14 Now

I’m sorry that this letter is late. I’ve been writing you kids letters for years now and this one has taken a lot of prayer, contemplation, and there were a lot of emotions to untangle. The first 11 months of this year were incredible. Watching you learn and grow is one of my favorite things in life. Seeing you adapt and form who you are, building our relationship and knowing that we learn from each other. We had a full year with many amazing memories, I also know that all of those amazing memories are clouded over for you right now. The last month of being 13 will undoubtedly be what you remember the most. Losing Theo is the greatest pain you have ever felt, this loss is powerful.


You and me when you were 4 months old.

Being your mother has afforded me the honor of seeing you become a caring, loving, giving, and intelligent young woman. I understand the pain in your heart. I also know that Theo will forever be a part of who you are. He will always be part of our family. Even in our pain we can honor his short and incredible life. As your Mom it’s my job to guide you and teach you about life, how to navigate it. Death was not something I was prepared for, grief like this was not part of our parenting plan. Your Dad and I have made it our mission to spare you from as much of the pain and hardships we experienced growing up as we can. It has been our mission to ensure that you are a kid as long as possible. We could not have known or protected you from the pain of losing someone you love so dearly. I’ve never seen a 13 year old love an infant as much as you love your cousin.
As I prayed over this Birthday Letter I felt God was telling me to fan the haze that has settled on our memories of this year. This year wasn’t made of grief. This year was powerful, a building block in your life as you come closer to adulthood. In this time of grief, at the beginning of you turning 14, I want to remind you of some of the brighter spots of this year. Some of them include Theo and I know that will be painful and hard, but some day they will bring you comfort too. They remind us he is real, he was part of our daily life, he is a part of building who you are.

12548997_10207047886093801_1082570982549948676_n12507622_10207047885893796_8821926352322720428_nIn January you kids showed me how deep your love goes for me with a wonderful bathroom mirror surprise that stayed there for months. That made my day for many days.February you helped me surprise your brother with Marvel bedding, keeping him busy while I finished cleaning and getting everything ready for him. The look on his face says12734139_10207241991626318_4497550086709504349_n it all. March we adopted Coco from the Dawson’s. She was able to spend the rest of her doggie life with us, she loved to sleep in your room and snuggle. She was an amazing very old dog. There is no doubt that you helped make her last few months very happy ones. That month you also made your brother feel like a million bucks when you fell asleep with your head in his lap. That’s a big deal for a 5 year old.
In June we discovered SnapChat and have been ridiculous with it ever since. Making a lot of funny memories; especially while watching X-Files in my bed. Katrina also followed in your footsteps and became a crossing guard at school.You inspire her to be more, to do more, to learn more. I love that about you. June we also celebrated Katrina’s Birthday at the drive in. You and your siblings decorated and set up the van super special for her. Aunt Tori, Aunt Jessica, Theo and all of you kids made it a special birthday for her to remember for a long time…especially with us all playing Chubby Bunny.Also in June you got up super early to cheer Katrina and I on as we ran a 5k together. Your cheers meant so much to her, knowing that her biggest sister was there urging her to keep going. Running isn’t your thing, but you didn’t let that hold you back from being a high-fiving, wooooo screaming, jumping up and down cheerleader. She told me how much that meant to her. We also had paint shenanigans at the drive in that month. You and your siblings let me paint your faces for Civil War. That is always a time that brings a smile to my face. I’m realizing June was a busy month!12916919_10207642501798822_4664658573503529617_o We also went on a hike with Tyler the day before our first camping trip of the season! Our first camping trip we went to Alder Lake near Mt. Rainier. We spent 2 wonderful


Rainier on Mt. Rainier

nights and 3 days just you kids and me.We drove up and all over Mt. Rainier, went on hikes, took pictures of Rainier on Mt. Rainier, swam at the Lake, made amazing food, did devotionals and learned what works best for us as campers. We jammed out to music on the long drive to and from, dancing and singing our hearts out.
July was another crazy full month of activity. We went on an 11 mile hike up the Dungeness Spit with Uncle Tom, Aunt Jessica, Aunt Tori and Theo. It was a beautiful day of listening to the ocean and playing in the water, just being together. We


