1 In motherhood and family

Losing your child’s father.

 Being a blended family is not the same for everyone. In fact, our blended family is a bit different. My oldest son lost his Dad. Losing his father makes life complex. Many blended families consist of 2 Dads and 2 Moms or combination of sorts. But for us we have a complicated factor of having the loss of a parent. Today is one of the hardest days of the year. Today marks 12 years since losing Matt Sr.

Matthew was not able to be there. His Dad was on a ship and he was flown to Phuket, Thailand. His family and I all flew to him as soon as we were told something was wrong. Matt had a brain aneurysm. He was never going to recover from it. He died in Thailand and was flown back to the United States shortly after. That was where Matthew got to see him again. Matthew was 4. His father was 25. Losing his father changed us all.

This situation is complicated. It was hard to explain to four-year-old Matthew what happened. It is was also hard to explain to the three younger children what is going on years later. My 6-year-old understands his older brothers Dad is no longer here. My 4-year-old is just catching on. She did not really understand until 2 weeks ago. Then there is the baby she has no idea. But I knew at some point I had to explain to my youngest children where Matthews Daddy was.

When I married my husband, I was noticeably clear how I wanted to handle the loss of Matt. He understood and agreed. I want the house to have Matt’s presence. I also want Matthew’s younger siblings to know who Matt is. We also spend time with Matt’s family, and they all know them. These things help my oldest son feel like his Dad matters. It makes him feel like his Dad is remembered.

Every year is different. Different emotions come up. This year is a bit harder for Matthew and I. When you 16 things are changing. A lot is going on in my oldest sons’ life. It is sad to know his father is not here for all those things. He is missing driving, graduating, first jobs and so much more.

So, what does a blended family do in this situation. Well we include everyone. We all go visit his grave site. They see Mom and brother talk to Matt. We share stories. We share the love of a Man no longer here but still so important. In every blended family there is a lot of making things work. Fitting puzzle pieces together that may not fit perfectly. You have to respect one another dead or alive.

 In our case if you came into our home there are pictures everywhere. Some new with all 6 of us. Then there are old ones of Matthew and his Dad. Also, ones of Matt and I. Matt’s flag is in a case with his picture as well. Then if you go into my oldest sons’ room there are items of his Dads that were passed down. We all know which ones those are, even the little kids do. We spend Christmas eve with Matt’s family as well as many other holidays. Just as Matthew and I did before Matt passed. Blended families are all different. They all make choices so that things work. By losing such a huge part of our life we make him a huge part in our home.

It may not happen at first but things mostly even themselves out. With all that said, June 16th, 2020 is 12 years since he passed. Matthew Hicks is in heaven now. We miss and love him. My entire family combines his name with my current husbands to make Shivicks. I try my best to keep his memory alive. I will never forget the last time I saw him or spoke to him. My son and I think of him every day. Please hug you husband, wife, and children a little tighter tonight. Life is a gift. Time is a gift and we should cherish every moment.

1 In motherhood and family

Miscarriage’s and rainbow babies

 People have asked me before, how many kids do you have. I always smile and say four. A lot goes through my mind when asked this. This question is not simple for me. I only have 4 kids standing with me, however, I have three babies in heaven. Such a simple question can be a huge trigger for many women.

 My first miscarriage was in 2013. It was horrible for me. We were excited to see the heartbeat. The doctor was so quite and finally said she cannot find anything. They looked again and found our small baby with no heartbeat. The doctor was cold and rude. Then she sent me to another room, where a nurse came in with a huge smile, so when is your due date. How could the doctor not have told her my baby was gone? It was heartbreaking and I blamed myself. The baby I lost would have been the first between my husband and I. We got pregnant again quickly. We were blessed with our son Gavin.

 With this miscarriage I found many of my friends had had one too but just did not talk about it. Why weren’t women talking about this? It is not our fault; we should not sit in silence. I felt better talking to other women. When you lose your baby, no matter how far along not only do you feel alone, there are so many other emotions.

