Monday, July 22, 2013

Let's be honest, I'm not Okay

I've been getting that question a lot: Are you okay? How are you feeling? Or some other variation. I understand the mentality behind it. And I myself am guilty of asking questions like that after someone has gone through a tragedy of some kind. I know what people want to hear when they ask it, and I try to give them that answer.

Last night, after helping to go through my sisters things, to help her husband clear out their motel room, I was asked that question. I tried to give the stock answer and it came out on a sob. That's because it was a lie. I'm not okay.

I just lost my baby sister. It wasn't something I saw coming. It wasn't something I was even remotely prepared for. I'd worried for her, sure. I couldn't help that. But I didn't expect to wake up in the morning and find two missed calls from her husband that came at 2 am, and have things spiral from there.

We were going to take the kids to Seven Peaks, to finally use those passes we bought months ago for the first time. We got up early and was I was giving instructions to my kids when I noticed that the phone by my teenager's bed said it had voicemail. I thought that was strange, since I knew I had checked it before going to bed. I was surprised to see the time stamps on the Caller ID. Who would call at that time?

The message was from my sister's husband saying it was important to call him back as soon as possible. Twenty minutes later he'd left another message saying the same thing. That was odd and unlike him. I wondered if my sister was in the hospital. She'd been having terrible pain, especially in her back, and had just been diagnosed with a degenerative condition. I tried to call him back, but got no answer. So I tried her number, no response. I sent her a facebook message. Nothing. I called my mother, also no answer. So I called my Grandma. She said she'd also missed two calls just after 3 am.

It left me feeling unsettled, and I tried again to call her husband, but still got no answer. After talking about it with my husband, we decided to continue with our plans, but to keep trying to reach someone to find out what was going on. So we made breakfast, joked with the kids during meal time, cleaned up and then started to get everyone dressed. Between this time, I continued to try to reach someone to find out why we got those 2 am calls.

We were nearly ready to go, when one of my daughters brought me the phone and said I'd missed a call from my sister's husband. So I finished pulling my hair back and dialed his number. I don't even remember what his first words were. All I remember is that somewhere in there were the words, "Mel passed away last night."

I doubled over. No way!!!! I'd heard wrong. What?! No! No! No! No! And since that moment, I have not been okay. I keep seeing flashes of her. Remembering the good times. Agonizing over the bad ones. Thinking of how wrong this is--how unfair.

And then I still have to function. I have a husband and six children. My children need me. There are things that they need done for them. Band stuff for my son. Soccer stuff for one of my daughters. Appointments. Paperwork. Registration stuff....But I'm barely able to form a thought that doesn't have to do with my sister and what I have to do to prepare for her funeral--how to get through this day, the next day, this week....

Much needs to be done. Of my family, I'm the one most capable of doing this. Melanie's husband has the full support of his family and they're very willing to do everything--but this was MY sister. I can't let them take all the responsibility. She was MY sister--my only sister. I have to be there for her. I have to.

On top of this, I worry. What will this do to my grandma, who is already in very poor health? But most of all, what will this do to my mom? To lose her child--her baby. As it is, my mother's life is difficult, to say the least. But this...This is beyond difficult. There are no words strong enough to describe it. Right now though, she's handling it. She's surrounding herself with my sister's things, and trying to be strong for me, as I am for her.

So, to sum it up: No, I'm not okay right now. But I have my family with me, some very good friends and I have my Heavenly Father, and with them I will get through this and one day I will be okay again. I'm not sure how long it will take, or what steps will get me there, but second by second, I'll get there.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

For My Little Sis

Melanie Sue Anderson Adams
June 7, 1981-July 20, 2013
I can't sleep. I just keep thinking about my sister. Writing has always helped me in the past, but nothing is making this hole in my heart go away. I keep thinking of how misjudged and misunderstood she was. I keep thinking about how unfair life was to her. She deserved so much more. If only she realized that...

