It’s been a while…

It has been some time since I updated this, and if I am honest, I actually let the site slide a bit due to the drop in visitors (not sure if people wanted updates…)

So we’re back…

What has happened since March?

The girls were hopelessly addicted to a song by Panic At The Disco called ‘Vegas Lights’ – due to this massive addiction and the huge smiles on their faces every single day, I took a couple of weeks off of work and without telling anyone but a sole person, we drove from home to Las Vegas, Nevada so the girls could see all about Las Vegas. While on this trip, we saw so many things, stopped at a few of AJ and my gaming friends (hello The Olde Guard!!!) houses and ended up in Bakersfield, California for a few days. We stayed with an amazing friend of ours who didn’t hesitate opening his home to us and giving us a great place to stay while we were there.

There was a get-together with a whole bunch of friends at another home, just an amazing time with all. We are so grateful to have an amazing support group of true friends who dealt with our craziness.

The trip back was just as fun, and even though we do NOT have a love for ‘WHYoming’, the rest of the states were amazing.

There is so much more, and for a quick ‘we’re alive’ update, this will do! 🙂

Next up: 3 and 5 days until the girls 3rd and 6th birthdays! 😀

33

It’s almost your birthday.

This is the week where you would have gotten the most crap from your husband, letting you know how you are older than him and you are a cradle robber. This was something that I so dearly miss joking with you about.

You may have been just under 2 months older than I, but it was something both of us gave each other crap about so often. This week there will be no sleeping in for you. There will be no sneaking the girls out of the house before you wake on Wednesday, no breakfast in bed, no Caribou coffee in bed. There will be no surprise presents or looking forward to your bath and body works lotions and victorias secret gift cards. The excitement in your eyes on a birthday morning will not be here.

It already sucks so badly, and I am trying my damnedest to keep smiling for the girls. I packed up all your clothes and stored them away for the pandas. If it wasn’t for them there wouldn’t be much around here to keep going. You did end up sending someone my way to talk to about everything and to lean on when it gets hard, and I do thank you for that. We are both very convinced you are in the music we listen to every day, throwing a song or two in there.

I miss you Andrea Joy – I get to see your eyes in Gloria, your smile in Eleanor, and part of your attitude, too. I miss you though. It’s not quite the same here without the joking and being together all the time.

We have come to a place here where we are able to keep up with everything and still have fun. We will be just fine.

I Love You and miss you so fucking much it hurts.

Happy Birthday my Andrea Joy. I Love You.

Until The Day I Die

The first of the 2017 updates…

Ahh, the long awaited post-holidays update. We survived relatively in one piece 🙂 I kid, everyone seems to have made it fine through the first ‘hardest’ holiday. The girls and I are doing just fine and although they terribly miss their mom, both #1 and #2 are having a ton of fun, learning lots and not surprising at all, growing up very fast.

The girls have an amazing support network with the Aunties and Uncles, Cousins and Grandma and Grandpa that spoiled the crap out of them over Christmas and have been constantly going out of their way to make sure these girls know they are good girls, and no thanks will ever be good enough to show our appreciation for everything.

At this time we’re kind of in a holding pattern of the same old weekly routines as much as possible while we wait to hear any update as to the wonderful news that the home we’ve been renting will be sold early this year sometime. I am not sure if it is feasible to ‘purchase’ anything as large as a home, and to be honest, with the way my team at work seems to be falling in to pieces and not getting better, it may be best to wait it out and be patient. It would suck to have to try and find a reasonable place to live in this town, as Grand Forks is a jump up or two in price from what we had been paying in Fargo, and everyone knows that once you get the house living, and everything a family of four needs and wants to live on in once place, that it is nearly impossible to transition back in to a lack-of-storage apartment, which would be our only route when the house is sold. We’ll deal with that sooner than later, I would expect.

Ohhh, and if anyone is a taxes expert out there, have I got a perfect customer just for you (wink wink…) 😉

In one way or another this weekly grind has been keeping us in check, there have been no major meltdowns with anyone, and incorporating things like the bedtime books AJ took the time to record herself reading and watching the videos of AJ singing or laughing really have helped everything quite a bit. I am still not able to really cope with rearranging the room or trying to put any of the mess away that we call our bedroom, but I expect that will come in due time (whether I want to or not, I fear).

