The day my niece was born

Yesterday was the 8th Birthday of my sweet niece, Jaidyn.  How in the world is she already 8? 

“JJ” as all the cousins call her, was the first little one of my four siblings that grew up in our house.  The baby was having a baby!  We had older siblings that had children in Waco, but we were young ourselves when it happened. We became Aunts and Uncles before we were even 15 years old.  Jaidyn was extra special.  Not only because she was the first, but because she was the light in so much darkness in 2010.  I will never forget the call from my dad that my grandfather, “Daddy Bob” had died.  I remember throwing the phone across the room with an intensity and anger that my husband had never seen in me before.  Following with uncontrollable sobbing and hyperventilation.  I couldn’t breathe.  My hero was gone and I didn’t even get to say goodbye.  The man that carried a peace about him that no one else to this day has ever had.  My sweet Daddy Bob had been changing a light bulb on the front porch of their Houston home and had fallen off the ladder and died instantly.  Heartbreak.  I believe that we always thought my Granny would be the first of the two to go.  She had been battling health issues for years and my Daddy Bob was always clean on his health bills.  How in the world did this happen?  The days and weeks that followed were that of extreme sadness and exhaustion.  My grandmother no longer had the love of her life and the man that took care of her every need.  She was in shock and heartbroken along with the rest of us.  I went to stay with her and then my step mom did also, but she just wasn’t the same after he died.  Her will to live wasn’t there as it was before.  She was transported to San Antonio via ambulance to be admitted into a rehab facility and was closer to all of us.  It was good to have her physically near us, but she was never the same.  She was able to make my sisters baby shower and was excited for this sweet little Blessing to come earth side.  A week before my sister was to give birth to Jaidyn, Granny made her way up to heaven into the loving arms of her precious husband.  Sadness again filled the family as we had officially lost the heads of our family within months of each other.  

The day of Jaidyn’s birth was a happy one.  The entire family was there and waiting as the birth had been a scheduled c-section.  Even though the recent grief, we were all ready to meet this little miracle that God had given my sister.  There were a few things they wanted to look at on her once she was born and it took what seemed like forever for her mama to hold her for the first time.  And for all of us to finally meet her.  She was the most beautiful baby girl I had ever laid my eyes on.  A tiny little thing at 5.3oz and just perfection. I will never forget that my uncle Eddie refused to leave until he got to see her and hold her.  He absolutely loved children.  He was so excited to have a baby in the family finally!  Once he held her he told our Nana & Papa that they could go home.  Uncle Eddie had special needs and was truly a gift from God. He wasn’t supposed to live past 3 and with my Nana’s strong will and Eddie’s determination he beat all the odds!  Leaving the hospital we were all so excited and happy.  My other siblings and our spouses all went to our parents house to celebrate the arrival of this precious baby girl who had changed our family.  Then the call came… My Nana.  Hysterical.  She had gone upstairs and found my uncle Eddie unresponsive.  Heart Attack.  He was gone.  On one of the happiest days in a very long time, it was also the darkest. On the day Jaidyn was born, Eddie died.  An extreme roller coaster of emotions that were almost too much to bear for all of us.  

Every year on her Birthday I think back to the months that preceded and followed Jaidyn’s birth.  I remember my Grandparents, my uncle and thank God for the Blessing that is my niece.  It is a reminder to me that even during the darkest of times, there is light.  Even if you have to struggle to find the light, it is always there.  It may not be in the form of a beautiful baby girl, but God will show up.  He always does.  2010 was one of the hardest years of my life to date, but I don’t wish that it never happened.  I keep thinking of the sermon that I heard at church last week on the book of Judges.  God sometimes has to weaken us before He uses us.  (Judges 7:1-7)  At the ripe age of 29 I had seen more death happen than I had ever experienced before.  I learned how short life is and also what a great God we have.  Even when the days seem hard, you feel like that you can’t seem to get out of “the yuck” as I call it.. look up.  Look to Him and know that once you fully rely on God, the peace that comes is indescribable. 

