Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Birthday Tubing

My little Saxton turned eleven today and one of her requests was tubing! Well boy did she tube and smile big the whole time!  She went with her Aunt Colleen, Uncle Jed, brother Brayden and Sam and sisters Savannah and Sage! She even tubed with me.  But my favorite tubing partner for the day would probably be her grandma.  She showed us all that age is just a number.  Her smile still shines bright in my mind as I type this.  I even rode with her, so at one point there were three generations laughing and enjoying a beautiful day on the water.  

Life, like a tube behind a boat, flies by fast... It's sure important to grab the handles and hold on to the special moments tight.  I know we did today. 

Happy Birthday my sweet Saxton! I love you to the moon and stars and back!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Finding Contentment in the Heartland.

My beautiful cousin Christi and I. 
My cousin's youngest Madeline and Ginger
I have been periodically going for walks with a friend of mine who I will identify as my "Spiritual Leader."  He might shy away from such a title, but I think it fits him.  He has been helping me to find God again.  Not necessarily in a way that my traditional Catholic ways encouraged, but more in the way I needed.  A way that led to me praying with more flourish and trust.  Isn't that what God wants of us?  To trust him with the issues and people closest to our hearts and heaviest on our minds?  I believe so. 

My baby driving me around for the first time!
My sweet Tameca.
Today my SL (Spiritual Leader)  used the analogy of a pounding surf and either allowing the problems and stresses of our life to slowly erode away our shore, or stand strong and hold our position.  To become Rocks in a Jetty of sorts.  I took to the analogy.  Anything to do with the sea and the magic of the boundary between land and water, the edge of the earth, the end of a journey or the beginning, speaks to me.  I have loved this blog, now over three years old.  I respect it and the freedom of speech that I am entitled to.   I want to be honest and sometimes that's scary and I would rather stay silent then to write empty paragraphs.

My brother Matt and sister Colleen
Lately I have been feeling the effects of the heaviness of life. I have been unable at times to shake the exhaustion that comes from carrying too much for too long.  For trying too hard to fix everything, defend my actions, make right the world.  I have to hand over the responsibility to others.   An analogy my SL gave me was how often times others will throw their anger, nastiness, issues, hatred and negativity at you like a ball in hopes you will catch it and maybe even throw it back bringing you down to their level.  I have to learn to allow the ball to drop.  Sometimes it's okay to just let the ball fall and walk away.  One of my husband's favorite sayings is, "Just because they say it, doesn't make it true."  Just because they throw it at you, doesn't mean you have to catch it, carry it or keep it.  Just let it drop.

Loving on my niece Alannah.

Sam and his Uncle Jed.
Love at first sight.

I went back to Indiana a few weeks ago to see my two oldest babies.  (I know they are no longer "babies" but I use that term of endearment because I like what it means to me.) 
            There I go defending... I even do it in my writing.  That's another thing that I wish I could free everyone from, the need to defend themselves.  It's a trap I fall into, the need to explain, defend, instead of letting the ball drop.  Getting to see my babies meant seeing my Ex, driving with him the few miles to surprise my Savannah at school.  We proved we could be civil for more than a moment for the sake of our beautiful children.  It was worth every ounce of anxiety that I previously felt to see the look on her face when she realized I was the one in the passenger seat.  To watch her drop her back pack and run screaming and crying into my arms.  It was a perfect moment.
Later I was even able to sit across from him when we went to lunch with Savannah and her friend.  I wish we could have extended the civility to the drop off, but we still have a long way to go in the healing process.  And unfortunately sometimes the situation just is what it is.
Loving on Grandma. My Angel in My Life.

Love is giving your friend a much needed pedicure!
While I was in Indiana, I had this moment of pure contentment.  My girlfriend Leslie decided I needed a pedicure and with the help of her two oldest (who were doll babies and even gave Savannah, Sam and I their rooms for two nights), set it up right there on her back patio.  Sam was there with a grin and Savannah too, as well as another one of my dearest friends and I was just happy.  The anxiousness of traveling, flying to Chicago, driving to Indy and the stress of the unknown with my Ex just melted away.  I was surrounded by love and friendship.  I allowed myself to be happy.  I absorbed all the love I received from that trip, from my cousin in Chicago, my siblings, my family, my grandma, my beloved friends and their children and from my sweet babies and allowed myself to let go.  Take the best and leave the rest. 

