Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's all just a blur...

It is Christmas Eve tomorrow and I have to say that the entire month of December has just been one big blur. I am not sure if I have just been trying to get through this month as fast as possible or if Owen and I have just been really busy, but I do not know where the time went.

Earlier this month Owen and I ventured out to the tree farm with Grandma Lori, Grandpa Buzz, Uncle Bob, Auntie Rachel and Brendan. In the eight years that I have been a part of the Prairie family, this was the first year that I had ever cut down a Christmas tree with them. One of the many things that Bryan looked forward to when we moved home was cutting down the tree with his family and decorating for the holidays. It was really hard to be there without him, but I just focused on making the memory perfect for Owen. Deep down, I just wished that Bryan would pop out of a pine tree acting like his goofy self, jumping around and making faces at us. I know that he was there in spirit though. I am convinced that he was the one that lead us to the Christmas tree that just so happened to have a perfect little birds nest in it....which I am told is a symbol of good luck.

After we picked out the perfect tree, we loaded it into the truck and headed home to decorate. I was not too sure how Owen would do, but surprisingly, he was really gentle and calm. It was a lot of fun to watch him touch the light bulbs with his fat little stubby fingers and attempt to get the bulbs off of the tree. He had a good time destroying boxes, pulling out decorations and playing with all of grandmas stuff. He even let me put on his little Santa hat for a few pictures.

Another big event that took place this month was Owen's first visit with Santa. Lately he has been pretty clingy and attached to my hip, so I knew that it was not going to be easy to get a photo with him on Santa's lap. After prying his fingers from my sweater we managed to get one photo of him. Although I wished he was smiling, his crocodile tears are pretty cute.

Although I know that tomorrow is going to be extremely hard, I am praying that it will go okay. I really want to make Owen's first Christmas perfect...full of love, family, and fun. I think he may have even gotten an early Christmas present because his two bottom teeth popped through today. I guess we will just have to wait and see what tomorrow will bring. I will keep you posted....


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Busy Busy Boy

Now that Owen is officially on the move, it seems like time is just flying by. Not only has he learned how to crawl everywhere (at a fast speed) but he has also decided that he can go up the stairs...all by himself. Grandma Lori and I had to go out and buy gates last week to install in the living rooms because Owen is bound and determined to cover every square inch of the house. Even though it is a little scary to watch him try new things, I do love watching his chubby little legs and fat fingers work there way around. He is so smart and learns something new everyday. I continue to be amazed by his spirit and tenacity. He is one stubborn, happy, vivacious little boy.

Trying to get over the gate....

Going up the stairs.....

Standing up in bed....

Although it is fun watching Owen learn how to crawl and attempt to walk, I have also had to watch his temper develop throughout the week...and I have to say he has a big temper. Whenever Owen gets mad that he cannot move a toy just right or that he cannot stand up on his own for long enough, he starts to yell and hit....yes I said HIT. I have had to tell him to "be nice" a lot this week. Not only does he hit now, but he has also learned how to run my toes over in his new jeep walker that I bought him this past Saturday. Even though he has been a little more vocal and physical lately, he has also been giving more kisses, which out ways the naughty things he does. There is nothing better than a sloppy Owen kiss. He makes my day when I pick him up or he crawls over to me and nuzzles his face into mine, looks me in the eyes, opens his mouth, and kisses me. It has to be the best feeling in the whole world...It shows me that he loves me.

Not only have we had a busy week watching Owen grow, but this past week we also celebrated Thanksgiving. It was really hard to be without Bryan, but we all pulled through and remained thankful that we got as much time with him as we did. Owen got to spend time with both sides of his family (Prairie and Esson) and show of his new skills. He loved all of the love and attention he received that day, not to mention all of the turkey and mashed potatoes he got to eat.

To top it all of, we got the good news that Uncle Alec made the Armstrong basketball team! Bryan played basketball with Alec every week and really wanted him to make the high school team. I know that he would be so proud of him. After Bryan passed away in September, Alec said that he was going to continue playing basketball because it made him feel closer to Bryan. He even wrote Bryan's name on his basketball shoes so that he could be there in spirit with him, helping him through his game. When we found out that Alec made the team, Owen and I promised to go to every game and cheer him on. We attended his first game tonight against Edina and Alec's team won. I know that Bryan was there the entire time, yelling and screaming "Go Alec....get to that ball". I am so proud of my brother. In closing, I thought I would post a paragraph that Alec wrote on Bryan's facebook wall the day he made the team.