Out at the Spit

also celebrated Theo’s birthday. While I know this is a hard memory it is also an awesome one. One of funny pictures, gifts, and DIY ice cream. And who could forget Uncle Brent accidentally giving Kenny bubbles to drink 13606699_10208309155344744_1134398672713181385_nbecause he thought it was the punch?! Theo had a wonderful 1st Birthday full of the people who love him.
Then there was more camping for my birthday, this time we went to the beach. Camping with you is so much fun. You are my great helper with set up, take down, the food prep with the littles, potty runs and helping with the dog. I love teaching you about camping and how to do things for yourself. This is the trip that I became sleep deprived and delusional, and began the ‘Doughnutbutt’ joke. That joke is still going and will probably be a camping staple for years to come.We also had matching 13658922_10208426730764056_5269640587181191556_nswim tops. One of my favorite things is that you wanted to match me. Having your teenage daughter love having a matching bathing suit is special, it’s humbling and encouraging at the same time. I love how special our relationship is.
At the beginning of August we went on another camping trip. It wasn’t the best camp site, it wasn’t the best weather. I will never 13900184_10208550658422170_454123651650106155_n14034965_10208590698543148_1983716082111373299_nforget how soaking wet we all were just trying to get into the tent during the down pour that lasted for hours! But we laughed the whole time. The rain was so loud we had to shout to hear each other, you, Kay and I stayed up watching GMM on our phones and laughing. We made the most of it and the weather was much better the rest of the trip. It was another gorgeous ocean view with lots of beach combing. We had one last camping trip at the end of August, we left the dog at home 13939505_10208590701583224_2239951986362633064_n13886930_10208550655422095_5862490914290526300_ntook the bikes Dad and I bought you and Uncle Tom and I built. We headed to Sequim and after a ride we were ‘camp bombed’ by Nana and Papa who were out that way on a ride. You guys wanted to stay for the whole trip and to make that happen, woke up at 615 and were packed up and ready to leave by 630am so I could make it home and to work by 9am. It was a proud and amazed, what an example of family teamwork. Toward the end of August your newest cousin, Paxton, was born. 2 days before we left on our Super Secret Family Vacation. Paxton was just in time! He’s an adorable little fluff head. The very end of August brought in our amazing, long-awaited, and super secret vacation to Disneyland and Universal Hollywood. All of us with Uncle Tom, Aunt Jessica and Theo. I know I don’t have to tell you how special that trip ended up being. At the time we had no way of knowing what was going to happen when we returned home. That vacation was flawless, no arguing (at least very little), perfect weather, shortish lines, amazing food, and we all lived under one roof together. A big, very beautiful and loving happy family. I couldn’t have imagined it was going to be that smooth and wonderful. It truly was a magical 2 weeks. The night you and Kaylynne watched Theo for dinner ended up being just as important to you two, if not more so. As hard as that night is to remember, I’m so glad you had that opportunity.


We had an amazing year of growing and learning together. With Dad traveling for work so much it’s been a special time of bonding and loving one another.I’m so blessed to have you for a daughter. You are a light in the dark. My prayer for this year is that you are able to walk through your grief with grace, love, understanding and strength. I pray you will be shown the beauty in life and what we were given for so short of a time. I pray you will not lose faith, that your faith will be made stronger. I pray you will let this experience help shape who you are, but not let it become who you are. I wish with everything in me that I could take the pain from you, my daughter if I could, you would never feel pain. I’m proud to be your mother, I pray that you remember that and you will hold your family closer and a little tighter. I hope you will always love with everything you have.I pray for healing, comfort, and peace of mind and heart.  I will always be here for you, always praying for you. I love you my Krystal.                  Love, Mom


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Suffering is Unavoidable, Just as Crashing is Inevitable

WARNING: Not only is this post graphic in description, but in images as well. If you are squeamish with blood or stitches please beware.

