It was July 24, 2007…my 26th birthday. It was a Tuesday. I didn’t work that day. I decided I should take the day off to be home with The Man and Hannah. I vividly remember being in the kitchen making egg salad sandwiches for us when my Motorola Razor cell phone rang. The caller ID said it was my mom’s sister, my aunt, on the other line. My aunt and I didn’t talk on the phone often since I moved away from home but every time I visited I made sure we went to see her because I was very close to her growing up. She had 2 boys and my sisters and I were the only daughters she had. She loved us like we were her own and the feeling was mutual for me. I quickly answered the phone and I remember telling The Man that I bet she was calling to tell me happy birthday.
She did tell me happy birthday.
Then she told me that my dad was dead.
I am sure that life is full of so many memories but there are maybe 20 or so that actually stand out that you can describe what you were wearing or doing at that exact moment.
At the moment my aunt called me to tell me my dad died suddenly during a liver transplant I didn’t even know he was having, I was standing in my kitchen making egg salad sandwiches.
I never ate that sandwich.
Many things happened after that moment in time including a last minute 22 hour drive to Ohio. There were a lot of mixed emotions due my dad and I having an on and off relationship and many shed tears. I remember thinking back to the last talks I had with my dad that I actually blogged about here and here. (All of the posts about my dad can be found HERE) One thing I have that is a constant memory that I will never, ever forget- my aunt told me.
She told me in the softest, sweetest voice. Even when my voice trembled and I accused her of being mistaken, she was my constant on the other end of the line.
I’m not sure why my mom wasn’t the one to tell me. I don’t know if it was because she was in the hospital at the time due to her MS and couldn’t call me long distance or if she couldn’t handle telling me…either way, I never asked. I didn’t care. My aunt told me my dad was dead, and I’ll never forget that.
Last year my aunt was diagnosed with cancer. She went through many weeks of chemo and radiation and in February was cleared of all her cancer. She had a party at her church to celebrate. I said a little thank you prayer to God for healing her because she’s my mom’s only sibling and I know my mom had been struggling with the fact that she might lose her.
A few weeks ago my mom called me and told me that doctors had found 3 tumors in my aunt’s brain. Amazingly enough, they were able to operate and remove all 3. She is home today, happy and healthy. Yes, she’s facing more chemo and radiation but she’s on a mission to be declared cancer free again.
When I found out she had those brain tumors after having just been declared cancer free I couldn’t help but think of when she so very sweetly and as best she could told me that my dad was gone. I have to believe now that there was a reason why SHE was the one to tell me.
Cancer is a horrible, tragic, awful thing and yet, out of darkness hope is born. She has new hope. We all do.
I just wanted to share this story because she deserves it and because when my dad was alive I complained too much and didn’t share the good things as much as I should have, even when he and I struggled to see eye to eye. We change and evolve as we grow older and sometimes life’s lessons are learned in hard ways.
I love my aunt and appreciate her…I just had to share.
Happy weekend to all y’all.
There’s a saying that goes something like your children are your hearts beating outside of your body.
What a very simple way of saying something so very complex and yet so absolutely true.
I know I’ve been absent from my blog for almost 2 months now. It’s taken me a long time to come to the place I am now regarding social media and blogging…blog/Tweet/Facebook/Instagram when I want and when I don’t? Don’t. It sounds simple and yet it was VERY hard for me to get here because so many of my friendships have been made online. Yes, most of my “online” friendships have been taken offline to meet ups or even vacations together but the fact remained that I wouldn’t have these friends if I hadn’t been online a lot. So, being in the place I’m in now is a huge milestone for me.
I was struck with inspiration to write this post at like 11 pm last night and really, I should have written it then but I waited until today so it’s probably not going to come out as well or as passionately as it would have last night but I’m going to try anyway.
It started much like how I’m sitting now…with a cup of coffee. I made myself coffee late last night after the kids were in bed and The Man was still at work. The TV was on the background but I wasn’t watching it. Instead I was staring across the room at the couch. There were a few toys piled up on it and my usual response would be to make a mental note to nag the kids about it the next day because we have a new rule that the toys have to stay upstairs now. Instead? I smiled. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled at a mess of toys in my 10 years of being a mama.
