Hazel’s 2nd Birthday

Our sweet Hazel turned 2 last week!

The day after her birthday we had a Hello Kitty party. Being allergic to eggs, she didn’t eat any cake, but she did partake in ice cream.

I’ve got more photos of the special day on the real camera, but, alas, I am figuring that I won’t get around to posting them and sharing them until after her birthday month closes out, so I wanted to share a quick picture from my phone camera.

All in all, I think she had a good day. She still doesn’t get the concept of birthdays and presents obviously, but she was able to see so many people that she loved, and that made her joyful.

Happy Birthday, baby girl. You’ve lived so much your first years of life. We are excited to see what other wonders are in store for you.

A Few Blog Posts Behind

  So this is my face when I think about how far behind my blog life is. I last posted in October, but yet I was behind well before then. In fact, I know for sure I haven’t talked about Wesley’s 6th birthday, complete with a rockin’ Mario theme, and that event was in June people. JUNE! 
I know a failure to update a blog isn’t a true failure in the grand scheme of things, but it’s sorta my collection of life. A digital and publicly viewable scrapbook of images and words, if you will.  I’m proving this “third child doesn’t get a filled baby book” theory. I probably take more pictures of Hazel than I ever did with the boys at this age, thanks to the acquirement of a smart phone and handy built in camera, which I didn’t have when they were little. She doesn’t have any cute saying written down though, and few of my digital timeline of memories have made it here, unfortunately. 

It’s not for lack of desire or content. It’s just for lack of time or for time focused towards this. (I most recently binged “Making A Murderer” like so many other Americans, so I can’t in clear conscience say I don’t have time!). 

So, while I sit in the room with a hesitant to sleep almost 2 year old, I thought I would not let another day escape me here on the ole blog. Have no fear: We’re all alive, and we are all mostly well (I say mostly, cause I’m still waiting to be 100% from my recent knee surgery ~apx 6 weeks ago to reconstruct my torn ACL). 

Here’s to a new year, complete with more blog updates perhaps? I’m not making any promises, but it sure does sound like a good plan! 

 Happy Halloween!            (2015)

We took advantage of several dress-up opportunities and made the best of Halloween this year. From a pink poodle to a ladybug, Hazel enjoyed holding all the candy she could at one single time, refusing to put any in an actual container. Turns out, the girl likes a good dum-dum sucker….or two.

Wesley wanted to be an Ewok this year, so I made his costume. It was a recycle from Daniel’s 1st grade Christmas play dog costume and I just added essential elements to give it the proper Star Wars feel. He wanted to wear it early and often, although a few tweens that chimed in with a “awwehhh, look at the cute teddy bear!” hurt his feelings a little. I told him they didn’t matter, cause anyone that didn’t know what Star Wars was needed to learn a lot more about the world. He seemed satisfied with that.

Daniel wanted to be Steve from Minecraft. We don’t own the game, so he doesn’t even get to play it often. His obsession is only gratified when we visit a few friends and he gets to play while there. Steve wears purple pants and blue shirt, so I scrounged up those items thanks to Goodwill and a local consignment sale. We borrowed a pixilated sword from a friend, and his costume was complete. We didn’t have all the pieces until late, so he opted to be a Star Wars Jedi and later Darth Vader at events we went to before Halloween Day. I forgot to really take a pic of him on his own as Steve though, so you can barely see the costume.

They got more than enough candy, not to mention a few apples, pencils, stickers, a box of crayons, and some pickles and pudding. I’m not gonna call out who gave them pickles and pudding, but it just may be a family member of mine. Have fun guessing. Shouldn’t take long to figure out.

Happy Halloween! 

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Pretty Little Ladybugs

Kids loaded into the car, I began to back out of the driveway and head to my physical therapy appointment. I hurt my knee 12 weeks ago, and I am still not 100%, so PT has been on the life schedule for about 2 weeks. Looking over to my left, I see three ladybugs inside the van. Rolling down the window, I flip them outside, roll up the window, and drive.

