An Engagement, a Prom and a Birthday

  

I have learned that it is much more difficult to parent older children, especially adult children, more so than smaller ones. I’m not downplaying the difficulty of raising little ones. Raising little ones is more of a physical drain whereas raising older ones is an emotional one.  Yet, all of is more gratifying than most anything else you’ll experience in life.

I remember those days when my kiddos were little and learning to ride a bike. It was hard in its own way but mama had control of it all. When your kids are older, you must parent with little to no control over their lives. Letting go is hard.

Within one week, my oldest got engaged, my youngest went to his first prom and he also turned 17.  It feels very surreal; like being in some sort of time warp or maybe an out of body experience.  At times I feel like I’m hovering above my life looking down and not really even recognizing it.  It seems like everything is changing all at once but I guess that how life goes, right?  “Children grow old and then they leave.” -Parker Millsap, Homeless.  Just sitting over here trying to adjust.

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House or Home

Grannys Ring
cooking with grannyMS Welcomes You20140324-195403.jpg
My grandmother’s wedding ring. It signifies a 56 year successful marriage. I never get tired of looking at it. I wear it proudly and think of her every single day.

This weekend has been a bit tough emotionally. I found out that my grandparents house, the place where I grew up, is being sold (my grandmother passed away one year ago this month).  I know it’s just a structure; just a building and I shouldn’t care, right? Well I do. I can’t help it. My entire childhood is wrapped up in that structure; on that property.  My baby footprints are stamped in the foundation.

We went on vacation March of 2014 to visit Granny (you can read post HERE). Little did I know at the time, that would be the last time I would set foot in that house.  It was the last time my Granny was well and able to live in the house by herself.  She cooked and cooked and cooked.  She was in here true element.

It’s so hard to think that I’ll never set foot in that house again, but maybe that’s for the best. I thought that I might want to go back and see it one last time,  but being in that house without Granny means that it is just a structure. It is just a building because my Granny is what made the house my home.

I miss her.

Sixty

60 sized

This sweet mama is 60 today!  This is certainly a day worth celebrating.  One thing I will never do is take her life for granted.  I will celebrate it and what better time to do it than today.  Join with me in a big celebration of this amazing lady’s life, God’s miracles and grace all around.  She is my miracle mama and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for her life.  She is truly a blessing to all of us.  Happy birthday, mama!  I’m so glad you are here bringing us your sweetness and that beautiful smile each and every day.

2016 :: A Restart

Vision Board

In many ways, my life was on hold in 2015.  There was the tragedy of my mom’s life and death struggle and recovery from her car accident.  My daughter graduated from high school and then moved out of our house for the first time and went to college.  My 3 year long technology project at work launched (still smoothing out the details).  My son moved to a new school and started high school.  2015 was most definitely a year on hold personally as I prepared for and worked through the tragedies and milestones of life.  While there is still much investment to do in these areas, I want to be intentional about my 2016.  I want to make up for lost time.  I want to have a vision, goals and aspirations.  This is quite a strange thought for me as I have literally never done a New Year’s resolution.  I don’t really believe in them.  Instead of putting together a resolution or multiple resolutions that you forget about within the first month of the year; I decided to make a vision/goals board that fully incorporates everything that I want to do this year.  Most are not simply do and forget goals, but things that I want to do, not only in 2016, but on an ongoing basis.  These are things that I want to make into a lifestyle.

So, here it is; my 2016.  It is going to be a year of celebration.  I turn 40, my parents turn 60, my brother turns 30, I celebrate my 20 year wedding anniversary and my brother is getting married.  How can you not celebrate with this line up?  This is a year setup for celebration.

Here is the list of 2016 visions/goals that went into building the board pictured here.  Happy 2016 to you!  Seize this year.  You never know, it could be your best year yet!

Travel – Hawaii/Costa Rica/Mexico
20 year anniversary & pics
Book teaching
Making friends
Investing in marriage
Have more fun
Smile more
Peace, joy, hope
Stillness (not busy) – letting God work
One day at a time
LOVE
Crossfit
Invest more in 401K
Less confusing; simplify
Go to the ocean more (body board, sup, snorkel)
PMP (project management) certification

2015 :: A Not So Sad Goodbye

Sunset on 2015

Goodbye 2015! You were a quite a crappy year; probably the crappiest yet. But if I’m completely honest with myself, in looking back, in between all the tragedy and hardships were major milestones, joy and miracles. We have my mom with us on this earth. I have an amazing husband that loves me fiercely. We have two extremely amazing and successful children. We are gaining a new family member and overall our family is closer than it ever has been. Looking through the 2015 window of hard times is a future 2016 full of life, new beginnings, hope, love and family. So, what I guess I’m saying is thank you. Thank you for the tough times that has brought forth more blessing than I could even imagine. Bring on 2016! It’s going to be the best year yet!

