An Officer And A Gentleman

Y’all.

It is Monday and here I am.

Summer is almost over and things are in full swing here on the home front.

I have so much to catch my loyal blog fans (all eight of you!) up on, because it has been one CRAZY summer up in here (have you heard that I gave up Coke?) I’ll give that a minute to sink in.

Yes, it’s true.

Once school starts, I intend on getting back into the bloggy groove and keeping things current here on the blog. But today’s news is pretty cool.

See this guy here?

He happens to be my husband.

And the Daddy to these two.

He is a responsible, loving and patient leader of our household.

And, he is a smart, humble and dedicated military officer.

He is the kind of person who does the right thing, even when no one is watching.

With the permission of his parents, he joined the West Virginia Air National Guard in 1991 and left for boot camp less than a week after we graduated. In 1999, he attended Squadron Officer School and was commissioned as an Officer. He’s made several stops along the way, but today? Today, I had the distinct pleasure (along with his Dad) of removing the Major rank that he has worn for seven years, and replace it with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

And I prayed the entire time that I wouldn’t drop the rank or the pin backs because EMBARASS!

I couldn’t be more proud of this man.

He makes life fun and exciting.

I love you, Lieutenant Colonel McDaddy!

Memory Lane

As I was looking for something in my Photobucket today, it dawned on me that I’ve been blogging for quite a few years. In some ways it seems like yesterday and in other ways, it feels like I’ve been doing this forever.

I thought it might be fun to share some of the pics that made me smile.

This one was taken on one of our off-roading adventures.

This was the 2008 McFamily Christmas picture. McDaddy deployed to Cuba just two months later. This picture is a wonderful example of the fun we have up in here.

I snapped this the last time we went to Florida to the beach. Besides listening to the waves, my favorite thing to do is snap pictures at sunset. Isn’t it glorious?

Do you remember this gal? I really miss her, sometimes. Back then, we were all just getting to know one another.

This makes me all teary eyed. I love these two jokers so much!

I really wish time would S-L-O-W down…

Have a great Thursday, y’all!

Crazy Characters

So.

The blog is driving me crazier by the day.

Several days ago, I sat down with my computer and pecked out an entire post devoted to the importance of character in our children today. Then, I thought I should wait before posting it. The next day, I decided I wouldn’t post it at all. Instead, I deleted most of it and thought I’d stow the first few paragraphs away for a post I might write at a later time.

And then, I come here tonight to talk about Mother’s Day and I find that my blog has a gazillion strange characters strung about in each. and. every. single. post. and I just want to throw my hands up and go to bed. It is impossible for a person who can’t stand for a bed to be unmade, canned food to be turned around backwards in the cabinets, or towels stacked unevenly to accept crazy characters on the blog.

My friend, Heather has been working on a new blog design and she assures me she can “figure it out,” but honestly, DRIVING ME CRAZY.

Hopefully, you can look past the crazy characters and deal with them until Heather can do some housecleaning up in here.

I had a great day with my momma, my mother-in-law, and two crazy characters who call me “Mom.”

I can’t explain how much I enjoy parenting these two. They are fun, loving, smart, compassionate, stubborn, comical, chatty, and clever. One of them is just like their Daddy. The other? Just. exactly. like. me.

And here’s me with my sweet momma, who has been on a crazy, life-changing, medical journey this past year.

I am so thankful that she is still here with us (Never realized how much I look like here until I saw this photo.) and so enjoyed spending the day with her and my mother-in-law.

On Turning 40

I spent the day reflecting on my forty years of life while I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned some more. It was a snow day for our school district so the boys were home too. They enjoyed half of the day before I made them clean their rooms.

I have been dreading this day for many months. Maybe even an entire year.

FOR.

TEE.

It even sounds OLD.

And weird.

I’m not sure why this has hit me so hard. I’m not really *that* kind of person. Age has never mattered to me before this BIG one. Plus, I don’t think I look that old, despite the appearance of that stubborn wrinkle between my eyes that refuses to go away whether I’m smiling or frowning, and the gray discoloration in my hair.