It has been a long time since I have written a post. I have composed this post many times in my head and I’m finally ready share; not just the events but also the thoughts in my head. As a lot of you know, especially if we are friends in everyday life or on Facebook, my husband and I are recreational cyclists. We love to ride bicycles for many reasons. Mostly, it’s fun. We get to enjoy scenery, stay healthy, spend time together and for me it clears my head. June 5th, 2015 Ken and I set out from our home to go on a long ride together, have lunch at the water and ride home. When I woke up that morning I was hesitant but I figured it was just a matter of making myself leave my bed, I was feeling lazy so we continued to get ready to leave. As I strapped on my favorite cycling shoes; a beautiful pair of white iridescent Shimano road shoes, I thought how mad I would be if I finally wore them outside of the gym and something happened to them. I shook it off and went out to join Ken in the garage. We hopped on our bikes and headed out on our planned ride. As we rounded the corner of our block Ken asked if I want to to take a different hill, I told him I didn’t much care for the road condition but we could go down there anyway, no big deal. We were trucking downhill, doing everything we should have been doing, traveling at roughly 25-30mph, wearing bright clothes, lights on front and back of our bikes shinning brightly even though it was a gorgeous sunny morning. Then it all changed.

Ken’s tire is coming up really fast, break! Break! Break! Then nothing. Everything went black, silent. Where am I? Why am I on the road now? What road am I on? What was I doing a second ago? There’s Ken. He doesn’t know I’m sitting down. Quick! Make a sound so he knows! What was that sound? Was that me? He’s coming back, it must have been me. Nothing hurts, but something isn’t right. I can move my toes, but I shouldn’t try anything else, well maybe my hands. The left fingers are moving. Crap, my right ones wont move, they feel disconnected. My arm must be broke, it’s bent funny. I’m going to lay down. 

Ken: Honey, your arm is broke. Don’t move.
“Yeah, I know.”
I can hear him pacing.

Ken: Should I drive you to the ER? Maybe I shouldn’t move you, but you need to go to the hospital. It might be faster if I get the car.

A lady in a car stopped and has already called for an ambulance. She’s afraid that I could have broken my neck or back. Did I? Could I have? It doesn’t feel like I have more than a scratch on my leg and maybe on my cheek. Who’s taking my helmet off? Who’s this guy? What is he holding to my head? I don’t understand why he is doing that, I’m not bleeding. Well if he feels better helping in some way, that’s cool. He has a gentle and kind face, I have no idea where he came from though.
Oh, good. Ken’s Dad is here. When did the police get here? Oh, a fireman and EMTs…maybe this is worse than I think it is. I feel alright though. Why are they asking me my name and the date? Oh…concussion protocol. Gottcha. CRAP! They are asking questions I can’t answer. What happened? Where am I? I still don’t know! Maybe things are bad. Wait! I can hear Ken…

“We were coming down the hill, headed out on our ride. We were cruising around 25-30mph. A van pulled out in front of us from that side street at the bottom of the hill. I made it around, I thought she did. I don’t think the van hit her.”

Okay, just repeat that…it’s kinda coming back. I mean, I was on my bike. I saw Ken’s tire coming up fast, I remember breaking. But I don’t know why. I don’t know what street I’m on. I don’t even know how long I’ve been laying here. The sky looks so blue, it’s a gorgeous day out and I’ve ruined it for Ken. No one is giving me any information. They are checking to see if I broke my neck, I can move everything but my arm, I have no additional pain. They think I’m in shock. I’m not, I’m fine. I have a broken arm. Take me so I can get a cast, I have a 5k to run with Katrina tomorrow. I need to get off the road.

“We’re going to put you in the C-collar and get you loaded up in the ambulance. We’ll get you set up with an IV and be as gentle as we can on the ride there.” 
That’s still not telling me much. They have sunglasses on, use the reflection. Ok, so am bleeding on my eyebrow, but it’s too distorted to know how much or why, my leg is bleeding a little, looks like a scratch or so. OH! OH! My arm is jacked! It looks flat, and the angle mid forearm is not supposed to be there! My lip is swollen. I’m sure this is all precaution.

