This Christmas...

...my heart is full. There are so many unrelated thoughts and feelings that keep tumbling around in my heart and mind.

I am so excited to be having a girl! But, more importantly- this baby has brought a feeling of completeness and understanding. I've never heard of a child, in modern times, more foretold than this baby. Numerous people, at numerous times, in numerous ways, have foretold the coming of this little girl to our family. After years of searching and looking and pondering, I feel the completeness that she will bring to our family. The feeling that someone is missing, is gone, and I can focus on the family that I have. I know that she is in no way like the Christ child, but I can't help wonder how Mary felt, knowing that the child she was carrying held such a destiny. Knowing that it was her job to teach Him everything she could to help Him complete His destiny. He came as a baby, to a mother, just like all of our children, and I am grateful to her, and all mothers, for helping their children complete their destiny.

I am grateful for our modern day Saviors, who give their hearts and souls and reach the forgotten ones. My brother in law, whom I love, was born to a drug addicted mother, as was each one of his 4 brothers, all with different fathers. I don't know why some of our children our brought home to warm, loving and guided homes and others are left at the mercy of others to save, but I am grateful for those who step up and out of their comfort zones to find the forgotten ones. One sweet couple, with one son of their own, adopted all 5 of those forgotten little boys. A couple weeks ago, one of those little boys, now a man, lost his battle in mortality, but I believe that he has another chance, on the other side, to overcome the difficulties of his childhood and find the happiness he deserves. I pray that his family finds the peace and comfort that they deserve while he is pursuing his next journey and bless them, for having the courage to try.

I am grateful for the health my family enjoys and the joy they bring to me. I know that there are many families who struggle to find a balance in this crazy life and live a joyous existence. I LOVE my life. I LOVE my family and I LOVE my husband. I am grateful for the peace and joy they bring me. I know that there are others, who love their families just as much, and struggle to maintain the easy and carefree lifestyle with which I live. One of those families is an old family friend. I grew up with the Fish Family. A family with 8 kids who all have red hair is not one easy to forget. The fact that they were a huge part of our life through the death of my mother and the remarriage of my father, has cemented them into the endeared list in my life. Tyler was my age. We went to each others' birthday parties. I worked with his wife, Elisabeth, and her sister while I was in college, long before they were married. Two great people, from two great families, who have been dealt a hard life blow. They have 5 beautiful children together and 2 of those children (and possibly a 3rd) have an extremely rare immune disease. Leaky SCID, it is called. Essentially it means they have no immune system and the immune system they do have attacks their healthy body. Every little sniffle and cough, that our bodies easily fight off, brings them to the edge of death. It affects 2 children a year in the US, and this family has 2. The children will undergo bone marrow transplants (one of the donors is one of their other children and the other is an anonymous out of state donor) and hopefully after 2 years of seclusion to heal and mend, they can live normal lives. In the meantime, Tyler has quit his job to help in the healing and care of his children. Another family who cherishes each other and just wants joy for their family.

This Christmas, I am grateful for random, unrelated things. (or are they?) I am grateful for my unborn child. I am grateful for the Modern Day Angels that surround us. I am grateful for the health my family has and the joy they bring me.

If you are too, then be a Modern Day Angel in the Fish's life. As the children are being treated, the bills are mounting. You can read more about them here and show your gratitude and love by dropping into your nearest Wells Fargo and donating to the Fish Children Donation Fund.


Merry Christmas and may your heart this year be as happy and full as mine.

Whaddya think?


Feel the Magic...

Do you remember last Christmas?

When you came home from school to find that your house had been transformed into a beautiful Christmas wonderland with the exception of the ornaments and the star, which your mother saved for you and your siblings to help decorate the tree with.

The next day, the house would smell so delicious and you would get to assemble the plates of goodies and help deliver them to your friends neighbors.

Gifts for your teachers would be wrapped and placed in your back pack, but you had to remember to pull them out and give them to your teacher!

You saved your dollars and pennies for weeks so that you could buy some gifts for your family and best friends. You would hide in your room and meticulously wrap them and deliver them or place them under the tree.

And speaking of the tree, that magic tree, where beautiful wrapped presents, for you, would magically appear overnight!

