Mother’s Day (A Day After, Anyway..) -M

Mother’s Day is different than it used to be. I guess it always is. When we’re little, it’s exciting to make special things for mom, our own creations- cards, art, jewelry, breakfast, and, as a teen, apologies. Then it becomes our turn to be spoiled by the beautiful, simple pleasures of extra snuggles, breakfast made by tiny, messy hands, and maybe one less turn wiping bums that day. (Thanks, Dads!) I used to look forward to Mother’s Day for the special handmade cards and gifts that were coming my way, and of course I still do, but there’s something missing.

 

Handprint Art by Joshua

This was my third Mother’s Day without my sweet boy. The first, I tried not to cry all day, but did anyway. And I refused to take calls except from my mom (but not on her first attempt.) Last year, my husband and little one made breakfast, but I don’t remember much else. This year, I avoided social media, and forgot to call my mom until after her bedtime. I received lots of loving messages from friends and family and put off reading a beautifully honest piece about mothering that a dear friend dedicated to me until this morning. But my day was mostly good. Yummy brunch made by my husband and little one, followed by hours of bracelet making with my girls. Maybe it helped that we were working on bracelets to honor Joshy, or maybe it’s that my hands were busy, my girls were chatty, and I couldn’t focus on the hole in the beads with tears in my eyes, but I definitely cried less.

Sending love to all the awesome moms out there, with a little extra for the moms who will never be whole.

M❤️

A Little Update

I try not to overload Mommy Business with too much Joshua Kaye Foundation– but I’ve realized that’s probably more than a little crazy. Losing Joshua has changed us forever, and we put so much of our energy into trying to #SpreadLoveAndKindness in his memory. This weekend, we held our first Family Fun Day & Touch-a-Truck event and it was fantastic. We were so touched by the support shown by the entire community. Check out the cool video one of our friends put together. 

So many of you have reached out with kind words and support in one way or another. Thank you- I’m not sure how we’d have gotten through the last 22 months without such a supportive community.

❤M

Joshy squishy face JKF stamp

I’m Gonna Miss This

I will never forget the night my mom called to let me know that my nana was not going to make it through the night.

I was home folding laundry watching the season finale of The Apprentice. My kids were sleeping.  My husband was working.  I had paused The Apprentice while on the phone. When I hung up I un-paused the show and Trace Adkins had just taken the stage.  He began to sing and I was mesmerized. He sang a song about how life can be so crazy but “you’re gonna miss this” -the chorus and the name of the song. Like country music does, it tells little stories of life. I heard my life in it.

It hit me so hard at that exact moment; Trace was right. I already missed my nana and she was still here. She was in a coma-like sleep and had been for a few days, so technically the nana I knew and loved had already left us.

I cried. Then I cried some more.

The next morning my nana was still hanging in there. Not conscious, but still breathing.

I went out and bought Trace’s album and listened to that song over and over. Later that day when she passed away I cried even more.

IMG_5076

I never said a word to my kids about that song but each one of them told me months later how much they loved that song and how it reminded them of Nana Alice.

That was in March of 2008.

I am thinking about that tonight as my children have a group of friends over and they are swimming, music is blaring and they are laughing, shouting and singing. They are LOUD. They are fun, happy and loving life.

I sit back on the deck and watch them swim, not able to hear myself think because it is so loud, but

I wouldn’t change a thing. I am soaking up every sound, every laugh and every smile.

fun summer nights!

These days, these years, they are the best ones of my life.

I know I’m gonna miss this. ❤️

 

Why We’re Suing Whole Foods and Rain Crow Ranch

My husband, Andrew Kaye, wrote the following this afternoon, after reading that Rain Crow Ranch had been forced to suspend operations. I couldn’t have put my thoughts together better than this.

This is the ranch whose product infected our son, Joshua, with the E. coli that killed him after he ate it and also sickened multiple children.

This is the ranch who had a different recall a week before we bought the ground beef that made Joshua sick.

This is the ranch run by an owner who openly preaches that you can not get E. coli from grass-fed beef.

This is the ranch which Whole Foods lent money to in order to buy/convert the processing plant that was just shut down, the processing plant which has had a long “contentious relationship” with Federal Safety Inspection Services.

This is the ranch whose products Whole Foods relies upon to supply their Northeast region with grass-fed beef.

This is the ranch whose products Whole Foods has never removed from their stores.

This is the ranch whose products Whole Foods continues to tout as meeting the highest standards for quality and safety.

