised at how much Obama won by.  I thought it would be much more of a nail-biter.  I thought I would be up all night.  It felt very anti-climactic and obviously extremely disappointing to have such an early and decisive loss.

- Grandpa Barney passed away the night before the election.  He said he wanted to stick around until the election, but I think I should have taken this as a sign that he knew Romney wasn't going to win so there was no point in sticking around :)

- I was very proud of Mitt when he gave his concession speech.  I thought he was brief, gracious, and sincere.  I felt sick to my stomach for him and his family who has devoted SO much time and money to their race for the white house.  I know that he believed it was what he was supposed to do, and I really do hope they feel at peace after the loss.

- I liked Barack Obama's speech.  I felt like he was inspiring and motivating, and it did actually make me feel a bit more hope that perhaps things would improve.  I didn't appreciate how he glossed over the economy.  The only thing he even really mentioned about it was that it was in the past tense and that pissed me off quite a bit.   He mentioned fixing a few problems, but none of those were the economy.  I also get a little bit sick of the "we rise and fall as one nation" talk.  I personally believe that it is my duty to take care of my family first and I believe it is important for me to serve my fellow men, but not in a way that is dictated by my government.

- Even though the Senate won a lot of key Democratic positions, I was really excited to see the record breaking amount of women that were nominated to the Senate.

- Nick's stance on politics: "Lexie is really into it.  I would just like Mitt Romney to win so I can have sex."

Thursday, November 1, 2012


This was our first official Holly Day, and it went really well.  A big part of that was we had Nick's sisters, Jacci and Brittany, in town.  And they pretty much took care of Briz.  They got up with her, took her to her ballet and soccer classes in the morning, and just helped out a ton.  Nick and I were able to sleep in.  We had a pretty easy going day.  After we had a late start, we met Briz and the girls at Holland's grave.  We were able to talk to her a bit and think about her now year-long absence.  

I love going to the grave because I generally feel uplifted.  I love that Briz has a chance to talk to Holly, share things with her (last visit she wanted to tell Holland all about her new boots).  We talk to Briz about death and get to have conversations about Holland and our Heavenly Father's plan of happiness.  And we get to cry together as a family.  I love that we have a designated spot to do this.  But that's all it has become for me.  I don't think of Holland as being there.  I think of her as being close to me and my family most of the time.  It truly is a memorial place where her little body is.

We took our donations from the Holly Hoop and we purchased a gift basket for the Piscitelli family, in honor of Vienne.  It was a fun day of shopping for Nick and I, talking about memories of Holland and thinking of another family and what would truly help them heal at this time and in the future.  With every purchase we made, we included a note to explain why we purchased that.  Many of the things that we purchased were things that Nick and I have used that have been helpful to us.

We saw this rainbow on the way to Holland's grave.  It was kinda cool because there was a rainbow during the Holly Hoop.  Coincidence?  I think not :)  Just a sweet message.

The gift basket and frame.
Items in the basket:

- Flowers and a vase: when you are getting flowers fairly frequently, you can never have enough vases.  I always appreciate flowers if they seem cliche.  If nothing else, I like to be able to put them on Holland's grave to make it look pretty.  And it's something that brightens up my house when it might seem otherwise kind of dreary.

- Framed picture of the race start with a signed matte.  I wanted the family to know how they are supported, even from people that they don't know.

- Gift card to buy christmas presents for Vienne.  We explained our tradition of opening Holland's stocking first.  We bought Vienne a little dinosaur ornament also.

- Grief journals.  I have a journal that I record experiences with grief and just about Holland in general.  It started out as a journal for Holland when I was pregnant, but then after she died, I wanted to still use it.

- Gift cards for massages.  I have gotten fairly regular massages since Holland died, and it's been helpful for me.  I also saw a chiropractor for a while.

- Books about grieving. I just started reading my book club book.  I made a joke that recently I am ready to stop reading self help books.  For about a year, that was pretty much all I read.  And I am still reading them, just not exclusively.  It's been something that has helped me a lot.  I am able to learn a lot about what I am going through and what is helpful.

- Donation for grief counseling.  This has also been a lifesaver.  We have been to support groups (Compassionate Friends and Brief Encounters), to individual counseling, and marriage counseling.  We are still very heavily involved in the counseling.  Grief is hard in and of itself, but it tends to affect every relationship and every thing in a person's life.  I don't know how anybody gets through the mess that it is without guidance and help from professionals.

We dropped it by quickly at the Piscitelli's that night.  I remember I wasn't interested in having to socialize a lot with strangers or people I didn't know very well.  I always felt awkward and like I had to comfort or entertain them.  I am so glad I met this family and was introduced to Vienne.  In a completely selfish way, they made my Holly Day enjoyable.  Being able to think about them and in what small ways we could try to help them heal was what made my day.  That and being with my family.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

One Year

I am not sure how to write about the year mark of my daughter's death.  I feel so many conflicting feelings that shift hourly.  One minute I am still angry that she is gone.  I feel sad and stuck.  Another minute I feel excited and proud of myself that I survived the first year.  I feel relieved that it is passing me by.  I feel hopeful that this next year will be easier.  I feel guilty for feeling hope and guilty for leaving her behind.  I feel depressed that at times it seems as if I'm as sad as I was a year ago, maybe even more sad because a year ago, I was in such a fog of trauma.  It feels impossible to sum up all of the feelings I have had for the last few weeks.  But one thing that I have found is that often the anticipation of a big marker is the worst.  And it is also a lot easier for me to handle these markers when I can anticipate them.  