What you saw when you looked at Melanie was a woman with several tattoos, piercings and extremely curly and sometimes frizzy, out of control hair. She was unconventional, liked to dress to please herself, whether that be a comfortable pair of sweats, a costume for a Harry Potter party or some crazy goth get-up. She even had a favorite cape she would put on for special occasions. She didn't care what people thought.

What you didn't see when you looked at her, unless you took the time to get to know her: She would give her last dollar, even if it meant she went without. She'd give you the clothes off her back. She didn't expect anything in return. She loved unconditionally, in every sense of what that word means. She was there for whoever needed her, and did whatever was necessary to get to the place she felt most needed. She had a big, beautiful, generous heart. The only person she could have showed more love to was herself.

She loved her animals like they were her children, even more so when she learned she would never have any kids of her own. She sobbed when she lost one of her beloved pets and even asked to bury her oldest companion in my backyard because while her housing status was often up in the air, she knew we were planning to stay put and she wanted her Cocoa Baby to be where she could visit.

She loved my children like they were her children, and just a few days ago she was the only one who thought to call my 3 year old to personally wish her a Happy Birthday. I had to be extra careful about telling her anything my kids liked or were interested in, because she would take money she didn't have to spare and spend it on something she knew they would enjoy. She did the same for me. I would scold her for it, but it never did any good because she'd just do it again anyway. It was her way of telling us she loved us.

She forgave, even when someone did what most would consider unforgivable, and she didn't hold a grudge either. I've never known anyone who did that as freely as her. Never. And I'm sure I never will again.

I don't know how I'm going to do without her. Thirty-two years was not enough. Not nearly enough. But I'm so glad I got to have her as my sister.

I love you so very much, my Melanie Sue-sue.

I Lost My Baby Sister Today

Even typing it brings the tears back. I can't believe this is happening. Is this real? I wish I could wrap my arms around her and talk to her in a less hurried tone than that last time I talked. I wish I had more patience and understanding for how she was so forgiving and loving to a fault. I hated to see others take advantage of her generous nature.

If I could talk to my little sister again, I would say:

Melanie Sue, you were and are such a beautiful spirit. I wish you had an easier life. It certainly feels like you had more than your share of knocks. Growing up, it was my responsibility as a big sister to protect you. We didn't always see eye-to-eye, and when we fought, it was sometimes drop-down-drag-out. But we knew we were there for each other. Never did we let anyone else hurt each other. We were the first to come and fight for one another.

I remember a time, when we were little and had a fight over something stupid. Hours later you fell asleep and I watched you. I remember wanting to tell you I was sorry for being so angry with you, and I picked up your hand. It struck me how small it was and I felt such shame for being upset at all with you. I felt that protective instinct kick in and I stroked your little hand and whispered that I loved you.

Adulthood brought different challenges for us. Still we managed to keep in touch and I always wished I could do something to make your life better. I wanted to fix things for you. I never was able to. You were an adult and made your own decisions. Not to say you were always wrong. You have always been so generous and I worried about people taking advantage of that. I couldn't stop being the protective big sister, but know that I have always loved you and admired your heart.

I don't know how I'm going to get past this. I'm angry. It's not fair. I see all these people who still have their families and throw them away. They cut them off for stupid reasons and won't talk to them or give them the time of day. You were my only sister and now I've lost you. I still want you to be a part of my life, and while I do believe you still will be on another level, it won't be the same. I miss you already, Melanie.

I know you're with Daddy now. I'm sure he was the first to greet you when you crossed to the other side, along with Grandma and Grandpa. Give them my love, sweet Melanie, and save some for yourself. You have no idea how much I'm going to miss you. I love you so very much.

I'm trying to take comfort in knowing that this means you're no longer in pain and that you are finally at peace. I know I will see you again, I only wish that day could be sooner.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Little Late, but: Welcome our Newest Addition!

Baby Nathaniel, born May 11, 2013
One day I'm blogging about the fun pregnancy complications I had going on (BTW, the heart palpitations and extreme exhaustion were caused by anemia--Yuck!), and then nothing for months! Shame on me! I do have an excuse though--of course, don't we all! I was busy feeling sorry for myself over the following months because I was on bedrest with contractions 24/7 and just wasn't feeling at all inspired or helpful. :( I'd say maybe I'll do better next time, but this was our last time. Haha!

