Hammond Family

Moving forward, one day at a time.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Why I don't hate Elf on the Shelf

I totally get not wanting to do Elf on the Shelf,  but I do get tired of seeing everywhere how awful it is. When we moved to oregon and I was pregnant we bought an Elf and named it Cooper, since that's what Robby wanted to name the baby and I told him no. That Christmas was really hard for me, I didn't really have any friends close-at least my sister lived an hour away! And I was not used to not being able to play outside lots in the winter after raising my kids to that point in Texas-taking care of kids in rainy season is very different than being a kid in rainy season! (I grew up in Washington) looking back I can see that I was depressed but at the time I just figured it was pregnancy and moving emotions.  Then the shootings in Connecticut happened and it sent me spiraling downward. I don't think anyone really knew how awful I really felt-I'm pretty good at faking my emotions and convincing myself I'm fine.

One of the bright spots of my day though, was watching lily and lance, who were 2 and 4, look for cooper and laugh at whatever he had done. Though he's never super naughty.  Looking back it's the highlight of that otherwise rather bleak Christmas season. So now they are older and lily is starting to figure out that it may be mom and dad because I totally mess it up, but I don't regret doing it. I kind of wish I would have told them from the start it was mom and dad doing funny things, but it's been a fun tradition for our family. Not for everyone, but fun for us! Until she makes the link between the elf and Santa not being real. I'm not looking forward to that!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stages of Grief-Guilt

I have realized the last few months that I am still grieving deeply for Emily. Or at least dealing with the emotions and feelings that the loss has brought to my life and how it has changed me.  When Emily first passed away I really felt like I was doing well. I missed her terribly, and I was deeply, deeply grieving, but I felt so much peace that I was able to move forward and to be happy, even as my arms ached to hold her and sing to her. I remember someone calling from the funeral home to ask if I'd gone to any grief counseling and saying, "No, I'm doing really well, I don't have any anger or guilt or anything." and that has stayed true, in a sense, but I have also realized the past few months that I am feeling guilt and anger in a way differently than what I think people would think of. I have never, ever felt guilty for how I took care of Emily. Ever. I have always been blessed to know that I took care of her in the very best way that I knew how. Did I make mistakes, yes.  But I really did everything I could to make sure she was healthy and happy. I tried so hard to treat her just as I would any other one year old, two year old, three year old and four year old.  We went to the zoo, to six flags, peach picking, to the park, on runs, swimming, etc. I tried to make sure she had time to just play and be a kid, as much as possible with the therapists and doctors and school.  When she passed away I was blessed to know that we had done everything we could to make sure she was healthy; it just wasn't meant to be for whatever reason. Since she's passed I've had people say things like, "You were the very best mom for her." or "You shouldn't feel bad for anything you did with her." And I never, ever have. It's a blessing.
I have realized the past few months, especially since Lily has been in first grade, that I feel extremely guilty over how I parent my children, especially Lily.  I think because I did so much with Emily, and I spent so much of my time devoted to taking care of her, I feel bad if I don't do the same thing to my other kids. I feel guilty when I don't read to them, or when we aren't going someplace, or when I lose my temper, or that I haven't helped Lily have better handwriting (because it's terrible!).  And I know that as moms we all experience this kind of guilt, but I have realized that mine is in a sense deeper, or more upsetting to me because I'm holding myself to this level and expectation. And I have a very, very deep fear that something will happen to Lily, or Lance, or Grant and that they will not know how much I love them or have tried to care for them.  I know this all sounds a bit irrational, and it is. I'm trying to work through it all, and recognizing how I feel has helped.
I just find it interesting that so many people seem to think that my life with Emily was so far in the distant past, and that I have "moved on" with my life with my three sweet kids, when in reality it seems to be more and more front and center of my thoughts.
   I've thought a lot about why this is, and as I've talked to my therapist/mom about it (thanks Mom!)  I've realized that a lot of my "processing" is because my life is in reality truly "moving forward" whether I'm ready for it to or not. Ever since Emily died, and in reality for Emily's entire life, so for 10 years, we have been in "baby mode." We have constantly had the care of a baby for 10 years. And I've never had a child in school full time-Emily should have been getting ready for kindergarten when she passed away.
  So we have now reached this stage in our life when we have a child in school full time, and are not looking toward any babies joining us in the future, and I have quiet moments when Grant is sleeping and Lance is playing with his toys that I have been able to think. And my thoughts have gone round and round, as you can see!


