Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Funeral & Beach

Over the weekend, I stayed with Lauren as she buried her dad, then went on to the beach to meet my girlfriends for a trip that we planned back in the fall. After watching my best friend become an orphan then leave for some R&R at the beach, I feel like I should have this great perspective. I had a really bad week last week, then I got to do something very fun and freeing.  I should have all my feelings and thoughts worked out and processed, right? If only it worked like that.  If only all I needed was a beach trip to wrap up my feelings about the week and start this week with things back to normal.  If only...

That's not really how things work though and anyone who has experienced heartbreak will agree that the only thing that makes the hurt easier is time. Everyone just needs time to process, plan, and figure out how to live with a broken heart or a sad situation or a deep loss. It's finding the new normal.  It's figuring out how to live life when everything seems so trivial yet so important as well.  

During my beach trip, my friends were so kind and gracious to me. They let me eat their food, they didn't flinch at my swear words, and they listened as I told lots of stories about Lauren.  Somehow, this is just what I and space and freedom to feel exactly how I needed to feel.

I pushed myself hard to relax and make the trip my own.  The simple pleasure of being responsible for my own food and not the food of my family was very freeing.  I also tried hard not to feel like I should do anything (rotate during tanning, read my book, get a full night's rest).  The last 30 minutes of the beach trip I just sat in the shade and stared at the ocean. No reading, no talking, no tanning, just sitting.

As I get back to real life, the beach trip was good, but last week was even worse. I have a plan in my head of how to redefine my new normal, but everything is still so fuzzy for me.  I'm moving through life at a blurry pace, but I'm ok with that.  For now it's the new normal.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

With His Whole Heart

"Whenever I've seen someone enter this world or leave this world I feel like I'm standing on holy ground," said a pastor friend of mine as we were talking about newborns.  At the time I had never seen someone leave this world.  And now I have.  Sunday I sat with Lauren and her family as her father left this world.  Holy ground, yes.  Broken heart, yes.  Deep sadness, yes.  

Yesterday I mentioned this in my post, and today I want to add more.  Lauren is ok with that, and I hope I can keep it simply honorable.  I want to tell the sweet moment that we all experienced.  In a day where sweetness and goodness felt so out of reach, love showed its face in a very empty feeling place.  It's not silver lining, it doesn't fix things, and it doesn't take the pain away.  It was just a gift that felt like love.  It was a gift from God.

When life hands me lemons, I see that Burl put his play lemon in the bowl of lemons and remember that babies help make things sweet. Another sweet gift.

During the day, we watched Danny's heart rate go from steady, to erratic to very low.  When the slow, low line was pointed out, Lauren, who was sitting beside him in the hospital bed, leaned in like she had several times that day and said, "I love you" loudly.  And the line spiked.  High.  She said it again and it spiked it again.  Two big spikes.  We said it all together and nothing happened.  The line didn't spike.  Lauren said it a third time and it spiked one more time, just not as high as the first two times.  After that he died.  And the sting of death felt so sharp and we wept and my heart broke for my friend who lost her father, who lost her mother nine years ago, and her grandmother four months ago.  

As we have grieved and wept and talked since then, we remember that Danny knew his only child was right there and he loved her back with the beat of his heart, the only way a dying man could.  He couldn't do anything else-he couldn't talk, open his eyes, or move on his own.  He could only do one thing.  He used his heart to show his love for Lauren, for the joy of his heart, for his beloved daughter.  

Two weeks ago when Lauren and her babies came up for her birthday.

Even though those heartbeats didn't erase his permanent absence or make anything better, it helped.  In an empty space, it was a little bit of love that spilled in.  It's the sweetest thing that happened that day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Thought of Gifts

My mother-in-law called, "I'm at the Carhartt store, what's the next size overalls that Burl needs?"
My mom called, "Does Fern need an extra bathing suit?  There's a cute pink ruffled one on sale at Gap."
My dad called, "I saw these plastic Adirondack chairs in kids' sizes-Can I get two for the kids?"

It always feels good to get those calls and to receive those kinds of gifts.  The overalls, bathing suit, and chairs are all used frequently around my house.  I enjoy getting those things, but good gracious it's way more of the thought and the effort that go behind it.  This week, I'm learning more of what that thought means and even more what it means when it's gone.

This year, my mom got me exactly what I wanted for my birthday.  She asked and asked until I gave her exact items that I wanted.  I sent her links to two things: Pottery Barn pillow shams and stemless wineglasses.  I've decided that I want more patterned pillows in my life, and we've broken several of our everyday glasses that I use for everything.  My mom boxed them up nicely, wrapped them in aqua paper, tied a big bow on the front and added those hydrangeas to the front.  Because that's how she rolls, and that's how she makes us feel special.

This week I was with my longest, closest, best friend while her dad passed away.  I'm not going to say much about that here on this blog out of respect for her and the family, however, this post seemed appropriate.  Her dad was generous and thoughtful and quick to give.  I said that as a little girl as I was the recipient of his generosity and others are saying that again now as we remember him.  

...I'm thankful for those who make those calls and give that way and think about us and our babies when they see things.
...I'm sad for the absence of those calls when they stop.
...I'm inspired to remember to do the same for others-whether I can afford gifts or not, I can find my ways to let people know that I care, that I'm thinking about them, and that I love them.

Friday, July 19, 2013


It's been a few weeks since I've posted my Instagram pictures on here.  I've so enjoyed Instagram, some might call it a "problem," but those people be crazy.  Here is a little snapshot into the small parts of my life:

My brothers are chronically asking me to wrap presents for them, which I always swear will be the last time that I do it.  I said yes once again, so as my payback, I went all out.

My best friend and I will always cut up together-no matter if we're at the hospital with a loved one.  Everyone clears the room-we play with the toys on the wall.  