“Your husband is behind us in his Dad’s car. I’ve got you set up with an IV, do you need anything for the pain?”
“Sure, I mean if you’re offering’em.” I can’t really feel much except my arm is starting to hurt a lot more. Hopefully he gives them to me, you should have said yes.
Well, tell you what. I’m going to treat you like I would want someone to treat my wife. You’re getting something for the pain.”
“That’s awesome, because to be honest I was just trying to be a badass.”
“In my book you are definitely a badass. I can’t believe you’re cracking jokes right now. It’s great to have such a calm and kind patient. Are you comfortable now? Anything else I can get you?”
“Well, now that you mention it. A shot of whiskey would be great.”
“I think you’re my new best friend.”
Wow, these EMTs are amazing. Wow, that made a huge difference in the pain. I hope no one freaks out. Oh crap, the kids. The kids are going to be scared. They are going to be upset. What if I can’t run tomorrow? Katrina will be so disappointed. Doesn’t matter, I’m running. It’s just a broken arm and a scratch or two. I’ll be fine. What about Jessica, we can’t stress her out. The baby isn’t ready to be born, what if this scares Jessica and it stresses her out and things go bad?! Ken can’t tell her yet. She might be totally fine, but what if it’s not. Just be clear that I’m just fine.

After we reached the hospital everything became painful, more painful physically than any of the births I’ve had, with or without pain medications. It was more pain than I have ever felt. The xrays were so painful I think I blacked out at one point. As they wheeled my bed back into my ER room I looked at the clock. I was still on my back, wearing the neck brace so I was reading it upside down. The time was 11:34, which upside down looked like hell. I laughed. I was in a type of hell and I had no idea what I was in for. The experience I had with the ketemine is a blog post in and of itself. As hard as Dad tried; he prayed with me and we talked about the beach before they gave it to me, hoping I would have a good experience…it didn’t work. I was in HELL. The Ketemine gave me awful, terrifying hallucinations. I watched my loved ones, even my niece and nephews turn into nightmarish aliens and die. I felt every part of my body split apart and comeback together again, multiple times. As far as I can guess it was my mind’s way of processing everything they had to clean, stitch and set. I found comfort in the faces of the people I live life with. Ken, Ken’s Dad who barely left my side, Pam who had the kids under control relieving me of worry for them, Stamey, Rachel, Tom, Jessica, my Dad and Gayle. I knew as long as I kept my eyes on their faces outside my room that I would not lose my mind and be stuck in a Ketemine induced nightmare. I knew they  would keep my hand on reality no matter how tenuous I felt my grip was. They helped me talk, cry and joke through that day and those that followed. Even in the middle of all of that I knew and felt how much God has blessed my life with family, maybe they aren’t genetically my family, but they are in the only ways that matter the most. We live, survive and love each other through life.

My finally injury tally ended up being road rash on my face, both arms and shoulders, my hip and both legs, 12 stitches in my eyebrow, teeth thru my lip, dislocated my ulna which required 2 pins for 9 weeks, broke my radius which now has a titanium plate and 6 screws. My helmet saved my life. I cracked it thru and thru, I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t been wearing one. After 6 hours in the ER, I sat down in Ken’s Dad’s car and finally caught a look at myself and the last clear thought I had that day: Oh! What did you do?! I don’t think I’m going to be running tomorrow.

It’s been a year.The guy in the van didn’t stop, I don’t think he knew what happened. Even so, I forgave him long ago for not checking behind him, I understand how he didn’t know because I don’t understand what happened. I spent 3-4 months sleeping in an arm chair in our living room. My loving husband slept on the couch next to my chair every night. He bathed me dressed me, cooked, cleaned, took care of the kids, he even did my make up and helped dress my wounds. He took me to my appointments and held me when I cried from frustration and pain. The dislocation and break was my right arm. I’m right hand dominate. I didn’t realize how much of my identity was wrapped up in my right arm. Everything I love to do. Cycling, painting, drawing, lifting, pilates, cooking. I was originally told I would be back on my bike 3-4 months after the surgery on my arm. I have gotten back on the bike, but it wasn’t until 11 months after.Ken and I have taken to riding a tandem together as well as riding individual bikes. I was told I would likely get most of my range of motion back, but it hasn’t changed much. I can’t turn my palm down, lift,much or even bend my wrist but maybe 30 degrees in any direction. I’m reteaching myself to paint with the new limitations, it’s going to take time to develop a technique but I will sell my paintings again someday. I may not be able to do push-ups or  open most jars, but I have learned so much about myself and the people around me. There are some things that are much harder than they used to be and there are a few I can’t do at all, but I’m alive. I don’t know if I will ever be able to express the love and hope they have given me and how much it changes my life everyday. Thank you to every one of you who has encouraged, sat with, cried with, loved, hoped, prayed, supported and helped me and my family over this last year. A lot of you go unsung, but I assure you, you are heroes to me. The only way I can repay it is to put it to good use, to show my children (specifically my daughters) how to be strong but soft, to show them how to survive with grace. I want this experience to be a turning point. For it to become part of the legacy I leave this world with, because in the end that is all we leave the world. I hope this moment in the life of my family is a visual, tangible life lesson to pass on to my children that will become an oral family tale of survival, blessing and God’s grace.  One year ago today my life changed, I changed. I have been placed in the fire and refined, melted down and made new.