 For me, this was not going to be my last miscarriage. After Gavin, in 2015, I got pregnant again and again there is my little baby with no heartbeat. How is this happening? Why are my babies not making it? We had to go to my husbands work function that evening and we faced the evening with a smile. Then we came home to take medicine to birth my baby. Well, I talked about my loss because I needed to. Luckily, just like before, I got pregnant again with Harper. I would not let myself get attached, I was anxiety ridden and worried the whole pregnancy. It really sucked that, for me, I could not fully enjoy the experience until I held her.

  After Harper we wanted one more. I was nervous to try but when we found I was pregnant I felt dread. When I told my husband I told him to not get excited there will not be a heartbeat and there was not. For some reason, my body loses a baby each time before a successful pregnancy. My doctors wouldn’t look deeper into the miscarriages till the third loss. Why do we have to lose three babies before we get help? Then God gave me my third rainbow baby Aria. The pregnancy was hard. I bought a Doppler to check for the heartbeat daily. I was again anxiety ridden and sad that I was scared of pregnancy. But on September 29th I was blessed to take home my beautiful girl.

 Now after three losses and three rainbow babies I reflect on what I went through. I wish I was not so hard on myself, that I would have talked about my loss more so I could have helped someone else. I’m very thankful for the women that shared their stories to me, so I didn’t feel so alone. I wonder if they were boys or girls, did the babies have their Daddies green eyes? One day I will meet them. I am grateful my rainbow babies. What I tell all other Moms out there with angel babies is this:

  1. You are not alone.
  2. You did nothing wrong.
  3. We are strong and amazing.
  4. Even though you lost your baby you still are a Mom.
  5. Take your time to grieve.
  6. Enjoy your pregnancy after loss.
  7. Ask for help if you are having a hard time.
  8. Tell your story when you are ready.
  9. You can choose to keep trying or stop, either way is OK.
  10. Love yourself. You have gone through a lot and you matter.

 To all the Moms out there with babies in heaven, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope, if you try again,j you get your rainbow baby. If you are unable to have one or more children I am sending love and prayers your way. Women are amazingly strong. The things we endure can be difficult. Love and prayers to all of you.

1 In motherhood and family

Being a Mom can be exhausting.

 It is hard being a Mom. It does not matter if you have one kid or four, some days are just exhausting. I am not sure why I am such a tired mom today. Being a Mom of 4 can be a lot sometimes. I always say as long as I get 4 uninterrupted hours of sleep I am good but not today. My husband came home, I was struggling to keep my eyes open, kids are screaming, and the baby is glued to my hip. My baby girl sleeps well, just not lately due to teething. She is having a hard time, my other babies did not even cry during teething. This alone can wear a Mama down but I also have three other kids.

 My exhaustion could also be a buildup of a lot going on in addition to the lack of sleep. I am like a lot of Moms. I have multiple kids, I have a list in my head that is growing by the minute, laundry is needing to be put up, I am a home school teacher now, not by choice, since March and I have anxiety. On top of all the normal things of my normal life as a Mom, there is a lot going on in our household from May till the end of June and emotions are high both happy and sad.

 Why are May and June so busy for our family? My Mom’s birthday and Mother’s Day are within the same week. Then comes Memorial Day. We are a Gold Star family so we lost a military loved one, he was the father of my oldest son. Then my daughter Harper’s and my son Gavin’s birthdays come, one on June 2nd and the other June 8th. The 8th is also my wedding anniversary, so we plan a date on a different day. Next, is us remembering the life of Matt as he died on June 16th. The final event is Father’s Day, which is complex for our blended family. We celebrate my husband, then we have to go to visit Matt where he is buried, and then we celebrate my Stepdad.

 All of these events, back to back, combined with the craziness of the world like Covid-19, the world navigating how to end racism and just being a Mom can all add up. Today I think I just need a vacation. Somewhere quiet and calming where I can binge watch Netflix shows and sleep 10 hours. But, as most Mom’s know this will have to wait especially because I breast feed and Aria will not take a bottle at all so we cant be apart long.

