Jacob, where do I even begin? This past year has felt like a roller-coaster to most of us but you have been our constant light and joy.
I remember the events of four years ago well. We were so ready to meet you. So ready to start loving you. But we had no idea just how much love and joy and happiness you would bring into our lives. It is truly an honor to be your mother and watch you grow and learn every single day.
I often call you a little man. Some of your mannerisms and expressions are so grown up and are absolutely adorable on you. You're getting the hang of rolling your eyes, something that I'm sure you'll only perfect as the years continue. :) You say the cutest things - some of which you've picked up from us and others I have no idea! "Holy Moley!" "I know, I know" (in exasperation) "That is awesome!" "Woah!" You are incredibly smart and nothing seems to get past you. You can remember so many things, especially fun experiences we have. You also enjoy repeating what we adults say or mocking our expressions or movements. You love to be the center of attention and you can always make a room full of people laugh.
Your personality is so bubbly, so infectious, so clever, so joyful. You are smart. You are kind. You are caring. You are goofy. You are lovable. I love when you randomly give me hugs and say "I love you so much". I love how after giving you hugs and kisses from daddy for a few weeks after he was away, you came into my bedroom one morning to give me a hug and a kiss from daddy. I love that you still want to cuddle. I love that you love to read so much - even if it is the same book five times in a row! :) I love when you look at me and give me a silly face for no reason. I love when you ask me to sing you songs. I love your giggle.
You truly have a kind and caring soul. You pick up on more things than I wish you would at your age, but you are a comfort to us in those times when we need the reassurance the most. I really believe that you are going to grow up with this huge heart, full of love to share everyone.
You are growing up too quickly. Each time that I'm away from you even just for a few days, you come back looking even more grown up. You're becoming much more independent, which makes me both incredibly happy and sad. Right now, you're on this kick of saying "When I'm four....." "When I'm four, I'll get dressed by myself" "When I'm four, I get to ride the bus to school" "When I'm four I won't have any accidents" It's adorable. But you sure have given yourself a lot to accomplish when you turn four! :)
You are starting preschool this fall, four days a week. It's easier for me to be okay with this knowing how excited you are to start school. Even if it is just because you get to ride the bus. You've continued to love ECFE classes this past year - even expanding your areas of play. You especially looked forward to seeing what was in the sensory box each week. You've been taking swimming lessons and again have come so far! You can swim by yourself and your frog floatie. You're doing great about floating on your back and sometimes even your tummy! You even asked Papa to dunk your head under the water in the pool the other night! You started at a new daycare this past year and have really enjoyed being around more boys with your same energy. :) You did Rainbow Room at church on Wednesdays and even stood up and sang in front of the church with your class a couple times. That really made me proud.
You love going to Iowa to visit the Zaruba farm. You love when it's just your, your cousin Evie and Nana and Papa Zaruba! You ask often to go down there and tell us how much you love your cousin Evie. You also ask to visit Meg in Big Fork and Uncle Dan in Fargo. Really, I think you just like going for road trips! Everything becomes an adventure for you, even just going to the park on a Saturday morning. You love play dates with Liam, which is great because Liam's mommy and I need that time together too! :) You are often very patient when playing with other kids, courteous and really good about sharing.
You are so good with counting, with singing the ABC's and with singing other songs! You rock at colors and shapes still. Some of your favorite books (that we've read a thousand times), you can "read" those back to us! You still LOVE dinosaurs and you know a good number of different dinosaurs names as well! We've started to work a little bit on tracing and drawing shapes or letters. You of course still love the farm, especially the combine. You pretty much spend all winter, spring and summer asking if the combine is "awake" yet so you can help Papa and Mark harvest corn.