Turns out, one didn’t fully escape, so a few miles down the road at a stop sign, I repeat the process of removal. That pesky ladybug just wasn’t giving up easily, so a third time, at a stoplight right before the PT location, I prove successful and finally vacate the animal from my crumb ridden mini-van.

At PT, they did a reassessment of me, to see how I have progressed in the past few week. I’m asked those dreaded questions about the pain scale  and give the best number I can. As the therapist works, I begin to see his face turn. He then proceeds to do movements that hurt more pointedly than the previous ones, and it’s almost like he is “onto something” as he asks me to perform move after move that is troublesome.

“I don’t know how Blake missed this,” the therapist speaks aloud, although seemingly not to anyone in particular. I sit up from the exam table and support myself on my elbows.

“Miss what? What do you mean?”

Before answering, he asks me to recant my moment of injury, and at the close he says, “I think you tore your ACL.”

Dumbfounded, I seriously say, “What the what?!?!” to him while I scrunch up my eyebrows, like some tween that is completely astounded but too afraid curse in public.

As we talk more, I hold back tears. He confirms that PT is still a good plan, but I will need to see an orthopedist.  “I am gonna need a pity moment for a second,” I eek out, and the tears begin to fall.

“I’m not 100% sure. We’d have to have a scan first to know” he states, trying to assuage my sadness and frustration. It wasn’t successful.

Before we head home, I text Thomas and tell him to call me as soon as he is done with his sessions for the day. Loading back into the car, I fight back more tears.

Once home, it’s a rush for dinner before church. Wednesday nights are always a little hectic with the later bedtime and drop-off and pick-up of the kids to their classrooms. I no longer had an appetite, so as the kids chowed down and Thomas began his commute home, I began sweeping up the past week’s worth of crumbs from under the table. Crouched down to be certain to get all the food bits in the dustpan, I also knowingly coddle my injured knee, being sure not to bend too much or turn the wrong way and create too much sudden pain. I thought about the repercussions of a potentially torn ACL, the complications of a surgery, the down time to heal that I really don’t have, the time I’ve already spent in recovery attempts, how not having mom’s help with the kids if I do have surgery will be hard, and the list goes on and on and on….

“Look Wesley! Another ladybug” shouts Daniel in a cheerful tone. Mid-sweep, I pause. It hit me right then.

Mom always had a thing about ladybugs. She once gave me and my brothers each a little ornament to display, in way of letting us all know she was thinking of us. Ladybugs are supposedly good luck in some cultures, and she liked that concept. Her house, for some reason, was the random nesting ground for the little insects. They would pile up in certain outside corners of her house and just make an active lump of moving, flying insects during certain seasons. She would sometimes huff as she swept them all out of her house and off of her pouch. As she noted, them always being in such massive amounts at her house was just another reason that her little ladybug ornament would make us think of her. Once, when she was fighting cancer and the bugs were active, one traveled home with a friend that visited her. A vagabond, the tiny red dot went from inside mom’s to Bridget’s car, all the way to Bridget’s house. When the animal fluttered off 30 minutes away from “home,” Bridget texted my mom about the hitchhiker. It gave them both a good chuckle.

It was comforting to me, thinking about the ladybugs. Three earlier in the day that made no mental connection to me, all seen moments before I received some sad news, were there to precede the painful news (or potentially sad news–it very well might not be torn….positive thinking for the win, right?). When I got home, defeated, another bug showed to help me make the connection. It’s like God knew I would miss my mom even more on a day like this, and he sent a few of his creation to soften the blow.

Then I thought of how my friend gave Hazel a hand-me-down ladybug costume to wear for Halloween. Mom was always a blast this time of year, and I remember last year being surprisingly difficult for me celebrating Halloween without her. Funny how even in these random gifts from friends, the Lord is good to let me know he has not forgotten my sorrow. He sees and understands my pain, and he wants to give me little nuggets to help me in my grief journey.

Who doesn't sit her daughter on the washing machine to take a picture? It's not the best picture, but we were in a hurry to make an event, so I snapped it quickly.
Who doesn’t sit her daughter on the washing machine to take a picture? It’s not the best picture, but we were in a hurry to make an event, so I snapped it quickly.