Sadly, this is is the ranch who will be back up and running again before you know it and sadly, Whole Foods will, in all likelihood, keep on selling their beef while touting their bogus feel-good family farm story.

Because it is about money. If it were about safety or quality or, to quote Whole Foods oft-repeated and incredibly insulting term, “an abundance of caution”, they’d cut ties.

So, for anyone that may question for a moment why my wife and I are suing Whole Foods and Rain Crow, it is to hit them in the only place that matters to them, the wallet. To make the cost of doing business the wrong way costlier than doing it the right way.

Until then, when they sicken or, God forbid, kill the next kid, may the lot of them face criminal charges.

♥️One of my photos of Andy with Joshua ♥️

♥️One of my favorite photos of Andy with Joshua ♥️

Without the Birthday Boy…

Ten years ago, at this moment, I was in labor. I was 4 hours and 35 minutes away from bringing my beautiful son into this world. I was rocking permanent dents into the carpet of my bedroom with every contraction.. trying to stay quiet in my new rocking chair so my family could rest, elated that my baby boy would soon be snuggling in my arms. No matter how many crazy worries went through my head, I never imagined I would be here tonight without my son.

Josh would be SO happy to be celebrating double digits. And we would be happy to do anything he wanted for his birthday. The January before he died, we started the tradition of decorating the dining room with birthday streamers and a banner and balloons and really going all out in the simple ways that make a kid feel special. I could tell he was a tiny bit jealous of his little sister that day, and I was so looking forward to spoiling him in that same way for his birthday 6 1/2 months later. We never got the chance. We spent the days leading up to his 9th birthday trying to wrap our heads around the fact that our son would not be there to celebrate. Our little boy was dead. Forever 8 years old.

We spent his last few days making promises to him- ways we would celebrate his birthday and spoil him when he woke up. Not “if.” We would help him build the treehouse of his dreams. We would even call Pete from Treehouse Masters if he wanted. I would let him skip the next year of school if he wanted, and just spend time doing everything he had ever wanted to do. We meant every word.

On August 3, 2015 at 5:35 AM, Joshua Quentin Kaye will be 10 years old, but he won’t be here to celebrate, to hug, to spoil. I will do my best to hug and love and spoil whoever I am with- all day. I hope you will do the same. #ThisIsForJosh

Josh at NEWC fence JKF Stamp

 

 

 

 

Dedicated to Joshua Kaye #ThisIsForJosh

I have four children.  It isn’t very often that I get to spend one on one time with any of them.  I had the opportunity today to spend the whole day with my youngest son who is 7.

I had to work a little bit in the AM.  I had no choice but to work, so I let him have some bonus tv time.

He kept asking me, “you almost done?” “Can we play now?”  I was engrossed in work and REALLY wanted to keep working until I was finished, but because I knew I was wasting precious one on one time with my baby, I did the bare minimum (per usual it seems).

When I was finished, I asked him what he would like to do and he chose playing out in the back yard.  So we played catch, tennis, soccer and he wanted me to watch him do some soccer ball tricks.

We then went to the mall to buy a few last minute gifts for his older brother who is turning 14 tomorrow.  When we finished doing what we had to do I, once again, turned the power to my little 7 year old.  I told him he was in charge and I would follow his lead.

He opted for ice cream first.  Well, it is actually frozen yogurt, but because of my families food allergies to peanuts and tree-nuts (to name a few), we are pretty limited with what is safe for us. We sat together and ate our ice cream.  I refrained from pulling out my phone. I sat, in silence, with him while we ate and he chatted about what he wanted to chat about.

Next we went to Build-A-Bear.  For the record- I NEVER say yes to building a bear.  We have too many stuffed animals in the house, it is too expensive (for me with four kids) and I just never say yes.  Because he was in charge today, I was willing to splurge.  He chose a $16.00 bear.  No noises, no smells, no clothes, not even a certificate.  His wants are so sweet and simple, he just wanted the softest, cuddliest bear they had.  My heart was so filled with love.  Again, I refrained from pulling out my phone while waiting.

Next he just wanted to walk around and hold my hand.

 

Holding-Childs-Hand

After we left the mall, we had to pick up his sister at a very crowded beach, met up with his 2 older brothers and had a fun filled evening with friends at Coco Keys water park.  It was busy and chaotic, just like our normal life.

I dedicate this day to my dear friends’ child, Joshua Kaye, who is no longer with us.   Losing him taught me that the time we have right now is all we have.