 So, what does a stay at home Mom, who breast feeds do to get a little energy back and not burn out? I am still trying to figure that out. I have four kids but I am still learning. Do not ever think that just because someone has a lot of kids they are experts at raising children or doing it right, there is no handbook. So far there are a few things I do to help relieve exhaustion and get back a little pep in my step.

  1. A Good cup of coffee or tea alone.
  2. A hot shower or bath. Lock the door and play music.
  3. Have someone take the kids to the park. Even for just 30 minutes to get a break.
  4. A walk. Just getting outside really can up your energy.
  5. Going to the car. Drive to another street, eat a favorite snack and just lean back, relax.

These ideas are all baby friendly. You can get away for a short time, the baby does not need to be fed 24 hours a day and it really can relieve the stress and exhaustion we experience. Just know if you are an exhausted Mom out there, you are an awesome parent and take care of yourself so you can be your best.

0 In motherhood and family

How we are handling Racism.

 I have struggled with the right words to write in regard to yet another senseless death of a black man. Mr. Floyd did not deserve what happened to him but neither did the many others who have lost their lives in the past for no other reason than being black. Mr. Floyd was murdered and now his family including his beautiful daughter who is only 6 is left broken and lost. From what I have heard he was an amazing father and I am so heartbroken for his little girl.

I was raised by my amazing Mom and now I am a mom, I am also white and I choose to raise my kids as I was raised. I was raised to love everyone and love their differences as each person offers so much to this world you have to appreciate them. I was taught to not hate, not judge people due to the color of their skin and treat people as equals. It is obvious that there are many people left in this world who were not taught this, and those people are treating black and brown people horribly and it must change now!

 I am from Santee, California where there is a misconception that racism is not found everywhere, that we are open, loving and remarkably diverse but we are not free from racism. In Santee with in about 2 weeks span we had a person go into a grocery store wearing a KKK hood and then at another grocery store there was a couple wearing a swastika on their masks. This to me is just insane, how can these people even think to go anywhere wearing anything like this? Now had my Mom or myself seen this we would have ripped that hood or mask of them because we do not stand for racism. But it is not just where you live, there are so many media outlets that it is easy for our kids to see or hear racist messages that we as parents do not believe.

 Sadly my 5-year-old saw a tik tok video on my phone where a person said black men are always trouble and the video was showing a black man being put into a cop car. Now I did not see the video at first, my son came to me and said why are all black men bad? At that moment everything stopped in my home as I demanded who told him that and he told me of the video. This is the moment as a Mom that can be turned into a lifelong lesson. I explained to my son the video was wrong, and that black men are not bad. That every person, no matter their color, are amazing humans and that we never should see someone’s skin and think they are bad people. I asked him does he have a black friend in school, and he said yea and I said well is he bad? No, he is really cool and nice. I explained that the color of your skin never makes you bad. I also told him if you ever see someone treating someone bad you stand up for them and do something. I have taught all my children to stand up for other people if something is being done wrong and to be nice to everyone. But I always thought what more could I do to teach my children?

 Well for my kids I did some research. I have always started teaching at a young age. Reading or watching shows with people of different backgrounds so they are used to not seeing all white people. As they get older if they point out skin color, I tell my children well isn’t their skin beautiful, so they see differences as good which they are. As they face difficult situations or misinformation, which our children will since there are so many things easily seen now with the tv, internet, ipads and cellphones, I am open and here. I also monitor what they watch to avoid them hearing the wrong message. Racism is something we openly talk about between ourselves and the kids. If they see protestors and ask what is going on I explain so that they know and understand what is happening. When they get older if they ask what they can do to help we can join the protests, we can sign the petitions, we find ways to help in the community and we can listen to the black and brown community so we hear what they are facing and tell us what they need. I know there is always so much more I can do but I need to learn more, and this is where I am starting.