Ever since August I have been processing a lot of things I didn't realize about myself and really struggling with different things. Things I thought I had "dealt with" years ago have come to the surface the last few months.  I have wanted to write about the different things I've been thinking and feeling but haven't quite known where to begin, but I keep thinking that maybe there are other people out there who have dealt with similar struggles, or who will deal with them, or who have friends or family members who are dealing with loss and maybe don't quite know how to reach out to them, or don't realize that maybe they SHOULD reach out to them.  So, here goes. I'm going to really try to write a bit every week or so, just to help me process my thoughts a little bit. I don't want to write things and sound judgmental, and I know that a blog is a public forum that anyone can read and then judge, but I hope that if you read this you will temper your judgment of me and try to understand the thoughts and reasoning behind what I write. If that even makes any sense!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The longest week

This week was the longest I've ever been without Robby, alone at home with the kids. We've gone longer before apart but it's when I've been with my mom or something. And I realize that a week really isn't a long time, many women do it all the time, like my mom who did it every other week while we were little.   but I figured I'd document it for future reference! 

Robby left Sunday morning and I took the kids to church; it was Grant's first day of nursery! Bedtimes were a mess the first few days. 
I really hate doing bed time by myself. And then coming downstairs to a dirty kitchen that I still have to clean. I'm really glad Robby helps with the dishes! And bedtime!
On Monday we went to Costco; these boys love each other and were so good the whole week.  Lance was so good and patient.  
I felt like I should get major points for doing family night on Monday without Robby. We made a warm fuzzy jar and I told them if they filled it up by the end of the week that we would go on a train ride on Saturday. Grant had his own jar because he's really great at giving hugs and the kids wanted to put a warm fuzzy in every time he gave a hug.  The warm fuzzy jar really did help them try to be good; bedtime went better once we started it.   Lily was my one who really had a rough time with the week in general, and who I was doing it for; she really knows how to push my buttons!
Tuesday was probably the worst day; it was raining, lily and lance both had soccer and the week was stretching ahead very long! And then at lance's game most of his team didn't show up, and so the other team decided to play all 7 of their players against our team's three. I was annoyed and said something to the other coach and he basically said tough luck. I think we will figure something else out for next year, or Robby or I will coach. Robby is coaching Lily's team this year and having fun. 

Wednesday morning Lily and I hit rock bottom. we were on our way to school and she got mad about not sitting in the stroller and punched me. She doesn't hit other people but does occasionally hit me and I have no patience for it. I wanted to yell or tell her she wasn't going to go to the pizza place in the afternoon but I knew that would ruin her whole day and I have determined to not let her go to school if we are mad at each other. I made that decision when she started kindergarten. So instead I let myself cry, and let her see it and how bad it made me feel that she was so mean. She apologized and felt really sad; she gave me about 5 hugs going into school and kept saying I love you. When she hugs me I try not to be the first to let go.  After school she gave me a huge hug and later told me she cried a little bit at circle time. But she was much, much better behaved from then on, and has managed to control her temper and not hit. Some people may have handled it differently but I was glad I didn't lose it in anger and that she seemed to have remorse. 

I let lance stay and play at preschool on Wednesday until 1:00 and Grant took a nap so I was able to have some nice "me" time. I was really upset when I got home from taking her to school so I was glad I had a bit of time to myself!

On Thursday we surprised lily at school for lunch. She is my kid who just needs lots and lots of attention so I think it was good for her. And of course the boys love it .