We love our new little baby boy though and are so thankful that he arrived healthy and strong at 36 weeks and 6 days. We had some prodromal labor--no fun, I'm telling you! So it made it hard to tell when I was really supposed to go in. I nearly didn't go in the evening of May 10th, but my hubby thought it was necessary and nudged me out the door. Turns out, that was a good thing! Not too long after midnight, we were blessed with our second son. He was seven pounds, even.

We didn't even know we were missing him until he got here. He's being loved and covered in kisses by his big sisters and even his big brother (who is nearly 16 years older) can be found holding him and talking to him. He's just melted all of our hearts.  We're all so happy to have him. And it goes without saying that I'll be juggling even more!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Life's Little Surprises

I know it's been a few months. I'd planned on being better about blogging, but something unexpected happened in September that threw us all off balance for a bit--and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future! Hahaha!

What is this unplanned occurrence that has gotten in the way of my blogging patterns and then some? Well, we found out that we're expecting another baby! This was a surprise, for sure, as we had thought our family was feeling pretty complete with the arrival of our youngest two and a half years ago. But it seems we were wrong, and I'm sure this baby will be just as loved.

Unfortunately, it's hard to feel the drive to write when I suffer from morning-noon-and-night-sickness. So I spent the first few months with my head hovering over the toilet and then added another uncomfortable symptom about a month ago. My heart's been having a few issues. Nothing all that scary, as of now. I'm not having a heart-attack or anything, but it does race anytime I get up to move across the room. Sometimes talking a lot can put me out of breath too. But I'm not having any pain. It's just uncomfortable. I get a lot of headaches, a bit light-headed and exhausted--sounds like fun, right?

You can imagine how hard it is for me to try to keep up with my five kids (six if you count the hubby--but don't tell him I said that!), and let's not talk about the house! In fact, the truth is, I haven't been able to keep up. The best I've been able to do is VERY basic picking up, supervising little ones from a sitting position and cooking and preparing meals from a stool in the kitchen. I've felt pretty useless and it's taken a toll on my self-confidence at times.

I do have to say though, that my family, friends and neighbors have been wonderful. My husband has stepped in where he can after work (especially in helping me keep up on laundry) and my children have worked to be more helpful around the house and taken on more than their usual chores. And when some of our friends and neighbors heard about our troubles, they've come in with food, gifts and other helps for our family that have so humbled me, I can hardly think about it without crying.

We aren't too worried about my symptoms right now, since my doctor thinks it's stemming from anemia (apparently not all that uncommon in pregnancy). I've just started taking extra doses of Iron for the next little while and hopefully will be feeling more normal in the next few weeks. If not, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

So while life isn't easy at the moment (who'd have thought it, with all the sitting I've had to do lately?) I'm still very aware of the blessings in our lives. I'm thankful for all the Lord has blessed us with and feel so much love for the people He's brought to our lives.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Getting on-board with E-books

I believe I've mentioned before that I'm a book lover. This is not just a mild interest, passing fancy, temporary fling.... I LOVE books. I've been a member of more book clubs than I can count over the years. Trips to the Library mean I come out juggling a tower of books if I didn't bring a bag. I've been this way for years. Hence the article on Hubpages I did last year on how to lower book costs.....

I'm the girl who, upon getting a new book in the mail, I get all giddy, open it up and then flip through the pages while holding the book up to my face so I can breathe in the scent with my eyes closed and get a goofy grin on my face. Are you getting the picture here? Haha! Yes, I know I sound like a nerd, and that's okay! ;)

Anyway, I will admit now that I was less than thrilled with the entrance of e-readers and e-books on the scene. How could anyone not want to hold an actual book in their hands? What about filling another space on that bookshelf (I keep running out of space and have to get more shelves, which I don't mind in the least!). And how about reading with a child? How on earth could that be any fun with an electronic device in your hands, rather than a big book with colorful pictures to flip through while cuddling with your little ones? In no way was I even tempted!

