Category Archives: friends

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.

catching up on 2015 adventures

we had snow again.  it was cold but beautiful!

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a lot of our kids were in the musical at the school – Oklahoma.  it was really cute and we have really talented youth!

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my grandmother got the presidents away at the college.  so we got to play hide and seek with her.  except we were hiding and she didn’t know.  we avoided her until the award was presented to her.

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jay and julian came stopped on their way through town.  (andy got a chest slap for old times sake)

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the silipigni’s came to visit.

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mom’s cats ashes and UT (the orange one) were cute like normal (they are getting older, but still just as fat and sweet as ever).

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we have been to chorus concerts, shopping trips, date nights and so much more that wasn’t captured with our cameras.

now that I am getting organized with my photos and thoughts I can say that hopefully this will be the last “catch up” post.  my goal is to keep it caught up (but I have said that before I know).

something I don’t have photos of that I am thrilled about and so very proud of is that andy has decided to go back to school.  that means that he is traveling on most weekends, but we will survive the next few years.  I have been able to catch up on reading and sewing so it has been ok – for now.  I am looking forward to his graduation gift – which I am already mentally planning – a cruise!  i really am so proud of him.

katie’s baby shower

better late than never right?  so Katie (and chris) announced last fall (2014) that they were expecting a baby.

so in march (2015) maggie, robin, and i hosted a baby shower.  it was ducky themed and turned out to be a fun and wonderful time.  she got a ton of wonderful gifts!

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a lot of laughter and smiles

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layla came to the end of the party and loved the attention.  look at that smile!

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congrats katie and chris!

cruising, wedding, and ringing in 2015

andy and I were booked for a cruise for may 2014.  we were so excited to be planning another vacation and then 2 unexpected things happened.  1. dad crushed his heel not long before we were to leave and 2. we got a wedding invitation to kendra and cliff’s wedding for right after Christmas – and they were getting married on a cruise.

we knew that we wouldn’t be able to go on two cruises in one year and we didn’t know if my dad was going to have surgery and I didn’t want to be that far away from home if he did.  so we called the cruise line and got our reservation changed.  one of the best decisions we made.  we got to go on a perfect vacation, see a wonderful marriage of two amazing people, and ring in the new year in style!

our boat was leaving from fort lauderdale, fl on sunday so we got up early Saturday morning (before the sun) and loaded up dad’s truck and away we went.

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we made it to fl and met up with my brother and blair for dinner.

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we made it to the port sunday after killing time shopping and driving around.  we went through security and after dad got his new knife taken away from him (he got it back when we got back) we boarded the boat.  there is something about walking through the walk way and to the boat.

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we loved our room.  it was a little bigger than the room we had on the last cruise.  we had a love seat in our room.  (I think my parents were jealous).  they were around the corner and down the hall from us in a room that only had a chair (because of a connecting door).  and like last time, we had a port hole in our room so we could watch the waves and the ocean.

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the wedding was different.  I had never been to a wedding on a cruise with the captain officiating.  we went to the chapel and had champagne while we waiting on the ceremony to start and once all the parties where there, we watched as two wonderful people exchanged vows and rings.

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(playing with editing a little bit)

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(back to the wedding)

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to the beautiful reception

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the first stop on the cruise was to the grand caymens.  we did our own self walking tour right around the port.  we didn’t stray too far but we did a little bit of shopping.  I love all of the towel animals.

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we made a point to try to go to all of the shows.  on our first cruise we didn’t get to many of them and we talked about wanting to make sure that we did on this cruise.

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kendra arranged for us to all sit in the same area at meal times.  we had a little trouble getting into the group since we transferred cruises, but we finally got it fixed to where we were sitting in the same area as the group.  we were at a small table with another couple from the wedding group.  allison and chris.  we had a good time with them (hopefully they did with us as well).

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we enjoyed after dinner festivities around the boat.

