Category Archives: beauty

8 days

**I wrote this in the days following Addy’s funeral, but until now didn’t feel like posting**

addy’s life was short.

there is no way around this subject.  her life was short.  8 days to be exact.

while you may not agree with the next several thoughts, you have to allow me to believe them because i do.  we don’t have to agree, but we can respect each other.

when addy was born the odds were not in her favor.  she was 12 weeks early, she had the PDA, she developed the infection, and she had the massive brain bleed.  if she only had any one of those things (instead of them all), this story may have played out differently – but we will never know and playing the what if game is pointless.  with all of those complications we believe there is mercy in her passing.  we obviously didn’t want that to happen and we wanted the outcome to be different, but we were constantly reminded that we are not in control.  death is some times the most compassionate thing that can happen to a person, and we believe that to be the case in this situation.

even though the birth mother changed her mind hours before addy’s death she wanted us to be at the funeral.  we got an e mail from our caseworker with the arrangements.  we knew we wanted to go to support the mother and her family, we wanted the agency to know that we really did care, and while addy was alive i spent a lot of time with her and wanted to say goodbye.  so for us we knew that we would go.  we wouldn’t attend the grave side service, but we would go to the funeral home.  since the birth mother hadn’t told a lot of people that she was giving the baby up for adoption we didn’t want to go to the grave side service where people talk to the people around them afterwards.  we didn’t want to just say we were “friends” because we didn’t want the follow up questions.  the safest thing to protect the mother and the best thing for us was to just go to the funeral service at the funeral home.  when we got there we signed in and found a seat.  shortly after we sat down the pregnancy counselor came over to us and we stood up and hugged her.  she slipped something in my hand and told me that the mother wanted us to have it.  it was a tiny knit hat that belonged to addy, they also gave us a card signed by the people that worked at the agency.  i gave her a card and a flash drive of the photos that i had taken of addy to give to the mother.  we spoke with our caseworker and gave her a hug.  a few minutes before the service started the birth mother came over and gave me a huge hug and the dad came over and shook our hands.

i don’t love funerals – besides the obvious that someone is dead, but because i don’t feel like funerals capture a persons life.  i have been to a few funerals that have made me feel closer to the deceased, but most of the time i feel like funerals paint a picture that isn’t an accurate image of that person or their life, or that they are so far off on who that person was to the people they have left behind.  i will say that this funeral was no different.  it was painful.  i mean no disrespect for addy, her family, or the preacher that performed the funeral, but it was the worst funeral i have ever been to.

to begin with, it was a funeral for an 8 day old baby.  it doesn’t matter that we were connected through the adoption process and that she was so close to being ours, it would have been horrible even if that wasn’t the case.  it honestly felt like a pre-memorial service for pat summit (she was eulogized more than addy was).  i liked coach pat as much as the next person, but the tiny little body up there wasn’t pat summitt, it was addy.  the other thing that stuck out to me so much as being terrible was that in talking about pat summitt the preacher continued to say that millions will remember pat, but no one will remember addy.  that her life meant nothing.  she was insignificant.

maybe we misunderstood the point of what the preacher was saying, but we both would have misunderstood the same way, because we were both very upset when we left the funeral.  during the funeral andy’s hand would grip mine a little tighter and i returned the gesture each time something didn’t sit right (at one point in time it was just a continuous squeeze).  we couldn’t  believe some of the things we heard, and granted at a time like this it is hard to know what to say, but I feel like other things could have been said.  i silently prayed that the preacher would step aside and ask if anyone wanted to come to the front and say a few words – because i would have gone.  i thought about the fact that most people didn’t know of the adoption plan and thought “i don’t care, addy deserves better than this.”  he never left the podium, and never gave me a chance to speak. so allow me to say what i feel like should have been said in the first place.

one thing that the preacher did say was this: “how do you eulogize 8 days?”  that is how he started his sermon and that grabbed me, so i will keep that.

how do you eulogize 8 days of life?

you shouldn’t have to.  it isn’t fair and it is hard for us to understand why things happened the way that they did.  we can sit here everyday and say it was all part of God’s timing, but that implies that God was ok that her life was cut short.  or the implication can be made that he planned on her life to be short for a “greater good” or to “teach” someone a lesson.  i have a hard time believing that some people are born to die to show other people something because that would imply that their life is expendable – that God doesn’t value their life as much as other lives.  i don’t believe that we are God’s pawns that he just kicks us off the chessboard whenever he feels like it.  i just don’t believe that.  i understand from a physical stand point why addy died.  i know that she was early and that she was very sick.  i understand that her chance of survival was slim with all of the complications – so her death wasn’t a complete shock to us.  what i don’t understand is the spiritual side.  i don’t know why we were chosen to be part of her 8 days.  my heart tells me that there is a reason, but i can’t figure it out – and possibly i will never know the reason – and i have come to believe that this is ok.

