Sunday, November 30, 2014


I Yesterday was a warm (for November) winter day.  The kids ran in and out all morning, leaving trails of muddy footprints from the front door to the bathroom.  In and out, in and out.  Snacks, "I've gotta get something," and the occasional, "didn't stop long enough to pee so now I've had an accident." If you are my neighbor, you probably get tired of my constant, "GO OUTSIDE!" "In or OUT!" but it's just inevitable. 

Yesterday was also our small town Christmas parade.  Two years ago, our family was nominated to ride in the parade as the Grand Marshall.  To be honest, that was the last big thing that Mabel's Able has done in our community because it was just 3 months later when our family sort of fell apart and things changed drastically within our personal lives.  I needed a major separation from my persona here, as the writer, and my real life situation.  I took a really long time for myself and backed away from public in general.  But, the parade two years ago, before all of that took place, was beautiful and humbling.  I remember feelings so honored and so proud. 
This year our biggest girl was riding with her Girl Scout troop.  Since Nora still has the hardest time, emotionally, surrounding the divorce and all of the very heavy changes that have taken place, I wanted to give her something that was very much her own.  She played ball this summer which she loved-it helped her to be a part of a team, something bigger than herself.  And when fall rolled around I had a couple of mom's reach out to me and ask about Girl Scouts.  Nora was thrilled.  So far she has sold fall product (nuts and chocolate) by going door to door in our small neighborhood.  Her little redhead would dart from door to door to door, street to street to street.  She was excited which made me incredibly happy.  In February she will start selling cookies and I know she's excited about that as well. 

Krystal happened to be in town for Thanksgiving weekend and I got to spend a few hours with her before the parade.  She and her husband Will are welcoming their second baby into their family in about 7 months!  We are thrilled for them.  I can't believe how much I miss her until she's here in my living room.  We've walked through everything together in this life, that's for sure, and one thing I can say is that her friendship is faithful and loyal. 
I truly do know how lucky I am that I can say that exact same thing about all of the wonderful women in our village.  These friendships are so intertwined, so wrapped up in each other, so devoted to doing life together. 

Miss Audrine adored the parade.  Mostly she jerked and seized in excitement over the fire trucks and the marching band, specifically the drums. She was not, however, a fan of the motorcycles which I know was slightly disappointing to the main man in her life.  If there was a way to strap a large, special needs car seat to the back of a motorcycle, that would be the first thing Chris would do when the time came. 

After the parade everyone went their separate ways to resume their day.  Our family's schedule makes it so that we only see Chris for a few minutes on the days that he works and on school days he doesn't see the big kids at all usually unless it's a day off.  He sees Mabel every day. 

Yesterday I sent Nora with her Nanny and Braden outside with the neighbor kids so I could take advantage of the warm weather and dig out Christmas decorations.  I spent the next couple of hours dancing with Mabel to Christmas music, hanging wreaths just so and filling the scentsy warmers with holiday melts to make the house smell just perfect for the occasion. 
I woke up this morning next to a snoring boy and a tapping girl.  We walked out of the bedroom in search of our famous elf, 'frufert' who has returned from the North Pole for the 4th year.  He is pesky and naughty and fun!  The house was warm, much warmer than the big white house in the winter, the Christmas lights were lit just right and it smelled like Heaven.  It's official, Christmas time is here!

Tomorrow the kids and I will begin doing our advent devotionals and really learning about what took place on the days leading up to the birth of Jesus.  The truth is, He changed everything just by being born.  And whatever you believe during this time of year, whatever religion you follow or don't follow, there is just no denying that it' a magical time.  One of reflection, prayer, meditation, quiet, believing, hoping, loving.  The world just hushes and settles long enough for us to take notice. 
And that's not only special, but necessary.  Looking forward to December with great joy and great hope! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving for the win.

Yesterday was a perfect day. 
The holiday itself was fairly calm (except Braden's body but what else is new.)  We took the day slow and steady, watching the parade, baking, cleaning, and enjoying one another and our family.  
This year we decided to have a small Thanksgiving feast in our quaint, much more cozy home.  We agreed that it would just be a few of us and we would enjoy food and one another without the distraction that this holiday can sometimes bring.  

