Can someone tell me what day it is?

The last thing I remember was, I had a baby…the other baby in August of 2014. Then, I was having a baby.

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Adrian Bell – 5 days old – my holiday baby.

About the time I got serious about getting back in shape in Jan/Feb of 2015, I joined a beach body fitness group…my entire family had whooping cough (yes we’d been vaccinated, thanks).

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My Princess, 5 days old.

Sick as a person with whooping cough, who is taking care of two small people with whooping cough, can be – I still started my fitness challenge the day the rest of the group did.

A month into my fitness challenge, I was growing another human again.

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3 weeks

I was eating well, just got off antibiotics, and exercising regularly – so I couldn’t figure out why I was so tired.

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4 weeks – taken Christmas Eve. She was totally crying when I took this.

Well, truth be told, I knew (deep down) that I was pregnant, but hadn’t excepted or tested the fact yet.

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Here I am less than a year later with another baby laying next to me.  My brain is not… what it is capable of being. I can’t remember some people’s names, I can’t recall words I used to know (I think I still know them, somewhere in there…) and every day feels like yesterday.

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She was 2 weeks! Her brothers LOVE her.

We’ve had a wedding, births, deaths (in my extended family), holidays in all those yesterdays.  Where has today gone? Just another yesterday now.

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My husband has been just as tired and overworked as I am. This winter vacation has been such a blessed and lazy affair.

We have had a very short visit to see my family this break and a weekend visit with Danny’s parents.

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I was mind boggling tired with each visit and forgot to get pictures of my kids with their grandparents!! I was so grateful for the time we had together.

I’m enjoying this “honeymoon” of sorts with a(nother) new baby! The long days just cuddling are slowly fading and I’m slowly pulling myself together.

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Read Mommy?

It’s good to exercise my mind again – with the whole blogging thing – and having just looked at a calendar, I can see that today is Monday…January 2016!

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Sigh, I love my babies.

Wishing you all the best while facing your trials and reaping your blessings of another year.

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God Bless.

 

“When things go wrong as they sometimes will…”

Family that gathered in Tulsa for Grampa and Gramma. So much love.
Family that gathered in Tulsa for Grampa and Gramma. So much love. Taken at the funeral home following this service.

My aunt Julie read a poem at Grampa’s funeral, one that he had found in a newspaper years ago and one that he shared with many, that was a much needed reminder to me – in many ways.

I have saved the xeroxed copy Grampa gave to me and I wanted to share it with you.

“Don’t Quit:

When things go wrong as they sometimes will, when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill

When the funds are low and the debts are high, and you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

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Potty training…a boy who has no interest in potty training.

When care is pressing you down a bit – Rest if you must, but don’t quit.

Life is queer with it’s twist and turns, as everyone of us sometimes learns,

He also doesn't like to wear diapers...
He also doesn’t like to wear diapers…

And many a fellow turns about, When he might have won had he stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow – you may succeed with another blow.

One week I started to intermittently got hives...on all my arms and legs...and bum.
One week I started to intermittently get hives…on my arms,legs and bum.

Often the goal is nearer than, it seems to a faint and faltering man.

Often the struggler has given up, When he might have captured the victor’s cup,

Still not quite sure why I got hives. They came and went throughout each day for a week...whilst we all had colds.
Still not quite sure why I got hives. They came and went throughout each day for a week…whilst we all had colds.

And he learned too late when the night slipped down…how close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out – the silver tint to the clouds of doubt.

The boys get a bit wild - tearing down my window curtains and peeing on my furniture.
The boys get a bit wild – tearing down my window curtains and peeing on my furniture.

And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far,

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit – It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

-Author Unknown”

I can get dinner made, at the cost of more work. And two constructive boys.
I can get dinner made, at the cost of more work. And two constructive boys.

I sent the following email to my younger brother in Africa last week:

I have been sick this week and I have a week and a half left of this pregnancy…

So, I slowly get anything accomplished – including emails.
After waking up today with a weird rash on my arms and legs, fighting a cold and…well, one other thing that left me feeling yucky the words of one of my favorite hymns came into my mind.
 Isn’t it great how the Spirit can bring such things into our remembrance? That’s why studying the things that matter are so important, they are a balm of healing when we are in need.
Anyway, the words to ‘Praise to the Man’ came into my mind, “Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.” This pregnancy is a great sacrifice for me, some women love this time of creation – I don’t, I don’t love anything about it, except for the blessing that follows – I love my children.
Sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice unless is requires work, patience/long suffering, a bit of discomfort and times where you feel all alone.  It is our own personal mini-Gethsemane that we are called to walk through…though, unlike the Savior, we are not asked to walk it alone. 
I love quiet time with my sons.
I love quiet time with my sons. Wiley loves to “read” Calvin and Hobbs.
I know that I don’t walk this life alone, there have only been moments where I feel really lonely…usually after everyone in the house has gone to bed.
I’m awake, uncomfortable, aching, heartburning (I get nauseated from heartburn), and brain buzzing from the overproduction of hormones.
Half of this year's costumes - Hobbs.
Half of this year’s brother costume – Hobbs.