You love to watch Daddy go bowling on the Wii so for Daddy's birthday this year, we took you to go bowling for the first time. You beat us both. :) You also loved the Jurassic Park video game. You love watching Daddy play Mario. You love going on walks. You love going down slides at the park - especially the twisty ones. You love going to BounceTown and the Children's Museum. You are so full of energy and excitement and it especially warms my heart when you still do your "Jacob jig". :)
You are my pride and joy. You are my everything. I am so blessed to be able to call myself your mom. You truly add a bright light to this world. As much as I wish you would stay little, I have enjoyed watching you grow and learn over the past year. I look forward to seeing what year four brings you. Your daddy and I love you with all of our hearts. Happy Birthday, Jacob.
Monday, June 26, 2017
Jacob, where do I even begin? This past year has felt like a roller-coaster to most of us but you have been our constant light and joy.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Life continues to move at fast pace around here. I can't believe tomorrow is already June. I can't believe my little man is going to four soon!!
Work has been crazy. We've been trying to fill some positions for a while and that always keeps things interesting - especially when you work at a small nonprofit. The work never stops. We finished our first ever Hats, Horses & Hope fundraiser. The weather was beautiful and overall, the day was a success. We definitely learned a lot and know what changes we'd make in the future. We also made some money! Which is always helpful when doing a fundraising event. We also found out our Executive Director is leaving for another job. This has been hard to process. We have a great team, a great energy and a lot of passion. In the close to 2 years that I've been with PAH, our executive director has been a major point in all of that. While I'm happy for her new job opportunity, I am also incredibly sad. And while I had hoped the summer would slow down a little, it now appears that I'll be helping get our new executive director started. Like I said, the work never stops. :)
Personally, life has been.... _____. Who knows. Fill in the blank. AJ and I have struggled (I have struggled) some in defining what our relationship looks like now with the divorce. I'm still working through this. I still love him and I still care about him and I still want to support him, but I can't do that as his wife anymore. I'm not sure how to do this yet.
AJ was recently asked to leave the halfway house he was completing treatment at. This is his story to tell but he found himself without a place to live. Since being at the halfway house, he hasn't been able to come over and visit much and spend much time with Jacob. Most of the time we would see him would be quick visits and almost never at the house. Well the night AJ found himself without a place to live, he came over, played with Jacob and helped put him to bed. That night, I didn't think about sharing anything about what was happening with Jacob. I should have.
The next morning, he woke up calling for his daddy. When I told him that daddy had to leave last night and was no longer there, Jacob told me "I want to play with daddy. I want to go visit daddy's house soon". Later on the car ride to daycare, Jacob asked me where daddy was, if he was at House of Hope. (We had told Jacob that daddy was living there while he was working on getting better, but nothing more specific). I told him I wasn't sure right now. Then Jacob asked, "Is daddy fixed yet?"
This broke my heart. It shattered my illusion that I had been successful at protecting Jacob from everything that's been happening. It caused me to question if I've been doing any of this right with Jacob. How much do you tell a three year old? How much detail do you go into? How do you tell him his parents aren't together anymore? I don't have the answers for any of these questions. But Jacob has not been oblivious.
AJ was able to go stay with his parents for awhile and has found a place to live, is looking for a job and to get back into an outpatient treatment program. But he's no longer in the area. And we have to figure out how to explain this to Jacob.
Luckily, Jacob was able to go spend some time in Iowa over the Memorial Day weekend with his daddy, cousin Evie and Nana and Papa Z. It sounds like they all had a blast and that Jacob and Evie played hard together! I also think that Jacob really enjoyed the time with just his daddy around - I know AJ did. :)
I spent the holiday weekend on my self-care. Indulging in some foods I've been trying to avoid in order to eat healthier, catching up on movies I've been wanting to see and TV shows that are impossible to watch with a toddler running around. :) I even got a massage on Saturday and it was wonderful heaven. On Sunday I got to see some cousins who I don't get to see nearly enough and then spent the evening/night in the Twin Cities with two girl friends who I also don't get to see nearly enough. It was a fantastic time to just escape everything for a while, have some fun, but also catch up and have some really great conversations with some really important people to me.