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the next port was jamaica.  we knew our room was close to where we got off the boat so I put my book in the window so that we could find our room.  we walked around inside the port area, but we also went outside the gate and walked around a little bit.

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after dinner we were invited to join the group in new year’s festivities.  they reserved the bridge for our group only.  it was so much fun to be with everyone (and to not be in the crowd below).  we definitely brought in the new year in style.

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the next stop was haiti

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that night we took our towel animal and dressed him up so our cabin attendant could see his elephant dressed up.

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they had the farewell show

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the wait staff did their farewell song/dance.  we loved our waiter, francis!  someone ordered “nothing” for dessert and this is what he brought out!

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when we got back to the room we noticed that the elephant had a few more decorations.

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some random photos around the boat.

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we went to an ice show – on the boat!  there was an ice rink!  it was a cute show and it was really done well.

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view from our room

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one of the shows had a violinist followed by a comedian.

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some group photos

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the marriage game!  hilarious!

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some photos of our room!  ignore the name behind the curtain!

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we had so much fun on vacation.  it was hard to narrow down the pictures to post the ones that i did.  looking back through all of them made me miss our trip.  but it brought up a lot of memories.  it was a wonderful wedding and festivities!  we were so lucky to be able to ring in the new year and start 2015 on a cruise.

we were sad to leave.

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we are planning another cruise for 2018 – I hope!

gcpc 2014 recap

it seems only fitting that on a sunday i do a recap of the youth group from 2014.

a look back at our youth group.  a lot of the middle school events aren’t captured because I am mostly with the high school youth.  it is always fun to look back and see how the youth have changed physically, but also to remember the events and see how they have changed on the inside as well.

we went to resurrection in january.  it was cold.

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youth sunday happened.  cleo our 2014 senior gave the message.

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lawn part to kick off the school year

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church picnic at locust springs.  there were two donkeys that wondered in to say hello.

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we had a high school lock in on Halloween night…it snowed.  the next morning i woke up at 5 and took a picture.  luckily it didn’t stick around long.

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we went to montreat in july.  i love montreat (it is a thin place – we have been told).  i am sure the kids hate my camera…but i enjoy it and so they put up with it.  i know that in a lot of the pictures they kids aren’t smiling…apparently it is a game that we play.  they act like they are miserable and i allow it (they do have to smile for a few photos).  they really are having fun – i promise.  bob retired.  we miss bob!

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took a group of kids to charlotte to carowinds.  andy got sick (didn’t puke – but pretty sure he wanted to).  i road boo blaster and shot some monsters.  it was a short but fun trip.

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high school progressive dinner.  i enjoy taking group photos, but just start taking the pictures and keep taking them and see how long they will put up with it.  sometimes i act like i am taking pictures but am really doing a video.  they are always such good sports.

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middle school bon fire at the farm.  it was huge.  it was a hot fire.

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we went and helped at gifts for kids (and played a little too).

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just a taste of 2014.

catching up: 2014 shenanigans

HELLO!  since I have been away a lot has happened (ok nothing too exciting, but I live in a town with no target, so I mean go with me on this).  since my computer died, I have finally replaced it and with that came trying to get all of my photos organized.  I didn’t realize how bad it was…but it was bad.  so now I am finally ready to start posting again.  now let me warn you that the next few post might bore you to tears.  I have done several posts that are just a quick catch up but there are certain events (like Christmas and vacation) that will have their own post.  here is the first of a lot to come in the next few days.  welcome to the end of 2014!

posted in random order.

may race in charlotte: sky and hanging out

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cj learning to play andy’s new harmonica (and ellen completely mortified)

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we also took a day off in may 2014 and went to the knoxville zoo.  we have so much fun when we go.  we didn’t know that we were going on the school day so we were there with a billion elementary school kids.  but the exciting thing we did was feed the giraffes!  (also we got locked in the gift shop because a kid went missing – the eventually let us leave, so we assume they found him).

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we were lucky to that we were able to go to the band perry concert.