addy came into this world with a dramatic flair – butt first; however, that first breath of life was her own.  she was a 13.75 inch long, 2 pound 10 ounce miracle.  for weeks before her birth she was our miracle.  her short life was full of tubes, medicines, tests, needle sticks, glow lights, beeps, and monitors.  her cry was never louder than a kitten’s meow. she never found her voice and we will never know the depth of it.  she never got to sleep in a real bed, only knowing the warmth of the incubator.  she will never know the silence on a starry night gazing at the moon, she only knew the beeps, constant noise, and bright lights of the nicu.  despite never holding her, and never being able to be that close to her, i was able to pick up on her scent.  the “new baby smell” that everyone talks about.  when i left the hospital after she was born to go to the hotel, i fell asleep with my hands next to my face drinking the smell in.  the smell that i associated with dreams coming true, hope, and our miracle. the smell that a few days later, triggered the tears to fall as i leaned my head against the incubator praying that the doctors were wrong.

it is hard to imagine what kind of person she would have been.  in her short life you could catch glimpses of characteristics of who she might have been.  when she was uncomfortable or in pain she put her hands to her face covering her eyes.  when she was completely relaxed she would hold her ear or put her hands above her head.  her heart rate reacted to music showing that she enjoyed music.  she would have liked to have been snuggled because she always responded to touch.  she was quick to grab your finger and to latch on and squeeze.  but beyond these things we will never know addy as being beyond 8 days old.  we can imagine who she would have been, but because her beginning was brief and the ending came too soon we will have few thoughts of her growing and living beyond the incubator and the nicu.

she was surrounded by love before she took her first breath.  her birth mother loved her enough to do the adoption plan, andy and i loved her more than any words i can express, our families loved her, and friends loved her.  she was a little girl that was never at a loss for love or prayers.  they poured in for her.  the nurses and the doctors loved her too.  i walked in several times to see the nurses talking with her and telling her that she was beautiful.  she might have just been their patient, but the love in the nicu was palpable.  addy received more love in her short life than some people get in a life time and for that i am thankful.

while her life didn’t reach millions of people (maybe not even hundreds of people) she touched lives.  deeply.  the people that she leaves behind have felt her presence deep within our souls and we mourn the loss of sweet addy.

and while i still don’t understand the “purpose” in her life cut short and i don’t believe that God “caused” this to happen to teach us something i do believe that we can use terrible things – this death – to find beauty.  we can find beauty in the fact that she wasn’t alone and that she died being loved by many.  personally, i am holding onto the beauty that this experience has opened my eyes and proved that i can love a baby that isn’t biologically mine.  there is beauty that relationships were strengthened surrounding the birth and death of addy.  the beauty that God never left us throughout this entire process.

i will never believe that she was put here as a dispensable life.  for some unknown reason her life was an essential part of our story and of our lives.  there is a part of addy that will remain in my heart, and i hope in the hearts of others, forever.

how do you eulogize 8 days of life?

her life was short and and her death won’t affect millions of people.  her footprint might have been tiny, but in the 8 days she was alive she left a mark – her mark – an impact and love that was immense, beyond measure.

goodbye sweet addy, goodbye.

our little twitter-bird

I have started and deleted this post so many times I have lost count.  Nothing seemed right.  Nothing seemed to do it justice.  One time it would be too detailed and too much information for the reader and other times it was so vague that it didn’t feel right either.  So I will start this post again and see if I can find some middle ground.

When we were chosen by the birth mother at the end of May 2016.  We were told she was due in September, but that she always went early so to be ready by August 1.  We made our lists of things to do before we were to bring the baby home.  We bought furniture and had it delivered to the house while we were at Montreat.  We started to talk about paint colors for the nursery, and we started to discuss what we would need immediately vs what would be on our wish list for later.  We had a plan pretty much for each week until August 1st.

We were chosen (officially) on June 1, 2016.  We went to Montreat as planned and while we were there we got a call on June 14th that our birth mother was in the hospital and they were trying to decide if they were going to do strict bed rest of go on and induce and take the baby because both mom and baby were in danger.  We were told to be on stand by.  June 15th we got a call stating they were going to induce as mom was now 28 weeks and they couldn’t wait any longer.  They were planning on starting the process at 5:00 pm.  We decided Andy would stay at camp with the kids since he wasn’t going to be in the delivery room anyways.  I made my way to the hospital and we waited.  5:00 came and went and nothing was started.  It was around 9:00 that night that they actually got things started with the induction.