I think we're looking forward to summer around here and being able to enjoy the warmer weather and spend more time outdoors. Looking back on the past few weeks, Easter was good. We enjoyed having Uncle Dan and Josh and Aunt Megan down, Jacob went on an Easter egg hunt, found his Easter basket from the Easter Bunny and just enjoyed being the center of attention with everyone around. :) My Grandpa's service up at Fort Snelling and the funeral in Mankato were days filled with memories, love, laughter, tears and family. I felt very blessed for such an amazing family.
I also bought a new car! I finally decided it was time to upgrade and purchased a 2014 Honda CR-V. I'm really loving the extra space and will really enjoy the All-wheel drive this winter! Jacob is also a big fan. :)
Jacob sang really well with his Rainbow Room class for the end of the year. They sang "This little light is mine" and Jacob was front and center! :) However, within the next two days, we were at the doctor's office battling an ear infection. Jacob was not a fan of his medicine! But bribery works. Ha!!
Mother's Day was a great day. Jacob did a great job sitting through two church services while I sang. We enjoyed a nice meal with some family and spent the day just enjoying each other's company. :) I am so blessed to be Jacob's mother. He may push my buttons more often than not, but I wouldn't change him for the world! I love that kid.
Monday, May 1, 2017
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
“It may not be the answer I want, but I have to remember that it may be what I need.”
Thursday, April 27, 2017
I recently made myself go back and re-read my blog post from right after the new year. The post where I declared 2017 as the "Year of ME". Maybe I should set myself a calendar reminder to read it each week.
Recently, I've been struggling with the idea of self-care. I had an amazing conversation with a beautiful and strong cousin of mine who made a point to call me out on this. She said "2017 is the year of Liz - make sure you're doing that!" And it made me step back and take a look at the past few months and ask myself: Have I been doing all that I hoped to do? All that I want to do? All that I need to do?
Just a few days later, my mom and I were talking about how we each lack in self-care but need to prioritize it. (At least I now know where I get it from...hehe) I mentioned that I don't know what simple things I can be doing to help improve my self-care. Like yes, taking a relaxing bubble bath is nice but doesn't necessarily stop me from continuing to think about everything else going on. I don't know what my self-care practices should be. My mom - ever so wise - countered my thoughts and said "maybe your self-care needs to look bigger". Her examples? Continuing to pay off my debt, look into getting a "new" car, continuing to protect myself and Jacob financially, determining what my new relationship with Austin is...
The very next day, I was once again amazed with God's timing. The weekly messaging for Weight Watchers was literally about self-care. The cover - "Take good care of yourself". And while yes, this message was geared towards losing weight, I picked up the overall message.
Liz, get your self-care in order.
So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to write out what I want my self-care to look like. I'm going to write down the things I'm committing to do for a better me. While I have a general idea in my head, writing them down always make it seem more real. Honestly, I should write them down here for you all to see, but I'm still scared of doing that. Maybe someday. But if you're willing to help me - call me out. Ask me about my self care. Ask me how my list is looking. Am I accomplishing what I want? Am I sticking with my self-care?
And since part of my "year of ME" is to try and be a better friend - let me ask you! What are you doing for self-care? Is there anything that I can help you with? Please, let me know. I'm here.
**Edit: True to my word, I went to go write my list and look what I found! Apparently I had already started a list of what I've accomplished so far in 2017! I should post this somewhere I can see it every day. Also, that blurred out picture (because I'm not ready to share yet!), that's my list for self-care. Something else I need to make sure I see every day.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
The past week.... has sucked. I feel run-down. I feel defeated. I feel low. I feel like I'm just going through the motions.
At the beginning of last week, I was in South Dakota, visiting Austin at Keystone as part of the family program. While Austin has been working the program and putting a lot of effort into this recovery, it was still a hard day. A lot of information to process. A lot of stories to hear from other families. A lot of your own personal feelings to process.