I had a feeling of relief. It came out of nowhere. For some reason I instantly thought of the grief friends of mine have faced in their loved ones dying way too early in life. I pictured moms and dads who would give anything to stare at a mess of toys just one more time. I thought of kids who weren’t blessed with piles of toys because they live in poverty. I thought of parents who were on their death beds and memorized messes of toys because they knew their time was short on Earth and they wanted to remember every little thing. I’m pretty sentimental and emotional and yet most days these things don’t strike me…especially not randomly at 11 at night.
After I thought of those things I thought of my girls upstairs sleeping. Two perfect, beautiful girls lost in dream land lying side by side in the same bed. I was so overcome with love and appreciation right then. I am so glad that my girls get along so well together. I am so grateful that Hannah, 10 years old and 6 years older than Livie, is so good to her and includes her instead of excludes her. I am so grateful that I have two girls with this incredible bond that will surely last a lifetime. I am so grateful that the dreams I had for my family life have come true in some way or another. I thought of The Man and how his latest text said he would be home soon and how grateful I was that he is so dedicated to us…his girls…his 3 women as he says.
Hannah told me that my sister told her she’s glad she’s having a baby boy in June because she’ll be the only girl in the house still. I could tell she was looking for me to say something wise about that considering that none of us were the only girl in this house. I told her “Well, that’s nice for her and I’m sure a lot of moms say that when they aren’t blessed with daughters because they don’t know what it’s like to have a daughter. And that’s okay. I’ve not been blessed with a son so I don’t know any different but you know what? I’m glad I’m not the only girl in the house. I never wanted to be and never will want to be.” She smiled after that and I smiled too.
The days of painting their nails and Hallmark movie marathons are just beginning. The tender side of The Man I see when he fathers his baby girls is something I wouldn’t trade for anything.
God gives us what He wants us to have and He wanted me to have girls just as much as I wanted them.
They are my heart beating outside of my body.
There will still be days of nagging. I will still lose my patience. They will still tell me they’re mad at me and slam their doors. I will still want to run away for a few hours…or days. These girls challenge me and inspire me at the same time.
So the pile of toys that I stared at last night that usually would make me crazy? It’s still there…and I’m still smiling.
There’s so much to say and then when I go to say it, it just doesn’t sound nearly as perfect as it did in my heart.
So I’ll say this- 4 seems so much older than 3 and even THAT much older than when she was 2. Kids change so much at this age and every year is so different than the last.
We aren’t planning on any more kids so unless God surprises us somehow, this is the last time we’ll have our baby turn 4. It made me sad in a way but happy in others because she’s a healthy, funny, beautiful 4 year old and I am ever so grateful for that.
Today I woke her up and told her she’s officially 4 and the first sentence back to me was “Can I pick out a guinea pig at Petsmart now?”
My princess is 4.
Today Hannah came downstairs with her iPad while Face Timing her friend. With a smile on her face, she said “Mom. Madison wants me to spend the night at her house. She wants you to Face Time with her step dad so y’all can meet and I can go over there.”
This is not the first time she’s bombarded me with a sneak attack Face Time moment except the other times it was just to have me say hi to her friends. I was annoyed those times but I let it go. Today I did not.
I told her I was busy and to hang up. Once she did, I lost it. I yelled at her and told her it’s inappropriate to “meet” parents on Face Time and I sure as heck wouldn’t talk to a parent for 2 minutes on Face Time and just let her spend the night. I also reminded her that it’s rude to just surprise me with Face Timing anyone, parent or a friend. I also told her that it’s rude for her friends to put their parents on the spot as well. I ended it with if she ever did it again, I’d take her iPad.
She was mad. I was mad. And it ended with her stomping up the stairs.
If your kids have Face Time, have this discussion before this happens to you and you’re the one sounding like an asshole while I’m sure the other parent is somewhere close by and can hear you say you’re too busy.
I feel like I suck at this mom thing about 32% of the time. It’s definitely a learning journey and Hannah, God bless her, gets to be the one I figure things out with.
And now for some happier moments from the past couple weeks. It rained for like a week straight but then for the past week? Sunshine. 70 degree weather. No humidity. It’s been amazing and we have been outside a lot.
You got it dude
Coffee on said patio
Foggy drives on country roads
Smiles because it’s nice out. And also the only pics I’ve taken on my DSLR in weeks because I suck at New Years goals but also because Instagram is an addicting whore and I take all my pictures on my phone so I can post them there.
May this weekend be filled with smiles and less drama around here.