Happy New Year to you all!

A Christmas Celebration

I first want to acknowledge that it has been quite a while since I’ve posted here.  As you all can probably understand, this season has been quite busy.  But more importantly, I’ve been spending time focusing on the things that truly matter most; my family and the multitudes of blessings in my life.

This Christmas was quite a bit better than last.  Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t have taken a whole lot of good things to be better than last year.  Last year was spent in a trauma ICU room with my mom fighting for her life.  I am happy to say that this Christmas wasn’t just a little bit better than last Christmas; it was leaps and bounds better than last year.  My mom’s amazing recovery resulting from miracle after miracle (see the one year update here) which meant that she was with us this Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus, opening many presents and eating delicious food.  My daughter was home from college and we enjoyed some great family time with her and with my husband and with my son watching movies, shopping, opening presents, laughing and enjoying life.  And if that wasn’t enough, we had some very exciting Christmas news that was icing on the cake.  My brother proposed to his girlfriend!  I helped him pick out the ring weeks earlier.  He proposed on Christmas morning but my parents had no idea.  He surprised them on Christmas day with the proposal.  We absolutely love her and are beyond excited that she will be joining the family.  I am finally getting a sister!

So this Christmas was a celebration of life; recovered life, renewed life, and new life to come.  It was a Christmas of hopes and dreams and pure joy and happiness.  We are truly blessed!

Merry Christmas to you and yours during this wonderful season!

Nell and Steve RestaurantBanana with Bow Candelight Christmas Service Earl and Joanna  Nana and Papa on Boat Nana Many Presents Nana Papa Earl Bunny Ears Nell and Joanna Nell Dee Trey Restaurant Papa Hammock Papa Leezo  Papp Driving Boat Steve Fried TurkeTrey on the Boat

I’m THAT Lady

I find myself sitting in the doctor’s (ahem, gyno’s) office and waiting out my time. In my personal experience, there is usually only one pregnant woman in the waiting room at most (maybe I’m there at an odd time). This visit, was a bit different. Not only were there multiple pregnant moms in the waiting room, there were a couple of moms with fresh newborn babies. The sweet, soft, fuzzy hair brand new fresh kind. The kind you can’t help but stare at. I had one of each sitting across from me; one with a fresh 6 week old and one 40 weeks pregnant with her first child. I listened in at the anticipation, the excitement, the wonderment of the new little human coming into each of their lives. It is truly is exciting. But all I could think was that mine are grown. Where did the time go. It seems like only a very short time ago, mine were that little. I want to so desperately interrupt that conversation and look each of those ladies in the eyes and tell them to savor each day; savor each moment because before they know it, they will wake up and those sweet, fresh babies will be moving out of their house. I wanted to tell them to love deeply. Take the time to rock, snuggle, and play at all costs. In the blink of an eye that babies bedroom will be empty and their hearts will ache. Sure, as kids grow and move out, motherhood just shifts, but for a season of time, it feels like it is stripped away from you completely. I was almost THAT lady. You know, the kind of “older” woman (God help me)  that likes to randomly give you unsolicited advice?  I listened just as long as I possibly could stand it, decided to let them have their excitement, and go sit outside.

Reflection

Reflection

I apologize in advance for this deep post as well as for not posting here in a while.  What is reflected (no pun intended) below is the reason behind the lack of activity here on my blog.