I put off a lot of things for later that I just don’t get to.  One thing that sticks in my mind was a giant princess puzzle that my daughter got for her birthday when she was 4.  She LOVED that puzzle.  It was life-sized and the pieces were big.  Water spilled on it and the pieces got all warped.  I took the pieces and put them flat under a large pile of heavy books.  I told her they would probably flatten out over time.  She asked me daily for those pieces, asking if they were ready yet.  Day after day after day.  I got frustrated she asked me so frequently.

Then, one day- a few years later-  I was cleaning up and (woah!) there were those puzzle pieces. Three years had past.  She no longer wanted them.  It was such a simple thing I could have done to make a 4 year old happy.  I could have just checked on the stupid pieces to see if they are ready yet for her, but no- I was too busy.  You only have now.

Yes, I was on my phone today. I texted, looked things up, and got some work done.  But, I was also very aware of the here and now.  I made my 7 year old really happy.  He feels so very special that he got to see what his big brother is getting for his birthday before everybody else and we got some amazing one-on-one time.

I dedicate this and most of my days since Josh’s passing on July 7th 2014 to him.  There isn’t a moment that goes by that I don’t think of him and his family and how they wake up every single day without him.  I think about how courageous Josh’s parents are.  They made a decision that they must continue to really live their lives without their precious 8 year old son, for their two daughters.

Everything about Joshua’s death sickens me.  He should be here.  But he isn’t. (Read his story here and here.) Instead of walking around angry and sad all of the time, I try to be understanding, kind, and loving for my own kids.  I have learned to be more patient and, most of all, present.

Life with 4 kids, plus a small business, being an author, radio show co-host and blogger is busy and sometimes a blur, but I am taking one moment at a time and trying to do it with a smile on my face and love in my heart.

#ThisIsForJosh

For more information about Joshua Kaye Foundation, visit the foundation’s Facebook page.

Marking A Year…

We lost Joshy just 27 days before his 9th birthday. Those were the some of the saddest days of the saddest year of our lives, but so much love was shown to us. Losing a child forces lessons on parents, siblings, and friends. We realize that life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed. The little moments with our children matter more than anything. And telling someone you love them shouldn’t wait!

As we mark our first whole year without him, we’d like these next few weeks to be filled with love. Tomorrow, 7/7 through Josh’s birthday, 8/3, we’d love it if you’d join us in spreading joy and love by sharing how you stay present in the moment, share your love, or spread kindness, using the hashtag #ThisIsForJosh on social media.

Joshy Tying Little A's Shoe

Joshy Tying Little A’s Shoe ❤️

Almost a Year…

It’s June already. Soon enough, I’ll be marking the one year anniversary of the day he got sick. The day we went to the ER. The day he was transferred to ICU. The day he coded. The day we learned he would never come home with us again. The day we left the hospital without our boy.

Joshua Quentin Kaye was born on August 3, 2005. 10 days after his due date, after only 8 hours of labor. It was the perfect-story labor; a little funny and completely sweet. After several years of infertility, with a big sister begging for a little brother, it’s possible there had never been a baby born who was more wanted and planned for than him. He weighed in at 8 pounds 3 ounces, which was a shock, because he was so skinny- and then they stretched him out. He measured 22 1/2 inches long. He was an adorable string bean. I remember being stunned when he lifted his head off of my husband’s shoulder to look around the room as Andy carried him to me. He was perfect. Much lighter than I had expected- blonde hair and blue eyes?!- but gorgeous. His big sister was so happy, proud, in love. She beamed with joy as she held him. And our family was perfect.

Our boy was engaging and funny from the very beginning. His eyes like gorgeous pools, reflecting love back at everyone who saw him. He loved to meet people, but was happiest at home with his family- especially his doting sister.

Baby Josh, before his eyes turned green.

Baby Josh, before his eyes turned green.

He did everything early. He stacked a set of wooden blocks when he was 5 months old. He pulled himself to standing at 6 months and was climbing stairs a few weeks later. We had to be ready for anything! And he loved to laugh!

When Josh became a big brother at 3 1/2, he was concerned and a little jealous. But, he spent his mornings building giant towers for his “Baby A” and playing songs for her on his harmonica.

We moved to a new house a few months later and when we got new furniture for the living room, our sweet boy mourned the couch he had found comfort on- while nursing, snuggling, napping, and playing- for days and weeks. He was passionate, loyal, sentimental, and connected strongly to things he cared about. Even couches.