Right now, I don’t know what will become of my knee. I am hopeful that I can continue on in therapy and recover all my mobility and strength. All I know, is that I am certainly feeling weak, in knee and in spirit.

And when I think that I’m tapping out, I get a text from a friend, the same that gifted the costume, that tells me her grandmother is entering her final days, but that her mother has been clinging to some words that I wrote  on my blog to give her comfort. I read it, and I cried. Cause all I know is that at times life hurts, and things are confusing, and it seems too much to bear. Your knees are weak and you just can’t take it anymore.

But then, when it seems too much, you’re reminded that you matter and that He hasn’t forgotten, cause a pretty little lady bug shows up in your car, sits on your washing machine, and flutters quietly onto your kitchen table.

After All the Firsts……

“How long will this last?”

I remember asking Thomas those words as we brought mom home to be welcomed into hospice. We had brought mom home to die, and even though I knew that, there is nothing that could really prepare me for it.

My family flooded in and we all filled her house with bodies and comfort food. At times, we filled the home with laughter. Other moments, her home was filled with tears. The day time was busy, the night time was quiet, but the anguish was there 24/7, sun up and sun down.

2014-08-12 15.05.37-1I knew she was dying. We all did. But as she battled those final days, I couldn’t help but wonder how long she would have to fight such a gruesome fight, struggling to breathe, frequently moving to try and find the most comfortable position in which to rest, only to find nothing of the such existed.

“How long will this last?”

Turns out, there is actually a little book that exists that can help families gauge and discover that answer of “how long.” “Gone From My Sight” is the offical name, but my memory recalls it to be “Fading from my Sight” which I think is actually more appropriate. Fading……still present, but not….fading from the ones that love you.

I remember the hospice nurse coming in to talk with us. We sat down at mom’s kitchen table, mom in her room, a few family members in the living room. I sat down on a stool, which really didn’t make much sense, cause there were vacant chairs, and it made me higher than the dining table. I hovered above the nurse and my brother John as we began to talk. I remember it being an odd feeling for me, cause at barely 5 foot tall, I rarely look down on another adult. It was like I was perhaps trying to float above the reality before me.

She was pregnant, the hospice nurse. And she had a big, sparkly wedding set on her finger. She was kind.

She slid that blue booklet my way, showing us some stages that are listed in the back. And by stages I mean the stages of dying. I was asked to tell her what mom was doing/feeling.

Immediately I realized that mom was exhibiting most all of the “days or weeks out” behaviors. While telling the nurse of mom’s “burst of energy,” she nodded compassionately. “Can you tell me a little more about that?” she asked. I began relaying how mom had said the night before, “Maybe they are wrong!” in a somewhat hearty voice. “Maybe who is wrong mom?” “The doctors. Maybe the doctors are wrong. I feel great right now. Maybe they are wrong.”

That didn’t fit what she thought was the “burst” but she listened to my point of view. I shared a few more tidbits while my brother nodded in agreement. The nurse asked a few questions, some which I didn’t know, so I texted my other brother, Damien, telling him to hurry up and get to mom’s to speak with the nurse. He had stayed the night at his house while my brother John and I spent the first night home from the hospital at mom’s.

The questions were done, and the nurse left to check on mom. I sat, hovering on the stool, grabbing my phone to text my husband about the blue book and the nurse. Soon, the nurse came back, sitting down at the table.

“So, after looking at your mother, I believe she has hours, not days, left to live.”

I can’t even type those words above without my eyes filling with tears, my hands are trembling.

“How long will this last?”

Turns out, it is hours.

Hospice can be sent into a home up to 6 months out. Mom made it back to 250, her house number, on a Tuesday afternoon. She died in the wee hours of Thursday morning. Hospice didn’t even send in a caregiver until Wednesday lunch, which is when they told me hours. Just hours left with my mom. Hours.

The next time a hospice care nurse showed at mom’s would be to confirm her death and destroy her high level pain narcotics.