A whole bunch of littles and even missing three!
I also realized yet again how incredibly blessed I am to have people envelope me in their arms, no matter how long its been.  One example is my friend Tameca.  We hadn't seen one another in years, but it may as well have been only a moment.  The love and friendship still there, still strong and she literally stood arm and arm with me as my Ex pulled up.  That feeling of solidarity that never left no matter the length of time that had passed.  Each and every hug I received, from my Best Friend Leslie's husband's famous bear hugs to my delicate embrace with my Grandma reminded me that no matter what you can count on love.  Moments such as holding my beautiful new baby niece for the first time and a middle of the night giggle fest with Savannah as we enjoyed a priceless slumber party at Leslie's, prompted me to enjoy the simple moments of contentment.  They are not something you can buy or even plan, they just happen.

My loves... Leslie, Lauri and Jen
It's ironic, as I type this the rain comes and goes, as does the sunshine and for a few moments I am able to enjoy them both.  I say this because I have learned to embrace the rain, the clouds, the storms along with the sun.  I appreciate the sound of the rain on the trees, the shade of the clouds and the way the trees sound in a storm.  These are not things to curse, but to embrace.  The rain cleans my soul and the stale air that sometimes surrounds us.  It's funny because earlier today after my SL and I said our good-byes the rain really started to fall.  I initially ran, trying to beat the drops.  But then I stopped, walked and as the rain poured over me, I prayed for the it to wash away my worries.  I have felt better since.  

Leslie's Littles!
Lauri's Littles with mine!
My wonderful Cara!  She drove with me 27 hours to help move me to Washington!
My Sam!
My tendency is to feel anxiety, to worry, to feel fearful and count on the worst.  This is what a person's past can do to them.  However, my pledge to myself is to give all that to God.  I can't foresee the future, but I have to trust that I am on the right path.  If I am, then I have to have faith that God will help me along it.  To me that is my secret to contentment, knowing in my heart that I am right where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing and trusting God with the rest.  I guess I should take a lesson from my first real driving experience with my daughter Savannah, as terrifying as it is, sometimes you just have to let go and just trust someone else to take the wheel.   

Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy Love

Love in the raw

In a day in age of selfies and staged photographs set to be perfect for social media, this photo is so much more.  This was taken by my husband of my daughter Savannah and I after dinner as we shared both a blanket and an Oreo cookie.

You can't see my face, but you can see my laugh lines.  The unbridled smile on Savannah's is my favorite.  It's so innocent and genuine. 

Today my sweet girl turned sixteen and when I thought about what I wanted to write, I decided to post this picture.  I almost solely use my photography in my blog, but I really love what this image says....
We love each other like crazy.

A love between a mother and her baby is amazing.  It's perfect and beautiful.  No matter the storms I have been through, Savannah has been my sunshine.  The sound of her voice calms my soul and the day she was born, sixteen years ago today, was the day that I found true love for the first time in my life.

I love you sweet girl, to the moon and the stars and back!  Happy 16th Birthday and I will see you in 24 days, 14 hours, 30 minutes and 57 seconds... but who's counting?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Where did the time go baby girl?

Where did the time go baby girl?

You are now just days from being sixteen, but it feels like just moments ago when I photographed this smile.  You were born a sprite and as I watch you grow into a beautiful young woman, I still love that you've kept your impish grin. 

I remember seeing that smile when you were one, having found you precariously perched on the kitchen counter.  You had helped yourself to a spoonful of peanut butter and were very proud.  You knew what you wanted and went for it.  As much as I couldn't admit it that day, it's  a quality I always want you to keep. 

I'm getting very nostalgic as your birthday approaches, remembering the days  before you were born like they were yesterday.  One thing I want you to know, is that while I truly and deeply loved you even before I saw you... I never could have known how that love would grow beyond measure... Beyond the moon, beyond the stars and back. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Come walk with me, be not only my sister, but also my friend...

Come walk with me, be not only my sister, but also my friend...

When I look back at my chaotic and colorful life I question so much.  However, I would never wish to go back and take a separate path.  Doing so would result in erasing the rainbows that came from the storm.  

Today I was looking at this photograph, simply playing with a new editing tool.  But as I erased color, the true emotion came out.  I can picture Savannah's smile, even if I can't see her face.  I can imagine the way her eyes are lit up like sunshine as she looks at her brother.  I can see the emotion in how their arms are wrapped around one another and feel their love.  I can imagine Sam's slight grin and hear Savannah's laugh.  

My children are the best part of me, they are the color in my life.  The fact that life hasn't always been beautiful is my reality, but the beauty in this photograph is my blessing.  I love you sweet babies, to the moon and stars and back.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

It's not just another day Sam, It's so much more to me, you're so much more!