I feel hopeful for Austin's recovery at this point but was also reminded about how fragile it is and how easily it could still slip away. I feel grateful that Austin's addiction wasn't to anything harder or his journey more difficult, but still must remember that he is just as sick. I feel unsettled at the thought of how to put our lives back together with Austin sober. I feel hopeless when wondering how to start the process of trusting Austin again.
The family program was two days but I could only stay on Monday. After 12 hours at Keystone, I made it home shortly before midnight. Tuesday morning I was at the justice center, in front of a judge, explaining why my marriage was not repairable.
Ironically, after spending the day with Austin at Keystone and seeing him take responsibility for his addiction and sobriety, I started to feel hopeful about our future together. Maybe this could work. I no longer felt that we were at our lowest point. So while I had that hope in my heart, I still logically knew the divorce needed to happen. The biggest reasons being Jacob and financial security.
The judge said he's sign off on the papers later that day. We were officially divorced.
On Wednesday morning, I got a message from my dad around 9:00am, my Grandpa R. had passed away. He had been on hospice care since February so while the death was not a big surprise, it was a loss all the same. Luckily, I had been up to see him just a week before but was really hoping to make it up there once more before he passed. But Grandpa was ready to go. And the one thought that keeps running though my head is how happy he must be to be with Grandma again.
On top of all that, it was of course Holy Week which meant that with a Mom as a pastor and as a member of the church choir, it was a busy second half of the week. Austin also completed treatment at Keystone and moved back to Mankato to the House of Hope, a halfway house where he'll live and continue outpatient treatment.
Every day feels like I'm just going through the motions. Doing what I need to do to get by, but not much more. With still so much going on at work and taking care of Jacob, I feel like I can't afford to "waste time" mourning the loss of my marriage, wondering about the future with Austin or even properly grieving for my Grandpa. Everything happened so quickly together that I haven't had time or I haven't let myself process all those feelings I know are inside somewhere. Honestly, I'm not even sure how to process these feelings.
Last Wednesday, as I drove to church for choir practice, it was raining and the song "Stand in the Rain" by SuperChick came across my playlist. You know when you find that song that perfectly describes your current life or a current moment in life, this was that for me. I listened to it on repeat the whole way to church and I think the whole way home.
So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it's all crashing down
You stand through the pain
You won't drown
And one day, whats lost can be found
You stand in the rain
Saturday, April 1, 2017
“Okay, one more minute”
*Jacob counting on his fingers silently* “How about four minutes?”
*Admiring his smooth negotiation skills… “Three more minutes”
Posted by the Zarubas at Saturday, April 01, 2017
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Right now I'm worried about Austin. I'm worried about if he's going to make it through treatment. I'm worried about what he means when he says "I want to give up". I'm worried about the life he'll have upon leaving treatment. I'm worried that treatment won't help.
And I know - I know, logically, that none of that is up to me. It is all up to Austin - his decisions, his actions. And I know I should be focusing on myself and on Jacob. But how do you do that? How do you just stop worrying?
I apologize that this post has no flow and probably doesn't make any sense. But that's also the way life feels lately. I am working on putting Jacob and myself first. I'm trying to focus on the now, trying to really treasure my time with Jacob. I'm trying to spend more time reading with him or playing with him. (This is also probably the reason I don't fight the "cuddle mommy a little bit" as much as I should) I'm going to keep going to Al-Anon meetings. I'm going to keep trying to find time to sit down with God every day and do my bible journaling. I'm going to try to do more things that make me happy.
But at the same time, at least for a little while longer, I'm struggling. Struggling with the consequences of Austin's actions before he left for treatment. Struggling with essentially acting as a single parent while Austin's in treatment. Struggling to find the balance between worrying about a loved one and worrying about my own happiness. I'm mourning. Mourning the end of my marriage. Mourning for the life I wanted.
And still, here I am, floating. Floating inside this addiction-created bubble. Feeling lonely and sad.
Here's to figuring out how to pop that bubble and let go and let God.