“If you have anyone that needs to say good bye they need to come now.”

I remember barking an order to my cousin immediately after the nurse said those words. I had been so cool and calm, matter of fact, information sharing. Now, I was emotional, scared, shaking. “Ann! Go get my boys from school now. You are on their pick up list. Go now and get them.” And with that, she left out the door.

I could barely see to text the words to Thomas. . I couldn’t hold the phone still to hit the right words. I told him to hurry back to mom’s. John came over and hugged me. I couldn’t believe the clash of emotions I was feeling. A wave, tossing me down suddenly, not allowing me to get back up, when only moments before I was watching the tide roll in on me, floating up with each wave rather than being at its mercy.

There was no part of me that thought I had long, but hours? Where do you even begin when all you have is hours?

We sang hymns to her, ones which she requested. She made fun of us for forgetting the words to one. “You did real good with that one!” she told us after “Amazing Grace.”

Damien had a hard time being around her; he had been there at all the appointments and all the visits previously, but this was too much. John took the role of being present and available; he had been unable to be at all the other events. I am not sure what role I took. I remember, however, that I felt like I was the one that had to call the shots.

“Summer, if you want everyone to leave, tell me and I’ll get them all out.”

“Summer, where do you want me to put this cake from Mildred?”

“Summer, would you like for me to hold Hazel?”

I didn’t know. It was too much. Most of it didn’t matter anyway. I appreciated the do-ers during this time. The ones that just took Hazel, shoved food around in the fridge to make room, and any matter of the like.

With all the last minute good byes, mom hung on a little longer than we initially thought. I think there was too much energy and movement for her to settle, rest, breathe fully, and welcome in her new home. All three of her children, my sweet Hazel, and our God-sent helper during the darkest time, our cousin Shelia, all stayed the night.

Apparently, mom tried to get up in the middle of the night, and my brothers had to convince her it wasn’t a good idea.

Around 430 or 5 in the morning, I heard shuffling and mumbles. Next, I hear foot steps on the stairs. John opens the door to tell me what I already know.

“Mom’s gone Summer. She’s gone.”

It may seem like the most absurd response, but I put my hand in the air, right level to my face. I closed my eyes, lifted my face toward Heaven, and uttered the words, “Thank God.”

Cause knowing she wasn’t feeling the pain she had felt was a relief. Knowing she didn’t have to fight any more was peaceful. The earthly end meant a heavenly beginning.

Next, came the days of life without her, and all the firsts without mom were quick to follow.

First Christmas without her excited gift-giving.

First birthday for me without the woman who gave me life.

First steps of my baby that couldn’t be enjoyed by her.

So, so many firsts. And as the day that she went home comes creeping in on me, I wonder what comes after all the firsts have happened and the first year anniversary hits? Do you keep track of seconds? “This is the second Thanksgiving without mom.” Or do you just morph into a person who is less and less impacted by the grief?

I don’t know yet. Maybe I can tell you in another year. Alas, after this year of the grief journey I don’t know if I really have anything figured out. After talking very recently with a friend that lost her mom several years ago, she told me about how at a year after the loss she remembered thinking, “Why am I not doing better than this? I should be so much farther!”

True words.

Why am I not farther healed? Why do I now not have a better grip on grief and sadness? I know it will never be okay, but when can I walk comfortably in the new normal?

“How long will this last?”

I don’t think there is an answer, and even if there was a little blue book to tell me, the hours will feel like years, even after all the firsts I suppose. The years will feel like seconds. Until then, I’ll cling to what is good, looking for what can build me.

“Sometimes the darkest times can bring you to the brightest places, your most painful struggles can grant you the greatest growth, and the most heartbreaking losses of relationships can make room for the most wonderful people.  What seems like a curse at the moment can actually be a blessing in disguise, and what seems like the end of the road is actually just the realization that you are meant to travel a different path.  No matter how difficult things seem, there’s always hope.  And no matter how powerless you feel or how horrible things seem, you can’t give up.  You have to keep going.  Even when it’s scary, even when all your strength seems gone, you have to keep picking yourself back up and moving forward, because whatever you’re battling in the moment, it will pass, and you will make it through.  You’ve made it this far, and you’ve felt this way before.  Think about it.  Remember that time awhile back when you thought the world was ending?  It didn’t.  And it isn’t ending this time either” source

That’s what I am looking forward to now, after all the firsts.