“Consider is pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  (James 1:2-3)



Being Present

A  few days ago I had a conversation with a girlfriend about this stage in our lives.  The constant entertaining of a toddler, wiping a behind and all of the other stuff that goes along with keeping a small human alive on a daily basis!  Being a stay at home mom is hard on so many levels.  I also always have the feeling of “not doing enough.” Either with my business that I help run from our home, keeping the house picked up or keeping up with a girlfriend.

The thought hit me like a ton of bricks.  My kids will only be kids for a short amount of time.  In just a few months my son, my baby, will start attending a 2 day a week Mother’s Day Out.  Granted that is only a few days a week, but time is moving fast.  I will not beat myself up over helping in our business, having all the laundry folded or being MIA on friends.  God has entrusted me with a beautiful family that I have the honor or loving and leading.  At this point in my life that is all that matters.  So today and everyday after this one I will be more aware of being present in the moment and enjoy this stage of parenting and soak it all in.  Everything else can wait.

Marriage is hard


On a daily basis I a reminded of how hard marriage really is.  Sharing your life with someone is just plain work.

When I was married over 7 years ago I went into it with realistic expectations.  As a child of not one, but two divorces I knew the journey ahead would not be easy.  Since I knew what divorce was and what it did to children caught in the crossfire, I was going to work my butt off to make my marriage work.  There would be NO easy way out.  Divorce would never be an option.  Ever.

Fast forward 7 years and two children and I now understand.  I totally get how people can throw up their hands and move on to something “better.”  Or just give up and divorce.  This stuff is hard!  And you have to work on the relationship DAILY!
One major thing I have learned is communication is key.  That and surprises!

Surprises- Now I don’t mean presents per say.. (but I do love presents)   🙂
Just something different from the day to day monotony of life.  Sweet notes written with markers on the bathroom mirror, other special notes hidden through out the house for your spouse to find, flowers.. get creative.  Money is NOT the primary here, it is the thought.

Communication- Communication sucks.  No lie, I was a communication major in college.  I can talk to people.  I love people!  Yet, sometimes telling my husband that I feel neglected in some way or that feel like I need him to help me out more in an area around the house is super hard for me.  Honestly it is just easier for me to keep my mouth shut!  But is “easier” really going to help this relationship long term?  No.

Since we have hit the “7 year itch” mark I have found that we have been going through some major growth in our marriage.  We have now been together almost 10 years and we know each other.. well.  Yet, as life moves on day to day our “normal” if there was ever one, has changed.  And with that becomes some serious work in the two of us.  Thankfully, we are not alone and we have the Lord to help guide us and give us direction and support in our marriage.

“But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and two will become one flesh.  So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”  (Mark 10: 6-9)

Powerful.  Marriage has been around forever and God smiles upon the sacred vow.  Praying and calling out to Him for help or get connected to people of faith to give spiritual advice is key.  I don’ t know about you, but I just love the part about “becoming one flesh.”  I put this verse on our program at our wedding and it still gets me warm and fuzzy on the inside all of these years later.  It is romantic to me… living out the rest of your life with one person who knows you like no one else.

I have not one doubt in my mind that on that fateful Christmas night that Chris and I were supposed to cross paths.  I know we were put together to make a difference in not only our children’s lives, but those around us.  We want to share our love of God and our passion for quality health for all that will listen.  No matter how hard the day to day may seem of sharing my life with my husband, I will do my best everyday to work at us.  Because we started with “us” and until my last living breath.. it will end with us.

We have decided that every Sunday night we will have some time for us and our week.  Talk about the week ahead, our finances, pray, and hopefully finally start a bible study that we have been talking about for a while now.
I challenge you to do the same!  Let’s make 2015 the year that marriages are strengthened, restored and rejuvenated!


My disappearing mom

This past Tuesday in yet another doctors visit with my mom, I came to the conclusion..,.my mom is officially turning into a woman that I have never known. My strong, active, independent, very social, compassionate mother is slowly disappearing.