Sam on his fifth birthday 3/24/05
Today my oldest son Sam turned 14.  While I was lucky to be able to Facetime with him quite a bit, he did say something that made me sad, he said that today was just another day, downsizing it's importance.  I quickly told him otherwise, that today is one of the best days of my life.  Today marks the birthday of one of my first true loves, my sweet Sam.

In honor of my Sam's birthday, I want to tell you a story that exemplifies his kind heart.  This past summer Sam and Savannah we here (with Max) and were our major helpers in our move.  (Sage, Saxton and Brayden were all gone.)  After doing the majority of moving ourselves, we were all exhausted.  A few nights into our new home, I commented how I was so tired that I wished someone would just carry me to bed.  That is just what Sam did.  My almost six foot tall son scooped me up and laughing the whole way, just about made it up the stairs and too my room.  Just thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes.  That's my Sam's heart. 

Sam's a rare breed.  He's a defender, a love with your whole heart and soul, do what you can to make people happy kind of guy.  He's a love bug who has always loved to snuggle.  He's a hard worker and a loyal friend.  He's a diamond in the rough.  He's amazing.  I'm so lucky he's my son.  

To quote Sam's favorite artist, Bob Marley
"Some people feel the rain, others just get wet"

My dear Sam, continue to march to the beat of your own drum.  The world is full of people that can be defined as "popular" "normal" "part of the crowd."  Don't be them, be you.  Be that little boy who wore slacks, a dress shirt and a sweater vest to kindergarten.  Be different, spectacular and most important be yourself.  "Unique" is a compliment.  "Weird" is a badge of honor, because it means you are living your life thinking outside of the box, dancing to the music you love in the soundtrack of your life.  Happiness is feeling the freedom to be who you are no matter what.  As your integrity and sincerity becomes apparent to those around you, you'll shine in a room full of darkness.  Remember the Bob Marley quote and the day that you, Savannah and I ran in the rain, laughing the whole while.  That's the secret to life.

Happy Birthday my sweet boy, I love you more than you know, I love you to the moon and stars and back.
Love, Mom
Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet. - Bob Marley - See more at:
Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet. - Bob Marley - See more at:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What I wouldn't give to go back in time...

My little Sage turned twelve today...
Where does the time go? 

The little sprites in these photos are quickly growing up to be beautiful young ladies... Full of gumption and sparkle.  

As much as I love watching them wonderfully transform...
I would still give almost anything to have them just be little like this again, even if just for one day.  With their Velcro shoes and innocence.  To hug them and whisper I love you in their ear...

Life has already been hard for them.  They've dealt with more than their share of pain.  So my prayer today on Sage's birthday, is that from this point forward they'll instead know much joy, peace and forever and always love.  

I love you my sweeties to the moon and stars and back...

Happy Birthday my sweet Sage!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Purpose Driven Run

Years ago I read a book called The Purpose Driven Life  It was meant to be a guide to how you were choosing to live each day. (You can click on the link to find out more information.)  This book came to mind tonight while I was on my run.  In the past few weeks and even the past year, I have been able to run more than I have since I was 18-19 years old (I am now 37.)  Because of having children, but probably more as a result of several injuries that I incurred while running, I gave it up for the most part, until last year when through Facebook, I found out about the Run for the White House for Childhood Cancer Awareness which has now become the largest virtual cross-country running event ever.  The purpose is to not only bring awareness, but also give support to families dealing with childhood cancer.  

Tonight as I was running, I literally was served a symbolic reminder of why we are all doing this.  It's been raining cats and dogs all day and while I was able to get the first mile in without much rain, by mile two is was steadily coming down.  I honestly didn't mind and was fine until someone decided to purposely drive through a large puddle of water, completely drenching me in the process.  It was at this point that I was reminded yet again why I was out here in the first place, at that moment I thought about all the babies I am running for and any small discomfort I might feel is nothing in comparison to what they deal with on a daily basis.  

The last thing I want this blog to come across is me trying to make myself look like a martyr.  I absolutely am not, its not about me, it's the complete opposite!  It's about something so much bigger than me or any of my fellow runners/walkers/bikers/swimmers who are logging miles, it's about the combined love that we all feel towards these little ones.  It's about having a purpose to our workouts, it's about running past aches and pains in order to give our team leader, Brian Jones, something to log.  It's about the huge inspiration that these children who are battling everyday, who are the true warriors, have become to us.  It's about Hailee, Jaydon, Missy, Lincoln, Talia, Nicholas, Sam, Ellie, Trent, Delaney, Leo, Ronan, Ethan, Colton, Heaven, Taylor, Ryan, Beth, Austin, Simon, Brooklyn and so many other little soldiers, some of who have already lost their battle, but still continue to inspire us. 

