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The Cardinal Rule of Throw up and other lessons learned

20150223_155704 (2)When it rains, it pours.

Putting Cody down has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my adult life.  I had no idea the depth of feeling I’d have for him just being GONE.

The pain of death is the hole left behind.  The immediate vacancy of something that was.  While I’m lament about my dog, this experience has opened a world of loss that I hadn’t realized was stuffed deep down.

Cody represented our former life.  He was there from engagement on.  His presence was woven throughout so many pieces and parts of our lives. His absence marks the stuttering of new beginnings. Death is a strange thing.

Within an hour of coming from the vets, Tobin began vomiting all over our house.  He has failed to learn the number one lesson of vomit–YOU MUST THROW UP IN SOMETHING.  Nope–we mopped up, washed up and cleaned up for the next 24 hours.

Kids in PhoenixA 6 day trip to Phoenix for soccer had been planned for months. Cody’s death and Tobin’s lethal stomach flu changed our plans AGAIN.  Instead of Caroline, Matt and I headed out, it was the 5 of us.  Oh and the stomach flu decided to come WITH us.

Desta blessed both her sister and the hotel bed with special gifts all night long at hotel number 1.  I was chaperoning three sweet girls for the tournament and it hit our room!

If I don’t see vomit again for a very long time, it will not be too soon.

Drive to PhoenixWe came back to more change, more newness.  The kitchen spot where Cody lived was bare.  My work hours are increasing and I needed change.

Rearrangement of furniture is therapy.  Snow days not so much!

These past two weeks have taught me a few things:

1. You can’t stop the flu.

2.  Saying forever  good bye sucks.

3. Plants make me happy.

4. Working in front of a window instead of next to it makes me a much more productive person.

5. Sometimes you just have to get out there and sled!

6. Your kids need to see you cry.  Real emotion, real loss and real humanness is  a powerful story to show your kids.

7. I LOVE warm sun and Phoenix will be on the February “must go to” list each year.

8. The little things that I make so big,  really aren’t worth all the attention I give them.

9. A space heater and leg warmers are winter necessities.

10. In the midst of crazy change, my family is constant.  I’m so grateful!

cody as puppy

Saying Good Bye to an old friend

I used to be one of those people who saw dog posts and quickly moved on.  I didn’t get how the passing of a pet could merit such grief and pain.  I downplayed it, thinking myself better because I wouldn’t be that way.  Nope, no way!

cody as puppyEven watching Hatchi on Christmas morning, bawling my eyes out, didn’t make me think I’d be one of “those” pet owners.

Yesterday we had to say good bye to our sweet Cody.  He entered our lives as a newly born puppy, right before our wedding.  He has walked our life–the Matthew and Melodie Monberg life-every day since it started 16 years ago.

He was our first kid.  We were those pet owners who actually brushed their dog’s teeth (before kids that is!) He’d jump 5 feet in the air, up and down without a break for hours on end.  He’d chase his tail around and around; barking with delight when the kids joined in.

He fiercely guarded our kids, the moment each of them came home in their little carseat.  He licked many tears.

20150210_170244Death is a strange thing.  For me, I haven’t had to say good bye to someone/thing that’s walked with me every day for this long.  Until now.

The house is quiet.  There is an absence.

We went together as a family yesterday.  Each of us got to hold him, say good bye to him. We were able to be there until the end.  While hard to do, painful, it was beautiful.

We all cried with each other–parents and child alike.  Saying good by to a old faithful friend is hard.  I’ve become one of “those” pet owners and I embrace that title with pride!

Purging media

I recently read an article of a woman who completely disengaged herself with all things media–twitter feed, Instagram, Facebook–all gone!

For her, the first few weeks felt like drug withdrawal.  She’d post to her feed, only to realize there was no one reading it.  She’d check her phone every few minutes, then realize there was nothing there to check.

Fast forward a month later and she declared it to be “the less stressful, most productive month of her adult life.”

“We’re among the first generations expected to maintain connections with every single person we’ve ever met, thanks to the Internet. The weight of our swollen social networks can be super stressful, let alone a distraction from knowing who you want to focus your time on.”

Yes and Yes! She speaks my heart language.  As an introvert, I find internet to be a cop out of sorts. See, I can hide behind my text messages and Facebook, never really having to speak to someone.

I also find myself twitching if I can’t find my phone within seconds.  I take it to the bathroom to check facebook (and you do it too–don’t lie!)  I scroll through Instagram while waiting for the bell to sound at school pick up.  Huffington Post and my blogroll carry me through long waits at the dentist.  Amazon and Hulu Plus entertain me on the stair master.  Stitcher brings me great listening fodder while running on the trail.