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Happy 13, the First Teenager

The day we left the hospital.

The day we left the hospital.

Hiking to the top of a local mountain with me and Kay.

Hiking to the top of a local mountain with me and Kay.


I will never forget the first moment I saw you. I remember the shape of your head, little mouth crying and wavering up and down. But most vividly I remember your eyes. They looked big enough to take up half your face and there wasn’t a color to them yet, they were just dark and full of depth. As you were laid on my chest and looked into my face with those searching eyes I knew that I had found a calling and entered into a part of love that I didn’t know existed. 13 years later I remember that look and the feeling in my chest so clearly. I’m guessing that is what people mean when they say, “it feels like it was just yesterday.”

One month old.

One month old.

But it wasn’t just yesterday. It was 13 years ago last Sunday. Dad and I were talking about the what the next 5 years look like for you. The next 5 years are a lot like the first 5 years of your life in a physical development way. So much growing and changing so quickly, much like going from an infant to a 5-year-old. But your growth as a person is much greater over these next 5 years. There is so much of life you will begin to experience. Love, hope, friendships, dreams. There will be darkness and brilliant light, rainbows and emotional thunderstorms. Through all these changes and emotions there are some things that will never change. That feeling I had in my chest when I first saw you and looked into your eyes for instance, that has never changed and never will. There are moments everyday that I see you and feel that same sense of happiness, awe, and contentment. Dad and I will always be your beacon home.
2015-09-19 12.00.402015-09-25 22.54.50 Watching you with your friends at your party warmed my heart, you have made friends that care about you and love who you are. Seeing you show them your heart for them and respecting them for who they are in return was a blessing. You are growing and learning so much, its beautiful to watch. Continue to love and respect the people around you for who they are and where they are in life. Continue in your devotions and prayer, your spirit needs the food it has for you. It’s such a blessing to be your mother, my prayer for this year is for your heart to stay open to Dad and I. As we enter the teenage years communication will be of paramount importance for our relationships. Trusting each other, speaking in love, honesty and respect. I’m praying that you will continue to love and trust God, keeping him in front of you to help guide you in your decisions when Dad and I can’t be next to you. I’m always praying that you feel safe, loved and confident. I’m looking forward to this next year with you, continuing to walk through life with you and having the beautiful bond that we continue to build together. I love you, forever. Really, really.

DSCN0533                                                                                                                      Love, Mom


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Meow turns 11

2013-09-04 08.45.45-2

Last October (2013)

Yesterday you turned 11 and I spent the day (when I wasn’t taking care of your Dad) praying about your letter this year. I was having a hard time finding the right words to express this year and what it has taught me about you. This morning you had an orthodontist appointment and I realized you have had your braces and expander for almost a year now. You have endured your upper palate pushed apart and made wider, teeth being pulled, braces being put on, your gap being pulled closed, and your over-jut being pushed into the right place. Some of this has happened at the same time! You are a picture of endurance with a great heart attitude. No matter how much your jaw hurt, your gums throbbed, or how many time your braces cut your lips you always found a way to have a great attitude about it.

From the day you got braces, to finishing expanding, to the day we closed the gap, to now...ALWAYS a great attitude!

From the day you got braces, to finishing expanding, to the day we closed the gap, to now…ALWAYS a great attitude!

This afternoon after yourorthodontist appointment you and Nana went to take a ride on the new ferris wheel in downtown Seattle.  While you are not exactly afraid of heights, youare intimidated by them. Nana said you were nervous and scared but you went on the ferris wheel, looked at the city (but did not look down) and afterwards you remembered the ride as fun and enjoyable, even if it was a little scary.
The more I thought about it and prayed about the year you have had several other instances of you facing your fears this year. You learned to throw and catch a baseball well enough that you earned enough money to buy your own baseball glove. During the summer you went to Wild Waves and went down the water slides, even the high slides and the ones that took you through the tunnels. When we went to the county fair this summer (a ticket you earned from the library by reading a lot of hours) you rode a ride that went super fast and a ride that went high, even though you were nervous and screamed while laughing through the whole ride you got off and thought both rides were fun, glad you had taken the chance and rode them.