Although I’m far away from family and my closest friends, I have such a great support group of friends and acquaintances here in Columbia, Missouri – I am very grateful for my life and for the people in it.

Sunday's are the best - everyone usually takes a nap. Blessed Sundays.
Sunday’s are the best – everyone usually takes a nap. Blessed Sundays.

I’m grateful for this yearly time to reflect on the things we are grateful for – because when we stop to count our blessings, especially during times of trials – we can see how much we have.

If you have family or friends who love you like a family – then you are blessed.

now…I just need to remember this every day for the next six days, as I wait for this baby to arrive.

Daddy and Tyler creating art before bed.
Daddy and Tyler creating art before bed.

Peace and Comfort to those of you in this world who are truly suffering – you are in my prayers.

More failing attempts to be like Jesus.

How could I ever get mad with a face like this looking at me every day? Good question.
How could I ever get mad with a face like this looking at me every day? Good question.

These days I feel my pregnant brain struggles to translate my thoughts into words.

Eight months and already a pro at downward facing dog.
Eight months and already a pro at downward facing dog.

But, I’d rather keep trying than just quit all together.

Just like my attempts to be more like Christ.

This kid cracks me up. He pushes all my buttons, but he also cracks me up.
This kid cracks me up. He pushes all my buttons, but he also cracks me up.

I think I’m a pretty good person, I have a few flaws…

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which may also include a few choice words usually only spoken in my head – MOST of the time I can keep them in my head – and really, I try to keep them out of my head too.

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The battle is raging folks – it is raging – and sometimes I lose.

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I had a Relief Society (only the largest Women’s Organization in the world!!) presidency meeting (of which I am a part of) last week and one of the women I serve along side happen to mention a quote by the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the long, smooth-faced hypocrite. I do not want you to think that I am very righteous, for I am not.”

He is always hungry - he already out eats his big brother.
This kid  is always hungry – he already eats more than his big brother.

Now I really am trying to be like Jesus, I consistently fall short like the next guy – but I keep trying – and it makes my heart feel a little better knowing that it’s okay to stumble – just. keep. trying.

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because as we all know and like Joseph also said, “There was one good man and his name was Jesus.”

yeah, no problems here - keep walking.
yeah, no problems here – keep walking.

Why all the potty words? Oh, just me being annoyed at things (more so than usual; again, pregnancy). Example:  people who are looking at their phones while driving. So, so irate over those people.

When I line up my troubles next to the Savior, I feel a little silly with how I react to my trials.

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Recently, in addition to feeling a bit yucky due to pregnancy, our house has fallen prey to illness.

It started on my son’s third birthday a few weeks ago.

Wiley carried the Zoo map everywhere.
Wiley carried the Zoo map everywhere.

I woke up, the day we were heading to the zoo, with a really sore throat…that turned into a really bad cold, that my baby also caught. Cue lots of “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

My sweet child had turned sour.

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So the baby and I had this virus that lasted for two weeks that, for both of us, turns into an infection. His a double ear and I a sinus.

This is my son yelling,
This is my son yelling, “Hi Camel, I’m [insert first and middle name].”
We both started antibiotics about the time my husband and three year old start coughing…

Did it help that my baby started teething? probably not.

We all love the Lemurs.
We all love the Lemurs.

So, string of swear words on repeat in my mind – and brink of insanity due to lack of sleep – I realize one afternoon how petty (really petty) my problems are.

I compared my problems, not only to Christ, but to the rest of the world and was reminded that I was so blessed.

Love the Sea Lion exhibit too.
Love the Sea Lion exhibit too.

It seems to me that when I face trials, it ends with me realizing how blessed I am and grateful I am to God for easing my burdens in difficult times.

It could be so much worse.

So blessed.
So blessed.

Even after this revelation I said a potty word, but I resolved to do better and take the time to share what I have learned on my blog, in the hopes that someone needs the same reminder.