We have come to what I think is a stable point with Social Services and AJ’s Social Security payments for the girls, that was one very tough nut to crack. As far as I’m aware, Grand Forks county will still not provide any assistance to this house which sucks, but not even looking further in to it and fighting with them really helps the stress level to stay grounded. 🙂

It’s been very tough working overnights and staying up with the girls during the day, but I think that was reasonably solved by sleeping the heck out of the overnights on my two days off a week, and more often than not having awesome family members watch the girls either during the daytime hours or even overnight a day or two on most weekends. This gives a solid 3 day sleep cycle, not including the two or three hours I can squeak in once a week between the girls bedtime and my work start time.

Through all of this I have had the most amazing group of guys (and a woman or two) supporting me mentally and listening to me whine about the daily/weekly nonsense, so an amazingly huge and genuine THANK YOU to every one of the gamers I play with in The Olde Guard old-fogie gamers group.

Like we said before, we’ll keep updating every few weeks so people know the latest, so until next update, please be kind and take care. We miss you Andrea Joy/Mom.

Merry Christmas from the Novak’s

Here’s the latest:

I’ll start with (unbelievably) some good news! Social Services of Grand Forks County has approved C.J. as the primary care provider for the girls! This means he can finally receive the benefits from Social Security for the girls, this is a move in the right direction. They still won’t give any other assistance, but honestly, I’m just done trying, there is no point with them.

 

We had a good turkey day, and family members made some very good food – thank you Sara for hosting this year’s feed-fest again 🙂

 

We are making it all work, figuring how to re-measure all the things we do on a daily/weekly basis, and trying to get back in to swing of ‘normality’. It’s super hard to re-learn how to buy groceries, for example. No more making 2 pounds of hamburger and 2 boxes of hamburger helper, sounds trivial, right? Nope, everything changes when someone is gone. No longer do we need milk for oreos, creamer or coffee. Gone are the 10 flavors of yogurt and taco pizza’s.

 

It’s a different world from losing a person who is in your life daily, for example when Darrin died. Yes, it is still a void that can not be filled, but it didn’t impact the household in whole. Was there anger, crying, depression and angst? Yes, but it is very very different from losing your wife. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I will tell you there is a surreal feeling when you’re expecting to round a corner and bump in to someone. It’s also very very mentally taxing when you’re watching a show you used to with a person, and you react to what’s happening and turn to see an empty seat.

 

It’s very hard to do the things that AJ loved to do, like setting up her Christmas tree. This was her thing, she absolutely had to do it every year. Well, I contemplated it, honestly, was it worth putting up the tree for the one person who enjoyed the hell out of it? Yes, it is, because those two girls deserve to keep those memories and see it every year. All this being said:

 

Merry Christmas From The Novak’s

your smile

your smile

holding your hand

petty arguments

finding two squares left on the toilet paper roll

watching movies

watching stupid tv shows

kissing your forehead

cruising around

watching dumb videos

making breakfast

getting your coffee

tripping over shoes

scaring you

getting attitude back

tall hugs

butt dance

stupid songs

story time

rubbing the bump on your head

cuddling

rubbing your leg while driving

your eyes

tucking you in

eskimo kisses

goodnight sweets

RANT INCOMING

First and foremost, thank you to each and every single person who has been helping through this. It’s hard, yes, and it doesn’t ever get easy. With each and every person caring so much, it’s no wonder why AJ wanted us here, and here we’ll stay. Thank you.

 

*** THE FOLLOWING IS A RANT OF EPIC PROPORTIONS, IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE AND IS ESSENTIALLY A BRAIN DUMP – TODAY IS A HARD DAY AND THIS IS C.J.’s WAY TO COPE, I THINK***

 

Cancer is a scary monster.

This isn’t the same old ‘cancer sucks’ rant, although it does and we all know it.

Just about two and a half years ago we were gifted by the most wonderful gift again, a second amazingly gorgeous daughter. That same day we were also dealt a pain in the ass, cancer. Much like everyone else that has been dealt the same hand, we were a bit sickened by what was there, but we pressed on.

We decided to fight this, and fight we did. By we, I mean AJ did a damn fine job at being herself – the strong quiet person. Don’t get me wrong, AJ was devastated Although she put on a good front, the honest truth is she was very hurt with the surgery, and losing some of her hair – but remained positive it would grow back. After that the radiation and a ton of hair lost. We went through several weeks of missing small events due to not wanting to go out, if only to the grace of caring family members, AJ found the love of her signature headbands to cover the sparse hair she hated.

Around this same time we had a meeting with the Oncology team at Mayo and got a very detailed write-up to confirm what we had heard – one to two years at best, and in an absolute miracle world, three to four.