Rides at the fair.

Rides at the fair.

You didn’t just take chances with physical fears, but you read books that you thought would be scary because they were suspenseful, you watched movies you previously thought were too scary to watch (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Harry Potter). You have taken a chance on making friends with the new kids in the neighborhood, you have been outgoing, introducing yourself to people. You joined the safety patrol at school, you didn’t just join but became a team leader!

Reflecting on all of those things I realize you started taking more chances after you embraced your braces completely, getting your glasses and wanting a pair of ‘geek style’ glasses. You began to embrace who you are, not just your looks, but your likes, loves, dislikes, and your personality. In some ways I think you are ahead of the curve in knowing yourself and being happy with who you are, because of your experience with braces. You asked me the other day if I thought you were a wuss or a scaredy cat, I told you that I thought you were cautious and that caution is often a

Our Kaylynne 2014

Our Kaylynne 2014

great thing to be. I am officially changing my answer! You are cautious, HOWEVER reflecting on your last year I am adding a few things: bold, courageous, confident, a leader, hilarious, clever and as always intelligent and beautiful.
I’m proud of everything you are and who you will become. I pray this year you will continue to embrace everything you are. I pray

that as you finish your last year of elementary school and move toward (and into) middle school, that you will not lose all that you have developed and discovered about yourself. I pray that this beautiful and quiet confidence you have found within yourself will stay with you. I hope and pray that if there are any other life lessons you can gain from having braces you will be open to them and continue to develop into this incredibly intelligent and clever young lady. Thank you for being my daughter and teaching me so much about life.
2014-01-11 12.28.00Love, Mom

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Twelve is here.

2014-09-18 06.50.54Krystal Lynne,
Here begins your last year before your teen years. I know we have talked a lot about enjoying being a kid, because being a kid is temporary. You only get to be a kid for a short time, once you become an adult you’re an adult for the rest of your life. Becoming a teen next year just means you become a teen. It does not mean that you are adult. Remember to enjoy the teen years too, because there are few of those as well. I know they will feel like they go on forever sometimes, but it’s longer than feels it should be and shorter than you want it to be. You are making the most out of being a kid, while maturing gracefully into a young lady and taking on more responsibilities at home and school. This year you have become more diligent about helping me out with chores, laundry, keeping your room tidied, and taking pride in keeping your hair and clothing nice. We have been able to keep our lines of communication open, being honest, and intentional in our communications since you have started middle school. All of these things are very reassuring that this 12th year as we journey to 13 will be a beautiful and incredible year of growth for you as a young lady and me as a Mom.  I am extremely blessed that we have a transparent and deep relationship. One of my dreams in motherhood is to have children who trust me with everything. So far you have and I pray that this connection never waivers. Being able to talk with you about issues you face each day in school or out of school is a victory we can share in.
You have taken middle school by the horns and I am in awe of that at times. You ran for class senator and you didn’t shy away from it. While campaigning you made new friends and made a name for yourself as the girl who loves people for who they are. When you came home and told me that you had lost to someone else I waited for the moment you would cry and be disappointed, I waited for hours. That time never came. When I asked you why you were okay with losing your response was simple,

Campaign for Senator, quote we used was, "Don't give up, I believe in you all. A person's a person no matter how small."

Campaign for Senator, quote we used was, “Don’t give up, I believe in you all. A person’s a person no matter how small.”

“I’m bummed, but that’s okay. At least I lost to a friend and I tried, that’s all I can do.” One of those times the saying, “Out of the mouth of babes” makes a whole heck of a lot of sense. Then when a boy asked you out you came home, took a deep breath, and told Dad and I. You turned him down politely because you are too young to be thinking about dating, but felt we should still know. Can I just say that I am forever hoping that it’s always that easy for you and me when it comes to boys?! These are the intentional communications we have been building through Mommy Dates and those quiet moments we sit on the couch and just talk for a while. It warms my heart and soul to know you have been paying attention, it becomes more evident every year.