We all mess up, we can all be better.

I want to be better.

For The Beauty Of The Earth, Captured With A Pocket Camera

“For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies…”

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“For the love, which from our birth, over and around us lies..”

Another perk of teaching early morning seminary is watching the sun rise every morning.
Another perk of teaching early morning seminary is watching the sun rise every morning.

“For the beauty of each hour. Of the day and of the night,”

P1000647“Hill and vale and tree and flow’r, Sun and moon and stars of light.”

Every tree was wrapped in a blanket of snow!
Every tree was wrapped in a blanket of snow!

“For the joy of human love, Brother, sister, parent, child..”

hanging out along the highways.
hanging out along the highways.

Friends on earth and friends above, For all gentle thoughts and mild,”

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“Lord of all to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.”

Another day, another sunrise. I can appreciate this moment a lot longer with a picture.
Another morning, another sunrise. I can appreciate this moment a lot longer with a picture. 

My sisters and I sang that hymn, my Nana’s request, at my Nana’s funeral four years ago. I like the message that is shares. I wasn’t able to finish singing it that day, but I really like the line, “Friends on earth and friends above.” I can finish singing it for her when I see her again, in heaven.

P1000672It’s nice to have peace in a world full of questions.

P1000673Grateful for the who’s and what’s in my life.

 

Hello December, I’m Still Thinking Of Things I’m Grateful For

This Christmas season I want to focus on being grateful for what I have

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Of course I have a mental list of things I would like, but it’s the kind of list that carries over a span of ten years…or a lifetime.

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So, most of the things on my “list” are a “someday I’d like.”

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Turkey Bowl

A few of things I’ve been grateful for lately:

I’m grateful that I still have a few friends in Tulsa, where we spent our Thanksgiving with family, so my husband and brothers had somewhere and someone’s to play football with before our thankful feast.

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and I’m thankful for a vehicle…where Wiley and I spent most of our time during the nippy football games, in side, staying warm.

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I’m grateful to spend time with family and that said family is willing to be my photography test subjects.

my son and niece.
my son and niece.

I’m grateful for essential oils – yeah, I know not what you were expecting next.

but personally, essential oils have helped me tremendously.

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I am so grateful for modern things most people in the first world take for granted,

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showers, warm water, washing machines, indoor plumbing in general, comfortable mattresses and more than one pair of shoes.

My youngest brother carrying my husband...who is at least twice his own weight.
My youngest brother carrying my husband…who is at least twice his own weight.

I’ve got options in my closet – compared to the majority of people in the world – I’m over flowing in options when it comes to clothes, shoes and embarrassingly hats, gloves and scarfs.

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mine, mine, mine. Grateful for my husband and son.

I’m glad that my parents made the time and effort, regardless of where we lived (California or Pennsylvania) to visit extended family in the mid-west when I was a child.

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I’m grateful for the family I see often and the ones who I don’t see regularly.

My mommy
My mommy

I love beautiful things, in the form of art, music, dance, architecture and nature.

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Every season, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall have beauty in them.

My cousin Anna and nephew Samwise
My cousin Anna and nephew Samwise

I used to hate the brown and deadness of winter, but I’ve come to appreciate so many things about brown grass.

ready to eat...
ready to eat…

The first being the greenness of the evergreens is amplified and I might never have noticed had the grass and other trees stayed green always.

Brother-in-law, nephew and my son.
Brother-in-law, nephew and my son.

I don’t enjoy cooking, which makes me especially grateful for people who do like to cook.

post dinner nap for the food prepers.
post dinner nap for the food prepers.

I also love that Subway restaurant has a drive through.  For a mother of a small child, things like a drive through make a huge difference. I might never have come to appreciate this had I never become a mother.

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I’m grateful for sheepskin boots, some people think they are yucky and tacky, but if you lived in a cold climate…you’d appreciate warm boots too.

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I’m grateful for a healthy body. I love to take walks and swim. I enjoy water sports and climbing. Some times we take things like “walking” for granted.

dish duty
dish duty

I don’t ever want to take things for granted. I used to take many things for granted and I sometimes still do.

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But it is my goal in life to live with gratitude for all I have and not waste my life wishing for more.

“Live with a spirit of thankgiving and you will have greater happiness and satisfaction in life.” (For the Strength of Youth)

In the spirit of thanksgiving, I wish you all a great Thursday, be it a day of freezing rain or sunshine and waves.