This is where I end up being way too detailed or not detailed enough.  I remember every second (mostly) and detail about the time I spent in room 10 of the labor and delivery floor.  It was an experience like no other and that words don’t completely capture the essence or the magnitude of the moments we spent together.  Exactly 2 weeks after we were chosen, two weeks and a day after we met this amazing woman we were tossed into a whirlwind experience.  We hadn’t had our next scheduled meeting because we thought there was time.  We hadn’t had time to completely process the extent of our relationship and how connected we were because we knew the other existed for only 2 weeks.  We thought there was time to get the furniture assembled in the nursery.  We thought there was time to meet the birth father.  We thought there was time, but what we didn’t have was time.  It was here and now and all of my plans and lists were null and void.

I write about the timeline of events that happened in June 2016 and am thrust right back into the calm before the storm and then the absolute chaos.  And while all of those elements are so important to Andy and I, they may not be as important to anyone else, and that is ok.  Maybe in the moment those details would have been important to other people beyond Andy and myself, but this far out from that date, I just don’t know.  It is hard sorting out what others might feel is important and what I think it is important for other people to hear.  I can describe in detail the induction process and when things stalled or progressed.  I can describe to you how truly amazing it was to listen to the heart beat on the monitor.  How in the quiet of the night it would slam into me with so much emotion I would escape to the bathroom to gather myself.  How the chairs were arranged in that room and each person had their spot, but when they rotated, where we all went and how often we moved around.  How we took shifts to make phone calls, get drinks, ice chips, and eventually something to eat.  How birth mom would wake up during the night and ask if her “baby mama” was still there.  Those details are there and etched in my brain.

What is important regardless of how much time passes is the beauty that encompassed room 10 and OR room 1.  Two families connected through adoption.  The birth family and the adopted family supporting each other, barely knowing each other.  We laughed together, we got choked up together, we sat in silence together.

The awkwardness I thought would be palpable wasn’t there.  The conversation flowed between procedures and contractions.  The smiles and tears were genuine.  The concern was real.  She apologized to me so many times for having to be induced and the magnitude of the situation didn’t elude me.  She was saying sorry to me and yet she was about to give me my hopes and dreams for so many years.  It didn’t seem quite right.  I thanked her over and over.  We held hands like old friends.

Around 2:15 in the morning of June 16th I found myself sitting alone in the cafeteria eating the first food I had in hours and reflecting on life.  A terrible piece of pizza and a luke warm cranberry juice was all that was available at that time of morning.  I sat in the booth staring off into space, tired from being awake and exhausted from trying to be supportive and remaining hopeful and calm.  We were not delusional to think this delivery at 28 weeks would be without complications.  I knew what we were up against.  Andy did too.  But we held onto the hope that things would be ok.  The heart rate was perfect and I held onto that thought.  For the first time in years I imagined our life as a family with a child.  I grabbed onto that hope that it was really happening to us.  I reached into the back of my mind where I stashed all of those thoughts and feelings and allowed them to resurface again.

Birth mom and most everyone else in the room fell asleep around 3.  Myself and another lady stayed awake until about 4:20.  We were awaken at 4:40 by total chaos.  Birth mom was rushed to the OR to deliver there (as a precaution).  I was told to wait by a door to see the baby as it went by the door on the way to the NICU.  The friend that was in the OR with the birth mom was texting the pregnancy counselor and the pregnancy counselor was sending me the information and I was sending the information to Andy.  It was a long line of cell phone communication.  My favorite was when I got the text that she was here.  Our little girl.  She was 2 pounds 10 ounces.  I got to see a video of them taking her to the incubator.  They stopped by the door and I could see her.  The NICU doctor was with her.  I hadn’t been able to speak with her earlier so she stepped through the door and answered some of my questions.  She said the good news was that they didn’t have to intubate right away that she was breathing on her own (she warned me that could change at any moment).  She wanted to go to the NICU with her and told me I would be able to come see her and find out more information after their first assessment.  I went back to room 10 and watched the sun rise.

The day our daughter was born I saw the beauty in the creation of not just her life, but in the world around me.  In my tired state I marveled over the colors dancing in the sky.  It didn’t matter that it was coming up over construction and dirty machinery.  It was the most beautiful sunrise I ever saw.

I waited for what seemed like hours and was finally able to go to the NICU and be with our girl.  I was educated on how to scrub in and went through the dragonfly covered door to her little incubator.  I will admit in full honesty that I was glad Andy wasn’t there for my first meeting with her.  Biological mothers get to have that bonding time for 9 months (or so) while the baby is growing in them.  I hadn’t had that and was so happy that we could have a few minutes to bond alone.  I know that is selfish, but hey at least I willingly admit that.  The nurse was amazing.  She walked me through everything about the NICU.  I knew what to expect in the coming hours and what to hope for with the first 72 hours (what we were told would be the biggest challenge).  We were guarded but so far everything was ok.  She had a PDA (hole in the heart) and they were starting to treat that.  She would have cranial US to check on bleeding on the brain.  I was able to open the little door on the incubator and she grasped my finger and in that instant, my heart.  I talked to her and sat in silence staring at her.  Taking in her tiny little fingers and toes.  Watching her chest rise and fall.  Listening to the beeps and looking at the machines she was hooked up to.