We knew going in to this the progression of things, and that had always been a topic of conversation between AJ and I. We spoke weekly of the upcoming with the progression and what we would be doing about what’s coming down the pipe. We have never spoken in secret about anything and as much as it took to suck back any tears, we have always been up front and honest with the girls.

AJ and I both knew that the clock was ticking, and from September on through our last meeting, our last real conversation where we could both talk to each other, we spoke about things to do, what to say to whom, how to progress after she dies.

Yes, we spoke about dying not because we had to, but I believe it helped AJ a bit, even though she was scared shitless as to the impending outcome of her ever so short gifted life with us.

We spent two years trying our damnedest to make memories, on my part I was trying to make sure that the amazing benefit everyone put so much work in to, from my little sister and estranged family I had been largely ignoring due to a previous family spat, to the whole breadth of what seemed like decades of work with the entirety of northern Minnesota coming together as one family on AJ’s side (let’s be honest, northern Minnesota is one giant family, related or not, they act in each others positive nature no matter who it is). Needless to say, we did our best.

We came close to nailing AJ’s list of zoo’s – which was five or six lists of the top 10 zoo’s concatenated (<== AJ HATES that word, sorry sweets!) and the top 10 compiled, re-ordered and listed in the order AJ wanted to get to them. We will complete this list for her, the girls and I will finish it no matter what.

Through this entire thing we’ve made light of none of our candid conversations about death, regression, stress, worry and fear to anyone. AJ may have shared with her mother, as they are extremely close, but there wasn’t a mass discussion with everyone around.

We tried not to take things too seriously, as AJ and I spoke very thoroughly about things on the first (several) drives to Mayo – 6 hours of talking is QUITE a lot. At this point two years ago, we were done and ready to keep living and not letting this shit get to us. I’ll call it like it is, this is shit, this whole stupid thing has been a pile of steaming shit nobody should ever have to be dealt.

I would be lying if I said that any of the many talks, hugs, crying, angry songs, fast drives, short talks, cuddling, running of hands though her hair or smiles have lessened this pain today. Yes, it helped quite a bit, but honestly, this sucks SO BADLY.

We’re making things through, but to be completely honest, I wondered why people keep asking ‘are you going to stay around here for at least a while’. This isn’t something I expected nor had an answer for. Why would it be an option? What did we say or do to signal possibly leaving? Nothing. But after today’s walking in to Sam’s Club with Gloria – and her looking endlessly for Mom the whole time in there, it dawned on me, that’s why people leave.

We won’t be though, just need to reiterate that for any family members still going to this site who may or not freak out when they read that.

Even though it’s hard sometime, it’s great having everyone here to help with everything. We have been dealt a few crappy cards this past week, but nothing will compare with the week before, so it will be dealt with.

This will the the last update for a few weeks as we get this new schedule of life down a bit more. I am not sure if I will be able to keep working this third shift, even though it has taken many years to get to this point in the career path, I’ll most likely have to drop to something crappy locally here and see if we can keep making it. It will suck to leave this job, as it’s really spoiled this household, but there isn’t anything like it in this town that refuses to grow with the times.

The fact that Grand Forks County won’t help this household with childcare or any assistance whatsoever adds to the pile, really. I have never been so frustrated trying to get something accomplished as to deal with a whole county that won’t help a family in need. But we’ve been through this rant before, right?! I am still genuinely curious to know how the hell people get assistance, afford childcare, sports, events, movies, trips and groceries without help of Grand Forks county – just knowing we don’t possibly qualify for any help, of any family in any situation, you would think this one could use a stupid break.

We will continue to update this site with updates on the girls, as it’ll be nice to see them grow up and live the lives AJ and I swore to each other they would.

There aren’t enough thanks to go around to each and every person who has helped, sent a card, smile or even said hi. Sometime even acknowledging a fellow parent waiting to pick up a child can keep a grieving person going.

For now, off to figure out how to keep a pair of oh-too-sassy girls busy for a few hours between meals.

Maybe today is an super cheesy egg kind of morning sweetie.

Memorial Service

The memorial service for AJ will be Friday, November 4th at 11:00am at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks, MN.

 

There will be a visitation starting at 10:00am with a luncheon provided afterwards by the Forest River Community Hutterites.

 

 

Andrea Joy Novak

Andrea Joy Novak

3/22/1984 – 10/30/2016

 

Today is the day that the suffering and pain has ended for Andrea Joy Novak. She’s lived a short yet fulfilling life, seeing many of her dreams come true.