We accomplished our goal and had the perfect Thanksgiving meal.  There were 6 of us, one 17 pound turkey, a delicious sweet potato casserole, a corn casserole, stuffing, pecan pie and rolls; all homemade, mostly from scratch.  I must say that when it was all said and done I felt pretty proud of our efforts.  

There's much to be said about a stress-free holiday.  There were several times throughout the day that I thought back to past celebrations and remembered the stress that took over me.  I had two young children, both who needed bathed, dressed, fed, and taken care of before I could even prepare to get ready for the day myself.  Then was the chore of loading them in the car for whatever destination we would be heading to that day.  Usually it involved lots of people and my anxiety would be at an all time high before even getting there, causing me to be grouchy when we arrived.  There was little help, lots of arguments and overall, the holidays were a time of frustration, anger, and helplessness. 
The kids are still challenging in many ways.  But there are a few distinct differences.  Nora, for example, loves to take part in whatever activity I indulge her in.  My hope is that several of them will be the start of traditions that will bring her good memories. Braden makes life hard, as he always has, but he enjoys things fully; much like life.  So though he makes activities and going anywhere a true challenge, the joy for me is the final result when I see his happiness and when he understands what it's all about, because he has a true appreciation for things. 

We did decide to head to our big family Thanksgiving for a little while, which was nice.  It was hard without grandma but I feel like everyone got through it and enjoyed the company as much as possible.  Mabel puked so of course, I headed home.
It's no secret that I have so much to be thankful for.  One day to celebrate really isn't adequate.  This Thanksgiving was a milestone for my heart as it didn't feel heavy, for once.  I wasn't weighed down with worry or sadness, questioning whether this would be Mabel's last Thanksgiving with us or not.  She was here and we enjoyed a normal day and that was enough. 
I did end up having a big cry earlier this week.  It was a horrible day where my emotions consumed me.  I cried hot, wet tears for hours.  I tried going outside to clean the garage but I just wept as I worked.  These days still come, they just appear less frequently, for which I'm grateful. 

I never in my wildest dreams thought that my life would look the way that it does.  I didn't ever envision having an ex-mother in law but nevertheless, I'm thankful that she joined us to celebrate yesterday.  I didn't ever envision celebrating my second Thanksgiving as a single mom, because I never envisioned being one.  But I am, and it's ok.  Good, in fact. 

I didn't ever think that I would be starting over at this stage of my life.  But I have and I've ended up loving it.  This second chance is what I'm most grateful for this year.  As I've fallen deeper in love I have learned that you truly can share your life with someone who is willing to accept the mess and love you through it.  This man loves these kids and I in a way that is incomparable.  This is our second Thanksgiving together and I can only hope it's the beginning of many.  He has a beautiful spirit, one that matches mine.  He is the calm that my heart so desperately longed for, for a very long time. 
I am so glad we slowed down and truly enjoyed the day of gratefulness before moving into the Christmas season, though I'm looking forward to doing that fully as well.  My heart is overflowing with peace and contentment.  I can't wait to count down the days until our Savior's birth.  What a great time of reflecting!  So much to celebrate this time of year and always...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

turning 30 with thanfulness.