With stories from the NICU.  I have a hard time knowing what to share.  Things happened quickly some days and other days not so quickly.  The omission of the massive amounts of details of what went on in the dragonfly wing of the NICU isn’t due to be uncaring or flippant about all that happened.  But rather I still can’t grasp what to say about it.  I almost feel callous in not writing more.  Most days were similar to the days before.  I would get to the hospital and go see the birth mom (she remained hospitalized after birth due to complications), then I would go to the NICU and scrub in.  I found a chair and would roll over to the incubator.  I would normally be met by the nurse and updated on progress or set backs.  I would then climb in my chair and talk to our sweet girl.  I would hold her hand.  Stroke the side of her face.  Tickle her tiny little toes.  It was just amazing and the images still come so vividly to me.

After the first doses of medications she still had a PDA and they were going to try another dose of medicine before they considered surgery.  Her oxygen was still good.  She had some help from ventilator, but wasn’t intubated.  She passed her cranial US with no bleeding.  She was a rock star.  She did have some episodes of Brady’s (forget to breathe), but I was assured that was normal with NICU patients.

One day I was at the incubator and the birth mom came in and we stood on each side of her and semi held her up for a family photo.  It was a moment I will never forget.  We marveled over how tiny she was and how dark her hair was.  There was a silence among us and looks of understanding, appreciation, and love between us.  A relationship that was so new and yet very deep.

Andy coming to meet her before he went on his next trip made me almost weep.  He couldn’t believe how tiny she was.  I told him, but he said seeing it for himself was surreal.

She passed the 72 hour mark with very little complications (except the PDA).  All of her cranial US came back normal and her blood work was great.  She was doing wonderful on the ventilator, but still wasn’t intubated and was breathing on her own too.

Day four is where things changed.  I got to the hospital and the nurse said she seemed a bit off the night before and now.  They were waiting on lab reports to come back, but thought she had an infection.  She was fussy and not comfortable.  The nurse showed me how to tuck her arms and legs into my palm and hold her securely in the incubator.  That seemed to help calm her.  Otherwise she would flail her arms and legs and cry (he tiny cry sounded like a kitten).  I sat with her for hours holding her arms and legs in the palm of my hand so she would be comfortable.  You could see the distress on her face and in her actions.  You could see it in her vitals and on the monitors.  It broke my heart.  There was nothing I could do to really help.  Touch seemed to help and I just wish that I could have held her.  I was informed that if she continued to have problems they would intubate to help relieve some of the stress on her body.  I asked them to call and let me know if they did that.

Results came back and she did have an infection and they started antibiotics.  They did intubate.

Wednesday morning I got a call asking me to come to the hospital because the doctors wanted to meet with us.  They informed us that she had a massive brain bleed likely caused by the severe infection.  We were all devastated.  Andy drove over from camp to talk with me and the doctor and to visit with our sick little girl.  Things changed so quickly it was hard to breathe.

Friday morning 8 days after her birth I got a call that the birth mom changed her mind and wanted to back out of the adoption plan.  I feel like there were so many factors in that decision and we will never know the extent of why she changed her mind, but she did.  That was her choice to make and we respect that decision.  Her decision kept us from having to make the decision to continue with the adoption verses backing out with such a poor prognosis.  A decision that neither of us wanted to make.  After the call I climbed in bed and grabbed onto Otis and cried.  For 8 days I had a little girl that I loved so much.  For 8 days I was a mother, not legally or biologically, but I loved that sweet baby with everything I had.  She was mine and I was hers.  It was an experience that showed me without a shadow of a doubt that shared DNA didn’t mean love.

It is important, I think, to note that we had a name picked out for our child.  Ever since we did infertility treatments we had a name.  The birth mother had chosen a different name and we planned on changing that at finalization to the name we fell in love with.  While I was alone I called the baby the name we intended to change it to.  But while others were around I respected the birth mother and called her Addy.  Since the birth mother changed her mind we have taken to remembering our time with her as Addy.  That is who she will always be to us.  Addy our little twitter-bird.

We were notified on Monday by our adoption agency that hours after the birth mother changed her mind.  Just 8 days into her life, Addy passed away.

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spring round up

sorry for the delay in posts (no excuses – well there are but I will spare you the details)

back in march (the 27th to be exact) we worked cattle.  I didn’t get out there until right after work but I rushed out as soon as I could.  it was amazing.  I had a new outlook on working cattle from last year.  from my perspective I am in constant awe.

all of the cows are rounded up (with the exception of a handful that eluded the round-up process).