"Bryan I made the Armstrong team for you and I know your proud, but I give my success to you cause you taught me to become a good basketball player and even though I wont see you attend my games, I always know you'll be watching from the sky. But its hard not having someone to teach me and be there for me cause that was your job, you inspired me to be a better person. Miss you man"

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Owen turned 8 months old on Thursday and for his big birthday, he decided that he was going to crawl with his belly off of the ground and pull himself up onto the couch. I am now officially a very busy mommy. Owen does not just crawl to his toys, he crawls all over the house. His favorite thing is to tear up all of grandma's magazines, so he heads over to her magazine shelf as soon as I set him down on the floor. Goodbye to the days where I could just set him down on the floor and clean my room and do laundry. Goodbye to the days where I could get ready in the morning while he watched Barney with Penny. Goodbye to the days where I could run to the bathroom quick while he looked at his books.

Bryan always talked about how he could not wait to see Owen crawl and walk. I think he was most excited to teach him how to hunt, fish, and play sports... all of which he had to wait to do till he was mobile. It is hard to watch Owen grow and overcome all of these big milestones without Bryan here with us. When I am sad, I just have to remind myself that he is with us and he is with Owen, guiding his every move and step. I am reminded that Owen has his daddy whispering in his ear whenever I ask Owen to say mama... because he always responds with "dada". I know that is Bryan's doing.

Owen not only decided to crawl and balance on furniture this week, but last night at 10:00 he decided to crawl up the stairs. It was not like he had to make a few attempts either. He literally crawled over to the stairs and went up. I know that Bryan would be so proud of his little man.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Little Monkey

I am so lucky to have such an amazing little boy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Children Are Amazing

Ever since Bryan passed away I have been praying that he would come to me in some way, shape or form and let me know that he was okay and happy. Whenever I have dreams about him, he is still alive and with Owen and me.... living a normal life. I thought for sure that he would appear to me as a butterfly or something else symbolic in our lives (I have a butterfly tattoo on my back that Bryan drew for me when we were 18) but he hasn't.

Today, at my little cousins birthday party, I think I got my wish. Bryan appeared to me through my five-year-old cousin Eastman. Eastman has always been my little buddy. Ever since the day he was born I have held a special place in my heart for that little boy. A few years ago we found out that Eastman was autistic. I have never met a child with more personality and love than him. He is so special and in tune with the world. He has more knowledge and creativity then I will ever have.

As we were sitting down for dinner Eastman pointed to a picture of Bryan and said "Ashee, I saw Bryan in my dreams last night." It sort of came out of nowhere so I paused for a second and then asked him what happened in his dream. Eastman then went on to tell me that Bryan was in heaven playing with a dog and that he was happy.

When Bryan was 17 years old his favorite dog Clyde passed away. Bryan had had Clyde as a pet since he was a baby and I am 100 percent positive that that is who Eastman saw Bry playing with. Right after Bryan passed away Eastman told me that he thinks Bryan is an angel and that he is with his cat Louie in Heaven. Although Bryan hated cats, I think Eastman is correct in the fact that Bryan is an angel.

My uncle Jeff told me today that Eastman talks a lot about Bryan and that he is always asking about Heaven. Today Eastman pointed to his head and said that Heaven is in "there". When I asked him why, he said because that is where his creativity is. For a five-year-old child, Eastman is more in touch with his spirituality and emotions that I am at 25. After talking to him today, I feel like Bryan must have appeared to him because he knew that Eastman's heart and mind were open and that he was willing to see him. What an amazing gift.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Another Busy Week

Halloween has come and gone and now we are headed straight towards Christmas. Although Halloween was kind of a blur, Owen had so much fun dressing up as a Monkey and spending time with family. Before all of the crazy festivities began, Owen and I decided to visit Bryan's grave site. I really wanted Bryan to see Owen's first Halloween costume and I felt like we would be closest to him there. Although Owen has no idea what we are doing there right now, I think that he will find comfort and peace there someday when he is a little older. Going to the cemetery is not really all that comforting to me right now either, but in time I know that I will feel closer to Bryan there.