Yesterday was my 30th birthday.  About this day, I wrote on instagram:
In my 20's: I had 3 babies, moved 4 times, lost all of my grandmas, opened my own photography studio, had great success & closed it, homeschooled Nora & Braden, searched & fought desperately for Mabel's diagnosis, met countless friends, led worship, tried new churches & then found the true God deep in me.  I started a successful, limitless non profit organization, endured betrayal and heartache, found love again & really learned what it looks like, traveled, studied, learned, gave & grew.  In my 20's, I gained and lost 70 pounds 3 different times (in 5 years), I walked countless miles with a double stroller in front of me around this small town.  I learned to enjoy food and maintain healthy and come to peace with myself.  In my 20's I blogged successfully, learning to journal my journey...and then I learned to savor privacy.  I have learned deeply about the fruits of the spirit; about forgiveness, truth, justice, mercy, tenderness, long0suffein, and wisdom.  I stayed true to myself while learning & accepting new thinking.  I have dyed my hair a trillion times, cried more than I knew I could, earned every single laugh line and loved fiercely in it all.  Every day has been challenging and wonderful but I am so ready to bid these years farewell as I welcome what lies ahead; what a privilege aging really is!  Here's to my thirties and whatever they may hold.
And for me, that about sums it up.  I have had a wild ride in those 20 something years.  But I am so much more content and at ease within myself that I cannot wait to move on and see where life leads me next.  It's exciting to be starting a new chapter that looks so beautiful and vibrant!
Speaking of chapters, the greatest gift that I received yesterday was from Chris.  He is the most thoughtful and intentional gift-giver.  He had this blog, my words and photos from the past 18 months printed into bound books.  They are durable and quite honestly, took my breath away.  Not only was it an intimate gift for me, but even more so for Nora and for Braden.  They will be able to hold onto those books, turning the pages of their mother's words for years to come.  And significantly, they are words of a stronger more seasoned mom than ever before.  The last 18 months, though challenging, proved to be some of the very happiest and best days of my life. I am grateful to have tangible proof of that right at our fingertips. 

As I flipped through the pages of my words, I realized just how important it has been for not only me, but for others to read what I'm writing.  What has gone on in my life and what I spend my days writing about means something.  And even if it's only for these kids, it matters. 
So with that, I think that a new spark was lit in me once again; to get back to doing what it is I love to do.  The one thing I'm most passionate about doing other than mothering. 
And so I will write.

In the last couple of weeks, after losing grandma, the kids have been very emotional.  We've seen grandpa more which has been good but then it got colder and the kids have been not feeling well off and on.  It's hard because I want to be with him and then I feel guilty leaving him.  It's a helpless feeling when someone that you love loses the one they love the most. 
I have looked at him with great empathy but also with a bookmark for remembering one day how others will feel when I experience loss.  It's a very challenging and tormenting place to be on the outside of that hurt.  I hope that I can show the kind of love and grace that he has.

Mabel's doing ok. 
She has had some new seizures, and more often I'd say.  They are bigger, sometimes last longer.  She is more vocal than ever before, trying noticeably to mimic what we are saying.  This week it was 'poopaw' that she was trying to say over and over, piercing her lips together perfectly in doing so.  This past week her g-tube balloon (the part that holds the actual button in place in her stomach) got a hole in it.  It as quite the ordeal but after a few days of waiting, we finally got it changed and situated.  She cried as I changed it, showing me that she felt something-whether it was pain or discomfort I can't say; I was just proud to see that she showed some awareness. 
For my birthday, I had a couple of really great adventures with those who love me most.  I was able to enjoy the most romantic dinner with the most romantic man and then a few days later our village went out painting.  It was so good to be together, laughing.  

Nora had another rough week. 
School, however, is going remarkably well this year.  She loves her teacher and is doing really great academically.  She hates to have to miss any days but this week she didn't have a choice as she has had a fever for 3 days straight.  I took her to lunch after a couple of emotionally hard days which was nice.  I think the onset of the holidays stirs up so much sadness for Nora and that will always break my heart.  