Christmas Eve was filled with stories and family togetherness and Christmas dinner was beautiful and Divine! Sometimes you'd have to peel the potatoes or set the table, but most of it just magically appeared.

The weeks of Christmas were filled with joy, laughter and excitement! It was all you could do to wait for it to come again next year!

And then, you grew up, and became the mother, and realized where the magic of Christmas actually came from. Your mother.

And now, that you are the mother, it dawns on you that she had spent hours and hours shopping for the perfect present (and turkey and decorations...) Then the presents were hid until they could be wrapped (and re-hid because she suspected you of snooping). Teacher gifts were bought and assembled after the children were long ago in bed. After she'd bought the decorations, she'd spent days transforming the house and simmering the potpourri on the stove. Hours were spent baking and baking and baking some more. The Christmas Eve program had been planned and gathered and organized. Christmas day was spent in the kitchen, cooking the perfect meal, while you had played in the other room with your new toys.

And all this (and more) was done in addition to the dinners, basketball practices, laundry and cleaning that came with the regular day to day.

And as you try and replicate the magic for your own family, somewhere along the way, you realize that Christmas has become less magical for you, and much more stressful.

Sound familiar?

I've been amazed lately at the number of family and friends who spend every December, completely stressed. Last night, I was telling my Sidekick this and he said,"Well, it doesn't have to be, they just need to start early." and my jaw just dropped as I stared at him.

Seriously? You started 2 days ago. And your job, your only job, is to buy my presents. PERIOD.

I decorated the house. I bought ALL the other presents. I ordered and addressed all 100 Christmas cards (and had the picture taken and gathered all the updated addresses). I assembled teachers' gifts and made Christmas goodies. Me. The mom.

(My gift better be awesome.)

To be fair, I'm not at all upset with my Sidekick (I'd rather do it all my way anyway) and I'm not stressed out.

My secret- my Christmas is done by Thanksgiving. (this year, I was a little behind, since I was laid up during my normal prep time, but I'm almost caught up). My Christmas card pics are taken in August. (the sky is brighter= better light, and you have more time.) My Christmas cards are ordered and addressed and stamped in early November. Teachers presents, friends gifts, and 90% of Christmas is bought and hidden (and sometimes wrapped) before I buy my November turkey.

I LOVE Christmas and I refuse to spend the month stressed. I'm not big on stressing anyway- what does it really solve- but I want a magic Christmas, for me too.

My December is filled with magic elves, wrapping presents and making goodies. The month is calendared out at the beginning so everything I want to enjoy gets done. The house smells good, the carols play, and every night is a Christmas movie (well- most nights).

My Christmas is still magical. Even as a mom.

And when I do get behind, or a ball gets dropped, I don't fret it. Every day is filled with enough laughter, enough song, enough magic, enough giving, that I figure people will remember what I have done and never notice what I missed.

You have 3 weeks left. Make sure you take some time this month to remember what Christmas is really about and and relish in the magic.

The stressing, can wait until next month.

Whaddya think?


Today is The Day

Today I am 34 years and 50 days old. My mother was 34 years and 49 days old when she drew her last breath.

I've been anticipating this day for the better part of the year. I've been wondering what emotions it would invoke in me and how I would want to spend the day. Would I be sad, empowered or depressed? Do I plan a fun family trip or spend it like any other normal day?

As I approached this day I guessed I would be kind of sad and I wavered between elaborate plans of fancy family vacations or a day filled with symbolic events: carousels, Wendy's hamburgers (with lettuce and mayonnaise only) and krispy kreme donuts. But, now that this day is here and I look back at the miracles that have taken place in my life over the last few months, I feel very different than I anticipated I would.

I feel so grateful.

I have spent the last two months on my couch with hyperemesis. When I decided to have another baby, I knew I would be sick and I prepared as much as possible, but nothing can completely prepare you for the debilitating illness to come. I laid on my couch (sometimes in my bed, too sick to make it to the couch) and watched life happen around me. Rides were offered for my children, meals were brought in, a party was thrown for Rascal when he turned 4, sitters were provided when my Sidekick needed a break, pizza gift cards anonymously showed up in the mail, my children were watched and cared for and my house was cleaned; all while I laid on the couch, sometimes too sick to speak. Most of the time, I didn't even ask for it, things just happened.