As I spent the day cleaning out and organizing most of my cabinets, I began to reflect on my forty years of life. I received a text today from a friend asking for prayer for her dear friend who is fighting pancreatic cancer. I found out on Sunday that my 40-something neighbor is in an ICU bed fighting for her life. If that isn’t enough to snap you out of your funk, I don’t know what is. I decided that instead of dreading this rite of passage – this 40th birthday – I should count my blessings and thank my lucky stars that I am alive, well, healthy and loved.

I have led a charmed life. I have seen and done things that most people only dream about. I don’t say that in a prideful way. Rather, I mean simply, that I have been blessed beyond measure throughout my life.

I grew up in a loving home. We weren’t rich, but we didn’t want for much, either. I had a beautiful lavender-gingham bedroom with a big, canopy bed. I have fond memories of sledding on inner tubes on snowy days, twirling my baton on our front walk for HOURS, and Sunday dinners gathered around our family table. My twin brothers and I were taught that honesty, respect, and hard-work are more important than material possessions, and my mom always told me you never do wrong and get by with it – words that I find myself telling my own kids today. I enjoyed playing school or office on our back porch and every Christmas was magical and memorable. I thought those were the best years of my life.

I met the man of my dreams in high school, even though it took me a couple of years to figure that out. We dated all through college and I could hardly wait to marry him. I worked my way through college and attended graduate school. If I had written a thesis I would have received a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Counseling. That is probably the biggest regret of my life. Still, at this stage in life I have no desire to go back or finish. Our college years were busy and fun, and I remember McDaddy and I would often hop in the car on the weekends and take a day road trip to Virginia or Kentucky. I thought those were the best years of my life.

After we were married I entered the workforce. I enjoyed the craziness in jail. I enjoyed my job. And I appreciated doing a job that I really enjoyed doing. During this time, McDaddy and I travelled the world – having visited ten countries – romantic places like London, Paris, Switzerland and Rome – and we’ve been to 36 states. (Just last month in fact, he took me to New York City to celebrate my 40th birthday.)

Back then, McDaddy and I were foot-loose and fancy-free. If we wanted to go on a trip, we packed up, and we went. I thought those were the best years of my life.


After trading in a career for motherhood I realized that I had it all wrong. These children – these two human beings that I helped to create – arehealthy and beautiful and wonderful. Realizing that this is the most important job I would ever do, I prayed that I would get this thing right. There are days that I lose my temper. There are days that I feel like I have lost [what's left of] my mind. There are days I feel like a complete failure and I go to bed knowing that tomorrow is a new day. I am not a model mother. But I try to give it my best every day of every year. I have so much to be thankful for.

I am not a perfect wife. I am not always the best friend. I am certainly not the best Christian. I am impatient. I have strong beliefs and opinions, and often times my mouth beats my brain off the starting line. God has been so good to me, even though I fail Him often. His grace and His mercy is something I will never understand.

And that, my friends, is something you can’t put a price on.

I am loved by so many people. I have wonderful parents, a husband who adores me, children who are healthy, and friends I could call on any hour of the day.

Who cares that I am FORTY years old? These are the best years of my life after all, and I don’t want to waste another second dreading it.

So here’s to my F-O-R-T-I-E-S.

May they truly be the best years of my life.

Forty Things Before I Turn Forty

Back in 2010, I wrote a post called 40 Things Before 40 where I outlined 40 things I’d like to do before I turn the birthday that starts with FOUR and ends with TEE.

It hurts to even type the word.

Here it is, three years later, and I thought it might be a good time to revisit these 40 things mostly because, well, I can’t really come up with anything else to write about unless you count the incident that happened earlier today when I answered a call from CARD SERVICES and stayed on the line long enough to “press one for an actual living, breathing, human being to come on the line and offer to lower the interest on my credit cards” for the 517th time even though I don’t have a balance on any credit cards, and even though I’ve reported them to the Attorney General’s office for harassment.

Y’all.

I lost my ever-lovin-mind. While waiting to be transferred to one of the interest-reducing jokers, I grabbed a pot from the cabinet and a wooden spoon out of the utensil drawer. When the actual living, breathing, human being (Lord, forgive me!) came on the line, I banged on that metal pot with a wooden spoon like a straight-up crazy person until I heard the phone go dead. It wasn’t my finest moment, but I must admit, for some crazy reason I felt wonderful afterwards.

But surely none of you want to hear about that.

So, here’s my list, along with the progress I’ve made toward it.