Back to School!

My boys are back to school for their 2015-2016 year! 

I can’t believe that I’ve let the little ol’ blog go so long without an update, and even though I am “behind” on my thoughts and life happenings, I couldn’t let this little moment pass. I did post this picture the other day on Instagram with the following words:

Yesterday was the first day of 1st for Wesley and 3rd for Daniel. Already they are being little #worldchangers !! Daniel is the first in his class to reach the top behavior wise for helping classmates unsolicited on more than one occasion. He’s also been trying to help the new student from Mongolia that doesn’t know much English. Wesley has clipped up as well. He’s even helped a classmate “make a 5 when he forgot how.” To change the world you have to be in it, not of it, even from the start. #backtoschool #lovegodloveothers

IMG_7704I’ll also make time to steal these thoughts from my back-in-the-day co-worker from the info desk at college, Laura, the amazing artist that made my memorial piece about mom over at Pitter Patter Art, cause there is no way I can say our current public school decision better than this:

Education is important.  I know it is…I was a teacher, but more than grades and learning to further their future, I want them to learn to be kind and loving and compassionate and generous and respectful.  I want them to learn this world is not easy, but Jesus is constant…never wavering.  They are faced daily in their school and classrooms with opportunity after opportunity to love and love big.  They will be surrounded by all kinds of peers who are similar and different than them.  They will be faced with a plethora of situations…easy, hard, fun, sad, intimidating, exciting, etc, etc, etc…so many things they will face…so many things they cannot control.

We want to raise kids who are warriors for Christ…we want to raise children who will fight the good fight right along side us.  We want to raise children who in all circumstances look to Jesus first.  We want to raise children who know more than anything in this world…grades, success, looks, accomplishments, money, all the things the world tells us are the most valuable…that the 2 most important things are to love God and love others.  I want them to know they are world changers.

I want them to know they will make mistakes…we all do.  I want them to know only Jesus was the perfect person.  I want them to know how their actions can speak so loud and how their words can carry life and death.  I want them to realize the weight a sincere apology carries.  I want them to know compassion so deep in their hearts and how much a smile and a kind word can brighten a friends day.  I want them to know they are Christ’s disciples and can show His love everyday to their classmates and teachers.

As I walked through their halls this morning I just felt thankful.  Thankful for all to come in another new school year.  All the important life lessons we’re going to be a part of in their little lives…the good and the bad…the easy and hard.  All the hope and trust and faith God promises if we just rely on Him.  They are His and He is good.

So we pray.  We pray over their lives, their hearts, their classmates and their teachers.  We offer ourselves up in any way we can…we open our hands wider.  And we talk…we talk about their days, their feelings, their choices, their emotions…about the good and the bad and we acknowledge we are never going to be perfect, but Jesus is!  And we choose to see His goodness and mercy and grace and how He alone changes us and deserves all the praise and glory for His mightiness.

Brothers, true and strong.

High hopes.  We have such high hopes for this new school year.

Hazel did not want to stop eating her eggs to be in the picture. So two brothers with an egg eating toddler sister it is!
Y’all, this is a GENUINE real smile from Wesley, and it is just beautiful. He is so, so excited about 1st grade!

And He Clothed Them (Repost)

Although I am the owner of a ton of chapstick, I possess just two tubes of lipstick.

A week ago, Hazel found one of those tubes inside my purse. As we sat together on my bed, She was babbling away about something and I was playing on my phone a game of Words with Friends. I look up from my phone to see our bedspread covered in a reddish/pinkish color. Immediately, I uttered, “oh God!” cause I was at first thinking it was blood. Turns out, it was one of those tubes of lipstick. She was stripped of clothes and thrown in the tub while I snapped a quick photo and Googled “lipstick stains” while sitting next to her while she splashed away. I quickly called Thomas and told him to bring home alcohol. I specified the rubbing kind, although the drinking kind was strongly needed too.