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when I get out of the car I walk cautiously through the gates towards the yelling and the moos.  I approach the barn and wait until I hear the shoot open and a cow comes flying by like lightning pausing when it sees me I can only imagine that it is worried that the humans are playing a joke and that it has to go through more “torture” but that hesitation doesn’t last long as it runs for the green grass and bales of hay waiting as their rewards for new ear tags, fly tags, shots, and medicine.  I stand still and wait until I hear the shoot catch again.  I know it is safe to cross in front of the barn.  I walk up to see everyone in their place doing their assigned tasks and watch for a minute the well oiled machine that has become known as “working cattle.”  because of dad’s foot we had some new people stepping in and I quickly took my place to help betsy load ear tags (and it is harder than it looks – we are going to have a few practice meetings before our next cattle working day).

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 betsy and I tried to have tags and shots loaded (betsy did most of it because it took me forever to get the ear tags loaded).  jack was in charge of manning the gates and keeping the direction of the cow in the right way.  andy writes down the important information.  William and Mitchell give the shots and do the tags.  randy and ryan and another Mitchell help move them through the shoot and load them.

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each person has their own way of dealing with the cows.  I am sure that the cows believe they are being tortured but it really is to help them, but it is hard to reason with a cow.  my cousin William, that has always been a quiet one, leads the charge and give orders.  Mitchell my other cousin (who just graduated from ETSU by the way) is extremely tall.  if you were walking down a dark alley in the middle of the worst neighborhood and saw him in the shadows it would freak you out because he looms over everything – it would freak you out until you heard him talking to those cows.  he talks to them and tells them that they are ok.  he calls the adult ones mama and the little ones tiny’s.

this year there were two crazy cows  that jumped the fence a few times and were very agitated (it is instances like this that has everyone talking about how crazy dads cows are).  William kept telling me and betsy that if she came in our area to run.  I had my escape plan worked out but betsy looked at me and was like what does he mean get out.  where do we go?  I showed her the gate I was going over or through and she picked her gate too.  in the end they went through and everything was ok.

not everything went as perfectly as it could but at the end of the day we made it.  gene had to go to the hospital before I got there.  everyone was pulling away and William led us in making sure the cows were watered and fed.  andy tossed hay out of the barn, we moved water troughs, counted cows, I opened gates for the tractor.

  as the sun was going down you could hear the pleasant moos from the back field of cows that were reunited with their babies and the images of the last cow that was pushed through the process.  it was a “tiny” and randy carried it over to where we could tag it.  he held it and everyone gathered around it and watched as it got his new earrings and my giant cousin talked to it and when tiny stood up everyone looked at him and several people patted his head and he was on his way.  that cute face looking at us like we were aliens.

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until the next round-up.

all about bob…well claire

almost 10 years ago I met one of my best friends at queens university.  it was a nutrition class and we had to work on a group project together.  after that project study groups formed and a tremendous friendship started.  we have been through some ups and downs together with each of us.  she was a part of my wedding and I helped her though a rough relationship.  we have talked about family issues and have been there through losses.  we have each others back.  after her failed relationship we would go to dinner and I would ask her about dating.  she would say nope and I am never getting married.  one day things changed.  she came to dinner and talked about bob.  the more and more we talked on the phone or went to dinner the more and more she talked about bob.  she talked about meeting his family and him meeting hers and she was happy.  I was honored to be apart of her wedding to bob 3-15-14.

first we had a bachelorette party at folly beach/Charleston.  it was the first time I got to meet the other bridesmaids.  it was a blast even if it did rain most of the weekend.

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I was able to take a few days off the week of the wedding.  on the Thursday before the wedding andy and I went to the farm and helped get some decorating done and hung out with bob and Claire.  on Friday we went to the rehearsal and to dinner and I spent the night with Claire and helped her do her flowers.  we were up until 330 in the morning but we laughed until we cried and snorted.  the day of the wedding we got up and got out hair done and went back to her place and to the farm to finish up the flowers and then it was game time.  she was the most beautiful bride and I couldn’t have been happier for her and bob and they both seemed so happy.  the wedding ceremony was beautiful and the reception was wonderful.  the food was delicious.  it was the perfect march day to have a wedding.

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for her wedding gift I made her and bob a quilt and used her wedding colors in it.

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congrats to my bff Claire and her new husband bob on a beautiful wedding and a wonderful start to a brand new adventure.  I love you both!