Everyday I am able to run I am grateful.  I know I am living on borrowed time as far as my body is concerned, but I thank God for every mile he allows me to knock out.  Sometimes when a certain song comes on Pandora, I swear He's cheering me on.  

My hope is to be able to keep this up until September, Childhood Cancer Awareness month.  My other huge hope, is to get others to join our quest.  Even if you aren't a runner, you can walk, bike, swim or even dedicate workouts to our kids.  One very inspiring story is about man who recently suffered a stroke and dedicated his physical therapy time towards miles, that's amazing!  Truly anyone can join us, all you have to do is log into Facebook, like our page and post your workouts on the Run For the White House for Childhood Cancer Awareness 2014.  That's it! The reality is that childhood cancer gets pennies to the dollar when it comes to funding and there is not enough being done currently to stop this epidemic, we need to bring light to this.  If you want to learn more, you can also check out this link, The Truth 365.  Come on, Let's do this, Let's kick Cancer's ASS!

Friday, February 14, 2014

"To Build A Home"

"Out in the garden where we planted the seeds
There is a tree as old as me
Branches were sewn by the color of green
Ground had arose and passed it's knees"
The Cinematic Orchestra 

I've always loved music, but even more I love the messages told through the lyrics.  I love when you can't find the words and then a song comes on and helps you to express exactly how you feel. There are also those times when a song can dive so deep into your soul that you didn't even realize such a place existed.  That's what happened last night when I heard a song that Savannah had mentioned on her twitter.  She was "obsessed" with it and I wanted to know why.  

When Savannah, Sam and I have moments that are just us, we immerse ourselves in songs and discuss their meaning, or sometimes we just let the message roll over us.  (Maybe because they're a little older and because all we've been through, our music taste is mutual.)  The majority of these moments are in the car, maybe just driving from the airport or most likely we're on an adventure, like when we drove to Forks this past summer.  Savannah, Sam, Max and I drove away from most everything and wound up in far NW Washington at the edge of where the ocean meets the sea.  During times like these, music is almost heard as a soundtrack, and gives special meaning to the moment.  As we laugh and talk and explore the literal or figurative uncharted territory in our lives, music enhances our journey.

"Where are you going
With your long face
Pullin' down
Don't hide away,
Like an ocean
That you can't see
But you can smell
And the sound of waves crash down.
I am no superman
I have no reasons for you.
I am no hero,
Aw that for sure,
But I do know one thing,
That's where you are is where I belong.
I do know
Where you go, 
Is where I wanta be."
Dave Matthews 

Dear Savannah and Sam,
Always let the music you hear, 
Help the constant healing in your heart.
Love you to the moon and stars, moon and stars and back.  Love,  Momma 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pregnancy Pre-Parenting and how Love ultimately wins over.

My baby sister Colleen and her husband Jed are just a little over a month away from the birth of their first child, they are expecting a little girl.   They were out of town working on Jed’s family’s ranch, so I was only able to spend a few days with them during my October visit to New Mexico.  But the day Max and I left, we went with Colleen to Target to give her some ideas on what to register for, it meant a lot to me to be able to get a little bit of time with her during the most amazing time of her life, her first pregnancy  As I looked around and took in all the baby inventory, I realized that I could give her opinions on what she’ll need for the baby, but what she had needed most, or maybe not, was a little sisterly advice. 

Earlier in the day, Colleen, her husband, Max and I went to get some breakfast burritos from Blakes Lotaburger, they are by far the best in town!   While we were driving and chatting, I was handing out my two cents on being a new parent.  I tried to not be overwhelming and reminded them to just take all the advice they get with a grain of salt, because the truth is, ultimately they will have to figure most of it out on their own. 

One example I did give (in much less detail than I’m about to give you), went back to when I was pregnant with Savannah, who is my first.  My Ex and I were just a few weeks away from her delivery and were on our way home from our birthing class.  We lived in Chicago at the time and the drive from Lake Forest (where I had her) to our apartment was quite long.  Anyway, I don’t remember how it came up, but somehow a discussion began about where Savannah would sleep after she was born.  Our chat soon turned to an argument as he informed me that she was going to sleep in her own bed in our second bedroom/office when she was a week old.  I started to cry, the idea of my baby sleeping in an office all by herself was just too much for me.  After all, she was used to being with her momma.  When we got back to our apartment I went out to this gazebo and just cried.  I couldn’t imagine myself being separated from her.  I tabled the discussion and hoped that my Ex would change his mind, although he was insistent he wouldn’t. 

On May 5th, after getting pulled over by the police twice as we raced to the hospital, our first child and first daughter was born bright and early and full of sunshine.  I will never forget the love that flooded me and to this day the thought of her birth still brings tears of happiness to my eyes.  Our lives would never be the same. 