At night, I would lay in my bed and cry. I just wanted to be a mom again; make dinner, drive carpool, snuggle with my kids. And for some reason (probably because this pregnancy happened this year), I missed my mother more than ever.

As I look back over the last few months, I am in awe of the parallel of our lives. These past couple of months, in her life, were spent much the same way. Children were cared for, meals were brought in and her house was cleaned. My ninth birthday party was thrown by one of her friends. She laid on the couch, day after , miserable, and watched her life happen around her.

In the most healthy way possible, because of living these parallel lives, I've been able to get a taste of how she lived the last months of her life. Only her suffering marked the end of a life and my suffering marked the beginning of one.

A few months before my mother found out she had cancer, she had a miscarriage. Her plan was always to try again once the cancer was under control, but she never got that chance.

But, I do. I get to have the baby she never got to have.

In many ways, this baby is my compensation. The child I get because my mother was taken away so early. The life I am entrusted with, that she wanted so badly and never got. This baby, is my sweet justice.

And now that I'm here, it doesn't much matter how I spend today, but rather how I spend every day here after. All the days she never got to have. I know that she is there, watching over us and comforting us in every way possible, quite often through the guided acts of others. I didn't plan for things to line up the way they did but I am so grateful for the healing this timing has brought. Healing that I didn't know that I needed.

I am grateful for the dozens of people that have served my family, these last few months and 25 years ago. I am grateful for the love and comfort that I have felt through it all. I am grateful that this life will bring joy and comfort, healing and justice to my family and I am grateful for the lessons I have learned through the timing of these events. But, mostly I am grateful that I have been entrusted with these four amazing children. I am grateful I get to teach them and love them and I am so grateful to have love and guidance and protection from up above.

On this day, I am 34 years and 50 days old. And I am so grateful.

Whaddya think?


Bringing the Fallen Home

Last year, as we approached Veteran's Day, I wrote a post about my love for my Grandfather, Brother-in-Law, Uncle, cousin, friends and all the other veterans in my life. I have an enormous soft spot on my heart for our nation's military and the sacrifices they make every day, so I can live the life I live.

This year, as Veteran's Day approaches, I want to bring your attention to a project that is dear to my heart. The visionary of this project is my uncle, Les Carroll, and the fallen veterans mentioned in this film pitch, Carlos Aragon and Nigel Olsen were good friends and fellow marines who served in Afghanistan with my brother in law. I encourage you to watch the following video and, if it moves you, make a donation to it's cause. There is a story behind every statistic we hear on the news and those stories deserve to be told.

I would consider it a personal favor if you could pass this along. Blog about it, post it on your facebook page, tweet it; anything that could help spread the word. The more people who know, the better the chance we have of learning the stories behind the numbers.

Watch the video and learn more about the project here.

Whaddya think?



It's amazing how experiencing a trial in your life can bring out the stories of the trials in others' lives. The stories of mothers who delivered full-term stillborn babies that were strangled by their umbilical cord the night before they were to be induced. The mother who incurred thousands of dollars in dental bills because she vomited so much during her pregnancy that it ate away the enamel on all of her teeth. And then, did it all again because she loved being a mother that much. And there's the mother who, after years and years of trying, finally got pregnant with triplets, only to miscarry them one at a time early in her second trimester. She caught those precious babies in her hands while sitting on the toilet.

Of course, these are the stories I hear now, but there are countless others. The parent who has to become both mother and father, due to the illness, passing or desertion of their spouse. The mother, who during a life threatening accident, has to make the split second decision about which child to save, and then will live forever second guessing her decision. Or the child, who is so severely abused as a child, but is determined to learn a different way and break the cycle so his children will grow up loved and secure.

I think quite often we live our lives and see the happy faces around us and believe that their lives have always left a smile on their face; their lives look so perfect. But, I'm learning that if you sat them down, one by one, and interviewed them, you would find that it was the hardships and trials of their lives that have left them with the smiles on their faces. The lessons they have learned and the experiences they have had that have turned them into the person they are today. That have turned them into the Hero they are today.