Growing up in a Christian home and in Christian schools I heard just about everything you could hear and learn about God. It’s A LOT of information. And up until about 5 or so years ago, I based everything in my life on those things I learned because I believed them.
God always has been and always will be.
He created the earth and everything in it.
He sent his son, Jesus, who died and rose for us.
Those are pretty much the only 3 things I am 100% sure on anymore. The rest of the things I learned and believed are up in the air for me.
He is our Father. And a few years ago I decided I was going to see the way God views me as I view my children.
He is forgiving.
He is loving.
He is patient.
He is present.
I refuse to attribute negative characteristics toward Him and even more so refuse to use those negative characteristics in raising our children. I used to be so scared that if I said or did one bad thing, God was right there glaring at me. Now? I’m sure he gets disappointed in things I say or do. Do I think He’s constantly glaring at me for them? No. I guess I just feel like He has better things to do like controlling our universe than to worry about “sins” I commit when in actuality, I don’t think they are sins at all.
I can’t really get into everything I think and feel because it’s personal. But I wanted to explain a little more about it because a few weeks ago I mentioned my recent faith adjustment and I figured I’d elaborate.
Some other things God is to me?
He’s the first day of sunshine after days of rain while I drink my coffee.
He’s the sound of Livie’s giggles.
He’s the small voice of comfort to a sick Hannah.
He’s everything good and happy about life and nothing bad. I have altered my views little by little over the past few years and I am at such a content place with God right now.
It feels so good.
Wanna know the last time I got excited to throw my kids a birthday party?
When Livie turned 1. And before that? When Hannah turned 1.
My reason for saying this is because until Hannah turned 9, for her 8 other birthdays, I threw big parties. I STRESSED OUT. I invited all of our family and some friends. I spent money (that I currently don’t have) on decorations and a cake, presents, food…etc. Last year I asked Hannah if she wanted a party or if she’d rather us give her a bigger present and have a little party with just the immediate family. She opted for the bigger gift and I’ll tell you what- that’s the way to go.
I can remember about 3 of my birthday parties ever. Sure, there are pictures and I knew I had fun but to actually remember it?
This year Hannah opted for a hotel night with her cousins instead of a party and I guarantee you she’ll remember that way more than one of her other parties.
Livie’s birthday is next month. Her first and second birthday we did parties at home with just a few people. Last year for her third birthday we invited A LOT of people- all of our family AND friends, got a bouncy house plus all the food and decorations. Want to know the difference between this
About $200. Why?
The first picture was just the close family with no extras with just a cake and a few decorations. Last year I went all out. What I realized today? Both parties were fun. Both were memorable….FOR US. She’ll never remember either one.
I’ve been mulling over what I wanted to do for her birthday next month. I can’t get away with no party like I can for Hannah yet BUT do we really need a bouncy house? Do we really need balloons and decorations?
No. We don’t.
So here’s what I decided and after getting the opinion of a few close family members I knew I made the right choice: have the immediate family over, get a cake, skip the decorations, skip the bouncy house, make an easy and cheap spaghetti dinner, and call it a day.
She’ll still have candles to blow out. She’ll still have presents to open. She’ll still smile and know it’s her special day. And us? We’ll have saved a LOT of cash.
Kids birthday parties are expensive to throw. And since I suck at being thrifty and pinterest is a nightmare to me, throwing the party like this is all I came up with and also all I’m willing to do. Life keeps getting more expensive, I keep getting overwhelmed, so this year I decided to make some changes but still give our baby a good party.
Related: can you believe she’s going to be 4 next month? Oh. Em. Gee.
Also, a couple quick random pics because I still am so grateful they play together even if they’re 6 years apart.
Here’s to minimizing stress and expenses in 2013!
I will continue to enjoy my life with my girls and really take the time to enjoy things like Christmas mornings just a little bit more…
and continue to appreciate how amazing my in laws have been in adopting me as their own since my family is so far away…
and also to continue to appreciate how amazing The Man is to me and how blessed we are to have brought in our 15th new year together…
and to continue to love how gorgeous it is here even in the winter.
There will be ups and downs this year just like there have been every year before this one. It’s how we handle the downs to make it back to the ups that keep us going.
Goals for this year to keep the ups coming:
Go to church more
Stand up for myself more
Take more pictures on my actual camera
Read and comment on the blogs of those of you who read and comment here
Here’s to a fabulous 2013.