After all of the trick-or-treating and celebrating was over, we decided to head to church on Sunday morning. Lori's father Lloyd is an amazing artist and over the past few years has carved large walking sticks out of different tree branches that he collects. After meeting my Pastor Mohn at Bryan's funeral service Lloyd decided to make him a large moses staff as a sign of his appreciation. Not only was it beautifully crafted and stained, but he had burnt different flowers and symbols into it. So, on Sunday we decided to give Pastor Mohn the staff, a beautifully written letter by Lori and a few pictures of Bryan and Pastor Mohn together at Owen's baptism. I knew that he would love the staff, but I did not know how much. It turns out that the name that was given to my pastor from the Native American Tribe he works with at Pine Ridge means staff and he also has a staff tattoo on his back. I do not think that we could have shown our love and appreciation any better than through that amazing walking stick created by Lloyd. I know that it really meant a lot to him and will be with him for the rest of his life; keeping Bryan's memory alive. I am pretty sure that Bryan was thanking Lloyd that day when he had a Hawk land on his head while he was sitting in his tree stand. Bryan loved Hawks and I am sure that that would be the perfect way to let his grandfather know that he was still with him.

After our eventful weekend we decided to spend most of our Monday decorating and organizing Owen's new bedroom. Although I miss having him sleep ten feet away from me, it is nice to be able to put him to sleep in a quiet and peaceful environment. Bryan's birthday was on flag day so we decorated his room in an American Flag theme. It turned out really cute and everything fits together perfectly. Ever since Bryan passed away I have been learning how to quilt; something he really wanted me to do. My cousin Tiffany and I quilted Owen's bed spread (the blanket hanging over his crib). I think that Owen's new bedroom will be a place where he can find peace and be able to do his own thing. I know that being surrounded by pictures and things that his father loved will be very comforting to not only him, but to me as well.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mommy's Little Boy

Owen is changing right before my eyes. Everyday his hair gets longer, his feet get bigger and his hands get fatter. Seeing his contagious smile and bright blue eyes puts a smile on my face every morning (even at 6:00 am). I can't help but think that I helped bring that beautiful, caring, hilarious and amazing child into this world; he makes me feel special and like my life has purpose.

Last weekend both Esson and Prairie families prepared for Halloween (Bryan's favorite holiday). I knew that it was going to be hard to celebrate Owen's first Halloween without Bryan, but I wanted Owen to experience all of the things that his father loved to do. I knew that Owen was going to like the pumpkin goo but I did not know how much. On Saturday night, at roughly 5:00pm, Owen dug his tiny fat fingers into the stringy orange goop and whipped it all over my parents kitchen. As if it was not bad enough that I had to wipe orange goo off the walls, but then Owen decided to eat/devour the pumpkin guts. Not only did he try it, but he LOVED it and could not get enough.

Then, on Sunday, Owen and I ventured over to the Prairie's house to spend yet another day carving pumpkins and taking pictures. Of course, Owen was his usual photogenic self (just like his father) and posed for roughly 200 pictures. I even had to buy a special outfit just for the occasion. I am sure that once Owen gets older he is going to be so upset with me for taking pictures of him every three minutes. I just can't seem to help myself. He is way too cute.

Although my hands are still a little cramped and I smell like pumpkin, I had a lot of fun spending time with my family and carving pumpkins with Owen. It was really hard to put on a smile and prepare for Halloween without Bryan, but I knew that it was important to do with Owen. Bryan and I always loved decorating for the Holidays and spending time with our family, so I knew that that was something I had to continue doing with our son. I want to raise Owen just as Bryan and I had planned. He is going to be surrounded with love, family, and amazing traditions that have been influential throughout both of our childhoods. Bryan and I were so lucky to get such amazing families and I want Owen to be just as happy as his father and I were. He is going to be one loved and spoiled little boy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

All Grown Up

My little boy is growing up. Not only has Owen decided to crawl but he is officially in a big boy car seat now. No more cute polka dot bucket seat.

I feel like it was just yesterday that I was holding him in my arms and seeing him open his eyes for the first time. Now he is 22 pounds and 7 months old. From the day he was born he has always had a "chill" personality and has been filled with so much love. Very rarely does Owen cry or throw a fit (knock on wood). I feel like he has the same personality and aura that his father had. Similar to Bryan, Owen just likes to sit back and observe. (They were two peas in a pod). I cannot wait to watch him grow and turn into a fine young man. He is an amazing little boy. Every time I look into his eyes I see Bryan and am filled with love and amazing memories.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On The Move

As of yesterday, Owen has officially turned 7 months old. I thought for sure that he would just skip crawling all together and go right to walking, but this past weekend, Owen started to army crawl. In one day he went from just rolling around to pulling himself across the floor with his arms. Not only has he been getting around faster but he thinks it is pretty cool to roll all the way over to the stairs and try to get up on them. Yesterday I turned around to see him leaning on the first step and bouncing up and down on his knees. I have a feeling that I am going to be one busy momma here soon. (Pictures to come)

Not only has Owen figured out how to crawl, but he has been really into the whole copying thing lately too. Papa taught him how to click his tongue this weekend (which he thinks is pretty cool) and he loves to raise his eyebrows when you raise yours. He is also really into sharing his nuk (fafa) with you if you ask nicely. I am sure that the whole sharing thing will end quickly though once he realizes what he is doing.