The beginning of October was difficult for me because I was not expecting it.  I didn't realize that the beginning of "THE month" or that the change in weather and the change in colors would result in such a big reaction from me.  But it did.  I naturally felt like I did a year ago.  And all of a sudden I felt like my life was frozen.  I felt discouraged that I would always be in this same place of paralyzing sadness.  But as the month has gone on, I actually feel better and more hopeful that I will someday have full capacity as a person back.  

Grief is so hard and it has changed me forever.  Sometimes that is hard to accept because I feel like I have been a pretty driven, optimistic person.  I'm not sure if that same person will return.  I still don't really feel like "me."  And it's scary to think because I don't always like myself the way I am right now.  I am overly anxious about things, I laugh less, I get overwhelmed very easily, I am sad often, and make other people feel uncomfortable because of my sadness.  I am hard on myself and feel guilty for stupid things all of the time.  I know that I will always feel a bit of emptiness and sadness for not having my daughter with me in this life time.  But I don't always want to feel the way I do most of the time now.  I want to feel normal and I want the normal life I had always anticipated having.  I guess I'm not sure what normal even means anymore though.  

Overall, at this time of year, I miss her.  I miss my life with her.  No matter how much I know that she is in heaven, that she is with loved ones, and that I will see her again and be with her again, I am still missing my sweet girl and wishing I felt as good as I did when she was alive.

Friday, October 26, 2012


We have had a week of Cottle visitors.  They came to support us in our Holly Hoop run.  It is one of my favorite things to see Briz play with her cousins.  And even though there were a few hard moments with the girls, they played so well.  Our house is now very quiet and poor Briz misses all of the socializing. I'm a boring mom, not quite as entertaining as her cousins, aunts, and grandparents.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Boring blog title, I know.  But I have a lot of little things to update, so here they are:

Started soccer class and I absolutely love watching Briz.  I always tell myself that I am going to get a bunch of stuff done during that time, like respond to emails, etc.  But I can't stop watching and laughing.  Of course, like all of her other classes, getting stamps at the very end is the most exciting part.

Up until a few days ago, it has been gorgeous weather here.  Like unusual sunniness, which we deserve because overall, the weather in Oregon has been crappy this year.  So we tried to spend our spare moments outside.  Here we are doing some chalk drawing, and this is my body outline.  It really is an extreme likeness.

Fall Shopping.  It's amazing how I think Briz has a ton of clothes and then as soon as the seasons change, I freak out about her not having any of the clothes she needs.  So to Old Navy we went.  And the highlight for Briz was standing with this "nice family."  She asked me to take a picture of her with them.

Also started ballet class, and she could not love it more.  Her pirouettes and gallops are being refined and she loves telling me that she's a ballerina.  She also loves all of her new little friends.

I love this picture of her giggling with her friend and looking at themselves in the mirror.

I have been working a lot.  I am very excited for November 6th, not only because I will be excited to pull an all nighter watching CNN but because I will be relieved.  In the meantime, Briz has been very patient and likes to work with me in my office sometimes on her own "computer."

Uncle James was nice enough to give us tickets to the Ducks/Washington game.  We were in the student section, right where we want to be.  Except, when our  neighbor decided to throw up everywhere.  Awesome.  It was still fun though.  

Watched Conference.  It was a great weekend.  I loved so many of the talks, but in particular Elder Bowen's talk.  It felt like it was just us for our family and what we needed to hear.  I can always be reminded of the healing power of the atonement when it comes to grieving.

Briz was a sport and loved Bingo.  Except every time she put a sticker on she would yell, "I won!"  She is getting extremely competitive these days and wants to win at everything.  We are still working on being a good loser.

We headed to the pumpkin patch where we got pumpkins for Briz and Holly.

Loves being sarcastically obedient, whether it's "Yes your majesty" or  "Yes sir!"  Here she looks like she is saying "Hail Hitler" which truthfully wouldn't surprise me.  Also, we have been having fun with  Halloween tattoos.

The rain has officially come.  And so out come the rain boots.  Briz being so excited about her boots makes the rain almost worth it.

Briz with her pumpkins.

This is her new favorite pose, sticking her tongue out.

She found this piece of old corn and carried it around with her everywhere.  She made me bring it home (which may or may not have been stealing).  I am pretty sure it is still in my purse.

Other updates:

- We are trying to rent, sell, or rent/sell our house.  I hate it and I want it to be over with already.  It's a huge pain.

- We have been busy planning the Holly Hoop.  We have a bunch of family coming into town this week which I am excited for.  But Nick and I have been nonstop busy.  When I get to sit down and read at night for thirty minutes I am thrilled.

- I learned how to do subway art on pic monkey.  Oh yeah, I discovered pic monkey and it's a problem.