On Thursday afternoon my friend took the older kids so Grant and I had fun making cookies together. 
And then I went to back to school night while my friend watched the kids. I really need to help lily with her handwriting! I lover her pictures though! 
On Thursday night I found some old pictures of Emily; it was really good for me to reflect on where I've been and how blessed I am; when this picture was taken we had been trying to get pregnant for a year after a miscarriage and I really didn't know if we'd ever be able to have more kids. I look at my three sweet kids now and it amazes me. I would have never thought! I also reflected on the time Emily and I had; I was thinking about her hip surgery and being in that terrible spica cast. We had her have that surgery because we thought it would eventually help her walk (in a walker with lots of support) and do things like that, and then she passed away 6 months later. I've wondered why we felt good about doing that surgery that was so invasive for Emily if she was going to die so soon afterward. And this week I had the thought that maybe that surgery wasn't for Emily so much as it was for Robby and I and also our family and those around Emily.  For me to learn what I'm capable of-I was 7-8 months pregnant with Lily at the time and it was tough! And for people to have the chance to give service to us and to Emily.  My mom came from Turkey to be there to help me; I don't think she would have been able to have had that time with Emily and then come again when I had Lily if it wasn't for something as major as that surgery. So I now feel better about having had Emily had that surgery.  Though I still don't understand all the reasons! 

On Friday night we went to panera bread for dinner and then mcdonalds ice cream while we got gas. I hate not being able to pump my own gas sometimes, but it was really nice to just sit there and eat my ice cream cone while the Costco guy filled up the van and told the kids they had a very nice mommy for getting them ice cream! 

And then Saturday lily had her soccer game and then we saw daddy!

When I saw Robby my first thought was that we were now back together and then I felt like I was hit by a truck, thinking of my Emily and how we aren't all together.  It wasn't even a thought so much as it was this wave of emotion. It really struck me off guard. I had been so prepared to just be happy to see Robby, I really didn't expect it to be so bitter-sweet.  I became so emotional; I later lost it. I just miss my Emily. 

And today lily and I had a tea party-lily had earned her Elsa dress that I had gotten months ago by being good for at least the second part of the week! We made it through and I once again thought of all the single moms I know. I sure hope that I can support them and not judge.  It wasn't easy, and I at least could count on Robby to talk to us and the kids at night and tell me I was doing a good job, etc. I really hope I can support those moms who don't have that in their life, for whatever reason. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Lance had his first day of preschool this week and his first soccer game. The sad picture is from practice. He got mad at me tonight for Having a bite if his blizzard.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Answered prayers

Robby was at the BYU-Texas Football game this weekend and was scheduled to fly out of San Antonio tonight, flying through Phoenix and getting in to portland around 11. He got a text during church saying his flight was four hours late leaving San Antonio, which of course would mean he would miss his connection.  They then changed it to about an hour but he only had a 45 minute layover. He went to the airport to figure things out to see if he would need to stay in San Antonio tonight. He sent me a text saying it wasn't looking good. I thought about asking the kids if they wanted to say a prayer to help daddy and almost didn't but then decided to, and if he didn't make the flight that it would be ok, they'd learn that sometimes the answer is no. I had already told the kids he might not make it home until tomorrow. I told them we could say a prayer that if it was possible he could make it tonight, but made it clear that it might not happen. Lily said the prayer and it was the sweetest prayer-she prayed that if Daddy had to travel all through the night that he would be safe and that if he had to come home tomorrow that he would be safe but that if he could, could he please come home tonight (and be safe!). I texted Robby and told him she had said a prayer for him.  I got a call from Robby about a half hour later and he told me that while he was talking with the southwest guys and they were telling him he'd have to stay in San Antonio, that they got word from Phoenix saying that they would hold the flight for them (good old southwest will do that sometimes). Other people had already changed their flights but Robby hadn't yet. He told me to tell Lily thanks for her prayer. He had to run to a different terminal once he got to Phoenix but he made it!  I told lily when I put her to bed that he'd made the connection and that I really thought that it was because of her prayer.  She said another sweet prayer after that saying thank you that he was coming home tonight. 
     It made me think how grateful I am that Heavenly Father will let children have these simple experiences of having their prayers answered. I hope that it will help her know that he does hear her prayers, even if she doesn't always get the answer she wants. When Emily passed away one of the things that really helped me was to remember all the times prayers were answered over the course of her 4 1/2 years on her behalf and she was strengthened or healed.  It helped me know that Heavenly Father did hear my prayers, the answer was just different this time.   So tonight I'm grateful for the reminder from my little girl that prayers are heard and answered. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Emily's Tree and Emily's Birthday

