A New Look for Stop, Drop & Blog

The blog looks different. In fact, I think it looks awesome. I’m pleased with the overhaul which is really the first in nearly two years. I had changed the header here and there but hadn’t changed how things worked for quite some time. As Cabin Fever has caused us to do things like remodel our kitchen and go somewhat insane, I thought I’d use some of that insanity and work on the blog.

Dee of Life in Our Shoes messaged me shortly after I pressed the activate button and said, “I love your header! The characters look so much like you guys!” Then she proceeded to ask where I found a family that looked so much like me, FireDad, BigBrother and LittleBrother. I then explained that I found an amazing artist, Adina of Adina Illustrations. She hand draws her images. Let me reiterate that, folks: that’s a hand-drawn caricature of my family up there, you guys. It’s us. But cooler. And maybe less noisy. Awesome.

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Working with Adina was a wonderful experience. I followed her on twitter, sent her an email of my many (many) desires for a header and crossed my fingers that she would be able to do it all. And she did it all. And more. I mean, we look like us. I’m even wearing green! FireDad’s turnout gear is yellow. My eyes even look like my eyes. It took about two weeks. She sent me the file. I paid her. And then I went about remodeling the blog using the new (and popular) WordPress theme Suffusion. By the way, Adina only charges $55 for her header work. You might want to get in on that before she realizes she’s under-charging and hikes that price.

I’m glad to have a new look to the blog, especially one that so fits us as a family. If you see any kinks in the next few days, please either let me know (via the contact form or Twitter) or ignore them. As an example, my No-Ad pages (for compensated reviews or giveaways per the BlogHer Ad Network agreement) are currently without a sidebar at all. I’m using the Single Post Template plugin but it’s giving me fits with this WordPress theme. I also need to do a little work on my sidebars. If you also have any functionality ideas (move the RSS button, remove/add/change something), please feel free to let me know!

Let me know what you think of the new look. Unless you hate it. Then take it up with the designers of the header or theme. Okay? Swell!

 

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Processing Death as a Child

I think one death is too much. Two deaths in less than a month has been far too much for both me and FireDad and we’re adults. Or at least we portray adults on this blog. At any rate, I’ve been worried about how all of this loss has been affecting the boys. LittleBrother has the grace of not really understanding. Being just barely over the age of two, he only understands that sometimes Mommy and Daddy are sad and that he’s seen a lot of his relatives in the past month.

BigBrother, on the other hand, is a different story.

At four, he’s understanding much more of what is going on that some people want to give young children credit. When I explained last Tuesday that Daddy, Mommy and Nana were sad because Uncle died, he brought up the fact that Big Papau died. We then launched into a lengthy discussion over our grilled cheese sandwiches about death, Heaven and other concepts that still confuse me. Sometimes it stings, how bluntly he talks about it.

“Uncle died. Like Big Papau is dead. They’re both dead.”

As adults, we tiptoe around the concept. We use words and phrases that are supposed to somehow make it seem less in-your-face, less real. He passed away. He’s no longer with us. He’s gone on to Heaven. He’s no longer suffering. No, for BigBrother, the two men who have left us are simply dead. No sugar coating. No easing into the concept. Just dead. He doesn’t cringe when he says it, like I do. His stomach doesn’t churn like mine does. He accepts it. Oh, to be four years old.

At the funeral on Friday, we waited our turn to pay our last respects while the rest of the non-related mourners made their way to the casket, down the family line and out the door to their waiting cars. Our turn arrived and I walked toward the casket with my mother-in-law, sister-and-brother-in-law, husband and two sons. I stood back. My grief from last month still so raw, I didn’t want to push myself. BigBrother walked right up to the casket, put his hands on the side and peered at Uncle. There was no fear of seeing someone you love looking like someone else in a big box. There was no fear of death at all, like the rest of us have when faced with the death of a loved one. His acceptance is somewhat inspiring. But still very heartbreaking.

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I debated not taking them to Uncle’s funeral. They’re kind of noisy, being my children. Sitting still is not their strongest suit. But, after doing some reading and soul searching, I decided that they would come with us, just as they came with us to Big Papau’s funeral. Why? I found this quote.

If the child is old enough to walk, let them walk with you into the funeral home. If not old enough to walk, carry them with you.

Point taken.

In the week or so after Big Papau’s funeral, BigBrother would ask me if I was still sad. One day he told me to try harder. I love being challenged by my children. I also love their innocence, their acceptance of life… and death. I wish I could be more like them in these ways. I’m working on not being sad. It would help if I could have one full month off. Right? Someone work on that one, please.

Because, while the flowers are pretty, they’re killing my monthly budget. And, you know, grief is emotionally taxing when you’re not four. So, really, one month off, at the very least, okay? Okay.