1. Give up my love of lists

Nope. Still love ‘em.

2. Lose a lot! of weight.

Not a lot, but I did lose about 25 pounds.

3. Learn HTML code.

I’ve learned enough to scoot text away from pictures that I post here on the blog. Oh, and also how to center using HTML.

4. Go to Australia with McDaddy

Haven’t done this yet, but we’ve still got four months. McDaddy, you DO still owe me an anniversary trip. Australia, perhaps? 

5. Get ten hours each night of uninterrupted sleep (without waking to pee!)

NOPE. As you age, so does your bladder. FAIL.

6. See a Broadway Show

NOPE. Still haven’t done this. McDaddy, how’s New York sound for an anniversary trip?

7. Share McDaddy’s love of off-roading without irrational fear of panic attack.

FAIL. AGAIN. (Sorry, McDaddy!)

8. Own a Saturn Sky even if only for a short time.

Y’ALL.

After five years I finally have my very own 2007 Chili Pepper Red Saturn Sky Redline.

If all 39 other items on this list went unchecked, I’d have absolutely nothing to complain about. It took me five years to persuade McDaddy, but I finally broke him down.

9. Purchase the empty lot beside of our house so that McDaddy can build the garage of his dreams.

Still not for sale, but still would love to have that lot.

10. Finish the basement. I mean completely finished and mess cleaned up!

Ok, so it’s not completely finished, but we are so much closer. Finished the rec-room (pictured below) and toy-room (except for the trim), and now we are working on a fabulous new mudroom.

11. Build a new deck (We need one sooner rather than later or else we’ll have our very own drop zone!)

Haven’t completed this, but we are making serious plans to start on it in the next few months. I want composite, McDaddy wants cheaper.

12. Worry less.

I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY feel like I am much better at worrying less.

13. Get a full night of uninterrupted sleep.

YES! I get a full night of uninterrupted sleep often! Except when my bladder shows it age!

14. Go to the dentist and get a good report without getting the dreaded floss lesson. (Which means I should actually floss each. and. every. single. day. Thankyouverymuch!)

THIS WOULD BE A BIG, FAT, FAIL. In fact, I have a place of honor on the Need To Floss Wall Of Shame.

15. Visit Alaska

Haven’t made it to Alaska, but we still have four months. McDaddy, how does Alaska sound for an anniversary trip?

16. Worry Less

Did I mean to list worry less twice? Lord knows I worried enough back then to give it two positions.

17. Get off blood pressure medicine. This could probably happen by achieving at least seven of the items on this list.

After a bout with a Merena IUD that wreaked havoc on my blood pressure, I am now on TWO blood pressure meds. Thanks for nothing, Merena. =(

18. Declutterize our house completely!

I’m not sure I’d ever be able to declutterize our house completely, but I declutter areas often, so that counts for something, right?

19. Learn how to start the lawn-mower. Not because I really want to mow, but, because it’s the responsible thing to do.

Guess what?

You guessed it.

FAIL!

20. Find the perfect bra. Why is that we can put a man on the moon, but we can’t make a bra for every woman’s size and body shape that is comfortable?

ANOTHER FAIL. Sheesh, I hate bras!

21. Actually pay attention every. time. someone. speaks. to. me.  {Can you repeat that?}

Sadly, the words every and time makes this one really tough, but I do feel like I try my best.

22. Learn how to make a perfect batch of no-bake cookies just like my daddy!

Haven’t done this one, but mainly because I haven’t tried. Why would I chance ruining a batch when I can just let daddy do it and have perfect cookies every. single. time?

23. Read the Bible all the way through.

Geez, another FAIL.

24. Have a really easy, great haircut that is easy to style.

GUESS WHAT FOLKS? I have a short cut and have finally weaned myself away from a curling iron. So this one right here? TOTALLY A WIN!

25. Be free of my addiction of caffeinated Beverages {Could someone warn the folks at Dr. Pepper that in four short years there could be a slight decline in monthly sales}.

Holy Hallelujah, I had no business even putting this one on the list. FAIL.

26. Get rid of everything in our house that has not been touched for a year.

Haven’t gotten rid of everything we haven’t touched in a year, but I have taken countless loads of nonsense to the Goodwill, so I’m gonna make a mark in the PASS column for this one!