Two years ago I started to notice changes in my mom. She started to forget things she never would before, she wasn’t socializing with anyone and numbers were starting to really confuse her. I became worried and knew I needed to take action. After MANY visits to her primary doctor and her telling me that there wasn’t anything wrong with my mom month after month (I still have anger towards this woman because I’m pretty dang sure I know if my mom is having problems.). I took action and got referred to a neurologist who could maybe give us more answers. We had MANY visits and tests done ranging from a 4 hour memory/psychological test to an MRI. She was terrified during of all these and looked to her 28 year old daughter for strength. At that time I know I couldn’t give it to her because I really wanted to believe she was ok, so I could selfishly go on living my own life with my husband. Since her father died of Alzheimer’s she would cry to me with grief that she didn’t want the same fate. After everything was said and done they told me she was just fine? Seriously people? Sadly, I accepted the diagnosis, but still fought to keep her on one of her memory medications. I moved her into a retirement community, rented out her house and started paying her bills but didn’t go any further with getting any answers.

Fast forward a year…..there have been many indicators in that time that put up a massive red flag; losing her keys at the gas station, not being able to pay her bills or handle money, over dosing on her meds, not knowing what day it is and my new favorite of her calling me 10x/day (no exaggerating).
It was so easy to be selfish and put off making new dr appointments for my mom. I just want her to be the woman who I have always known who comforts me as we walk through this infertility journey and my adult life. Sadly, she has no idea what is going on. One day last month she actually called me and asked how the baby was. It felt like a sharp dagger through my stomach. What baby?

Tuesday we both got the news we already knew but it was still hard to take. My mom officially has Alzheimers disease. After mass quantitys of paper/verbal tests the new dr came to this conclusion. They actually say you can’t “officially” diagnose until death but he said the tests proved she was well on her way to Stage 2. She looked at me and started crying, my heart broke for her…for us. I can confidently say my mom will never be the same.
The hardest part of it all is being unsure that if what I’m doing for her is the right thing. I can officially say that being a caretaker is the hardest job I have ever had. We shall see if that stays true once I become a mom!

Being a grown up

I assume at some point in every child’s life you realize when your parents can no longer make sound decisions on their own.  Or at least need some direction.  I had no idea I would have to be making one of these decisions in my late 20’s.  Mom is only 61.

You grow up being taken care of, nurtured, and loved by your parents.  They are there when you need financial advice, career directions, you name it… they are there for you.  Then, out of no where the realization comes that you must make decisions regarding the person that gave birth to you.  Before you may or may not have your own children.  Heavy stuff.

My mom is one of the most amazing women I have ever known.  She was always a light to me and everyone that has ever known her.  She has this ability to love and care for people like I have never seen.  Her smile is contagious.   After her husband passed away in 2004 from cancer she hasn’t been the same.  I thought that moving her back to Texas from Georgia three years ago would help her.  She would have my husband and I,  my brother, his wife and her grandson to keep her company.  After a year or so my mom still wasn’t acting like her old self.  I blamed a lot of it on the big move she just had, but there were signs that something wasn’t right.  She was having problems remembering things and it started to become very noticeable.  I finally convinced her that we needed to seek some medical help to see what was going on.  After spending all last summer at various doctors, neurologists and getting an MRI they found nothing.  They said it must be early dementia.  Special.

Fast forward to the last few months…. I noticed not only was my mom becoming a recluse and not leaving her house, but she was having problems balancing her checkbook and many other important tasks.  I also learned that people had stolen money and taken advantage of her!  I needed to find a way to make her happy.  I was helping her with paying her bills, but I knew that being alone was also contributing to her memory/anxiety.  She isn’t happy without social interaction and being around people.  I knew I had to do something.

Long story short… I spent many months researching Retirement Communities and getting opinions and advice from friends.  With my mom being so young it seemed like a crazy thing to do, but I had a feeling in my heart that it was right.  Monday was our lunch appointment at Independence Hill.  I was so nervous to actually take her because I knew she was hesitant, but thank God she trusted me.  She was pretty uneasy walking in and seeing that most of the population was quite a bit older than herself!  I have never seen so many walkers in one place!  We toured the community, the apartments and then had probably the most entertaining lunch I have EVER had.  Some of the residents were absolutely hilarious!  Mom was the center of attention and everyone ended up coming by to say hello because they heard all the laughing and wanted to see what all the commotion was about.  It was a special moment.  For the first time in many, many years I saw my mom really smile.  She was in her element.  Around people and making relationships.