Braden's doing really well.  He's wild as usual and to be honest, that's about it.  He's carefree, funny, hyper, makes a million obnoxious noises, has a lot of friends, loves big and still drives me absolutely crazy.  He is the child that will bring me to my knees laughing out of frustration on a really hard day.  He keeps me centered and reminds me that it's all going to be ok.  It's not so serious.
Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving. 
It has taken everything in me to not put up my Christmas decorations but Chris insisted that we give Thanksgiving a chance; a day on it's own to celebrate.  So we will do just that.  Today the kids and I made a Thankful tree and a table cloth full of hand print turkeys made with paint.  We baked cookies and I burnt candles.  It was warm, relaxing and important. 
In the midst of it all, Nora looked up at me and said that these would be the best holidays.  I smiled and felt so grateful that she felt happy in that moment with me. 
On the thankful tree the kids cut out leaves of thankfulness, some of which included:
food, their teachers, medicine, electronics, clothes, Heidi, Harper, our home, daddy & kendall, Aunt Julie's family, grandma, and friends. 
I am most thankful for a wonderful last year; one that was not only survivable but generally easy.  I am thankful for these three gifts that God gave me in my first adult decade, my village of amazing friends, a supportive and wonderful family, and love.  Deep, rich, honest love. 
Tomorrow we will reflect on these things and one another as we get prepared to move into the days of advent that lie ahead.
Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Grandma's Eulogy.