Selfie fail...but here is the dress I made!
Selfie fail…but here is the dress I made!

try, try again

I love my Nikon.  THANKS GRANDAD - a wedding gift that keeps on giving!!!
I love my Nikon. 
THANKS GRANDAD – a wedding gift that keeps on giving!!! Yeah, still can’t see the dress, oh well…

As for me and the rest of the mid-west, we are in for a lovely day of below freezing temps and empty bread shelves at Walmart.

Peace and love to all.

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Oh yeah, opening for the musical “A Christmas Carol” is tonight…I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be a packed house. But the show must go on. Did I mention I’m playing a lead role? True story.

Dancer, Singer, Comedienne

Just hanging out, you know, amongst the other flowers
Just hanging out, you know, amongst the other flowers

My mother turned 58 years old today. Which, now that I’m thirty, doesn’t seem that old or that far away from my current age.

Hoity Toity
Hoity Toity character in a stage production of Wizard of OZ

Where do I begin? My mother and I are best friends – now that doesn’t mean if I gave “her lip” I didn’t get a lecture, because I would of heard, “you don’t speak to your mother that way.”

That dog is a menace to society!
That dog is a menace to society! I love watching her perform.

Since I was a relatively easy child to raise, it was the type of relationship where I could go to my mom and tell her anything – about anything – she was the first to know.

And your little dog too!
“And your little dog too!”                               Her “cackle” is second to none.

Mama has always been good about telling me and my siblings how much she loves us, about how beautiful we are with no shortage of hugs and kisses. But my mom is awesome because, since we were children she would come into each of our bedrooms before bed each night and sing us songs of our choosing while scratching our backs. Even during high school, if it was requested. I bet she would do it tomorrow if I asked.

Oooh Wee Ohh

My mom is such a character – she got plenty of practice entertaining her family growing up. She took classical dance and took advantage of the stage, mom can light up a stage. The only show I remember her performing in as a child was “A Christmas Carol” and that’s because she spent the majority of MY childhood being a mother instead of pursuing her hobbies. She holds a BS in nursing and has recently become a midwife after 30+ years on/off as a Labor and Delivery Nurse.

Mother and baby - my youngest brother
Mother and baby – my youngest brother

My mom has also homeschooled all of her children at one time or another.

She has traveled with us, grown food in her garden – canned food from her garden and cooked healthy foods.

Honestly, there is not much my mom can’t do. My dad was gone a lot when I was young – out to sea as a Naval Officer – and my mom played “good cop/bad cop.” She took over mowing the lawn and fixing things that broke.

Mom told her children:

“the food you eat today, is the baby you make tomorrow – so eat healthy.”

“smart mamas, make smart babies.”

“he who serves best, loves most.”

“children will follow the mother to heaven or to hell.” to her daughters – be good mothers, to her sons, choose good wives.

And all she wanted every year for her birthday and mother’s day was:

“a clean house and no contention.” Seriously, a gift is so much easier.

My mom is such a hottie, even just after giving birth to me in 1982!
My mom is such a hottie, even just after giving birth to me in 1982!

To the woman who taught me how to sing! Happy Birthday, I love you Mama.

Katie

Wrapping Up Christmas Morning…

Gift of GivingMy oldest niece, pictured here hugging my younger brother, wanted to give her uncle a gift and bought him a harmonica. She was terribly excited about giving a gift and that was how we all felt this year, excited to give.  A part of me felt a bit excessive, giving like I did; but I have been on the receiving end of the gifts for too long. My brother has never expressed an interest in playing the harmonica, but sometimes when a gift is given to us with so much excitement and love, we can’t help wanting to love the gift too – I wouldn’t be surprised if my brother became really good at playing the harmonica just because his niece wanted him to have one – looks like I need a banjo or a washboard to thump.

BG Stricken

 Another brother: Victim number 12 to fall prey to the Holiday “BG’s” or Bubble Guts.

He was a soldier and held up pretty well, all things considering.

I sort of felt bad for buying him the box of cereal “Life” as a gift. (get it, I bought him “a life” for Christmas….anyone? anyone? is this thing on?). Well I bought him a shirt too, so it wasn’t all lame.

Best Gifts Keep GivingThe best gifts keep giving, which is why BOOKS make the best gifts…for people who love to read.

Our AmeriCanadian sister – gifted some books for the little girls – but the adults had fun looking for Waldo too.

IntermissionIt was really nice to take a break in between watching the grandchildren open gifts and then have the adults open gifts.

In our house, my mother always makes us open ONE gift at a time, so we can all admire who/what together….but with 17 people that wasn’t going to work out best. So we had the grandies open gifts in the early morning and then the adults started opening theirs.