As I lay here, I look over at the clock and its 1 am. This is quite unusual for me. See, I am never one to have trouble sleeping. This year has been different. 2015 was expected to be a monumental year for me without my moms tragic accident and without losing my precious grandmother. As we creep into the eighth month of the year, I am tired. I am worn out. I am stressed. I feel my body breaking down. I feel like I’m getting sick. And the big stuff this month hasn’t yet begun. Four days from now, I help my daughter move out of my house for the very first time and into a new college life. My son transitions in two weeks into to a brand new high school. Later this month, I launch the largest work project of my entire life (three years in the making) and definitely the largest project my company has ever seen. I am losing my boss and mentor at the end of this month which means a transition to a new boss. I am tired and there is more to come. I have worked tirelessly this year to balance my life but seem to fall short nearly every time.  All I can say is that God must be doing something pretty darn big, but I don’t know what exactly.  What I do know is that this year has been a character building year for me. Other than that, I have no idea what the future holds.  All I do know is that some things have to change.  The burdens must become lighter as I move toward the end of this year and into next.  My goal at this point is to hang in and hang on to see what God has in store.

6 Months

mom smelling roses

6 months. It has been 6 months since our lives were turned upside down and inside out. It has been 6 months since I received the worst and most shocking call of my life and witnessed a moment in time that I hope no one will ever have to experience.

Today marks the 6 month point since my moms tragic car accident. It was a moment in our lives that we will never forget. As I look back on that time, especially the first two weeks, I remember mourning my mother’s death at least 15 times. Yes, I actually mourned her death, not just once but 15 times. Can you imagine? It was a yo-yo experience where we toggled between hope and hopelessness; between thinking she may make it and thinking we would lose her forever. I can’t describe in words what this emotional state truly felt like. It was the worst feeling that I had ever experienced in my entire life.  No one has a picture of what mom looked like when Earl, dad and I walked into that hospital room for the first time on Friday, December 19, 2014. No one but the three of us saw her early on. I’ll be perfectly honest.  It was simply too difficult to see. I will say this though. There are actually three pictures of what those early days looked like; not physical pictures but one picture etched into each of our brains (Earl, dad and me). It is a picture that is as real as any picture you can hold in your hand. I can tell you that this picture is with me all the time no matter where I go. I close my eyes and there it is. But the amazing miracle is that now I can open my eyes and see my sweet and beautiful mama standing right in front of me.

As I sit on this side of that 6 month point, I am in awe, completely wowed and forever grateful. This has been the hardest 6 months of our lives especially dad’s, but by God’s grace, His miraculous works and one answered prayer after another, we are on the road to recovery. Mom has gone through nearly 10 surgeries, 3 months of hospitalization, 6 rooms changes, 1 TB scare, 1 move home, 50 days of rehab (and counting), at least 30 doctor visits, lots of family and friend visits, many miracles and lots of love. As incredibly difficult as this has been, we have seen many blessings. Our family is closer than ever before and we’ve seen God work like never before. For the first time, we have a whole new (and correct) perspective on life. I truly believe that God is far from finished with mom (and dad for that matter). Look how far she’s come in 6 months! She truly is a living miracle! I cannot wait to see what the next 6 months will bring. There are big plans in store and feel incredibly blessed to be a small part of this bigger plan and even bigger story.

(This picture (taken earlier this week) depicts perfectly one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned the last 6 months.  Take one day at at time. Live in the moment. Enjoy the moment. It’s all we are guaranteed. As mom shows it best, take time to stop and smell the roses.) Also, I have learned that my dad is a superhero! I don’t know where we would be without this amazing man.

P.S. A special thank you to those of you who have stuck by us through this journey in love, support and prayer.  We wouldn’t be where we are today without you.  We love each of you!

Lately

I have to apologize upfront for the lengthy post. If you’re bored, read on. (pictures below)

I know I have been MIA from the blog for a while now. Life has been quite crazy lately. To be perfectly honest, 2015 has been a “B”. Life is hard. Life is difficult. And sometimes life just plain sucks but on the flip side there are always bright spots and things to be grateful for.

You always hear that when you are pushed out of your comfort zone and endure many trials, this is when God can do the most work. All I can say is that God must be doing something big. I have no idea what, but something big. Life is hard. Life is tough.   It just is. If we allow ourselves to be swayed by our circumstances, we will most certainly exist on a roller coaster of emotions. I try to reside above my circumstances and see my life from God’s point of view, but I fail miserably all the time. I’m learning and trying to allow God to mold and shape me along this journey; to become the person that He wants me to be. It’s only April but I’ve learned many life lessons this year, and particularly two lessons stand out to me at this moment and time. First, you have to look at your blessings. If you’re busy being thankful for what you have, you have no time for complaints (I fail at this often – just ask my husband). Second, is to rise above your circumstances and view your life from God’s point of view. It’s difficult but when you do this, that issue that seemed like the biggest thing in the world, becomes only a small blip on your map of life.