Dec. 2013

if November was long and exhausting December was just as crazy.

that tree that we brought home from charlotte got put up (not really in a timely manner but it got put up and decorated (finally).  each year at Christmas we have a real tree.  i grew up in a home with a fake tree (we always traveled at Christmas so it didn’t make sense to have a real one) and andy grew up in a family that had a real tree.  we compromised and now we have a real tree (the compromise is that andy will water the devil out of the tree because i am so scared it will catch on fire – too much rescue 911 as a child).  back to my point…each year when andy brings the real tree in the house Otis gets so excited his entire butt wags.  this year he seemed overly excited so we sat him down and explained that the tree wasn’t his and he wrinkled his forehead and dropped his ears and looked at me like i ruined his life.

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dec 5th would have been leslie’s 30 birthday.  i can’t believe it.  i miss her so much.  on top of being a little sad anyways it was a day from hell at work.  there were cancelled clinics, emergency case to go to surgery, bumped surgeries because of the emergencies, rude people and nothing went right.  tension was high among all and at the end of the day we all just looked at each other and shook our heads.  it was a train wreck of the day and i was glad to get home and be off that train for a night.  i will say with as bad of a day as it was my coworkers are rock stars and make even the worst day manageable.

the next day i was freaking out because i couldn’t find my camera cord.  i looked everywhere and called all of the places i had been to make sure it didn’t magically jump out of my camera bag.  this panic went on for a few weeks.  (no worries i found it after a few weeks – in my bag that i never unpacked from thanksgiving – that will teach me to not unpack).

dec 7th dr. scott (nat) took the girls to Asheville for our Christmas gift.  we did some shopping and went to grove park inn for dinner.  it was so much fun to hang out with all of the ladies outside of work.  we shopped until we almost dropped and thankfully we ran out of time because we ran out of room in the van.  on the way home we ran into some thick fog and thought we were going to die…but we didn’t.  we laughed and laughed.  i love these ladies!

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i bought a lawn ornament (ok yes i did but i love it and i have no shame).  it is a tobacco stick with two old records melted and painted to look like a flower.  i will post pictures this spring when andy lets me put it in the yard.  he wasn’t all that excited about it.

we put out Christmas decorations.  each year a little more gets added to our yard and i LOVE it.  this year we added a little snowman and some deer to the doghouse and the word noel.  it looked so great.  the wind was really bad so we had some issues with our big snowman and the deer but it all worked out.  one night when i was doing laundry i heard the wind blowing really hard and looked out the window and saw that a deer fell over and the snowman had his head blown back and arms out so it looked like he was praying for the deer.  it was really funny (or maybe you had to be there).

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i will share other Christmas decoration photos of the inside of the house soon (in another post).

Otis had a seizure on thee 21st.  he seems to be doing ok with it and had no lingering effects.  just slows him down for a little bit.  i had this long to do list and in the middle of being productive he had the seizure.

other big news in dec is that we updated our phones.  we both now have iPhones.  i no longer have a flip phone.  it has been a little weird.  i still don’t really use it other than to call, text, and take some pictures.  i don’t really use the internet or anything that will use up data.  just don’t feel right about that for some reason.

we went to a surprise graduation party for david (nat’s husband).

we had Christmas here.  Otis got boots and hated them.  once we get his nails trimmed we will post a video of him wearing them.  he played with Bryson.  they ran in the house and chased each other.  they howled and screamed together.  it was really funny.  my grandmother got a headlight and it was so funny to watch her and my great-aunt open gifts.  Otis also had a blast playing and wouldn’t share with dad even when he got in the floor to play with him.  we were also very thankful that Andrew got back to the states.  he was deployed overseas and it was great to see him and to know that he is “home.”

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we went to charlotte for Christmas.  we had fun with the family.  andy, erik, and Katie got hornets gear and had fun reminiscing with that!  we got the girls a bug this year (ellen is too young to use it but it should last until she is older so that they will get a lot of years out of it.  cj isn’t so good at driving (at least she wasn’t when she got it) hopefully she will get better before she turns 16!

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andy also decided to do no shave november and i didn’t notice until the middle of dec that he still didn’t shave – so he looked pretty shaggy.

a little cousin was born in december:  logan ross made his appearance and him and his mama are healthy and his daddy is proud.

church was crazy.  we had a ton of events that seemed to be unending.  we had the progressive dinners for the youth as well as a ton of special services.

as much as i enjoyed seeing family and friends this wasn’t the best December.  it just went by too quickly and i felt like i wasn’t able to enjoy it like years past.  we didn’t get any Christmas cards out this year and i hate that.  i felt like we rushed and scrambled to “do” Christmas and all we accomplished was barely surviving it.

to celebrate enduring the end of a crazy year, 2013, we went to the cabin for new years eve to relax.  we did nothing but relax.  we went shopping one day for a little bit but the other time we spent playing a new great game – crack the code on the dvd player.  it was bought at an auction and has a parental lock on the dvd player and we couldn’t watch any of our new movies.  we still have a great time.  Otis woke me up one morning and i got to see the sunrise.