Surprisingly, the stain came out, and I was ridiculously pleased. The second tube of lipstick was placed in my purse and life went on as normal.

Today, Hazel was quiet. And as any mom knows, quiet means “up to no good.” I hunted her down in our bedroom (why oh why can we not 100% remember to close the doors!?!?). There she sat on our carpet, in a puddle of that same reddish/pinkish color. Repeat the tub scenario, minus the Googling, cause this time I already knew what to do, being she just did it a week before.


I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry. I ended up texting a few friends the pics, cause it helped soften the aggravation. We all chuckled together.

Both times, however, I was reminded of this oldie but goodie blog post. With the second incident being so close to the first, I figured I better share this post again, in order to remind me of the truth…….so as to not lose my sanity with this precious third child!

The V Files

Have I told you about the time Wesley had woken up from nap and Daniel asked if he could go and play with Wesley, which meant throw stuffed animals into the crib so that Wesley could throw them back out, only to repeat time and time again with large amounts of laughter? No? Well, that is how it started……..and then I realized how much laughing was going on and how long it had actually been, so I went upstairs to check on them. Turns out, the copious laughter was nothing when in comparison to the amount of baby powder sprinkled all over the room, along with every item of clothing taken out of Wesley’s dresser and all toys from the book shelves thrown on the floor. Oh, and diaper rash cream was rubbed all over the carpet.

All this with giggles galore emitting from the room. Let me just tell…

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Kindergarten Graduate! 

Our Wesley is done with Kindergarten! He had a great year, meeting all his needed milestones and more!

Wesley popped into a first grade classroom for reading for the majority of the year, which was a good challenge. He knows more than he should, but most of that is because he refuses to be left too much behind his big bubba. I think I’m the only mom in the world that ends up saying, “Absolutely no more math problems at the table!” during dinner. The two boys quiz one another, or me and Thomas, with every bite! Wesley continued his speech services all year long and it is rare that we notice a problem at all with his abilities.

He never, not one single day, didn’t get his sticker or his smiley face for behavior. He once had a blank (his teacher forgot by accident to mark it) and he was very upset, assuring me he had been nothing less than great that day. He wanted to make his teacher and us proud by listening and responding to things as he should. 

He is a secret favorite of a few support staff, and he’s quite the goofball, but only when it’s acceptable to be one. 

As far as his classmates go, he loves them and cares for them. He has one best buddy, Grafton, who has come home from school to our house a few times, and together they’ve went to a few birthday parties/outside of school events. (Grafton’s parents are both over 6ft tall, thus Grafton’s splendid height!)


He had his first crush, Cassie, but “her parents won’t let her have a boyfriend,” so he patiently awaits. 

(He gets his photo taking skills from his Daddy)

We celebrated his graduation with the small ceremony at school and a trip to the Lego store for his graduation box! 


Wesley, we’re so proud of you! Keep being a people loving, God trusting, information seeking, funny little boy! It is a blessing to call you ours. 

Mother’s Day 2015

My Mother’s Day was great this year. I seriously can’t convey how wonderfully it went, and I know I owe that goodness to all of my friends and family that handled me with care and checked in on me in the days leading up to Sunday, as well as making a tiny bit of time in their Mother’s Day to say prayers and share love with me. It’s pretty amazing y’all, so thank you!

I only had one small tear up moment, and that was when the lady I (and mom) buy my make-up from once or twice a year, that I have never met, sent me a text on Mother’s Day sending me love and prayers. A make-up lady, That I’ve never met, shared her concern for ME and shared a love for my MOM. Wow! That’s how loved she was. That’s how loved I am, that even random make-up ladies take time to pray for you! (Thanks Vicki with Beauty Control!)

I got to sleep late, awakened with an ommlet in bed. Thomas had worked the Saturday before, and he had brought me home flowers that night, which were beautiful. 