As most of you probably know by now, my Grandma Donna went home to be with Jesus this past week.  I was with her in the last couple of days and was at her side when she left earth for Heaven which was a true honor and something I will cherish for my entire life.  I was astounded at just how quickly I missed her and know that I will forever feel that ache in my heart.  
I spoke at grandma's funeral, hoping to honor her with a tribute that was fitting.  Many have asked for copies of my eulogy so I thought it may be easiest to type it here, where I will also be able to come back and read it in the coming days.  I am so thankful for the hope of Heaven and praise God for His mercy in my grandma's death.  It was beautiful and peaceful and she was in no pain.  That leaves me with great peace!
I want to thank you all for coming and showing your love, kindness, and sympathy on behalf of my grandma and all of us.  In the last few days I said to her many times, "Grandma, you are loved by so many people," and each time she replied, "I know it Ramee and that's a really good feeling."
I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you the things that I will forever cherish about my grandma Donna.  Some of my earliest memories are of sitting around a kitchen table in my grandparent's log cabin.  I spent much time across from my petite grandma, as her tiny feet, not touching the floor, would swing beneath her.  We would write together.  Now my great passion and my greatest accomplishment-I'm certain it began with hundreds of hand written pages there in her kitchen.  She was always so proud of that.  We would write our signatures, practice our cursive (I loved her handwriting so I would watch her intently), and we signed our names to dozens of cards.  Come to think of it, I probably learned the timeless gift of card giving from her as well.  She was deeply empathetic and I vividly recall her sending cards to families who had recently suffered a loss.  She understood the pain of that, after all.  I always admired that of my grandma.  She had endured the devastating loss of her baby boy-her Stanly, and yet, she seemed strong.  She missed him deeply and even as a young girl I felt so lucky that she would talk to me about him and how she ached for him.  We spent so many hours through the years sharing photos and learning about the details of the uncle I never had the privilege to know.  My grandma was never afraid to tap into those deep emotions although it must have been so very difficult. 
Looking back, I always admired that she had suffered and yet went on to really live.  She had deep friendships, pursued hobbies, hosted holiday after holiday after holiday, fostered a marriage, traveled, ate good food, enjoyed good coffee, worked a full time job, played UNO with grandchildren, often, sewed Halloween costumes, and gave of herself to many neighbors, friends and loved ones along the way.  In sharing with me about the uncle I never knew, she gave me the gift of knowing who he was.  But in living her life with poise, strength and dignity in the years that followed0she gave me the ultimate gift in truly knowing who SHE was.  Her character and determination were rooted in hope, charity and family.  And as a grown woman who was once an ornery, loud, stubborn little redheaded girl stands before you, I can truly say that if my grandma could live such a vibrant, full life after such a heartbreaking tragedy, I'm confident that I can too.  She has given me great unspoken wisdom.  All I had to do was sit back and watch the way she lived-and it was a gift. 
But, it wasn't all unspoken.  I'm certain that so much of my fiery attitude, wont-back-down personality and great big (for such a little girl) confidence is due, in great part, to her.  If you knew her, you probably knew her opinion  She was an open book and I loved that about her. 
I'm sure so many of you share in the many of my wonderful memories because my grandma opened her home and her heart to everyone.  Family and community were so crucial to who she was.  There isn't a time in my life that I can remember the door to my grandma's home not being open.  She had a unique way of making everyone feel like family.  She not only opened her heart, but also her ears, her hands and her life to all.  This is another trait I feel proud to have inherited and can only pray that I would continue to carry on in her memory. 
Through the years there have been family reunions, Christmas parties, Thanksgiving feasts, Halloween popcorn balls, and the biggest annual Easter egg hunt ever.  There were October wiener roasts, birthday celebrations, red velvet cakes, homemade noodles and homemade blankets.  There were board games and bust trips, red convertible rides and for us grandchildren0rides in the back of a big, old van to see the Christmas lights year after year.  A pot of coffee always on, a phone call always answered, faithful dairy queen social sessions and her little laugh that always felt like home to me.  Even on her last day, she laughed up at Mabel as we greeted her for the morning.  She sewed many homecoming dresses, baked many cakes and big cookies, displayed proudly every photograph and showed up to every single ballgame or event I ever participated in.  In fact, she wouldn't have missed it to save her own life and as a grandchild that was the best feeling.
She was faithful, loyal and every area as long as I can remember. 
 In the last year I watched my grandma fight to try and get better.  She loved us all so much and I know she wanted us to always know she gave it all she had.  She was a little fighter-always.  Loud, opinionated and ambitious and she never backed down-not to anyone...even my grandpa.  She always gave him a run for his money!  But she loved that man.  And in this year as he cared for her every day, I know she wouldn't have wanted it any other way.  She trusted him and I watched humbly as she looked up at him with thankfulness and reassurance that it was all going to be ok.  She appreciated how you loved her, grandpa and she wouldn't want you to remember, because she was a woman of great faith, that only God directs our path.  And as you took care of her at the tail-end of her life journey you were part of an extraordinary thing-you helped usher her into Heaven peacefully.  With Jesus and with her baby.  I know she's thankful!
To my dad and Uncle Bill-
You were loved so much!  You were her boys!  She would laugh and speak of your mischief but she would defend you and stand up for you always.  She adored being your mom and she was always looking forward to time with you.  I know she was grateful for the times that she was able to share with you after hunting, a motorcycle ride of Sunday morning breakfast.  You were her life's purpose and ultimate joy.
To my sister with grandma's eyes-remember when you put on your make-up where that green/brown color came from.  It's beautiful. 
To my brother, the baby, you were grandma's boy!  There's not much to say about it because your bond went far beyond words.  She loved you like no other.
To Will-
Grandma was so proud of you!  Of your family, and your job.  She loved you uniquely.  She was always telling me how cute you were as a little boy, much like your Aiden.
And to Nora, Braden, Mabel, Aiden and Wyatt-
You were so lucky to know your great-grandma!  So many children don't get the chance but it was a special gift!  She loved and cherished each one of you oh so much!  You were her joy and she was always so proud of you.  Never forget that.
I know that goodbye is not easy.  I know how heavy and hard and sad it feels  But I also know my grandma Donna.  I know she would want us to remember her, celebrate her and then I know she would want us to move along-enjoying all this beautiful life has to offer, resting in the hope that we will see her again one day in Heaven-our true home.
Before I close I wanted to read a verse that was sent to me this morning by a dear friend.
Deut. 31:8
"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you He will never leave you or forsake you; do not be discouraged."
Again, thank you for coming and wrapping our family in love and for the awesome reminder of how cherished my grandma truly was!
Last night Nora told me how beautiful grandma looked at her visitation, like she was made for Heaven.
She is oh so right!

Friday, October 17, 2014

my hope, in writing.