27. Let my boys be – BOYS. Without fear of injury or something worse

I must have been under the influence of something when I placed #27 on the list. I worry way too much (even now that I worry less) to let this happen. And anyway, this picture is the perfect reason why I would like to lock both of them up in a rubber room.

28. Learn more about stuff I know nothing about. Knowledge regarding things like stocks and HTML Code could be very helpful to me some day!

Not much to say about this, except FAIL!

29. Cook more.

I do, thankyouverymuch! But the fact remains,

30. Buy flowers for spring and keep them alive all summer by watering them instead of depending on prayer and God to bring them back to life.

I am so horrible at keeping flowers alive, I purchased silk Hydrangeas at the Dollar General for my porch pots. Great thing is they still looked beautiful after our month-long summer tour! So, another WIN for me.  =)

31. Find the perfect purse. I have purchased at least twenty perfect purses, yet, they find their way to the bottom of the purse pile when the next perfect one hops off the rack and onto my arm.

I am currently carrying “THE PERFECT PURSE.” Just ask McDaddy!

32. Get rid of stuff in the loft that we have not touched since we moved here seven years ago. {Anybody out there have a need for old diaries or one or two or twenty backpacks?}

I just told the boys last week that I would be cleaning out the loft very soon. I’m just waiting on the urge!

33. Do every. single. thing. on my long-term To-Do List. Or just shred the list.

Sorry to say this, but I have determined that as I cross one thing off of my long-term To-Do List, I write another thing on the list. It never, ever ends!

34. Be caught up on scrapbooks with NO pictures in the pending basket. After all, someday these boys will be grown and may actually want to take them when they leave.

I haven’t scrapbooked for quite some time. I think I last worked on pictures from 2008. It drives me crazy every time I think about it, because I hate knowing I didn’t keep up with it. I have thought several times about completing digital scrapbooks for 2008 – present. The more I think about it, the more I think it’s a great idea!

35. Think. Before. I. Speak. {Sweet Hallelujah, is it possible?}

FAIL. But honestly, I do try! With age, comes wisdom. Maybe forty is the age I’ve been waiting for.

36. Take the boys to Lake Powell to spend a week on a houseboat. We’ve made this trip twice (before kids, mind you) and it is the most relaxing vacation in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited.

I was so excited to see a Lake Powell vacation in the Showcase Showdown on The Price Is Right just today. I was reminded that I would love to make this trip with our boys, especially now that they can swim. McDaddy, how about a trip to Lake Powell for a belated anniversary family getaway?

37. Have patience.

Nope. Another FAIL.

38. Successfully back the van into the garage on the first try. It’s been seven years and every single time I back in crooked I think about the fact that the guy who built it, (ahem! Glen) designed it just off-center. I’m sure his botched calculations are the root of the problem.

Not sure I was ever able to do this before we got rid of the van last year. It is even tougher getting the SKY backed in on the first try because HELLO! MUST BE CAREFUL WITH BEAUTIFUL RED CAR!!!!

39. Loose FIVE! sizes. And never find them again as long as I shall live!

Lost three, then found one. Sheesh. Another FAIL.

40. Change my freakin’ attitude about things I have no control over.

I really feel like I’m much better at this. I’m gonna consider this one a PASS.

So, there’s the list, and the progress.

And a big, freakin’ reminder that not much has changed in four years.

Well, except for this,

Oh, and McDaddy, if you’re reading this, you have four months to get us to Australia, Alaska, New York and the Arizona/Utah border, so get busy, would ya?

Look out FORTY, here I come I’ll be there in 117 days.

Not that I’m counting.

Pitching A Fit And Catching You Up

I’m going to try to make this quick. Mainly because I’ve been swarping (that’s my word for cleaning with a purpose) and running ALL. DAY. LONG. and I need to get to bed at a decent hour. And also because, my daddy and his friend are coming over BRIGHT AND EARLY to get started on my mudroom shelving unit.

Y’all. I can barely stand it. By this time tomorrow, I could have a place for muddy cleats and wet raincoats.

We’ve had the wood for months. I’ve been Designing My Mudroom on Pinterest for two years. And I’ve been patiently waiting on SEARS to replace our leaky washer since March, because we can’t replace the floor THAT THE LEAKY WASHER RUINED until we have a washer that doesn’t leak.