 I then ask myself what can I do to help? It is a huge question and there are so many suggestions it gets overwhelming. But to simplify it as a white mother I need to listen to the black people, their stories, and their suggestions because they only know what it is like being black in America. I cannot even imagine what they go through, but I can listen to them because how can I ever expect to understand unless I take the time to listen. I can also learn and educate myself. Education is power and it is at my fingertips. There are so many resources to learn from and the more I learn the more I can help. The more I learn the more I can teach my children and the more I teach them the better this world will be. We all have a part to play to get rid of racism, to treat everyone equal and to grow as a society. We cannot do it alone and we need to join together, all races, all ages and then we can make changes. This will not be my last post on this because as I learn more I want to share more and hopefully it will reach others and make a difference.

  1. Talk about racism in your home. Openly and age appropriately.
  2. Educate yourself and your children. There are books for kids and many resources for parents.
  3. Listen to the black community. This will help to understand what is going on and how they feel.
  4. Ask questions. If you have questions about anything to do with racism create a dialog.
  5. Teach your children to love and appreciate people differences.

I just want to let everyone know you are loved, I am praying for our world and from our family we hear you, we are sorry, we stand with you and black lives matter.

Love, Jennifer Shivicks and Family.

0 In motherhood and family

My baby will not eat baby food!

My 7-month-old will not eat baby food. We started at a little after 4 months, but she would look at me like, why am going to eat that stuff when I want what you are eating. She is the first out of my four kids who just is not into this and has really wanted no more than about 2 bites before pushing it away. My other kids ate their baby food like it was a Thanksgiving feast being served and they loved every bite. We tried all different foods and flavors. We tried feeding her and stopped, trying again a week or two later with no success.  

 Next as most Mom’s do, we read article after article. I read everything on baby fed weaning and cutting food into long strips that they can hold on to, that are soft and easy to mush in her mouth as they learn to chew but I just couldn’t do it. At this point, I am having visions of my little baby choking on food and there is just no way. It is not always easy trying new things when none of your other children cared about what they were being fed. My baby wanted everyone else’s food at 5 months, breastmilk and nothing else. I knew she could eat the baby food I saw her swallow some a few times so what do I do?

 Well, by 6 months she still was not eating, and I was a bit concerned. With this virus going around we did not see her doctor until 7 months. When she walked in the first thing the doctor said is, she must be loving baby food right? I instantly said No, she will not eat it at all! Luckily, her doctor was right on point, she commented that we have to many people in the house eating the good food, why would she want that stuff. To Moms, it is a relief when something you may worry about is not a concern at all to their pediatrician. She said well if you can make whatever she wants mushy then cut it up into tiny piece and she can eat it.. She said a lot of babies skip baby food and start around 5 months doing this Thank God for this because I was at a loss.

 We picked up pre diced veggies, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, and a few other items. To my delight she loves them all and although she has not mastered picking the tiny pieces up she does well with a little help. But, you do have to watch her still or she will steal a waffle from you in one moment. She really wants what we all eat, if that food is something we can make safe for her, then she can eat it. My Mommy lesson learned here is not every baby follows the baby books and some just are ready to be bigger than they are.

 Below I listed some food items they recommended to start her with, but they all need to be cooked till they are incredibly soft and then diced into small pieces or cubes. If I were having another baby, I would have tried the baby led weaning and not worry about her choking, so many babies love this method of eating foods when they are ready.

  1. Carrots
  2. Green pea’s
  3. Strawberries
  4. Bananas
  5. Rice
  6. Pasta
  7. Bread
  8. Mangos
  9. Sweet potatoes
  10. Regular potatoes
1 In motherhood and family

Memorial Day in the Shivicks Home

Memorial Day is not a day my family sees as Happy day or a day that we get to party, it is a day to remember and honor our lost loved ones and the lost loved ones of many of my friends. Today we go to a cemetery, sit at a headstone, and spend time with AC2 Matthew Hicks. This man is a sailor, a son, a best friend and most important a father. He has many family members and friends who almost 12 years later still miss him and come to visit him here at his final resting place surround by many others.