I am learning that we are all heroes. That we have all have trials and experiences that, although we feared that they would at the time, have NOT broken us. Instead they strengthen us and made us into the hero that we are. And amidst the turmoil, evil and moral decay that we live in today, I am so grateful to be living and raising my children among so many heroes.

Thank you for being my hero.

Whaddya think?


The Sweetest Blessings

After my 2nd, I said I'd never do it again.

After my 3rd, I swore I'd never do it again.

So, it came as a shock to many that here I am, doing it again, for a 4th time.

I love the babies, but I am desperately afraid of the pregnancies. I knew exactly what would be asked of me. At the worst, my life. At best, 2 months of my life where I would wish every day I could cease to exist. I knew the price I would be asked to pay. I knew the price my family would have to pay. I knew the debilitating illness that would follow the 2 lined stick, the array of prescription bottles that would only keep me stable, not well. So, when the inspiration came to give it one more try, I wrestled with it- for days. I cried, I pleaded, I begged. Please, can't there be any other way? But, ultimately I knew, it was a price I was willing to pay. Two months for a life. A life that would be mine to mold and love and cherish. Because, you see, it is from our most challenging and courageous sacrifices that we receive our sweetest blessings. I'm sure you have your own sacrifices. The decisions you are too afraid to make. The road that seems so scary. But, the blessing, that sweetest of all blessings, is worth the hard things that we are asked to endure. Mine, will be a baby. What will yours be?

Whaddya think?


The Importance of This Age

Today, I pulled slivers out of little feet.

Yesterday, I put on 3 band aids.

The day before, I tamed a temper tantrum so severe, I ended up buckling him in his car seat in the car, for his own safety.

I've called poison control 3 times, read a million stories, been through hundreds of boxes of band aids and sat in the corner on the floor in the museum, for a time out. Diapers and potties and tantrums and night time routines.

It. Is. Exhausting.

But, this is the time to lay our frame work. The lessons we teach and the decisions we make with our children right now, will build our foundation for the lessons and experiences that are yet to come.

Dr. Glenn Doman, a renowned scholar and scientist did extensive research on 18 month to 4 year olds. He has said that “a newborn child is almost an exact duplicate of [a] computer, although superior to one in almost every way.

“What is placed in the child’s brain during the first eight years of life is probably there to stay. If you put misinformation into his brain during this period, it is extremely difficult to erase it.” He believed that the most receptive age in human life is that of two or three years old.

He discovered that the hyperactive busyness of our toddlers is actually their insatiable desire to learn. So, today is was slivers and sippy cups, but it was also books (reading) and blocks (self confidence and problem solving). It was fighting with brothers (lots) and apologies and sharing. I'll probably crash into bed tonight from shear exhaustion (again). But, today mattered. A lot.

And tomorrow will to.

Whaddya think?


When We Don't Listen...

I learned a valuable lesson this weekend...

My brother and his wife flew in for a visit so we packed up the car and headed for the coast. We love the beach! We love to jump in the waves, dig in the sand and soak up some sun. We rented this cute little farm house with goats and llamas and fields and dropped our stuff off at our oasis getaway before heading to the ocean.

It was a beautiful 1/2 mile hike through the forest down to the beach and we marvelled at the trees and giant slugs along the way. The tide was beginning to come in, but we still had a good 25 feet or so of sandy beach before it ended at the edge of the cliff wall. There were great, large logs that had been washed up against the cliff wall where we could set up a safe, home base and have plenty of sand behind us for the kids to dig in. The waves were in true form. The were large and awe-inspiring and provided plenty of fun to run and jump in. We played for about an hour and had a great time.

But, from the moment we stepped off the trail, Buster, who's 9, was not impressed. He LOVES the beach, but he refused to get near the water. The only explanation that he could provide us was, "I don't feel right about this, those waves aren't safe." No amount of consoling or coercing could get him near that water, so we finally told him that if he didn't feel comfortable to stay back and play in the sand. But, for the entire hour, he never fully relaxed; he remained fixated on watching the waves.