This year we did things a little bit differently for Emily's birthday, since we were in Utah for Sarah's wedding. Normally we watch vidoes (which we did the day before this year) and release balloons and get a new book. I still got a book but since we were going to be up in the mountains up Big Cottonwood Canyon at Solitude my mom had the idea to plant a tree for Emily instead. It was the day our family reunion was starting and we were going up to a campground to have a cookout, so my dad met everyone in the condo where they live (until they figure out what they are doing with the house, etc) and gave a sweet speech to the kids about planting a tree for Emily, which made me get all teary. It was her 10th birthday. And then we all hiked up until we found a spot to plant it.

All the kids took turns digging the hole for the tree. It's a beautiful Blue Spruce.

 We hiked up to it a few days later to water it.  Hopefully it stays for a long time. I'm excited to go back and see it and I really felt like Emily was happy to have the whole family together and to have that done on her behalf.


Tonight at bedtime I told lance to say his prayers. He said "I lost it" and then reached under his pillow and said "I found it" and pretended to put it back inside his head and said "Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. Please help us sleep good. Please help us eat good. Thank you that Emily will come alive again someday. In the name of Jesus Christ amen." And then he said "aren't you glad that Emily will come Alive again someday mom?" "I am too but we all die right? But not for a long time. Will bad guys kill us?" I told him I hope not! And then he started talking about other stuff. He is just so funny. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

I think I might be crazy

I've decided to run a marathon in September. September 13 in mount Angel, OR, the Oregon marathon.  And I'm not quite sure why. One day I felt really good and had the time about a month ago so I decided to run 11 miles. I'd ran 8 the week before and wanted to run a little more and figured why not? 

   I've ran one marathon and that was five years ago , 4 months after Emily died. It was for such a huge reason and I felt such a connection and such meaning running it that I've been afraid to try to run another one. I trained with my  best friend In Texas, and those training runs helped me through those four months. They gave me a reason to get up in the morning. And I ran the race with Janica, which was amazing. I had always promised Emily I would run one, when she was coming of the ventilator the respiratory therapist compared the settings they had her on to test her like running a marathon. I had promised her then if she could do it that I would run one someday.  

I think one of the reasons I want to do it now is to just beat that fear I have of doing another one! And to have to do it alone; running that long gives you a lot of time to doubt yourself if you let it!

I ran 17 miles on Thursday, having worked my way up from 11 to 13 to 15. 17 felt like a big deal; I was so nervous I kept waking up on Wednesday night. But I had decided that I would use part of my run to remember Emily and the events of when she was born. I spent the first 11 miles listening to the Well of Assention and then decided to turn on my music and think about Emily. I was amazed at how my emotions came flooding back, I think maybe because I was running and away from distractions I could really focus. It was really good for me to have that chance. And I ran it at a 8.35 mile pace; my last few miles were each at an 8 minute mile. So that was a nice bonus. I was pushing myself but it was nice to know I could. 