The kids showered me with homemade cards and some crafts they made. 

 (Wesley made this in computer class. He typed in Mother’s Day and chose what he wanted. This is what he settled on LOL). 

The Friday before Wesley made me “breakfast in bed” from school, but he couldn’t wait until the actually day, so we ate it on a Friday afternoon on the couch. 

Our plan for Sunday was to have no plan, to do what my heart felt like doing with no pressure to do it if my heart changed. We debated on going to see Thomas’s mom, but his wisdom to just let me gently walk through Sunday prevailed. His mom understood. In fact, my mother-in-law encouraged him and me about this day. She has lost her mother too, so there was/is an understanding there that this first would be hard. 

  I truly did want to go to church, but for only about 3 minutes! Our church takes family portraits on Mother’s Day and I wanted one, but I didn’t want usual Sunday social interactions. So, we got dressed up and walked in, only to basically just walk back out. 

I am glad we got our portrait, even if my head looks a little squished and distorted! I don’t know how I managed that look. Talent, I suppose. 

We’ve traditionally eaten Cracker Barrel to-go on Mother’s Days past, with my mom coming over after church, my brother picking it up and hauling it all in, and no mother having to cook or clean. I still wanted to do that, cause Cracker Barrel makes hearts happy, right? But we thought since we were skipping church we might be able to actually go inside…….ummmm no! Crazy amount of people waiting to be seated! So we called in a to-go order and only had to wait 10 minutes! 

After eating at home, the kids took naps/rested and I went shopping. I found some great deals at one store, and I stocked up on some items for Hazel and my niece, which will eventually make it back to Hazel :). I felt connected to mom, cause she aways loved a fantastic deal. At the outdoor mall, I saw this momma duck with all her babies, and it seemed fitting for Mother’s Day. 

I then went for a run on the greenway.  Before I took off, I had an internal conversation with myself on what to do about my car, the key, the location of my car, etc. Before I wrecked it, my explorer had a keypad on the outside for access. I LOVED it when it came time to run. Lock the keys inside and go, unlocking with keypad upon return. Well, the van doesn’t have that, so I took my key, placed it in a section on my shorts for such, and took off. Right at the turn around point, I realized I had lost the key. Running back in a panic, I retraced my run on the path, eyes peeled. No such luck finding it. So no key…..But also no cell phone because that was locked inside. Spare keys at home, valet key under passenger seat, no ability to get in or contact the hubby, I felt my fantastic Mother’s Day slipping away. 

Enter a suspicious but nice man with a prepay phone from Pensylvania and a load of car picking tools in his trunk. I tried calling Thomas but he didn’t answer (par for the course. He doesn’t answer numbers he doesn’t know). Meanwhile this guy tries breaking into my Honda with no luck. He says “I don’t know why I can’t get into this car. I am normally good at this……cause my niece always needs my help getting into her car, you know…..” A few more calls to Thomas he finally picks up. He will load the kids up and be on his way. 

The man kindly offers to take me home, but I declined, for multiple reasons, but played it off on that I didn’t live close (which was true). He offered to walk with me on the greenway, but I declined again, playing that off on not knowing exactly when my husbandwould  arrive (which was true). So I waited for Thomas, and I sat quietly under a tree and worked on sitting correctly and correcting my awful posture and just prayed about life. I chose not to get upset over my flub and keep the day positive. 

He arrived sooner than I expected and brought my keys. He wasn’t frustrated or mad that he had to drive 25 minutes to come bail me out.  The boys somehow managed to convince us that  they were thirsty and needed slushies. We drove home (in separate  vehicles!) and ate leftovers for dinner. 

We capped off the day with light saber fights in the yard, while also enjoying sandbox fun and swinging. Thomas didn’t stress on work that needed to be done and I didn’t worry on any tasks that needed completing either. We were just a fun little family, which is perfect for Mother’s Day. 