After lunch we went back to the office to ask any more questions we might of had.  This place really is incredible!  They have a ton of activities for people to do, they feed you (great food I might add), and have hundreds of other residents that are enjoying life.  We didn’t meet one person that was unhappy!
She looked at me and said, “Let’s do it, I want to move in!”  WOW… I had no idea she would love it that much 🙂  She was practically bouncing off the walls about moving in.  She gave a deposit and we have 30 days to get her in!  HOLY MOLY!  Not quite what I expected, but we are going to make it happen 🙂

I’m not sure why I doubted myself on what was best for my mom, but I guess I was just scared.  I never thought I would have to be making these kind of decisions for my mom before I had my own children, but I know God doesn’t give us more than we can  handle.  I could not be happier about her new adventure, this “cruise ship on land” they call it.  And I KNOW I will have tons of fun stories about mom and her new friends when I visit 🙂  I also know that Independence Hill couldn’t be luckier to have my mom.  She is going to be an amazing asset to the place and will have more friends than she knows what to do with in no time!

Praise God!

Family Traditions

Plastic Colorful Easter Eggs in Grass Stock Photo - 2301076
“Family traditions counter alienation and confusion.  They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.
-Susan Lieberman

I remember being a small girl and absolutely loving Easter.  Waking up and being so excited to see what was in my Easter Basket that year!  The chocolate bunnies were always my favorite!  The four of us kids would then survey our goods in the basket and do the usual swap for the candy we wanted.  Later that day we would head to our Nana and Papa’s and have the “Big Easter Egg Hunt.”  There was always a “little kids” hunt in the front yard where there was candy and some dollar bills in those beautiful colored plastic eggs.  I loved finding them and not being able to wait to see what was inside!  It wasn’t abnormal for me to open the egg first before I even found another one.  (I still to this day lack focus)  😉  The big event of the day was the adult easter egg hunt.  This was the highlight!  Imagine 15  (more/less) adults finding MONEY eggs in the front and back yard.  And yes, it would often get physical!  Some hunts have gone down in family history because of how hilarious people have been.  My Aunt Dawn even jumped in the pool one year after an egg!  
My cousin Danny and I are only 23 days apart and we will always remember that year that we “graduated” and were able to join the fun.  It was like winning the lottery!!  We were finally big kids at Nana’s!  I think we were around 11 and even though we didn’t get many eggs that year, but it was a big milestone in our life.  
The hunts continued and years later my little sister, brother and younger cousin were old enough for the money hunt and the little kid hunt in the front yard was no longer.  Every year it has been the same since I can remember….. a tasty Easter lunch made by our amazing Nana followed by all of the adults going up stairs to hangout while our Papa hid the eggs all over the outside of their house.  They have a beautiful large house with even bigger yards.  We were like a bunch of small children, but we loved it!  There would always be a fight on who was too far down on the stairs and may be cheating.  If you could see the windows you were toast!  The brown bags with our names on them were passed out and after about 30 minutes, let the games begin!  It was like a cattle stampede down those stairs!
This year was different.  When Chris and I arrived to my Nana and Papa’s this year we were told there wouldn’t be a hunt.  No hunt?  Was this a joke?  Is the tradition actually over?  Of course I didn’t really say anything and no one put up a fight, but it was sad.  With the passing of our sweet Uncle Eddie last year, my grandparents getting older and we were all having kids of our own… it was inevitable.  I guess that is what makes it so sad.  We did have a little kids hunt in the front yard for my niece and my cousin’s son.  Part of me ached because we didn’t have a child there to join with them.  I know we will someday soon.  
Life is sometimes crazy because you do something with your family for so long you just assume it will keep going forever.  It can’t and won’t.  We keep getting older and nothing can ever really stay the same forever.  New traditions will now begin.
Happy Easter to you all!!