Playing with my very busy and active kids.

Our date camping trip got rained out.  Instead we went on a get-meg-a-dessert date overlooking the river.

Homemade pico is too perfect.  Pulse in food processor: white onion, tomatoes, cilantro, salt, lime juice.

Little people, little ways, big love.

Now I cover Teddy too.  Every.time.

My mom has a thing for wrapping presents.  If prizes were given, she would bring home the gold.

Sometimes Fern wakes up from her nap before Burl and I get some one-on-one time with her.  We get some time to be silly and I give her extra kisses.  I just love when it happens!

These are how the eggs look when I get them from my dad.  Hay, manure, and feathers.  While I think it's so cool and rad and delicious to get my eggs like this, I still laugh to myself.  Two generations ago, washing eggs would be quite the chore (if they even did that back then).  Oh how times have changed.

Since getting eggs from my dad and another farmer, I've started to get TWIN yolks.  I thought it was so unnatural, but come to think of it, eliminating twin yolks is probably more unnatural.

Fern got the biggest goose egg to date the other day.  With Burl, this was a daily occurrence  but with Fern it's a rarity.  We always take advantage of the close snuggle time.  Both of these people were milking it.

life rearranged
InstaFriday is way fun.  The idea comes from Life Rearranged.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Rest Of My Birthday Weekend

Birthday celebrations are never limited to just one event. That Camping Trip was only half the action. If you've read this blog for a while or you know me in person, then you know this to be true.  If I was one of those bumper stickers all over my car people, then there surely would be something on there about celebrating birthdays.  "Birthdays? No, Try BirthWeekends or BirthWeeks, or my favorite BirthMonths!"

After our camping trip, John and I went out for my free birthday meal at a local restaurant then to a party (not for me, for someone else).  Since we were on the mountain, we stopped for a view and a quick couple picture overlooking the Chattanooga Valley.

Sunday (my actual birthday) was great.  Before church, we went to a little cafe with so-so coffee and this amazing outdoor veranda.  The only reason that place does so well is that veranda, making the south feel like a humid spot in Europe.  Oolala.

The kids wanted to run around, so we let them, but John pointed out and laughed that all they wanted to do was climb on Mama.  Being in happy birthday spirit, I thought this was the cutest thing ever!

Sunday night we got a sitter for the kids, so I could enjoy dinner with my family. John and I went to dinner with my brothers and parents.  Who are divorced.  Who might be touching in this picture.  And who are definitely smiling.  It's fun to get together without the kids, so we can focus on laughing so hard that we make a scene.  When we're together, there is always a lot of laughter.  After all the things this family has gone through, it's amazing that we can have nights like these.  It is by far my favorite birthday tradition.

This 32nd birthday was fun and I really enjoyed the weekend of celebrating.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Birthday Camping Trip

A tent and a camping trip were the things that I wanted most this 32nd birthday of mine.  Friday night we gave another attempt at camping with our kids.  (Remember our first one? I had to drive home at midnight with Fern.)  We were encouraged by several comments on the blog and our neighbors across the street to keep going, keep exposing them, keep trying.  We did and it worked on the second time.  

I'm in this little mental phase of life where I think the best things in life are not the easiest.  I have a million examples for this, but let's go with the most obvious: exercise.  Sure, it's easy to stay at home, watch TV, eat processed food, but that is not the best life.  The best life is to exercise, which is never easy, and to take time and effort to prepare foods ourselves.  I could stand on my soap box and go on and on about this, but I'll stick to camping.  Camping is not easy.  We went for one night only, but took enough stuff to make us look like we're moving.  I packed the necessities: food, shelter, clothes.  Also, I included the not-necessary-birthday-jazz things: candles, our favorite mugs, air mattress, and the list could go on...Mama likes her ambiance, even if she's camping.

We definitely had our hiccups of the trip, which I told to everyone.  Everyone's reply was the same: things like that are going to happen every time.  It was not if things were going to go awry, it was how we handled them.  How did we handle them?  We forged on.

Dinner at the campsite:

 Eustace Conway would die to know that we think this is roughing it.

The kids (sortof) went to bed, I chased away a raccoon, and we went to bed.  While Burl was excited about his sleeping bag, Fern would have no part in her blanket bed that we made her.  She slept on the air mattress between John and me the whole night.  She wanted our faces looking at each other, touching if possible.  The.whole.night.  Which made for the best, cutest, sweetest night of sleep and made for the roughest night of sleep as well.  Fair trade.

Waking up in a tent is by far the best way to start a day.  Morning hike for the boys.  Coffee and snacks for the girls.  It was magical.  Since his farm is somewhat close, my dad came and met us at the campsite then took us to the breakfast buffet at the hotel at the park.

His shirt reads, "if it's got a name, it's a pet, if not, it's dinner. -Duck Dynasty"  

We went down by the lake for a family picture, but the kids were eager to get going.  Fern had no idea what was next, but Burl knew a big hike was coming his way.

Fern road in the backpack the whole time, except for looking at the falls.  (Tallest waterfall east of the Rockies, yes sirree.)  Burl hiked the entire time without complaining once.  It was over 2 miles, and I think John was the most excited about this.  Our little man did us proud that hike.

 While I was optimistic that this was going to be a good trip, I still had concerns and wonders.  It would have been easy to stay at home and do cake and ice cream with the kids or something else that was easy, but it felt good to take the effort and do something better, something more adventurous.  While I'm not knocking a small party at home, and I think those are valuable and perfect as well, I'm just hoping to pass on some encouragement.  I was encouraged to keep trying, not to make excuses, keep figuring out the routine, and I'm so glad that we did.  We made some great memories, and it was all worth the effort.