 

 

 

We are processing all of the events and arranging the inevitable services to follow, so bear with us as we make plans and we will let everyone know what events are to follow. For now Andrea is at rest and no longer laboring along to stick with us, she is peaceful. The last pretty fall leaf has apparently fallen.

 

Thank you everyone.

my favorites

My favorite colors are purple and blue

My favorite foods are potatoes, beef stew, croissants, creamy clam chowder, pumpkin pie, i love barbeque ribs and pulled pork, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, banana cream pie, banana nut muffins, cranberry orange muffins, rhubarb crisp, deviled eggs (aunt amandas are awesome), applebees maple butter blondie, thin mint and samoa girl scout cookies, hot turkey sandwich, cheesecake strawberry or turtle, smores, club sandwichs (not with real turkey which tends to be dry but with deli meat), french toast, mexican omlets, banana bread,rootbeer float, pumpkin pie, and pretty much any mexican food especially burritos (grandmas are the best) and tamales

My favorite candys are caramello, tootsie rolls, skittles, peanut m&ms, turtles,andes mints,fireballs(in elementary school they would give you either gum or a fireball for reading and i always chose the fireball), and snickers

My favorite things include animals, nature, movies, music, video games, tv, comedians, arts and crafts, cars, puzzles, plays/musicals, and photography

My favorite animals are lemurs, horses, cats, snow leopards, fenec foxes, otters, butterflies, and tigers

My favorite video games include mario bros(pretty much any of the old school games), f zero, mario kart, bloodrayne, street fighter, mortal kombat, toejam and earl, echo the dolphin, halo, call of duty, zoo tycoon, peggle,bioshock, sonic the hedgehog, legend of spyro series, zuma, portal,tomb raider,little big planet,frogger, battletoads, earthworm jim, donkey kong country, zelda, tetris, pacman,boom boom rocket, minecraft, far cry, gran turismo, fallout, borderlands, dead space, gears of war, minesweeper, oregon trail, banjo and kazooi, dantes inferno, mega man, super smash brothers brawl,mario party, metal gear solid,devil may cry, lost planet, and kinectimals

My favorite music includes panic at the disco, linkin park, breaking benjamin, taking back sunday, thursday, brand new, nine inch nails, bullet for my valentine, white stripes\jack white, beyonce, jay z, nicki minaj, missy elliot, kelis, aaliyah, tlc, chevelle, alicia keys, ciarra, ludacris, foo fighters, fall out boy, jennifer lopez, rhianna, shakira,avenged sevenhold, eminem,the doors, ac/dc, pink floyd,christina aguilera, queen, five finger death punch, pink, adelle,usher, lonely island, jewel, modest mouse, chevelle, thousand foot crutch, the used, and oasis (there are so many other bands that I love but there are just too many to list but as you get older daddy will give you girls a bit of a musical education 😉 )

Movies I really love include the fox and the hound, who framed roger rabbit, drop dead fred, summer school,stay tuned, maximum overdrive, the man from snowy river, what about bob, wild hearts can’t be broken, spirit stallion of the cimeron, benji the hunted, kung fu panda, beauty and the beast, little mermaid, so i married an axe murderer, austinpowers, black stallion (1979 version), heidi (1993 tv version),romeo+juliet, harry and the hendersons, beethoven, planet of the apes the old ones and new ones, the cutting edge, pleasantville, bill and teds excellant adventure, black beauty (1994), homeward bound, the land before time, all dogs go to heaven, ever after, herbie the love bug the old ones, the princess bride, my cousin vinny, far and away, sweet home alabama, taladega nights the ballad of ricky bobby, dr. doolittle (the old one),petes dragon, robin hood men in tights,legends of the fall, a river runs through it, legally blonde, office space, space balls, short circuit, batteries not included, the wedding singer, coming to america, trading places, beverly hills cop, terminator, napoleon dynamite, the neverending story, little shop of horrors, the great outdoors, desperado, edge of tommorow, easy a, enchanted, blues brothers, nationallampoons christmas/european /vegas vacation, the rescuers down under, the money pit, emperors new groove, the jerk, three amigos, fried green tomatoes, edward scissorhands, secret garden (1993), howard the duck, hunger games, 50 first dates, waterboy, billy madison, coneheads, happy gilmore, airheads, joe dirt, black sheep, tommy boy, police academy, big, anastasia, back to the future, ferngully, mighty joe young, armed and dangerous, the green mile, shawshank redemption, cast away, forrest gump, ducktales the movie treasure of the lost lamp, a league of their own, turner and hooch, dragnet, pretty woman, fly away home, dumb and dumber, the haunting (1999), misery, miss congeniality, the horse whisperer, the brave little toaster, petes dragon, shaun of the dead,ferris buelers day off, she devil, death becomes her,milo and otis, paul blart mall cop, stardust, the big lebowski, the chipmunk adventure, my fair lady, balto, iron will, call of the wild, stand by me, the harry potter series, the matrix, dogma,matilda, the other women, the heat, interview with a vampire, taken, i am legend, idiocracy, indiana jones series,tremors,an american tail feival goes west, a little princess (1995), white men can’t jump, days of thunder, top gun, cocktail,sounder, where the red fern grows, three amigos, city slickers,drowning mona,how to lose a guy in 10 days, 10 things i hate about you,hope floats, a walk to remember, american phsycho,walk the line, boondock saints,donnie darko, cruel intentions, the truman show,lawnmower man, groundhog day, scrooged, saving silverman, men in black,twins, and kindergarten cop (some of these movies aren’t appropriate for you both now but once you get a little older, plus there are so many other movies that you should see but again there are just too many to list)