After an hour or so, my Sidekick and I began to gather the children and to discuss our hike home: who was wet, where the shoes were, what we needed to do before dinner. As we were discussing the plan, out of no where came this huge, rogue wave. Our "safe" log which had previously allowed the largest of waves to only wet our toes, was no match for this wave. In a stunning second, we were all immersed up to our waists. Our bags and shoes were thrown behind us from our "safe" log and left in slow draining pool behind it. They would have washed out to sea if the log hadn't stopped them. By the grace of God, my Sister-in-Law saw the wave as it approached and had the foresight to grab Rascal, who was sitting next to her on our "safe" log, by the shoulders and hold on to him as the wave enveloped him. Luckily, Dodger had come in the dry off and stood behind us beside Buster, who stared, wide eyed in fear, as the wave hit.

After the initial shock wore off, we looked around to survey our damage. We were all drenched, our shoes and towels were drenched, but still there, and miraculously none of the children had been dragged out to sea. It was then that we realized that my brother, who had been standing 10 feet in front of us, where Dodger had been seconds before the wave hit, had been knocked down by the wave and was pinned under a massive log. The log, that moments before had been buoyant and weightless in the water, now trapped him against the sand. A moment of panic, screams for help and many good Samaritans later, he was freed. It took 9 people to lift the log off his leg. He had some scrapes and major bruises, but walked away.

The ocean, that had been our playground, had turned dangerous and deadly in an instance. Buster had been right. Buster had listened. In those few intense minutes, I learned that sometimes, our children listen better than we do. Next time one of my children says, "I don't feel good about this, it doesn't feel right", I will listen. And I pray that the day that I say to them, "I don't feel good about you going tonight, but I don't know why", that they will listen to me because I had trusted them. Because, sometimes, those feelings, save lives.

Whaddya think?

Dodger sitting on the log that pinned my brother


On the First Day of Summer Vacation

Yesterday was our first, official, scheduled day of summer vacation. (The boys got out of school last week, but I gave them a couple of free days). So, by 9 am, when I rolled out of bed (I LOVE my sleep), the big boys were dressed, had eaten and fed their younger brother, they'd cleaned their mess in the kitchen, wiped down the bathrooms, cleaned their rooms, made their beds, brushed their teeth and hair and were enjoying some screen time. Which meant that by the time I got up, I had very little to do before we could get on with the fun of the day. Last summer I was determined to have some structured, fun filled, summer days, so I made a big schedule on a piece of poster board and taped it up in the kitchen. That way, the boys could easily check and see what was going on that day or what to expect next. It worked so well, and with one day down, I have great hopes of another fabulous summer. So, just in case your summer days are filled with tv, chaos and getting nothing done, I thought I'd share our schedule with you.

7:00- 9:00 (as in they are up at 7 and me at 9) -wake up-
get dressed/hair/teeth
eat breakfast

-screen time-

12:00 -Lunch time-
-Learning time- (reading, work books, letter writing)

-Play time-
(no screens)
(sometimes we'll have scheduled activities here. today we made shrinky dinks. but I also have science projects, forts to paint and build, etc. But, most of the time, it's unstructured play time)

6:00 -Dinner time-
(evening jobs)

One day every week, we go on an outing. They are all planned out and include: local hikes, zoo, the movies, Children's museum, Aquarium, Reptile Zoo, Bounce house, parks, etc)

And one day a week, I hire a babysitter. Because I deserve to get a pedicure once in a while, but mostly because 3 kids + the grocery store= no fun. We are all happier that way.

They all have jobs, because we are a family and we all work together. To see how the job rewards work, you can read The Value of a Gem. Here are the jobs:

Make Bed
Clean room
Unload dishwashes
Wipe down upstairs bathroom
Practice piano
Sweep kitchen (evening job)

Make Bed
Clean room
Unload silverware
wipe down downstairs bathroom
practice piano
clear dinner table (evening job)

Make bed (with mom's help)
Clean up toys
wipe off dinner table (evening job)

When their is structure, work and fun, summer is better. The fun happens and the house still stands. We hope your summer is as great as ours.

Whaddya think?


A New Normal

For my friends...