Not only he is one smart little boy, but he knows it and thinks he is pretty funny. Every day I learn something new from him. I am pretty sure that he is going to be smarter than me soon. I better start brushing up on my skills and hitting the books again. I have a feeling that I have my work cut out for me.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mixed Feelings

This year was supposed to be the first year that Bryan and I took Owen out to Hecla to experience hunting for the first time. Bryan loved to hunt and looked forward to it/prepared for it all year. He was looking forward to teaching Owen how to climb a tree stand, shoot a bow, and wait patiently for the big bucks to walk within 50 yards.

Before Owen was even born he was destined to be a hunter. When I was pregnant, Bryan would watch different hunting shows (like White Tale Freaks and Dream Season) every night before we would go to bed. Most nights I would fall asleep on his lap and wake up to him saying "Hunny we can go to bed now". I am pretty sure that Owen knew when the hunting channel was on, even when he was a brand new baby, because he would always get really quite and stare at the screen. That always used to make Bryan so proud.

This weekend Bill, Lori, Bob, Rachel, Owen and I headed out to Hecla for the hunting season. I knew before we left that it was going to be hard, but I did not know that it was going to be this hard. Every where I look I have flashbacks to last year when I was pregnant and Bryan and I were cuddling on the couch and talking about how we would raise our son. Now I am laying in a bedroom, on a twin bed, by myself, wishing that Bryan was here. All I want to do is go out in the field and search for him. I keep thinking that he is in his tree stand waiting for his perfect buck and just has not come home yet.

Sine Bryan's death I have been able to keep myself busy and distract myself most days when we are home in Plymouth, but I cannot seem to do that out here. I keep thinking about how Bryan really wanted me to go hunting with him and watch him kill a wall worthy buck. For our anniversary he even planned on getting a double tree stand so we could sit together and I could film his big kill. I have gone hunting with Bryan a couple times in the past but never for the whole day. It has been really hard for me to see Bob and Rachel go together and experience it as a couple and think that that should be me and Bryan too. It is also really hard to be the only one here without someone. I feel so alone and that is something that I can honestly say I had never experienced before Bryan's death.

I know that I have Owen but it just is not the same. I don't have anyone to sleep with or kiss goodnight. I don't have anyone to stay up laughing with or talk about my day. I don't have anyone to dry my tears and tell me that everything is going to be fine. I don't have Bryan.

I always feel like I have to be happy and put on a front so that I don't ruin anyones day, but really all I want to do is cry and scream "WHY BRYAN, WHY ME, and WHY OWEN?" I hide my emotions all day, then when everyone goes to sleep I go on my computer, look at pictures of Bryan and I, cry, try to write, and then pass out from my sleeping medication. Everyone always tells me that I am such a strong women and that I am a great mother, but really I feel like a weak, empty, terrible mom. I know that things are still fresh and that it will take awhile to feel "normal" again, but I just don't feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. My life will never be the same and I just can't help but feel like I will never be happy again. I just have to keep reminding myself how lucky I am to have Owen. I will always have a little piece of Bryan with me in him. He is my miracle.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bryan John Prairie

I fell in love with Bryan way back in the first grade. His beautiful blue eyes and fun personality were irresistible, even to a six year old little girl. After many years of having a crush and drawing hearts next to his name in my yearbooks, I finally got the courage to ask him out to sno-daze, our sophomore year of high school, with a puzzle. After freaking out all day long about what his response would be, I received a hand delivered envelope from one of his friends. Inside the envelope Bryan had created a puzzle out of notebook paper in one of his classes that said "YES". It was on that day that Bryan and I became good friends and started on our path through life together.

After three years of wishing and hoping that Bryan would ask me out, Bryan and I went on our first date, the summer before our senior year began, to a movie and dinner. On September 23rd, 2002 Bryan asked me out and we officially became a couple. After praying that we could be together for almost 10 years I finally could call him my boyfriend. I was dating BRYAN PRAIRIE, my life-long crush.