This Is Not Our Home

In the middle of March, we closed on my mom’s house. It was St. Patrick’s Day and a whole bunch of crazy on my part. Even though I had Power of Attorney for the house closing transaction, it was quite the signing extravaganza. Rather than me signing one signature for her estate as I had hoped it would be, I had to sign a ridiculously long phrase for each of my brothers and myself. It was as follows: My name, Heir-At-Law; My first brother’s name, Heir-At-Law by My Name, his Attorney-In-Fact; My second brother’s full name, Heir-At-Law by My Name, his Attorney-In-Fact. Every. Single. Time…….times about 30-ish times. All this while one of the amazing realtors that I worked with put my baby girl to sleep for her nap out in the lobby. Oh, and did I mention that the lending company for the buyers wanted extra proof that we were my mom’s only kids? Well, they did, so last minute they sprung on me the need for two people to verify and swear to the fact I am her daughter and that she only had me and my brothers, no living spouse. It had to be notarized. And they had to know our family for 5 or more years, And they couldn’t be family. Good thing I know a lot of people, right? I had spent so much of my days there after she passed cleaning it out, setting it straight, checking on it, and all the other type of things that go along with a house. It was a massive amount of time and energy. My kids were neglected at times, being left to figure out something to entertain them while I cleaned, or there was copious amounts of attempting to not suffocate them from the piles of Goodwill donations that surrounded them in the van while on one of our bajillion trips. Before I said my final goodbye to the place, I took one final picture on those blue steps, as well as one of the outside: IMG_5219 IMG_5217When all that was done, what I viewed as the last and biggest step from being able to fully breathe and consider my mom and her passing was over. Yeah, there were some things in my garage from her home that I couldn’t find or figure a location for, whether it be physically or emotionally, but really that was it. Her estate was basically done and could be closed. I could begin, to me, what was the true beginning of healing. One night, while sitting with Thomas on the couch, I told him how I wanted something to signify that this phase of the grief journey was over. I wanted something to represent that stage of estate closing, house clearing, emotional strife, etc. I told him “I want something to represent this moment, just like people do with jewelry….but I don’t want any jewelry.” He suggested I commission some artwork, and he suggested a girl I went to college with who has quite a beautiful business and ministry with her passion in art. I told him that was perfect, and although I didn’t know what, I knew I wanted something from Laura. A quick Facebook message later, I had told Laura of my desire to represent everything that was the cleaning out and selling of my mom’s home, the house where I mostly grew up, the home where she died, a place that will always have a small piece of my heart, but also a place that is now no longer mine or hers. Laura, having lost her mom to cancer a few years back, shared with me a picture of what she made for herself when she closed on her mom’s home. I told her it was exactly what I wanted, without even knowing I wanted it. She asked a few questions and then she set to work. IMG_6044Can you see it? There are so many layers here. It’s just amazing really. First, the fact that “This Is Not Our Home” is writing over a home on a canvas that will sit in my home is just brilliant. It’s not mom’s home, cause now she IS home. It’s a hard fact to swallow, but it’s one I believe to be true. Away from this world is a believer’s true home. It’s not hers, it’s not mine, and if you believe, it’s not yours. No house is your home, not even this world. “This Is Not Our Home” Hebrews 13:14-15  While cleaning out mom’s, before I knew I was going to have Laura create this piece, I had sent her some old hymnals that mom had collected. I knew they would be fitting in Laura’s artwork. When we decided on this concept, I had asked if she could use some of those hymnal pages to create my piece. So, the hymns you see that create the white house were actually my mom’s possessions. The ones chosen here were songs sang at her services. The green roof, the letter T, the #250, all perfectly crafted to represent “the house that built me.” I had secretly hoped to have this custom piece by Mother’s Day, and it turns out I do! I don’t know yet where it will reside, for I am still just so happy about it and everything it represents. I also take great comfort in the fact I know the hands that made it, and I know that she prayed for me as it was designed, knowing all too well the hole that losing a mother can leave. Thank you Laura at Pitter Patter Art. It’s simply perfect. Although it’s true that “this is not our home….”, I will truly miss her until the day comes that I get to go home and see her again, and I am grateful to have such a depth filled piece to remind me of her and this journey.