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happy end of 2013 and beginning of 2014

furry happiness

we go to the farm to feed animals i have stated before that it is more for my benefit then it is for theirs.  they can eat grass and be happy with that, but who doesn’t want a little treat every now and then.  it doesn’t matter how bad of a day that i have had going to see the animals and ride around makes me happy.  some people go to happy hour and have liquid happiness i go to the farm for furry happiness.

i have enjoyed being able to go see the mountains and have enjoyed being “responsible” for animals.  pancake has come such a long way.  do i trust him yet – not at all, but i feel a lot more comfortable around him and he does me too.  i can now put my forehead on his and he crosses his eyes and looks at me but doesn’t jerk away like he has been shot.  he has gotten to the point where he always wants to run to us.  which is awesome but a little scary when he is flying down a hill and you are at the bottom. pancake also does this thing where he will just stick out his tongue after eating!

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pancake has always had personality (which was evident when he tried to take dad out and escape the horse trailer) but it is really starting to show in a fun way.  he loves treats.  sometimes he gets really excited and tries to eat your hand with them but he responds to ouch and stop and a firm hand on the forehead.  he tries to steal other animals treats also.  he also loves the camera.  i will get the camera out and he comes to see it.  he wants to smell it and lick it and see if it is a treat.  he loves having his picture taken even if it mean photobombing another picture!

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he still gets antsy around the horses but has gotten more bold and will come around them.  i recently learned that he slurps his water.  he will put his lips in a bucket of water and uses his lips like they are his personal straw.  it is really funny but could be a little annoying if he did it all the time around me.  (the horses also drink this way too).

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now that the weather is getting cooler all the animals are feeling a little frisky.  pancake is running circles around us and jack.  jack has gotten a lot more mobile since pancake has come to live at the farm.  jack runs and kicks and makes a weird heehaw noise.  it is a little more like a screech noise but still gets the point across.  jack also gets excited about treats.  he doesn’t bite as much as he lips.  he will take the treat from me but my hand ends up in his lips.  he really loves the caramel treats that we recently got.

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argyle is growing up so much.  we put the halter on his….and he lost it.  we are still looking in brush and on limbs to see where he got it caught..  he is almost taller than me.  he is fuzzy (with his baby/winter coat).  he loves for his butt to be rubbed.  he will let me rub his head and neck and then he turns so that we can get to his back and butt.  he also will still rub/lean up against me like a big dog.  he loves attention and treats and is getting a lot more bold with the big horses.

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the other horses are still crazy.  they love treats and being bullies to the other animals.  flag is getting a lot nicer and actually will listen to me (well sort of).  abbey and penny are still a little jumpy and bossy but they are sweet and get treats too.

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dinozzo…he is getting big!

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we love to take my camera (in part for the animals but also for the mountains).  you never know what you will capture.  (all of the pictures are from the last several weeks).

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my dose of furry happiness.

the country: a beautiful thing

growing up we took a lot of family vacations.  i say a lot but i have no idea how many we really took because when you are younger things seem more often.  i know that we travelled all over and i am amazed at some of the places my parents have told me i have been but i don’t really remember.  some of the memories i have of those vacations are of me and will running through museums trying to get through them as quickly as we could so we could move on.  i remember waiting on my parents (who according to my younger self) were the slowest people in the world.  it was a race to get back to the hotel/camp ground to go swimming in the pool.  ah the joys of family vacations as a child.  when we loaded up for vacations as teenagers it was more of the same, but instead of running to the end, it was more avoid and hide from my parents (who according to my teenager self) were the most embarrassing humans alive.  it was a slow form of torture.  looking back i realize that it was actually (dare i say) fun.  now looking back it makes me a little sad.  not only because of the carefree vacations but because i missed out on a lot of things because i was too hurried to really look at the things in the museum or appreciate the sites.  i was too busy making fun of things that we had to do to really absorb it and the history.  as a teenager i was so annoyed that i wasn’t with my friends that i missed out on a lot of great experiences.  i might have been physically there and going through motions but i didn’t really “get” it – whatever “it” was.  this is true for our trip to washington dc, the nasa space center in fl, countless museums across the south, the cherokee reenactments etc. 