I realized last night as Nora was reading a chapter book in front of me that she is old enough now to read my words here. Words that I have faithfully written since before she was a reality.  I have been writing on this blog for 7 years and wrote in an online journal for 2 years prior.  I have chronicled our lives for a very long time; through good and bad, ups and downs, heartache, joy, pain, suffering, sadness, loss, trial, triumph.  I have written about life, death, loss, gains, my faith, my views, my friendships and love.  I have written delicately and intimately about the lives of my children and the day to day activities that unfolded in our crazy home.  I have noted here every detail of Mabel's journey.  I did all of that with an authenticity that I thought would be important for my children to better understand their mother one day.  Here, I have written some of my deepest thoughts, some of my wildest dreams.  I am so thankful that I took the time to do that because my memory doesn't serve me well in the past couple of years and without this place, I would easily forget so many sweet and important parts of not only their lives but also of me. 
 Of who I am.
With all that I have written here and with all the changes that have occurred in our lives, I see that I, too, have changed. 
Evolved.  Grown. 
 I no longer think the same way about many things.  I no longer find value in the things that I once did.  I no longer feel the need to describe and articulate or even defend my every idea of every little thing.  Over the past 20 months I took a step back and have only written here the things that I find most important.  I write when I have time; I no longer necessarily carve out the time in my day to do so.  It has freed me up in so many ways, emotionally and literally. 
I am a writer, absolutely, at the core of who I am.  But still, with everything I have and will continue to write there are just a few things that I hope my children can clearly see when reading my words one day. 
I hope that they see hope. 
Not a hope rooted in self, others, or this world but a hope that goes so far beyond any of that; so far that we can't even begin to understand it, and we aren't meant to.  A hope that is plentiful, rich, and satisfying.  A hope that after this place we will meet a Maker who is just, fair and righteous.  One who promises to take the very ugly and painful things of this life and redeem them with beautiful, majestic things in another if we only believe in Him. 
That hope, above all else, is who I am. 
It makes me. 
I hope that they see strength.
Strength also rooted in a belief that I don't have to be strong, there is a God who will be that for me.  He empowers me.  He raises me up.  He lifts me and supplies me with all that I need in order to endure this life.  That kind of strength is one that this world doesn't quite understand.  They question and ponder and wonder but it is really quite simple.  That strength is purposed in all of us.  I have chosen to tap into it, and live in it. 
I hope that when my children come here to read the words of their mother that they see beauty. 
Beauty in everything. 
In the summer sun and winter sparkle, in coffee and kittens paws.  Pumpkins and crackling leaves, van dances and sisters singing.  Colored tights and high heels, red lipstick and a favorite book.  Beauty in giving, in nurturing, in contemplating and questioning.  Beauty in heartache and beauty in contentment.  Beauty in clean sheets and drool soaked shoulders.  Beauty in wheelchairs and glasses, long hair or short.  Beauty in long walks, stroller rides and little scooters on a side street with new friends.  Beauty in uncle's hugs and puppy kisses.  Beauty in nanny's house and poopaw's truck, in Uncle Mike's garden and neighbor's porches.  Beauty on cold days and warm nights, in tank tops or snowsuits.  Beauty in glowing trees and flying butterflies, nature and all things colorful.  I hope they see beauty in big white houses or quaint little ones.  I hope they see beauty in elderly faces, or the touch of a hand, in buttons, in afghans, in alleyways, big cities and everywhere in between. 
Because I do. 
I see beauty everywhere in everything.
And that's important. 
I hope that they see laughter. 
I hope the see raw, true emotion. 
I hope they see determination.
I hope they see ambition and sadness, and depth and humility.
I hope they see that friends are sometimes your family.
They show up on Saturday mornings unexpectedly with breakfast and Dr. Pepper only to find you trembling and shaking on the kitchen floor.  They wrap you tightly in their arms and wipe your tears.  They swaddle your babies and file your children out the door.  They love you unconditionally through the muck and the chaos.  I hope that my children see the value of these friendships and the meaning of it all because that matters, almost more than anything else. 
Kids, when you read this, please know that one of the things I value the most about my life are the people in it.  They have walked with me through the hardest, darkest, most unimaginable days and I'm positive we haven't seen the worst yet.  They have been committed to me.  They filled our home when it was very empty and because of them, I have never felt alone.  If ever I am not here with you for any reason, or if you feel alone, please turn to one of these women, my village, and know that they are the closest thing to me.  Wrap yourselves in their arms and let them hug you.  Let it feel like me.  Their hearts match my heart.  Their love for you is intentional.  They will not leave you. 
I hope when my children read my words that they see independence.
Character.  Depth.  Truth.
Because here's the thing-changing how you feel about something, or someone; having different views and ideas than you once did, learning from your mistakes and starting over...
none of that makes you someone dishonest and it definitely doesn't make you less genuine.  It just makes you human.  It means you are evolving. 
Kids, I am not the same woman that I was when I married your dad.  I am not the same woman I was 5 years ago.  And I am definitely not the same woman I was 20 months ago. 
I have changed and that is ok.  It is part of my life, part of my story and part of me. 
The core of who I am remains the same but the rest of it is very much different. 
Life and it's circumstances constantly mold us and hopefully help us in becoming a better version of ourselves.  So far, I feel like life has done that for me which is why I am so grateful for every path I've been on.  It's been directed by God and it's landed me here.
I'm so thankful.
I hope that when my kids read here that they can see love.
I used to have an idea about love that was unrealistic.  It made sense in my head but it was limited by words and definitions and it definitely had boundaries.  I look back at my idea of love and I'm ashamed of it in many ways.  It was so very limited, whether by my spiritual views, my ethical ideas, my age, my life experience or probably by all of those things.  Regardless it was incredibly na├»ve and immature and ultimately very sad. 
it was no less love.