After a couple months of dating Bryan was driving me home in his Chevelle and I fell asleep on his lap. He said that in my sleep I looked up at him and said "Bryan, I love you". Bryan woke me up right away and told me that he loved me too. I can honestly say that we had a love that most people never get the pleasure of having. We loved so deeply and honestly. I knew when we started dating that he was going to be my husband someday. And low and behold on July 17th, 2004 Bryan asked me to marry him at Lake Calhoon. We both knew that our lives were going to be filled with so much love and happiness. We were so excited for the future.

On September 22nd, 2007 Bryan and I got married at Holy Nativity Lutheran Church. It was the best day of my life. Bryan and I were so happy and excited to start our family. And on July 27th, 2008, after 4 positive pee sticks, we found out that we were having a baby. Bryan danced around the house singing various Beatles songs, while I freaked out. Bryan was so excited to be a father and could not wait to see his little baby. He prepared the house, washed the baby clothes, joined the parenting websites, read up on all the latest baby books, and took really good care of me. Bryan would leave me little love letters and cds to tell me how proud he was of me and how excited he was to be a daddy. Not only was he very thoughtful and romantic but he would drive me to work and pack me lunches everyday so that he would not have to worry about me and the baby. He is the worlds best husband.

On March 19th, 2009 our son Owen was born at 11:04am. He was so healthy and beautiful. When Owen was born Bryan took him from the doctor and handed him right to me. He kissed my forehead, kissed Owen, and said "I love my little family". From the moment Bryan held Owen he was deeply in love with him. Bryan was born to be a father. He was so natural at it and seemed to know exactly what to do. Bryan would rush home after school and work just to see Owen and would cry when he held him in his arms
. He was his little boy and Bryan could not wait to help raise him and make him an amazing person.

After Bryan graduated at the end of May with his nursing and biology degree from Augustana College, we decided to move home to be closer to our family. Since Bryan could not find a job in the nursing field yet he decided to work for his friends window washing company to try to get enough money to pay our bills. On September 3rd we received a call that Bryan had fallen off Methodist hospital while trying to save his friend/co-workers life. After we arrived at the hospital they informed us that Bryan had passed away. It was at that moment that my life stopped. I was sitting in a room trying to process the fact that the love of my life and best friend was dead all while looking across the room into my 5 month old sons eyes. He would never get to know his father. The father that loved him more than life it self and was looking so forward to watching him grow. I went from the perfect life, with the perfect man and the perfect son... to an unemployed widow and single mother, all within a couple of hours. My life was turned upside down and I have no idea how to make it any better. How do you know who you are when you don't have the other person that completes you anymore. I have always been Ashleybryan (also known as bryley) and now I have to try to find Ashley somewhere. It was a very scary and surreal day. I thought that they were lying to me and it another womens husband that died and not mime.

I would give anything to have Bryan here with me today. I miss his sense of humor and the wrinkles he would get by his eyes every time he smiled or coughed. I miss how he would kiss my back when we were asleep and how he would giggle while he dreamt. I miss his monkey feet and the way his hand fit perfectly in mine. I miss how he would tell me how much he loved me and how we would slow dance sometimes in our pajamas just before we would go to sleep. He was the worlds greatest husband and father. He was and still is my everything.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Snowy Monday

Today we woke up to Owen's first snow. What a surprise! We didn't take him outside because it was too hard to put his snow suit on (he will not stop moving), bu t he loved looking out the window. I think I see a lot of snowmen and forts in my future.

Bryan absolutely loved the snow and would freak out when it started to get cold. I think that it was mainly because he knew that hunting season was here. I have a feeling that Owen will be the same way. I guess that I am going to have to figure out a way to enjoy the cold weather. I do have to say though that I am more excited for this winter but primarily because I cannot wait to put Owen in all of his warm clothes. There was a huge deal at Kohls last week so Owen got a lot of really cute outfits.

I am in love with his new red Adidas shoes and his sock monkey hat. Even though he is only 6-months old he already knows how to get his way. All he has to do is bat his eye lashes and shoot me that gigantic smile. I can already tell that he is going to be a ladies man just like his daddy. Oh man, I am in trouble.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Trying to figure this all out...

I have never really blogged before, but I thought now was the right time to give it a try. I wanted to have a place where I could write about my son Owen and adjusting to life without his father and my husband, Bryan. Although I am not sure how to express my emotions on a web page I thought/hoped it would be therapeutic in some ways.
I also wanted to start a blog so that our families and friends could keep updated on our lives and how we are all coping. I hope that this website gives people a glimpse into our everyday emotional highs and lows. Owen is a special young man and brings so much joy into so many peoples lives and I would like everyone to know just how special he is.
I hope that I can figure out this whole blogging process and come out a stronger mother/woman in the end.