My favorite season is fall because even though you get warm sunny days still its cool at night and its not humid like during the summer

I love during the fall when it rains and during the winter when there is a snow storm its so nice and cozy and warm to stay inside. The smell of fall is also awesome its just so crisp and the smell of sugar beats and the harvest is so nice, and the colors of the leaves are so cool.

My favorite tv shows are family guy, south park, american dad, king of the hill, conan, peewees playhouse, tales from the crypt, cutthroat kitchen, the great food truck race, fast and loud, top gear the british version, restaurant stakeout, diners drive ins and dives, seinfeld, friends, simpsons, million dollar listing LA, flipping vegas, arrested development, its always sunny in philadelphia, the critic, saturday night live the older seasons were the best, in living color, full house, roseanne, the soup, duck dynasty, deadliest catch, bearing sea gold, ancient aliens, under cover boss, garfield, reno 911, 3rd rock from the sun, futurama, ducktales, talespin, chip and dale rescue rangers, animaniacs, inspector gadget, the world of david the gnome, classic looney toones, muppet babies, pound puppies, my little ponies, care bears, the joy of painting with bob ross, fraggle rock, fred penners place,gummy bears,teanage mutant ninja turtles, xmen, dragon ball z,drunk history, mr. rogers, lassie, rin tintin, animal cops, steve irwin crocodile hunter, and the graham norton show(some of these are old shows that I watched as a kid and then others are ones i enjoyed as i grew up)

My favorite comedians are russel peters, john mullaly, dane cook, jim gafigan, gabriel iglesias, kevin hart, bo burnham, patton oswalt, amy schumer, pete holmes, nick swardson, daniel tosh, kumail nanjiani, john caparulo, bill engvalle, mitch fatell, zach galifinakis, john oliver, andy samburg, aziz ansari, bill burr, jeff foxworthy, anthony jeselnik, jo koy, kathleen madigan, john pinette, sarah silverman, chris titus, stephen lynch, ricky gervais, and jimmy carr

My favorite model of car is ford and of course i love mustangs

My favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip, butter pecan with carmel on top, blue bunny banana split,chocolate marshmallow malt from dairy queen (i remember dad always ordered it and i tried it and really liked it), white chocolatemousse with gummy bears on top, banana split with chocolate strawberry & butterscotch or caramel toppings ,and rocky road

I wanted to travel everywhere and explore the world but never really got the chance, but I did get to go to some amazing places like the grand canyon and niagara falls
I always wanted to move to Duluth MN because it is so beautiful there

I love chai tea lattes and turtle mochas from caribou coffee

I love fruity smells usually: from bath and body works i like cucumber melon, cherry blossom, cool citrus basil, coconut lime breeze, amber blush, black raspberry vanilla, juniper breeze. from victoria secret i like love spell and true escape. Also i really like the smell of lilac bushes and lavender

Favorite stones include jade, tigers eye, geodes. i have always loved rocks even the normal ones most people would think are boring and it helps if they look unique 😉

Favorite dog breeds are corgis, huskies, irish wolfhounds, and border collies

I have always loved ancient history documentaries , nature documentaries, and shows like how its made or unwrapped

When i first saw machu pichu in a book in middle school i immediately wanted to go there it is so amazing

I love during summer either in the early morning or as the sun is going down the sound of mourning doves, as a kid i always slept with my window open so those were the sounds that i really like also the sound of trains in the distance

thrice send me an angel
owl city- good time
afi leaving song pt 2
nirvana- breed