that rambling leads me to this:

i grew up in the city, yes i spent time in the country visiting family on some weekends and in the summer but let’s face it…i’m a city girl.  there are times i pretend that i am a country girl…like when we go feed the animals and i move a branch out of the tractor path and act like the world stood still until those tasks were accomplished.  i pretend that i know what i am doing when i grab the horse’s halter to put fly medicine on her face – but in reality i am thinking “please don’t pull me through the fence.”   i pretend that i trust pancake when i think he is really plotting against me (especially when he flattens his ears).  i pretend that pancake has come a great ways and it is all because i am a self-proclaimed donkey whisperer.  i pretend that if it wasn’t for me and andy, argyle would be so skittish around humans that he would be considered for the rodeo.  i pretend that when argyle goes to his new home (whenever that might be) that i won’t miss him because he is just a horse when i actually think that i love him and there is a great possibility that i will cry when i drive up and he isn’t standing in the field with his lanky legs running to the fence to greet us.  

i pretend that i have always enjoyed doing these things…but i haven’t.  i can remember when i was growing up and was “forced” to come to tn with my family.  it was a time when i was starting to really have a social life outside of neighbors and family friends but wasn’t old enough to stay at home so my parents did the responsible thing and took me with them.  i drug my feet the entire time.  i longed to be with my friends in the city and hated that i was missing all of the latest things.  i was worried that my best friends would replace me in the 72 hours that i was out of their sight.  i missed the beauty in feeding animals with my grandmother.  i missed the knowledge in riding around town with my grandfather making deliveries and picking up boxes.  i missed the freedom in running through a tobacco field looking for tobacco worms.  i missed the experience of riding on the tractor around the farm.  i missed the familiarity of walking through the barn yard with the cows.  i missed the understanding of why we picked and shelled beans and cut up apples.  i will take a moment to make it clear that i did all of those things and for the most part i plastered a smile on my face but it isn’t until now – years later – that i fully grasp what i was missing out on by not truly living in the moment.  i didn’t take advantage of the situations and now that we are living here there are things i wish i could do again and wish that andy could experience because they really were life changing things – if i had only let them be.  no one in my family grows tobacco anymore and when we pass a field i am reminded of running through the rows and looking for worms.  it makes me sad that andy may never see one and get to step on it.  we won’t be able to walk into a barn and smell the dried tobacco.  i missed out – i took for granted those experiences because i wanted to be somewhere else.

i have been thinking a lot about all of this in the past year and have come to the conclusion that if i would have moved to tn earlier in my life (or if i was born and raised here) i would not be as appreciative as i am today to be doing the things i am doing.  if i lived here when i was in high school i would have applied to college and moved far away because i wouldn’t have appreciated the experiences that this little town has to offer.  i would have been the first of my class to skip town and get on with my life.  i would fled and never looked back and honestly would have never realized what i was walking away from. 

it took moving to the country to realize how much i took for granted and still take for granted.  i feel like i am more aware now (as compared to when i was younger).  i see the outline of the mountains in the morning sun and notice the way the sun highlights the ridges.  i see the clouds casting shadows in the valleys.  i laugh when argyle leans into me to be rubbed like a big dog.  i practice tough love when i take the feed buckets away from jack and pancake.  i practice tolerance when the horses try to steal each others sweet feed.  i sit in awe listening to the creek at night in the cool mountain breeze.  i enjoy riding around the farm looking for baby cows and wild turkeys.  i do all of these things now with a true appreciation and it isn’t because i am a farmer or a country girl, but because i don’t want these experiences to pass me by again. 

living here in the country with a second chance: it’s a beautiful thing.

darkness and little bits of light

we don’t live out in the middle of no where and there are a few houses right around us (one across the street directly, and one diagonally from us) but at night it gets pretty dark.  when all of the meteor showers were going on we could turn the porch light off and be able to see them shooting through the sky.  one night this summer i got home after dark and realized that i didn’t turn the porch light on.  as i was walking to the door in the pitch black i glanced across the street and saw these green dots of lights flickering.  i paused thinking that maybe someone was in the field with flash lights.  as i tried to focus my eyes i realized they were lightning bugs – thousands of them.  i had never seen so many at one time in one place.  it was mesmerizing.  i hurried in and got the dog out of his crate and took him on the porch with the light still out and stared at them flicker on and off.  it was so beautiful and surprisingly breath-taking and reminded me that even in our darkest times there are still little hints or flickers of light and hope.  it reminded me of when i was a child and would play in the yard with will and vicky catching them.  and the times that i was cruel and would kill them.  i was reminded of how awesome God’s presence is and how lucky i was to be able to witness so many “sparkles” in the pitch black.

a few days later my parents came to visit and dad didn’t come in the house and he didn’t come in the house and when he finally did he was like oh my gosh did you see the lightning bugs across the street?  I was like yes, yes I did!

i hesitate to admit that i was grabbed my camera to take a video of how awesome it was…because i know that you are sitting there thinking “that is fantastic – bugs…but who really cares” but my camera wouldn’t get anything except the darkness and i knew if i posted a video of just seconds of black you really would think i was crazy or that it wasn’t cool.  so for now you will have to trust me that it was completely awesome.