Over the years, without realizing it, apparently I have started to change my opinion a bit. Maybe it's because I'm a complete Amazon junkie (no, I'm not kidding, I love that site--which is why I became an affiliate shortly after starting this blog) or maybe the fact that they have some of the most popular e-readers on the market (i.e. the Kindle series) and all the buzz eventually caught my attention. At first, I thought nothing of it (at least nothing good). But then they started offering free e-books (and I'm all over free!) and the free Kindle App to go along with it so you can read from your computer, iphone, tablet, etc. Now I'm hooked!

One of the features I most love, that works on my tablet, is that I can even look up unfamiliar words in a book I'm reading by just pressing on it without having to go get my dictionary! And then some of these e-readers have gone even further and become tablets. You can surf the internet, play games, watch movies (and more!) on some of the Kindles. They've even brought out new models this month like the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G LTE Wireless, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 32 GB.

I should note that Barnes and Noble also offers free e-books on their website here. They also have an the Nook e-reader series, but I don't know as much about that. I've got the free nook app on my tablet also and have taken advantage of the free downloads they offer too.

Does this mean that I'm done with hard-copy, print books? No. I still love the feel of a book in my hands. But I do have admit that I can still get on-board with the e-book train now. Why choose, when I can enjoy both? Who'd have thought it? ;)

Reputable Insurance Agent

I mentioned in my last post that we were going through an agent in making all these changes with our health and dental insurance. I've been talking to Alex Bessinger from Utah Insurance Group and he's been more than helpful in helping us along in this process. I've called him more times than I can count about questions, concerns, thoughts, etc and he's been extremely patient and informative.

I thought I'd share his company's website so that any others who are looking for help with their health, dental and life insurance needs would be able to have the best agent available to them too. :) We're actually changing our Whole Life Insurance policies we've had for the last 15 years over to Term Life Insurance. We'll get over three times the coverage for half the cost of what we're paying through work. Granted, it's term and won't accrue any cash value, but from all of the research I've done and the people I've called to talk to about it, Whole Life Insurance just doesn't make much sense when it comes to people like my husband and me.

So if you're in the insurance market, go ahead and check out Utah Insurance Group. I know it was definitely worthwhile for us!
Utah Insurance Group
Available when you are: 7AM-9PM Mon-Fri
Phone: 801.336.4295 Fax: 801.951.4974 
Mailing Address: 1241 S 4350 W Syracuse, UT 84075

Monday, September 10, 2012

Health Insurance--A Necessary Evil?

Well, I believe I mentioned last week about how much our health insurance went up. This, of course happened at the same time as several other trials (can stuff just stop breaking? Nah! That'd mean you wouldn't need to buy new stuff and companies can't have that hurting their bottom lines!).

Anyway, I'll admit we seriously considered just going without health insurance period. I know some people are paying more than we are, but our share (with my hubby's employer paying half) is a little over $606 a month. The prescription benefits are crappy, our individual deductible is $1,000, the family deductible is $3,000 and honestly we just try not to use it unless it's for preventative because co-pays have gone up to $30 for a regular doctor and $50 for specialists. Our daughter's dislocated elbow that took 3 seconds to fix in the ER cost us $250. Yeah....not pretty.

We did try to qualify for UPP, but they've made it so difficult. Even though we met all the main criteria, we didn't qualify simply because we've already had the employer's insurance, so even if it was a new enrollment period and they had moved to a new plan (at a much higher rate) they said we'd have to not be on the employer's insurance before new enrollment starts and apply again during the next enrollment, period. Of all the stupid stipulations I've heard! Seriously?

But when it came down to it, we just couldn't make the jump to no insurance. Still, we can't afford to keep our current insurance. So we did some research down different avenues and ultimately decided to go out on our own with a high deductible plan with a Health Savings Account. We found a good agent who's helped us figure out the pros and cons of each plan and guided us in the right direction.