AC2 Matthew Hicks was only 25 when he died in Phuket, Thailand. He was young, healthy, enjoyed being a Sailor and loved being a father to our son. He sadly died because of severe complications due to dehydration while on his ship, by the time he got the specialized care he needed it was too late. His family, as well as I, where lucky enough to fly to him and be with him in his final days. His loss was massive for our family and changed life for us all especially our four-year-old son.

From the moment we lost him, I made it a point to make sure Matts presence would always be in our home and we would celebrate his life the way we would if he were still here in person. Memorial Day is a day that when we are in town we spend at his gravesite, we bring food (donuts from a place he always went), we buy flowers and we sit with him. So many families go see their loved ones on this day and to sit and watch all of them come makes me proud. I am proud that people do not just see this day as a BBQ, pool party or vacation day. Many Americans pay tribute and honor those military members who are no longer with us.

Some years when we are not in San Diego, we go to Washington, D.C. to an event held by Taps (Tragedy Assistance Program for survivors), a program where over 2000 family members and children get together for a healing weekend. We remember our loved ones, share them, heal, meet other families, and just get together in an environment that supports our unique loss. It is the most amazing experience anyone in my shoes could take part in and is an amazing way to remember the ones who are gone.

With military loss, there are lots of special circumstances that make the loss extremely complicated. For us, he died in the middle of deployment and our brain tricks itself to just think he is still on deployment and will be back soon. Then the children, many too young to understand the loss of their parent since they are already gone, struggle with understanding they will never come back. The struggles are many and the types of military deaths are so vast. Memorial Day honors all types, no matter the manner of death. They all served this country and deserve to be honored. For many military families, every day is Memorial Day.

There are so many ways American’s can help families, like mine, during this time and they are so simple yet so meaningful and will make you think of Memorial Day a different way.

  1. Go visit your local military cemetery and walk around. Maybe place some flowers or flags.
  2. DO NOT say Happy Memorial Day as it is NOT a happy day to many people.
  3. Learn and teach the meaning of the day.
  4. Fly your flags at half-mast.
  5. Go to a local Memorial Day ceremony.
  6. Find some names of those lost and post them asking for a moment of silence.
  7. Take a moment of silence during your day.
  8. Make red poppies as a craft, learn about them and why they are worn on this day.
  9. Watch a Memorial Day tribute online.
  10. Create a gold star flag and learn what they are.

 So, for 2020, my family will be at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, spending time with Matt, thinking of my Grandpa Ken and my husband Grandfather Granville who served and passed as well and remembering all the others who today is about and their families. To all the Gold Star families out there, please know our family loves you, we appreciate your loved ones sacrifice and they will never be forgotten.

1 In motherhood and family

A Mama living with Anxiety.

Being anxious is nothing new to me. I have always been an anxious person. As I grew older it got worse. Year by year, little by little, my anxiety started consuming my life.  The first time I really noticed it taking a toll on me was in 2008. This was not shocking. That it was the year we lost Matt (my sons’ father) and someone I love dearly. I was with him as he passed. Then I had to fly around the world back to my 4-year-old. I needed to be tell him his father was not coming back. Handling your own grief is hard but being a Mom, we carry our children’s grief too.

I tried controlling it on my own, but it did not work, and I sought help. This help ended with me helping my therapist with her issues and me on medication, which I knew nothing about, made me feel like a zombie and eventually caused me to stop cold turkey. I later found out, that this was a horrible way to stop anxiety medications. From that moment on, I was convinced I needed to help myself.

A life with anxiety is some what like a roller coaster and things can trigger it without your knowledge. For years after this I was doing well, I lived life normal in my eyes and it never really bothered me until I got married. I am not sure what it was. Maybe the miscarriages, the life of a wife as a Marine Corp Recruiter. Could be the move across country, the death of my brother in law Frankie or the thought of the loss for my sister and her children. .

The panic attacks started. The first one I can remember happening was while I was in Washington, D.C. burying my grandfather. I chalked the incident up to me finding out I was pregnant a week later. Sadly, my entire pregnancy was rough. I was anxious at every appointment causing high blood pressure. No doctor would really listen to me about being anxious and I just was not happy. I am also a stay at home mom caring for three kids. Two of which constantly fighting. The third is a teenager who is dealing with his own life issues. It was rough, scary and depressing to me. I love being a Mom. Being a Mom can also be draining. I needed to take care of myself.