When Josh was 5, doctors discovered a Chiari malformation. Basically, his skull was a little to snug for his brain and they needed to perform a major surgery, cutting through all the muscles and bone at the base of his skull, to alleviate pressure on his brain stem and spinal cord. He sat himself up in bed 4 hours after his surgery and was walking around the hospital the next morning. The Chief of Neurosurgery was astonished. This child knew no limits. He didn’t know how to let things hold him back.

Joshua’s friends were happy to have him back at school. He was the planner of games, the peacemaker among arguing friends. And, as his friends have told us over the last 11 months, the boy who stuck up for his friends, stopped others from teasing, listened to what mattered and showed love- always.

He was not perfect at home. He pushed and he argued and he refused to do homework on anyone’s timeline but his own. He got mad when his big sis needed quiet time do focus on school work and wasn’t always kind to his little sister when she wanted his attention. But he made us laugh. He did the cutest little tushy shake you could ever imagine and he would sing along to whatever songs he and his sisters had on repeat with his sweet, sincere voice.

Our silly boy!

Our silly boy!

He was an animal and nature lover. I think a wild lion would have laid down and rolled over for a tummy rub if Josh asked him to. He would spend hours with his friends or little sister, looking for cool bugs or standing still so a dragonfly or butterfly could land on him. He loved to go for long walks and just be out in nature.

When Josh was 6 1/2, he heard about mass dolphin strandings on the Cape and he asked if we could go and help. It was winter and the beach where the dolphins needed help was 2 hours away. He insisted that we find a way to help, so we called IFAW to find out what they needed most and then planned a fundraiser. Joshy spent hours cutting out pictures of dolphins and making a poster to bring to school. He told all of his friends and teachers and raised over $1000 for IFAW. He was so proud when he received a thank you note from, then president of IFAW, Fred O’Regan.

Joshua loved to build. He used to get so frustrated when I said no to buying actual bricks and mortar so he could “build stuff” in the back yard. He settled for Minecraft and hand-drawing plans for furniture, buildings and tree-houses. When I told him about Habitat for Humanity one night, he couldn’t fall asleep. The thought that he might be able to help build a real house for someone who needed one was too exciting!

He never felt like he was too young to do anything, but he was definitely too young to die.

Joshy squishy face JKF stamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day- After Losing My Son

I’m sitting here trying not to fall apart. Friends and family members have been sending sweet messages since last night. It has been a busy week, with dress rehearsal and Little A’s dance recital, so I kept my mind on those things as much as possible. I cried my way through her recital. So happy and filled with love watching her dance. And her friends- and Joshy’s friends. And so incredibly sad that he was not there to see. He loved music and dance and really enjoyed the recitals.

My mother-in-law came to stay with us this weekend to be here for A’s recital. I made her change her plans so she would leave today. I don’t want to be with anyone today.

My mother called this morning. I let her go to voicemail. She just called again, so I answered and regretted it instantly. “Happy Mother’s Day” she said, trying extra hard to sound cheerful. “Thanks. I’m not really doing Mother’s Day.” She paused and replied with “Well, you could at least say Happy Mother’s Day to your own mother” in a voice that I know was trying to cheer me up and shake me out of my misery. I think she thinks I am sitting alone in a dark room, ignoring my other children. “You still have two girls…” she started, but I told her I didn’t feel like talking. I can tell she feels badly. And maybe I even hurt her feelings, but I can’t help it.  Little A immediately said “Why don’t you feel like talking to your mom? Is it because you’re missing Joshy?” Jesus, this kid gets it. She does not miss a thing- ever.

Joshua Laying on Grass JQK

Today is my tenth Mother’s Day as Joshua’s mother and he is not here to make me a beautiful card, do the silly dances he was famous for, or fight with his sisters, forcing me to say “Guys, it’s Mother’s Day- try to get along for me.”

I have lived 10 months and 3 days without my boy. Rarely has a moment passed that I haven’t been actively thinking of him. When I watch the girls together, I think “oh, how sweet” and half a second later “Joshy should be there, pulling pranks or reading stories.”

Life after the death of your child is unbearable at times. I could end this post with a positive It Will Get Better message, but I’m not feeling that way right now and I know there are lots of other moms missing their babies today. I’m thinking of you. I’m crying today and trying to smile a few times for my husband and my girls, but mostly- I’m missing my boy.

New Post Published on Babble.com- Why I’m OK with a Messy House

I’m honored to have a new piece published on Babble.com today.

I’d love it if you’d read it and share it with anyone you think would find it helpful. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below- how much do you stress about keeping your home neat and clean?

M❤