Getting ears pierced with her God appointed sister, Kylie holding on tight.

Getting ears pierced with her God appointed sister, Kylie holding on tight.

You also got up the courage to finally get your ears pierced. You were scared and nervous but in the end, you did it. You have been all about earrings ever since. At the end of the month you are going to your first dance. I remember my school dances very clearly still, so it is hard to believe I have a daughter old enough to go to one. I can’t wait to sit down and talk about it that night and see if you enjoy it as much as I did.
When I think about your upcoming teen years I am not filled with the heaviness or nervousness that I thought I would be when I first had children; people usually complain and dread the teen years, not me. I am so excited to watch you grow this year. My prayer for you this year: Enjoy 12 and look forward to 13. I pray that your beautiful heart will be protected as it grows and shines to the kids in your school. I pray that your confidence in who you and who you want to be will be unwavering and will grow even more. I hope and pray that the right people will see the light that glows within you and you will be a great and mighty force within the walls of the middle school. I pray you stay humble and gracious to others around you. I pray that our relationship will remain an open book with love, understanding, and respect. There is almost no greater blessing between a mother and daughter. You are setting an amazing example before your sisters and brother. Thank you for being my daughter, thank you for being a pure heart that seeks all God has for you in this life. I love you My little Spider Fang.

Love, Mom

2014-07-08 18.47.04

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Filed under Birthday Letters

The Empty Nest, Before the Empty Nest

20140902_225837Yesterday in the gorgeous state of Washington was day one of the 2014-2015 school year. I have done back to school since 2007 when my eldest daughter started preschool so the routine is pretty much down to a science. This year was different from previous years due to the silly thing that happens to children, I believe we refer to it as growing, causing my oldest daughter to transfer to the Middle School across town. Our morning started at 6am, she got up by her own alarm to take a shower, do her own hair, get dressed, eat breakfast and walk to the bus stop by 7:15. Her and

Krystal and Kylie waiting for the bus.

Krystal and Kylie waiting for the bus.

Kylie (our daughter from another family) got on the bus and took off to their new adventure…without me. They left me in the cold and smog of the the big yellow contraption I trust to deliver my precious gifts to school and back safely to me. They’ve always walked to school, because we live a few doors down from one of the elementary schools; the bus is a new thing to us. I walked back to the house to finish getting the rest of the kids around for the day and we were meeting their Nana and Papa at the bottom of the driveway by 8:30. We all walked to the school and greeted the recess teachers, prayed for the kids and the school year, gave them love and sent the 3 remaining girls off. Nana, Papa, Little Kenny and I walked back to the house got in our cars and drove Kenny down to the preschool. We took him in, got him situated in his classroom, met his teacher, and managed to get some hugs and kisses out of him before the three of us walked into the hallway. Dad and Pam looked at me, I took a deep breath and said, “Well check me out! For the first time in 12 years I have no kids at home.”