I’m about to have a big, fat fit on the folks at Sears who insist there is no way to prove that McDaddy really paid for the washer on black Friday, even though we have a credit card statement that states otherwise. How do crazy things like this happen, anyway?

I can’t wait for my daddy to work his carpentry magic and make my dream mudroom a reality. I’m so excited, I could squeal!

Other than that, the only thing I have to report is that Stevie graduated from fourth grade last week, which means he will head to Middle School in two short months. I have a lot I could say about that because our Board of Education made the hair-brained decision to move our FIFTH GRADERS – our sweet, innocent ten year olds – to the Middle School. It doesn’t seem possible that I’m old enough to have a Middle Schooler. I did the ugly cry on the last day of school thinking of him graduating from Elementary School.

What is it about seeing my sweet boy in a square hat and tassel that makes me want to bawl my eyes out every time I see this picture?  It’s going to be a stressful couple of months as I try to prepare myself for this big change.

OH.

Shoot.

How could I forget.

This kid right here?

Will be playing All-Stars this season. I cannot tell you how excited I am about that.

I love the game of baseball and I love watching my boys play. Plus, we get to order fancy All-Star parent t-shirts. Not that I need one more t-shirt, but you best believe if there’s a t-shirt out there with my kid’s name on it, you can best believe I’m gonna order one or twelve of them.

Ok, that’s it for now.

Have a great day, y’all!

This Season Of Life

The bad news is – it was 319 degrees today with about 98% humidity.

The good news is, the visitor side of the baseball field we were playing at this evening was completely shaded.

I remember the first season the boys signed up to play baseball. The evening of our first practice was cold and muddy and I remember remarking to McDaddy that we shouldn’t have ever allowed the boys to sign up for baseball because holy crap! there was a lot of mud and I would never ever be able to get our shoes clean, and both boys would probably end up on nebulizer treatments after spending hours out in the cold, wet air because it happens EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

No, I am not exaggerating.

And yes! I am a joy to live with.

After each practice I scrubbed cleats with a toothbrush because I couldn’t stand the thought of ALL THAT MUD.

And when I found out BOTH boys would be wearing white baseball pants, I was shaking my head at the stupidity of it all.

I knew absolutely nothing about baseball except that there was an umpire and eventually we’d be singing about peanuts and cracker jacks.

We received a schedule for both boys and I almost swallowed my tongue when I realized that between the two of them they had 51 games scheduled.

IN EIGHT WEEKS.

With 51 games on our schedule, I had no idea when I’d see my next nap or even if I’d be able to catch The Bachelor. What had we gotten ourselves into?

And then it came time for our first game.

Y’all.

The first time my boy got up to bat, I screamed like a lunatic. He cracked that ball, I stood up, and before I knew what was happening, I dribbled on myself.

Not my proudest moment, for sure. But all the moms sitting around me understood my excitement. We whooped and hollered all afternoon. I was new to this whole baseball thing, and surprisingly, I thought it might be something I could eventually enjoy because there was lots of time to sit and talk!

And so began, a new season in my life.

Baseball Season.

It is precisely the reason I bought a fancy DSLR Canon Rebel.

It is the reason, my left calf is scratched and scabbed over.

And it is also the reason I am constantly behind on the laundry.

After that first season, Stevie’s coach asked if I might like to learn how to keep the baseball book. (I feel certain he asked me this because I was so loud in the stands he thought I might be quieter if I had to actually SHUT UP and PAY ATTENTION.)

I told him if he needed me, I’d give it a shot, and so I went to YouTube and taught myself the absolute basics about keeping the book. I remember being so afraid I would miss something, or screw up the batting order. I was a nervous wreck, mostly because that’s how I operate. During our first game one of the dads stood with me to help me catch and record each play. By the end of that first season, I felt pretty comfortable with keeping the book even though I was only keeping basic stats.

Stevie has been blessed to have the same three coaches throughout three (or is it six?) seasons of fall and spring ball. That means that we are a pretty tight-knit group of parents. I absolutely LOVE our baseball family. Both of our boys have been blessed with wonderful coaches who are wonderful examples on and off of the baseball field. (And for that, we are thankful!)