I think I’ll keep the tradition of “open one gift at a time,” unless there is a large group, then we’ll have an intermission and carry on later.

Dad's GiftThe last few years we have drawn names for a specific person to buy a gift for.

If you notice the photo on the wall behind my dad – which doesn’t include my new husband and baby and other new grandchildren – we have a rather large family.

I bought my dad another spatula – he bought two or three at Williams Sonoma as few years back and the household is down to one and it’s his favorite – so I tracked it down and bought him one of those…. yes, a spatula.

I bought him some other goods – which included organic, fancy shampoo/conditioner. He is a man’s man, who isn’t afraid of a fancy bar of soap or essential oils. In fact, lavender or almond are some of his favorite scents for soaps.

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So, you may – or may not – be wondering what was in the backpack I mentioned a few posts back…. well, a solar panel for starters. The first things I saw, a BUCK knife (made in the USA) and the solar panel, followed by some camp gear that my brothers were super jealous of and some earrings. Not diamonds, the cost of diamonds would have reduced the amount of camp gear and I wouldn’t want that, so the husband bought me some cubic zircon with 14K white gold posts, which makes me a happy girl.

CZMy husband is very excited to show my how to best utilize the rest of the gear stuffed in my new bag and snow or not, here I come!

For me, it was a once in a lifetime Christmas, because it is special to get such extravagant things from my family. My in-laws and grandparents spoiled me too. My cup runneth over and I’m so grateful. *Thank You cards in the mail next week*

After all the gifts were opened, we collected our goodies and moved about the house feeling happy with our new things.

Impromptu Tea Party My sister is such a great mommy – for many reasons – one of them is the time she spends with her children. She is very selfless and loving – her children and husband adore her – as do most who meet her.

While uncle Beardo crashed on the recliner, my sister had a tea party with her little girl and Queen Mary, my niece’s new doll.

Tea with the QueenQueen Mary takes her tea with cream and sugar

and always with a smile.

My niece “E” clutched that doll the rest of the week and even talked uncle Beardo into having a tea party with her and her siblings Wednesday night.

Uncle Beardo is a gentleman, even in pretend tea parties.

Breakfast dishes

 My dog enjoyed the last bit of Christmas breakfast of sausage and gravy – the dog also was gracious enough to clean his own dishes.

We had an hour or two after gifts to rest before we had a Christmas Day party with friends to attend.

I’ll save my photos from the party for another day

DSC_0754I hope your Christmas was full of the Love of our Savior and surrounded by people who love you.  If this year was a rough patch for you, my hope is that next year will bring you peace, love and joy.

Shalom

or as my Egyptian Uncle would say, Salam.

Spirit of Thanksgiving

I once heard, while listening to an LDS General Conference talk, the Spirit of Thanksgiving is to be grateful daily. I can not say I have always suceeded in doing this, but I try.

Instead of being judgemental of the people around me at Walmart because they stand too close while i’m paying for my groceries (or because they called me “sir” while I was wearing glasses with rhinestones and holding a baby), I think, “I’m grateful my car works – I would hate to walk here – and I have money to buy this $2.48 box of butter….all ten of these $2.48 boxes of butter.”

I’ve really been trying to focus on the good in myself and in others.

After dropping my husband off at school, a woman driving a vintage towncar cut me off swearing and shaking her fist at me like I was the bad driver… I said a short prayer for her that her day would improve and also thanked heavenly Father that I did not drive a vintage towncar too, I think that
would make me cranky.

I’m driving home from Thanksgiving and I have so much to be thankful for. My family, my in-laws and friends are such a blessing in my life, I have to share them with you. Some other time though, my husband is driving through Dallas traffic at the moment and I need to do some more praying, these Dallas drivers are giving me heart problems.

Hug and kiss your loved ones. Ta-ta!

How to be Thankful for early Good-Byes?

haha

Early good-byes are bittersweet. No one likes a trip cut short or going home when the sun goes down, but when it’s time to go, we say good-bye, even though we don’t feel ready. The sweet part comes from the time we spent together.

I didn’t spend endless hours with Madeline Rose, but we did spend birthdays, holidays, some summer days and even Homecoming taking photos together. She was extended family. She came to my wedding shower with her mother and sisters, she attended my wedding reception. I could always count on Maddie to “like” my photos or posts. She is kind.

Madeline is beautiful, inside and out.

Thank you for letting me capture your smiles and for sharing your life. I know you’re still smiling.

Your absence is felt.