3 Elementary and 1 Preschooler

3 Elementary and 1 Preschooler

As I drove home (which is like 2 minutes from the preschool) the possibilities of the day ran through my mind. I could go for a longer bike ride (in my absence from writing I have taken up cycling), clean, paint (I have also started my own business selling custom acrylic paintings), watch a movie at a theater, shop, take a walk, have coffee with other adults without feeling rushed. The options are endless, there were 12 years of ideas rushing through my mind. I had always said the first thing I would do when all my kids were in school was go see a movie by myself. I already did that a few months ago when I spontaneously had a night to myself while my Hubby was away for work, so that was no longer a ‘thing’. I had thought I would go for a nice long bike ride, turns out that you get quite sore climbing a ladder for two days while painting your entryway. So what did I do?
I sat down and cried. No one prepares you for what happens to you when you have constant child companions for 12 years, arranging your morning and afternoon by their schedule and then one day…you’re alone. Why did I sit down in my living room and cry? The emotional conflict was fast and complex. Over the day I have likened it to multiple stages and emotions of grief. I was excited for the freedom, felt guilty for the excitement of freedom, sad over the kids growing up, proud of the people my children are becoming, upset that I am done having children and no longer have babies at home, grateful that I am done having babies, guilt over being grateful I am done having babies, sadness because I miss being pregnant, enjoyment of the sound of nothing but the dog snoring and the hum of the refrigerator, distraught that there were no giggles or squeals from the playroom…are you seeing the picture here?! No one warned me that the first day all of my children were in school would be terrible, emotional and would leave me feeling crazy and indecisive! Where was that in the afterschool specials of my childhood?! Or the parenting books and classes?! Shouldn’t there have been one other mother to come along and say, “Hey idiot! Don’t think you are going to enjoy the first day you have an empty school nest, because you are going to feel so conflicted about how you feel after 12 years, that you are just going to sit down and cry off and on.”? Where was that person?! Yeah, I’m looking at all of you moms I see all the time, just saying a warning would have been nice.
After I wiped away my tears and blew away the snot of self-pity and inner turmoil I put on my cycling gear and went for a short ride around the lake behind our neighborhood. It really cleared my head and helped me see what a gift this time can be for me and my children. This is time I can use to work on the projects I have wanted to work on but didn’t want to take the time away from the kids while they were home. I can use this time to work on getting the house where I want it to be for all of us so there is more time for family stuff in the evening, instead of having to use it all to clean (effectively making family clean up shorter) or being able to use family clean up time to teach my kids how to clean something new instead of the same old stuff every night. When I got home from my ride, I showered and then took the time to blow dry my hair (which I usually never have the time for). I checked my Strava (a running and cycling app) and there was a message from Dad on my ride, “That’s one way to put that time to good use. And Mommy Blues energy as well! Love you!” I had to laugh, because they knew it was going to be hard, I never thought it would hit me as hard as it did. It was comforting to know Dad and Pam know me that well and that it was okay to be blue. I really thought it would be easier than this. You know it’s coming eventually, that all the kids will be in school and there will be an empty house for most of the day. It’s hard to process what that means and what it will feel like. Knowing that your children are that much closer to actually leaving the nest. They are that much closer to living the rest of their childhood. It really does happen in a blink, it sneaks up on you.
What I learned today is one more reason to treasure the gifts that are our children. Our children will always be our children, but they wont always be children. Their childhood is a temporary time, the time we have to be parents to children in temporary; what we do with that temporary time is permanent. I want to use the time they are at school to create in myself a better parent and person so that my temporary time creates the best permanent outcome. This is what the empty nest before THE Empty Nest can be.



Filed under Life

Kenny IV turns 4!

2014-08-24 16.48.192014-08-08 17.34.09

Dear Kenny,
Happy Birthday little boy, you’re 4 in August! These last few months you have started to look, act, and talk like a 4 year old. The song you sing me will always be a treasure to my heart. “My Mommy, My Mommy she’s such a little cutey. I pinch her butt, I tickle her neck, and give her a kiss on the cheek.” Why you made up a song and decided it was a good plan to pinch my buns, I am not sure, but it’s still adorable. You try to do everything your stisters (how you say sisters), sometimes you succeed and sometimes you come up a little short, but you are determined and rarely get deterred. You have catch phrases like, “Boom, baby!” and “Banana Peel!” (You used to use that in response to everything). You have managed to embarrass Dad and me by introducing yourself, “Hi my name is Kenny, but everyone calls me buttcrack.” I am not sure where you go that from, but we never called you buttcrack. Luckily we were able to get that under control, with some help from Nana and Papa. You also have learned, “Ladies go first, because that’s being a gentleman.” 

You did this all on your own.

Next week you start preschool. You are already excited and ready to put on your backpack, grab your lunch bag and head out. You are going to make friends, learn many more things, and begin an adventure. You’re skills at using a phone, laptop or tablet will do little for you in Preschool, but I am sure your teachers will get quite the laugh when you ask if they have games on their phone. I will always be here to hold you when you have a bad day, to kiss your scrapes and cuts, to hear about all the good things and what you are learning, and to love you quietly when you need nothing at all. Someday, many, many days from this day I will write your graduation letter and even then I will be there to hold you, give you kisses, and listen to all the things you have to tell me. Everyday of your life I will love you. I am so proud of you, I look forward to seeing who you become the older you get, but I hope the next 12 years or so go by much slower than the last 4 years have.

                                                                                                                 Love, Mom

                                                                                                     2014-08-22 18.25.25 

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