The love that I felt at any given time in my life toward any person or any thing was so deeply true that I didn't question or think about it.  It was simply love. 
The Bible says God is Love.  Because my relationship with God has evolved over time, so have my ideas surrounding love.  But it doesn't matter.  What matters is that when I was giving love or receiving love, that's all I was doing.  I was just loving.  And that's all we are really called to do.  We aren't supposed to question it, define it, box it in, give it limitations, expect perfection.  We are simply supposed to give it.  And receive it.  And be thankful for the ability to do both. 
I hope that when coming here my kids will see family.
They will be bombarded with memories of our family as it once was.  A time when their mommy and daddy were married and happy.  Or a time when I was happy, because after all I am the author here and I can and should only speak for myself.  They will read of experiences we had together, of their birth stories, all of their first big holidays and birthdays.  They will read about our family as it once was and I am so grateful.  Because all of that happened.  It was true and real and for a very long time it was oh so good. 
But, kids, as you are reading here you may grow confused by my writing.  There will inevitably be a gap between a time when we were a happy family to a time when your dad no longer lived with us and everything was very different.  I took a break from writing during that time because I needed to focus only on being your mommy.  I needed time to dive deeply through a lot of emotions and I needed to come out of it all ok.  In doing so, I learned a lot about love and I learned a lot about family. 
The two things that are most important for you to read here today are this-
You can always love again.
Family is what you make it. 
We have both. 
We have love and we have an amazing family.
Nora and Braden,
When you do start to read my words here I hope more than anything you see my devotion and love for you.  You are my entire life, my reason for living.  I was created to be your mom.  It is hard, and it is so much work but it is incredibly worth it.  You are both the light of my life.  I am so proud of you.  Your hearts, your love, your hope, your faith, your minds, your interests, your passions.  I am incredibly grateful to be your mommy and I hope that you will always know how very much you're loved.  How every decision in this life was made with you in mind.  How every move I make is with the heart in my chest beating wildly for you. 
And please, Nora, read this to your sister.  She may not understand but she sure can hear.  She would love this story, I just know it. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Little Life Updates.

As she always does, Autumn has sure delivered. 
The morning light shines perfectly onto the front porch and the faces of my children, so much so that an edit or a filter are not required.  It's marvelous.  
This year we tried really hard to see and experience every "super moon."  There were several with this last one being the largest.  Supposedly we will not witness another moon it's size for another 30 years.  We drove to a country road, waited {impatiently and annoyingly} in the van and then headed for home when, at the time the moon was supposed to appear, it did not.  Low and behold as we were driving away we happened to catch a glimpse of it's massive size in the rearview mirror.  We found another spot on another road and quite literally danced in it's presence. 
There is nothing like celebrating the beauty that our God provides. 
We have pulled out scarves, and dark colored lipstick.  The boots came out of boxes and colored leggings and tights have been pulled over our bare legs. 
The time has come.  