I remember the day we brought her home, I was anxious at the idea that I was responsible for this tiny little person and terrified that I wouldn’t do a good job being her mother.  She was perfect and immediately the best thing that had ever happened to me, I was head of heels in love.

As I was leaving, one of the nurses gave me her direct line and told me to call her if I had any issues, I took the number gratefully.  Several sleepless nights later I took her up on her promise.  Savannah wasn’t sleeping in her bed (a pack-n-play set up in our room.)  She’d nurse and fall asleep, but as soon as I’d move her, she’d wake up and start screaming.   I told the nurse that I was exhausted, but to hear her cry was heart wrenching.  Then she taught me the best trick ever, side lying nursing (see link.She instructed me how to lay down, my arm in such a way to prevent me from rolling on her and breastfeed her. (One bit of advice is to put a changing pad under both of you to catch breast milk.  This way you don't have to change all your sheets or sleep in a wet spot.)   

Anyway, I tried it as we were on the phone and it worked!  It was a miracle and from that point on, both of us slept peacefully, nestled together like two pieces of a puzzle.   Needless to say the whole apartment slept better and several weeks later she wasn’t sleeping in the other room, but right beside me.  By the time she was about three months and sleeping longer stretches, she moved to her porta crib, still located in our room.  When she was about five months old we moved into a house, it was only then that she did sleep part of her night in a crib in her very own room.

The lesson from this story is that until that baby is in your arms; don’t set your parenting rules in stone.  Flexibility is a must.  It’ll save you and your partner a lot of grief.  You’ll never love anything like your children, you just won’t.  Even to this day when my now not-so-little-ones leave to fly to their dad’s, I feel that same panic, heartbreak and sadness that I felt that day out in the gazebo.  I guess that would be another lesson that I will preach over and over again, no matter how old they are, your babies are always your babies.  

My "little" Savannah now. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Beautifully Sad Secrets

What is the conversation between two broken souls?
Even if we heard every word,
the meaning would still be illusive.*

I have been missing from writing, but not do to lack of life moments.  When I fall off the writing wagon I get frustrated with myself.  Especially when things are happening that I want to hold onto with words.  Since I last wrote, my husband and I shared a quiet, yet sweet Christmas Eve with family and friends and our littlest Max.  Christmas morning was bittersweet because it lacked our five oldest, yet was filled with the magic of Santa Claus.  Max didn't quite understand at first that all the presents were his, and insisted on distributing them to his siblings and us.  This warmed our hearts that he wanted to do such a thing.  My husband and I stole away Christmas night to Vegas for a few days, putting Christmas on hold until the twenty ninth when we were able to have all six of our babies under one roof.   The "quiet" time together was wonderful. 
Wild Waves December 30th 2013

The visit with all of the littles was like medicine to the soul.  The ability to tuck them in and kiss them goodnight was probably my favorite of all.  It allowed me to quietly let them know how very much they mean to me and how desperately I miss them when they are gone.  We had a blast at Wild Waves, our New Year's Eve Blast and in Seattle (a few times).  Just hearing all their voices through the house was like heaven.  I was blessed by mother nature and was able to keep Savannah and Sam three extra days.  We took advantage of this (and grandma and papa's kindness to keep Max) and took another day trip into the city.  I called it a photography adventure, where I captured my two oldest at a variety of locations.  At the end of the day we got caught in a monsoon and as we ran through the rain, I'm sure all of Seattle could hear us laughing and screaming.  I loved it.
Just before we went home, we stopped at a pier and I captured a few more photos.  They are of Savannah, the city and the waterfront.  Seattle has won my heart and become the home I have searched much of my life for.  To capture my first born in my beloved hometown was priceless.

*I love the picture of Savannah and Sam under the umbrella.  It portrays my life perfectly.  The umbrella is in focus and represents the happiness in my life that I share openly... my babies, my husband, my family and friends, my wonderful home and my beloved Seahawks (who won the Super Bowl in case you didn't know.) However the unfocused portion is how my quote under the photograph came to me while looking at it for the first time.  It might be a photo you'd erase because it's out of focus, but it's meant to be that way.  We're not meant to see the emotion, hear the conversation that is going on.  The nighttime tears that are shed and the desperate truths that are told.  It's a secret that is carried by those who have felt true heartache and even truer love.  I've poured out my heart here many times trying to express the feeling of being away from my babies, but ultimately it is so deep, so intense, so personal, that I'll never be able to clearly explain it.  And maybe that's okay, maybe that's the way it's meant to be.