Our kids will be going on CHIP (something we'd never have even considered before the economy tanked). It'll take 90 days before they can go on it after our insurance is cancelled, which does make us a little nervous. We prefer the IHC facilities though and they have a financial assistance program for those who need it, so if an emergency occurs, we'll have to take advantage of that.

I haven't heard good things about State dental insurance, so we'll be getting our own plan for that too, for the whole family. Overall, this route is going to save us almost $400/month. That's nothing to sneeze at, for sure. We'll be able to find a use for that money easily!

I'll be honest that it's a little embarrassing to share some of these hardships with everyone here. There's always the chance that we'll be judged and found lacking. Oh well. I can't let my pride stop me from helping others out there who might need this information for their own families. We never asked for these things to happen. Five years ago we were living well and doing fine financially. Things changed--for a lot of people. We just have to make the best of it and survive how we can, I guess.

I am thankful though that my husband has been able to keep his job, even if his hours have significantly decreased. I know that there are those who have flat-out lost their jobs and their homes. We've managed, through the grace of God, to retain both. It's a miracle that with Bank of America's track record at the time of only 3% of people applying for the the government loan modifications receiving them, that we got a successful modification (not that I didn't fight tooth and nail for it~ Hah!).

So this will be a new experience for us. We prayed a lot before deciding on this course and I feel like we're making the right decision. Time will tell where it will go.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tip of the day: Husking made easier!

We've gotten a great crop of sweet corn this year, and I've been husking it with the kids like crazy in the last few weeks--either for dinner, or to preserve it in the freezer. The one thing that makes me crazy about corn is all that hair! It's a pain to get off the ears and then it gets everywhere else when you're done. You'd think it shouldn't be that hard to clean up, but it's just sticky enough to prove you wrong.

Norwex has come through again and made my life easier. I learned that the polishing side of the Veggie and Fruit Scrub Cloth is excellent for getting off those little hairs on the corn. Then, by chance I figured out that the Rubber Brush sweeps it all into a neat pile for easy clean-up. I decided to try the rubber brush trick after finding out how effective it was at removing the pet hair from the floor of our minivan.

So while I wouldn't go so far as to say that husking corn is now the highlight of my day, I would say it's not the chore it was before.

There's always something to be thankful for.....right?

I have this plaque in my kitchen that I bought to remind myself that despite the trials in my life, I always have something for which I can be thankful. We've had a lot of trials in the last month that have had me repeating that mantra over and over again. Some days I sound more convincing than others.

I know everyone has their own difficulties going on in their lives, and that I'm certainly not being picked on (even though I might claim I feel that way on those truly awful days. Haha!) I decided I needed to call myself to task about this when I found myself talking to a very good friend about why I've been so anti-social lately. I told her I didn't want to make anyone else feel miserable by being around me during this very trying time. I'd rather just stay home, be with my family and stick my nose in a book that I know ends with a happily ever after! She had some encouraging things to say, but I was being bull-headed and didn't listen the way I should've. Thinking back over it though, I realized I need to pay more attention to those blessings in my life.

So despite the fact that our tank went out on our filtration system, and the sprayer is leaking on our drip line in the garden (again) and the recirculating pump broke on our water lines,  my CPU went out on my laptop, our Health insurance went up nearly $100 a month (while the coverage went down) and our AC went out during the peak temperatures of summer--I need to remind myself how fortunate we are.

For one, I'm married to a plumber, so we only have to pay for parts on those plumbing issues. Two, we have wonderful friends who have helped us with our AC issues multiple times and only charged us for parts and donated their time. That's no small thing. Three, I have a home to live in. Four, I have a beautiful family. Having come from a....dysfunctional background, I know this is among the best of my blessings. Without my family I would be lost. And then, I have a Heavenly Father who loves me. Yes, I know He loves me. It might be something I struggle to remember when I'm in the middle of a rather nasty trial, but ultimately, I know it's true.

There are many other blessings I haven't mentioned here, but I know they exist. I just need to put them at the forefront of my mind and not let myself be trampled down during these trials that I know are meant to strengthen me. And maybe, some day, I'll be strong enough that I won't need any more trials! Yeah, yeah, I won't hold my breath! ;)