This past week our town experienced a huge loss when a teenage boy my brother's age committed suicide.  It was a devastating and heavy week for this small town.  Just like every tragedy it made me dig deep and think about the time not spent with my siblings and all the people I love really.  It's a frustrating reality that we have to actually live our lives; busying around and missing out on the things that are most important-our relationships.  But the truth that I was reminded of yet again this week is that it wouldn't ever matter how much time was spent with them if something happened to them and they were suddenly gone.  It would never have been enough.  I love them more than my own life; more than my own breath.  They feel like an appendage of mine; two arms connected to me strongly, deeply.  Without them I am not quite sure how I would find the strength to go on.
So I have spent the week praying, crying and quite literally pleading with God to give this family strength and comfort.  There's just nothing earthly that can heal that kind of pain.  
Nora and I have had a great school year so far.  Last year was rough and so I was expecting every morning to be an argument or a stressful situation with her but truly, she has done great.  We did have one bad day where she cried hard and had to go to school late.  She is a little anxious, girls have started whispering, she worries about Mabel, and she missed me.  Enough tears and all of that was a good enough reason for me to not force her in the car until she was ready.  She went on to have a good day and a really great week.  She is incredibly smart and her school work is punctual and particular.  She is going to great things!
While the big kids are in school, Mabel and I stick to our same daily routine. 
She wakes, I feed her.  She gets changed and I make the beds.  She fusses and I walk her.  She bites my shoulder and I laugh and swing her.  We get dressed and blanketed and head out for a morning walk.  We listen to music and she giggles and sometimes seizes. 
We spend our days together and it's a beautiful gift for the both of us.  She adores me the way I feel about her and there is nothing in this world better than that. 
Overall she has been doing ok, though this week was pretty rough.  She had an increase in seizures, some that were pretty big and lasted pretty long.  She ended up running a fever and developed a few blisters on her feet.  The fever has since went down though it has still been low grade on and off.  I'm hoping it's something viral that will just 'run it's course,' and hoping that this winter goes easy on my girl.
I'm still in love and have never been happier. 
I have learned that just like my relationship with God cannot be put into a box, neither can my idea of love or family.  Our little family functions more like a family, feels more like a family and loves more like a family than I remember it ever being before.  It is easy, without stress and is so functional.  My love is natural, practical, romantic, present, and incredibly light.  I have never been more grateful that I was willing to open my heart again and experience what life would bring. 
My heart and my life are so full!

This week the kids had spirit week at school.  Nora loved getting involved and rocked it on 80's day.  She knew it too, saying, "I bet no one will look this good today!"
She was right.  They didn't.  

Apple pie, wooly worms on a country road, new candles, and apple butter.
Fall sweet fall.  
And, to kick it off officially, we enjoyed the Homecoming parade with friends and celebrated our small town with a victory football game last night.  We are so lucky to live where we live, love how we love and find joy in it all.  I have never felt more grateful for the chance to experience life with these kids, my friends and the man I adore.  It's my dream come true.  
Enjoying fall and all of it's wonders has never been more exciting. 
Happy Weekend, Friends.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Welcome, Fall!

Fall made a grand entrance indeed and our village celebrated appropriately. 
We rang in the beautiful season in Green Valley with a hayrack, hotdogs, s'mores, kids running wild, barefoot and free.  It was a celebration of Braden's birthday and we kicked it of in my most favorite ways that mimic all of my childhood memories.  I'm positive that they will share in the same adoration of this season when they one day look back and return in their minds to nights like this with little friends who will then be grown beside them. 
This is the good stuff, for sure. 

 Happiest Birthday Brother boy!
And Happy Fall, friends.