What if I just turned it all off for a few days; perhaps a week?  How would my life change?  Would I have less noise swirling in my head?  Would I find myself reading more, playing more, listening better? Would I be a more engaging mother, wife?  Would I be less tired?

It’s scary to think of shutting it all down.  Yet when I think of the time when Caroline and Tobin were little, I didn’t have the smart phone to entertain me.  I didn’t have constant media checks and feeds to review.

How about you?  Have you ever done a full electronics fast?  Not just a day or two but a real fast–removing yourself from the lists, not just shutting them off.

Lent is fast approaching.  I’ve given up many things over the years.  I’m wondering if a media purge; a true fast might be worth it come Easter Sunday?




A cup of Tea

I was away from our home for 8 days.  I had the privilage and joy of being with my friend, Liz and her family.  It was a delight to hold a 10 day old baby, play with a super great 3 year old and doodle and talk with a wise 7 year old.

It was also great to come home.  Being human and all, I find that when I’m away, appreciation for what I do while at home comes to the surface.  Each of us in this family of five realize what the other person does when they’ve been gone for a while.

At family dinner Thursday night (Despite our crazy sports schedule, I make a concerted effort to have dinner together as a family at least 3 times/week.  Usually this involves menu planning and the slow cooker!) we were wrapping up the meal.

I drink tea every single night after dinner.  My favorite is Celestial Seasonings Jasmine Green tea.  Love it!

20141127_154810Thursday night I was talking to Matt and the kids were clearing the table.  I looked around and saw Tobin bring me a cup of tea.  As he approached, I was so surprised. When I asked him why, he said, “Mom, I knew you were going to ask so I just did it first.”

That simple act of kindness, bringing me tea, filled my heart.  He is watching and he is taking it in.

For many years now, Matt has chosen to be intentional with his gift giving to me.  (If you have read the Five Love Languages, I’m gift giving all the way!) For many of his trips to King Soopers for flowers and chocolates, he takes one of the kids, usually Tobin.

It is his desire to show our son how to serve and love a woman.  Actions do speak louder than words.

I’ve seen Tobin show love in such tangible ways–from his birth God has given this boy a special affinity to see people for who they are, not what they do.

Bringing tea seems like such a small act in the grand scheme of things.  For me, this past Thursday night, it was a reminder that the hard work we’re putting in right now with our kids is paying off. They are watching.



tobin and star wars

Dear Mommy of Littles…

tobin and caroline  halloweenDear Mommy of Littles,

My youngest is almost 6, and my oldest is 13.  I’m not in the trenches of diaper changes, temper tantrums, schedules, naps and cutting up baby food.  Gone are the days of monotonous schedules broken up by the big event — grocery shopping which turns into how quickly can I navigate the store before we destroy the place venture!

I had forgotten that life. Those older moms who come up to you and so kindly remind you to “enjoy every minute” — they mean well, they are waxing in nostalgia.  Time really does move that fast.  You will blink and the diapers will be gone, I promise.

For now, I get how you want to slug them one across the face when you hear “enjoy every minute” because all you want to enjoy is going to the bathroom by yourself, a hot shower and maybe a 5 hour stretch of sleep.

tobin and desta on horseI had forgotten the mundane drudgery of each day repeating itself; living life in 3 hour stretches between feedings.  For your educated, free loving self, the boredom can seem endless.  There are only so many episodes of PBS Kids you can watch before you’ve gone braindead.

The moments you look forward to the most–nap time.  I’ve forgotten how I’d endure 1 hour of pure tantrum, overtired hell in order to get all three kids down for a nap at the same time.  If it worked I was in heaven.

tobin and star warsYou know what I also forgot?  The sweet little newborn noises as they eat blissfully.  The tender hugs and kisses from a toddler’s chubby lips.  I’d forgotten the joy of playdough and the excitement over seeing a pile of blocks stack.

Please know that this stage of life is such a rich state of hard and amazing all at the same time.  Don’t beat yourself up for not getting it perfect.  Take great pride in getting the kids up, dressed and just one accident in the big boy pants, not 4.  Don’t worry about perfectly folded clothes or beds made.

Those days of teaching will come.  Those times of doing will happen.  But give yourself a  break–cut yourself some slack.  Have that glass of wine at noon and that cup of coffee while nursing.  Don’t worry about dieting and fitting into your prematernity jeans right away.

You know why? (and you’re welcome to slap me across the face) Because you’ll blink and it will be over.  You’ll wake up one day and say, My God, how much I miss that stage!

You are a woman who created life in you! Now go and enjoy those babies–breath in and out and take one mundane moment at a time.  Time will travel at warp speed and you’ll be glad you did!

Love, Melodie

PS  Thank you my dear Liz for opening your home so I could be part of the Littles lives for a brief moment.  You are a gift!