Life has been crazy; some things good, some things bad, some things horrible and probably everything in between. Here are a few; my mom’s tragic car accident with a roller coaster of life and death moments, the long continual journey to her recovery, my Granny becoming sick twice, my Granny finally passing away, celebrating my daughter turning 18, celebrating my mom’s 59th birthday (which we weren’t sure we’d get to do), planning my daughter’s senior prom, planning for her high school graduation, planning a graduation trip and trying to land a huge 3 year long technology project at work (in which I am leading).

The topic of my mom; where do I even start? It is been miraculous, yet devastating. I have in some ways become a back up caregiver, supporter and mother to her this year and will continue to do so for as long as it takes (probably years). This area can and does easily become a big roller coaster of emotions but I am forever grateful to God for saving her life and slowly brining her back to us. I will say that celebrating her 59th birthday was the most special birthday celebration of all because, honestly, three or four months ago I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible. Then there’s my dad; my poor sweet dad. His life has flipped upside down and inside out. He had to leave his job, sell several properties, fight with insurance (daily), move across the country, take over the rental business, start paying all the bills and biggest of all has had to become the caregiver for my mom. The crazy thing is that he does all of these things simultaneously. He has always been the rock of our family and he still is but my brother and I have been there to help hold him up when he just can’t go anymore. He’s giving it all he has in an extremely difficult situation. As I tell him weekly, “I’m not concerned about mom. She’s coming back. I’m concerned about you.” (posting daily on her CaringBridge site)

My Granny. Oh, my sweet Granny. I’m not ready to talk fully about this yet but when I am, you’ll most likely see a blog post about it. I will state it simply like this. She was more than a granny. I was a daughter to her and she was a mother to me. I meant the world to her. We had a one of a kind special relationship. I have her wedding ring on my finger as I type this post and every time I look at it I cry. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by since Easter that I haven’t cried over losing her. She is by far the closest person to me that I’ve ever lost.

In all of this darkness, there’s the bright spots in my life. I get to watch my little girl turn into an adult, plan prom, pick out a dress, witness all those last moments of her high school career, plan for her upcoming graduation, plan an exciting graduation trip to celebrate, pick a college, pick a major, and plan her future. How exciting this has been. The excitement and joy on her face makes everything better. Yes, there are many difficult things happening this year, but on the flip side of that, there are all these exciting moments that I am so blessed to get to be a part of. This is the biggest, most monumental year Danica has ever had. I am loving every minute of it. These are all lasts to experience and I plan on being there for every one of them. For me personally, it is emotional for yet very exciting at the same time. I can’t think about all if it too hard because I will cry. I can’t believe we have reached this moment in her life. I feel like she should still be that sweet little sassy southern girl with a twang in her voice. I cannot wait to see what her future holds. There is no doubt in my mind that she will do amazing things.

Then there’s work. I never really talk about work on the blog but this year is a big year. My manta last year was that 2015 would be a big year for me (without my mom’s accident happening) due to the launch of this project, Danica graduating high school and going off to college. I work in technology for a local non-profit. This project is three years in the making and it is huge. We are literally replacing the entire technological infrastructure of the organization. God is in this and I am certainly trusting in Him.

When I reflect on everything that my life holds at this moment in time, I can easily get overwhelmed. What I have to remember is that God has a plan. Only He knows the big picture. I’m learning to take each day, one day at a time, which has been a monumental lesson for me as I am a dreamer and a planner. Honestly, for my own sanity, I have no choice but to operate this way and it works. Life is short and fragile. In a moment it can be flipped upside down. The people you love the most won’t be there forever. Your children will grow up fast and move on with their lives. Soak up every moment of this day. Let the ones you love know how much you love them. This may be the only opportunity you have to do so. Enjoy each and every moment with your children because before you know it, they will no longer be living under your roof.

All I can say is this.  Live for today. Life is short.

Here are a few pictures of life lately.

Mom and Dad at LaunchDee FAU ShirtMom and Nell at LaunchNell & GrannyMom & Dad on Moms BirthdayGranny RingNell & Dee at the Beach 18 BirthdayCR Beach