Sometimes in life, an event so catastrophic occurs that it is life changing. You will never look at things the same way; life will never again be "normal". For many of us, 9/11 was like this. Those of us who lived through 9/11 will never again have that feeling of invincibility that we had before. Those of us deeply affected, will always have a greater sense of country and a desire to support those who fight for our freedom. We will never fly on an airplane without remembering those who gave their life to save thousands of others.

It is in the aftermath of these life changing events that we begin to realize who we really are, what we truly believe in and who we can ultimately rely on. From the ashes of the aftermath, we gather the fibers of what is left and we begin to build our new normal. With the passing of time and with the love and support and comfort of those who love us most, we begin to repair the damage that has been done and re piece together our lives. The cracks will always show and the damage will never be forgotten, but eventually, we will be happy again. We will find a way to live with the sorrow the event has caused and do good with our lives again.

It is like open heart surgery. Our chest has been ripped open and our heart has been taken out. But, we are given a new heart, or a repaired heart, that can beat and supply us with the life sustaining force we need. Our chest is repaired and stitched and we have weeks of intense recovery. Which is followed by months and sometimes years of therapies and support. But, eventually, we do recover. Our chest will never look the same again and we will always be reminded of the journey we have traveled, but we will be able to love and laugh and live again.

I am sorry if you are among the numbered that has been through such an event. It changes us in ways that can't be seen by the natural eye. But, in the end, if we just keep swimming, we become stronger. I was taught to swim when I was a little girl, and there have been many times in life when I can only tread water. Sometimes, I even need a life vest. But, I am determined to stay afloat. There is no logical reason to have a contact in my phone for my mother, but even after 25 years, I need that number there, even if it is a number to no where. Because having a contact to her, is sometimes my way of staying afloat.

And remember through it all, that it is after the darkest of storms that we are blessed with the most brilliant rainbows.

If you have been through such an event, and are having a hard time treading water, I would be happy to listen and love you through it. Email me.

Whaddya think?


Sometimes, It's a Rainbow...

Sometimes, Life is Hard.

It is full of hard choices, hard circumstances and hard experiences. Sometimes, it is because your days are filled with fear and sadness as you help an ailing parent. Sometimes it is because of the loved one who is determined to live a difficult life, and you are forced to sit and watch. Sometimes life is full of anxiety as your life circumstances change and spiral out of control. And sometimes, it is simply hard because you are terrified at the choices placed before you.

I have experienced hard things in my life. But, I have found along the way, that it was when my life seemed the hardest, the saddest or I was at my loneliest or most afraid, that that is when we are lifted the highest.

I believe that no matter the circumstances of our life that the Lord is always looking over us and it is during our darkest moments that he sends us the sweetness of his Tender Mercies. Lately, for me, these Tender Mercies have been manifested in a heart felt card from a friend and an unexpected gift in the mail, with a book that was sent just for me. This sweet children's book said exactly what I needed to hear, on that exact right day. And most prominently, the sweetest Tender Mercy was shown to me in the form of a rainbow, displayed brightly across the sparsely clouded sky, amidst the brightest sunshine.

It is when we feel that we are at the end of our rope that we should look around, for the simply and sweet ways He finds to manifest Himself.

I am grateful for Tender Mercies in my life and I am grateful that when I need them most they encompass and surround me.

Whaddya Think?


Write it down...

A few days ago, I was cleaning out behind the hedges in front of my house, and I uncovered a bird's nest. It was nestled on the ground up against the house and it held four tiny, candy-like eggs. It was perfect. And beautiful. I was so careful when I showed the boys and made sure they knew not to get near it or touch it. I had the perfect vantage point from my stairwell window so each time I went up or down the stairs, I could check on my little bird's nest. I was so excited to watch the eggs hatch and the babies grow and learn to fly. I was thrilled when I saw the mother bird return that night to her nest.

However, a couple of mornings later, as I was coming downstairs to start my day, I peeked out the stairwell window and noticed something was awry with my little nest. I ran outside and to my horror saw that overnight, something had found the nest and overturned it, spilling the eggs across the ground. The mama bird lay there, lifeless, next to her shattered dream of tomorrow.