 And then the next day I swam for 45 minutes, which I was also proud of myself for-the first ten minutes I thought I was going to die! I haven't swam in 2 years and I've never been any good. It wasn't until I decided to stop focusing so much on my breathing and try to think of other things that I was able to relax and get a good rhythm going. 
  Originally I thought I would try to qualify for the Boston but then I realized that they have lowered their qualification time to 3 hours 35 minutes, which is an 8 min 12 sec mile pace.  I don't want to run the whole thing and then be disappointed because I didn't qualify. So my goal is under 4 hours and anything past that is bonus.  We shall see how it goes!  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Called To Serve

This post has been on my mind for a very long time, and I just don't know if I express how I'm feeling. But I want to try.  
In our home is this picture. It hangs above our piano where I see it when I go up and down the stairs and every time I play the piano. People see it as they enter the house.
These are the words of a song that I have always loved, and has become very dear to my heart.  
When Emily was alive she loved this song The year she was a Sunbeam (Age 3-4) at church the kids learned this song.  Whenever she would hear it she would kick her legs in her wheelchair and get super excited. Robby and I were her teachers (along with 8 boys and one other girl!) and I learned the sign language and would help her do it when we sang it in Primary (Sunday School) and whenever I played it at home on the piano she would start rolling around back and forth super fast and squeal. I loved it!  I honestly thought she must just really love the beat of the song-it has a very strong beat that kids love. The song is typically sung about missionaries; and that is certainly the message that I always heard when I sang it.  Here's an example of a video of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing it; with the idea of missionaries.  And I love this meaning as well.  Called To Serve

Here are the Lyrics:
Called to Serve Him Heavenly King of glory
Chosen e're to witness for his name
Far and Wide we tell our Father's story
Far and Wide His love proclaim

Onward, ever onward, as we glory in His name
Onward, ever onward, as we glory in His name.
Forward, pressing forward, as a triumph song we sing.
God our strength will be pressed forward ever 
Called to Serve our King.

Called to know the richness of His blessings
Sons and Daughters, children of a King.
Glad of Heart His holy name confessing. 
Praises onto Him we bring. 

After Emily died our bishop came to our house the next morning and went over the funeral arrangements with us. He told us that the Primary children would like to sing-his wife was the person who taught the children the songs, including Emily. He named a song that Emily didn't know but the kids had learned. I didn't say anything but after he left I told Robby I didn't like that idea, and wanted them to sing Called to Serve, since it was Emily's favorite song and the children had learned it that last year in Primary and sang it for the program. I called Shauna Busch and she of course agreed.  

After I had called her back I went on a short run to give me a bit of thinking time. I was thinking of Emily and this song and how much she loved it and the thought came to me that the reason why Emily loved this song so much wasn't so much for the beat, but because the words of the song explained what her mission here on Earth was. She had been chosen before she was born to be a witness of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and help others know His love. And she KNEW it. Through all of her trials she was ever going onward, happy and smiling and bringing peace and happiness to those around her.  She knew who she was and she wanted to share it with others.  And those who knew Emily would say that she did.

I really feel like so many of our children with disabilities feel the same way; that they know who they are and what their purpose on Earth is, and that's one of the reasons why they radiate so much love. 

Emily and children like her are my heroes, and so are their parents who so cheerfully and full of love deal with the many trials and heartaches that come with raising a child with disabilities. But I know that with it also comes such great rewards; I will never feel sorry for you! 

My dear friend who gave me this picture is blessed to have one of those children in their home.  You just can't help but feel happy when you are around Ryan-I really think one of the reasons is that he knows who he is, even though his body can't quite tell you with words. 

Lily has learned to play the simplified version of this song; and Lance calls it "Emily's Song." I'm so glad we have such a tangible reminder in our home of who Emily is. I'm sure that Emily has heard Lily play it and is proud.

January 2014

So I'm not quite sure what I'm doing with blogging but I thought I'd try to put some pics on since apparently I haven't done that at all. The kids helped me make an apple pie at Lily's request. Quite fun. 
 Grant learned how to get up on the dishwasher. 
 We went to Indian Beach at Echola State Park; It's becoming one of my favorite beaches in Oregon-we've been back 2 other times.

 Grandma came to visit!

 Lily had her first dance recital . 

 We went to the Air and Space Museum on Emily's Angel Day

 For Family night we went through Emily's box of special things.