I’m in my third year of keeping the book, and I now e-mail stats after each game to our three coaches that includes pitch counts, batting averages, season stats, and positions played. Tonight, I sat and talked leisurely with my friend Missy as I kept the book AND the batting order rolling. I’ve come a long way since that first game.

I get a lot of flack about our book. It is neat, it is orderly, and it is often recopied if I consider it to be too messy.

These days, there’s very few places I’d rather be than the ball field. I have Baseball Mom shirts, baseball bling flip-flops, baseball jewelry, and baseball visors. I never ever dreamed in a million years I’d be a baseball mom.

Yet, here I sit tonight wearing a baseball mom t-shirt with my last name on the back of it.

When I’m watching Alex’s game, I have to keep track of the score because I can’t stand sitting in the bleachers and having no earthly idea what the score is.

Our boys don’t know it yet, but they are learning life lessons that will help them throughout life. And we are all forging friendships that will last a lifetime.

We have met some wonderful friends on the baseball field. When I look back on this journey of motherhood, I feel certain, our time spent on the baseball field will be among my fondest memories.

We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!

McDaddy and I graduated from the same high school in 1992. In a lot of ways, it seems like a lifetime ago.

Despite the fact that we grew up just fifteen miles apart (and the fact that he lived less than a mile from my grandma), had it not been for a school closing and subsequent consolidation, there is a very real possibility that we would have never met. Instead, we both showed up for the first day of summer band, ready to make new friends and lasting memories. We both played alto saxophone  and immediately became friends. It wasn’t until much later that we actually started dating. In fact, I spent most of our high school years pining away for his best friend.

I kissed him (sounds bad, I know!) for the first time on his sixteenth birthday while he was at my house tutoring me in Trigonometry. I was never more proud of a “C” in my life, but I can’t help but think how much better I might have done had I kept my mind focused on working with angles, instead of working an angle.

By the end of our senior year, I was drawn to him. And why wouldn’t I be? He was polite, respectful, fun, brilliant, charming, and cute. It took some convincing, but by the time we graduated, we were a couple.

The rest, as they say, is history.

We’ve been together since 1992, which means I’ve been with him over half my life. This past weekend, we attended our 20th reunion. It was so much fun seeing and reconnecting with people we graduated with, but disheartening that out of 400+ graduates, only about 60 participated in the three events.

Through the years, we’ve been through a lot together…

1992 – visiting him at Tech School just after joining the Air Force.

 

1996 – just after engagement (I have no idea why this picture is so small)

 

1998 – Our wedding

 

2001 – London: The first stop on our European Tour

 

2002 – Pregnant at our 10 year class reunion

 

2003 Christmas Picture – We are parents! (Stevie – 1 year old)

 

2006 Christmas Picture – (Stevie -4, Alex – 1)

 

2009 – Deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (We visited the week of our 11th wedding anniversary)

 

 2011 – Summer Vacation to Florida

 

2012 – 20th Reunion

Wow, we are so blessed. There isn’t another soul on the planet I would want to share this ride with. I love you, McDaddy! 

  • 20 Years
  • 2 kids
  • 11 countries
  • 14 vehicles
  • 2 campers
  • 36 states
  • 2 motorcycles
  • 3 hamsters
  • 2 Lasek surgeries
  • 4 homes
  • 6 company cars
  • 1 deployment

We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!

As I Sit In This Room….

My mind is at a loss today as I sit and type these words. At this moment, I am sitting in a spacious hospice room watching McDaddy’s precious grandmother sleep. There is a bird feeder outside the window and a chubby, bright yellow bird is perched on the pole. It is a beautiful day and the sun is shining through the window.

As I sit in this room, there is peace and quiet. In fact, this whole place is peaceful, which is hard to imagine when you stop to consider the amount of grief and despair the families here are facing. I know this grief and despair well. Six years ago, my own precious papa was in the hospice room next door. He passed away mere feet from where I am sitting this very second and I am so overwhelmed by emotion, it is difficult to see the computer screen through the tears.

We were blessed with four beautiful days of coherent conversation, recognition, love and wonderful memories. We laughed. We had a birthday party. We took pictures. We reminisced. We prayed. And ultimately, we said our goodbyes. Though it was six years ago, in some ways it seems like just yesterday.