As my mother neared the end of her life, she hurried to organize and complete the things she felt were the most important to leave for us. She busied her time updating the family scrapbooks and making baby blankets for the grandchildren she would never get to hold. She spent time with us, making memories and enjoying the things that we loved most. She ensured that our childhood keepsakes; our report cards, baby books and baptismal clothing, were protected and preserved. But, just like my mama bird, her time ran out sooner than she expected, and her bucket list was left incomplete. Among the items left undone, were the letters that she meant to write to me and my brothers. I long for the letter that was never written. Although I cherish being able to wrap my baby up in the blanket that was made with love, just for them, long before they were imagined, and I guard the family photo albums that were carefully assembled and labeled in her beautiful pen, I mourn for the words that were meant only for me. The hopes and dreams that she had for me and the pride she felt as I accomplished milestones in my life. And although I know that just like my mama bird, she had every intention on seeing it accomplished, I find myself angry that the task was never completed.

So, today, when I sent my kids off to school, I told them I loved them and that they are amazing. And tonight after they are in bed, I will write in my journal and record the hopes, dreams and love I have for those who mean the most to me. Because although it is still vitally important to say it out loud and say it frequently, as time goes by, sometimes we forget the feelings of yesterday and the lessons learned. All we have left are the records that we keep, so in addition to saying it out loud, we need to take a moment here and there, and write it down. People move on to the next life, bird's nests get destroyed, but records keep forever. And today, I wish I knew the dreams of yesterday.

Whaddya think?


This is The Year

Recently over the years, as my birthdays have come and gone and I have grown older, I've found myself counting down to this year. It won't be a society recognized milestone birthday or a birthday that people would naturally assume as a transition point in my life. For many, this year will come and go as every other year does. But, for me, this will definitely be a turning point, or maybe a better way of saying it is a "passing point" in my life. This year, I will turn 34 and at some point later in this year, I will become and then surpass, the age my mother was when she died.

As this date has become closer and closer as the years have gone by, I couldn't help but notice the similarities between our life paths. At this point in our lives, we have both been married for about the same amount of time. We both have 3 children that did not come to us easily. Our child bearing years were marred with miscarriages and near death experiences. We both chose to be Stay at Home Moms as we lived the American Dream with homes and good friends and family to support our daily lives. We were both very involved in our churches with a deep love and gratitude for our Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ and their brilliant and guiding Plan.

This year, with its upcoming date, has stirred many emotions in me as it has neared. Gratitude. Fear. Excitement. Trepidation. Accomplishment. Sadness. Eagerness. Loneliness. It has always been about me. The accomplishment of making it further than she did. The sadness of not being able to share my motherhood stories with my own mother. The fear that there is always the chance that I may not make it either. And the gratitude that, chances are, I will have more time that she did.

But, last night as I sat in my most sacred of places, wearing the dress that she had once worn, I pondered this milestone that only I will have this year. As I ran my fingers along the lace of my dress, Her dress, I wondered when the last time was that she had done that same thing, and suddenly this year became much less about me, and all about her. For her, this year, was a year of Lasts. At this point in the year, she would have just concluded her Last Christmas. Her last plate of milk and cookies, her last Christmas morning filled with fun, excitement and Santa's Loot. She would be heading into the year that would provide her Last Easter, her Last Birthday, her Last Family Gathering. She would experience her Last Carpool, her Last Closet Monster Check, her Last Parent Teacher Conference, and her Last Kiss Goodnight. I imagine that often times the last time would come and go and she never got the chance to realize she'd never get that chance again. I wondered how many things she would have done different if she'd known it would be the last time.

I thought about this year I was beginning, filled with birthday parties, family vacations, basketball games, piano lessons, family game nights and good night kisses and I ached for her. My year will be full of her lasts and then I will awaken and get to do it all again next year. So, this year, I am having a plaque made to hang above my door that reads, "This Year, I will Cherish Today." So, that every day when I roll out of bed and begin my day with my family, I will remember that this day, for her, held a last time. And when my special day comes and goes and my life has surpassed my mothers, I will keep my sign to remind me that that day, was a day she didn't have. And I will cherish every one.

If you knew her and have a story you'd like to share, I'd love to hear it.

Whaddya think?