After I had Aria, I hoped the hormones would regulate. Maybe I would feel more like myself but one week later I was back in the ER. There was nothing wrong body wise. But my mental health was not good. I most likely was having a panic attack along with severe anxiety. At least the doctor was understanding and listened to me.

Sometimes for myself, I just need someone to talk me off the ledge. To get me out of my head. It is often hard to find someone to do this for you or even understand what its like to live like this. My husband helps me a lot. My kids would set my anxiety through the roof. I was not enjoying being with them all the time because their yelling, screaming, crying, fighting and back talking would cause me to shut down. I really love them so much and I knew I needed to help myself so I could be the mom they deserved. As a Mom we want to present and to enjoy our children.

As Aria keeps getting bigger, my medical insurance finally gets straightened out and I felt more confident in seeing my doctor for my Anxiety. Then Covid-19 pops up and everywhere is shut down. Since I was not chancing going anywhere or wanting to attempt my second chance of getting help during these weird stressful times, I decided I needed to find ways that can help me. Now I know I could do a video call with a therapist but this would not work for me. I began looking for natural ways to help how I was feeling. Somethings worked great. Some only worked for a short time. But thankfully I narrowed things down to these top 10 ways of handling anxiety that worked best for me.

  1. NO CAFFINE (This is hard. I am a tired mom and sometimes I still have some)
  2. Chamomile Tea and as much as I want.
  3. Know when to say no. You do not have to do everything, and you know your limits.
  4. Positive mantra’s (You are ok, this wont last forever, you can do this)
  5. Being aware of your feelings and knowing when you need to walk away
  6. Eat healthy, take vitamins, lots of water and eat more berries/bananas/nuts
  7. Deep breathing. I have an app that helps me with this.
  8. Get outside. Nothing like a change of scenery and fresh air
  9. Have a person you trust who can tell you your ok if you need it (my husband).
  10. Get sleep. This is hard when you are a mom but if you can do it then it HELPS!

If I am consistent with all of this and forgiving of myself for not being perfect every day, these things will work. Anxiety is different for everyone. This may or may not work for you. In the end, if you are struggling with anxiety and you are not living your best life, please see your doctor as I will be seeing mine soon just to continue to care for my mental health in the best way possible. Asking for help is a good thing. It is hard for us Moms to always remember we matter too. We are always being the strong ones. Moms are always needed. Make sure to take care of yourself.

7 In motherhood and family

Welcome to my blog!

Hi! Welcome to my blog, my name Is Jennifer Shivvers. I am a stay at home mom, and I have 4 amazing children: Matthew (16), Gavin (5), Harper (3) and Aria (7 months). I am married to my amazing Husband Geoff and we have been together for almost 8 years. We are currently living in sunny San Diego, California where I was born and raised but my husband is from Iowa. It was my luck that he was a Marine stationed in San Diego and I am so happy we found each other.

I have always joked around calling us the “Shivicks” because we are a blended family. My oldest son Matthew Hicks is from my previous relationship, which sadly ended when his dad passed away while on deployment when I was 24 and our son was just 4 years old. This loss was such a devastation for us all, it caused me great anxiety and loss of hope. I was convinced after this I would never get married or have kids but as God does, he made some other plans for Matthew and me. When I married Geoff and gave birth to Gavin, I wanted to include Matthew’s dad in our life and so I would joke around we are the Shivicks mixing both last names together.

Now almost 8 years later, 3 more kids, 3 miscarriages, multiple moves and so much more here we are. We are living and loving this roller coaster of life one day at a time. Although I have been through much heart ache if you just keep pushing you will come back on top. So now I want to share our raw unfiltered life with you, the good the bad and everything in between raising my family of four. My hopes are I will share something that helps someone, maybe make you laugh, and learn things along the way.

A group of people sitting posing for the camera

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