Three years earlier, my grandmother on my dad’s side passed away here, too. Although her stay here was short, I clearly remember the peace I felt when I entered these doors. It’s a blessing to know that she was in such a caring, compassionate place for her last hours here on earth.

Like I said, I know this grief well.

As I sit in this room, a clock is ticking on the wall. I look at mama (which is how I refer to her because she’s been in my life for twenty years) and I am thankful that she is resting comfortably. I open my mouth and the words to “I Surrender All” come pouring out.

All to Jesus, I surrender; all to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.
And I surrender all. I surrender all.
All to thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.
All to Jesus, I surrender, humbly at His feet I bow.
Worldly pleasures all forsaken, take me Jesus, take me now.
I surrender all. I surrender all.
All to thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all. I surrender all.

Slowly, the tears flow from my eyes.

I think about how short life really is. I think about the fact that at 38 years old, McDaddy and I each are blessed to still have one living grandparent. I think about the fact that his precious mama has met each of her 21 great grandchildren. I think about the two great grandchildren she has on the way. And I think about her sweet hand reaching out for mine just minutes earlier.

The tears flow faster. It is harder to type. And I suddenly miss my papa and my grandmother with an ache in my heart.

Death will do that.

When I lost a dear friend in 2009, it changed my life. While my grandparents lived full, long lives, my friend Jon was only 33 years old when he passed away. He had so much more life to live. There are days – like today, in fact – that my eyes still fill with tears when I remember that he is gone. When I passed his crash site on the way to the Hospice House this morning, the ache in my heart was as fresh as it was the day I found out that he passed away. I can’t help but think about the last time we spoke. So many words spoken, but still so many left to say. He was taken without warning.

Death is unfair. It cheats. It robs. It steals. It changes things.

As I sit in this room and type these words, I know from experience that this time is a precious gift. Time to share and time to prepare. Though can one really ever be prepared?

When I first arrived here this morning, I knelt down beside of mama’s bed and I took her hand in mine. I began to hum the words to my favorite hymn. And I smiled in my heart because I am ever so thankful that even so, it is well with her soul.

Twenty Years

In approximately five weeks, McDaddy and I are scheduled to attend our twentieth reunion.

It doesn’t seem possible that we’ve been out of school for twenty L-O-N-G years. That means that this girl is almost forty. Not that there’s anything wrong with being forty, because age is just a number.

Mostly.

I can’t help but think about how my life has changed over the past twenty years.

1992

I was a senior in high school. I had just recovered from mandibular surgery (broken jaws), and as a result I lost tons of weight because my jaws were wired shut for six weeks.

I was having trouble with Trigonometry (no big surprise there!) and I was hot on McDaddy’s trail. We had been good friends for three years and I’m gonna admit something here on the blog that I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned.

I was actually after his best friend.

Crazy. For sure.

I was applying to college and wondering where the next four years would take me. McDaddy left for bootcamp shortly after graduation and so I spent that summer listening to Mariah Carey sing, “I’ll Be There” and counting the days until Boot Camp and Tech School would be over.

2002

We moved into our current house in January of 2002. In March, we found out that we were expecting our first child. I was working at the jail, and spent most of my days scheduling contact visits and parole meetings. Not one to embrace change, I often wondered what it would be like when the time came to trade in my walkie-talkie for a baby monitor. The nursery was taking shape and my blood pressure was off the hook.

At 32 weeks I was put on bed-rest and I lasted about three days before convincing myself I was going stir-freakin-crazy. Four weeks later, an eight pound baby boy was extracted from my body and in an instant I was a changed person.

2012

As I sit on my couch watching American Idol composing this blog post, I look at that picture up there and wonder how in the heck my sweet boy survived with me as a mama. I was over-protective, over-bearing and high strung.

Bless his heart.

It’s a small miracle that he can make a decision for himself.

As for that girl up there?

She is so different from the one that sits here today.

The one sitting here today is a Jail Counselor turned PTA fund-raising extraordinaire. She is loud, crazy, and opinionated. And no big surprise, she is still over-protective, over-bearing, and high-strung. Oh, and don’t forget that she loves to laugh.

She is a stay at home mom who rarely stays at home.

While she has no idea what the next twenty years will bring, she plans to live every day to its fullest.

And she considers it a privilege to be doing it alongside these three beautiful people.