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we also got to see 38 special and go back stage to meet the band (we got autographs and picks).

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a building was dedicated in ann’s name at the fair ground.  the expo building (her home away from home).

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work photos.  I found these amazing stress guys that when squeezed their eyes popped out a little.  well it didn’t take long before they were loved a little too hard and they both popped.  we used super glue and paperclips to “fix” them.  mine has since lost its hair and is full of holes…bethany’s is semi ok.

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 also last year bethany asked me to join her on a wonderful adventure, and I was stupid enough to go along with her.  we joined a crossfit beginners class.  it was torture.  I cried.  she missed the hardest night so she didn’t cry.  we dropped out.

august bristol trip.  if you get out of bed someone takes your pillow.  otis doing the “captain morgan” but his knee was sprained.

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we went to the October race in charlotte. Otis has his bed but sometimes we turn around and he is on our luggage.  he also tries to get in the front seat so I see his sweet face the entire time.

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 there is a concrete bunny at the house.  I came home one day and noticed it had been decorated by my dad.  dad and andy were taking bets to see if I noticed it.  yes I did.

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we had snow and it was cold.  for a while I was living with a wooly mountain man.

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a stray kitten showed up.  I thought we would end up with it because I felt bad.  but we found it a good home.

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we went to a yard sale and saw a dog come up and we both said that looks like rufas!  about that time we heard the people talking about that dog came to visit again.  I asked if it was theirs and they said no.  I asked if it lived on a specific street and they said yes.  I told them it was my cousins dog so we took him home.  bought a rug because he was muddy.  we wrapped him up bought a dvd and away we went.  he loved his ride.

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went to ghs homecoming.

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I woke up one morning and went to work and in the yard not far from my car was a raccoon.  he was cute but it was day light so I made noise and scared him off except he didn’t run away from me, he just kind of moved like a slug away from me.  the next day I get a text from andy with a photo of this little guy asking if we can keep it.  the same raccoon sitting outside in the middle of the day.  now I know that doesn’t automatically say that he is rabid (I did research) but he was sick. I asked andy if he called animal control and he said no why?!  so I made him call and no one came.  so I called my cousin and asked him about this raccoon.  I asked if he thought he was sick.  I described his behavior and he said yes he thought it was sick.  so we had our first encounter with a sick wild animal.

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 I will admit I am a little scared of cats (depending on the cat – very scared terrified).  I am not scared of my mom’s cats but they can be a handful.  on one visit I woke up with ashes in my hair and UT taking a bath on my suitcase.

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Otis helped with some sewing projects.  he seemed mostly bored but happy to have a soft place to lay.

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I hope to have Christmas posts up soon as well.

yay for catching up and getting organized!

girls asheville trip 2014

i have been blessed to work where i do.  it isn’t always fun and games and it isn’t always easy and stress free, but i love it.  we laugh a lot.  we have fun.  even in the stressful events and days we find a way to support each other and get through it together.  again this past year i was invited to girls day in asheville – a day of shopping and wonderful food (much appreciation to Nat for the Christmas meal) and friendship and gingerbread houses at the grove park inn.

the winner of the gingerbread house was this chess set.  it was amazing with the details…but it wasn’t a house…

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beautiful view before dinner

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not everyone could be there this year and we had two that had to leave early but part of my wonderful work family.

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next year we might rent a u haul to get all of the stuff back – but i think we did great cramming it all in the car.

so very thankful…

i woke up this morning and it was hard to believe that it is thanksgiving!  another year has almost passed by and i have so many things to be thankful for – here is my short list (in no particular order).

  1. andy and our marriage – and for always being there in my best and worst times.  always quick to reassure and quick to point out my irrational thoughts.  my rock.
  2. my parents – who have always been so supportive and loving and welcomed andy with open arms
  3. my friends – past and present.  even when only in my life for a designated time – lessons were learned.
  4. my family – blood relatives, andy’s family, and people so close they might as well be family.
  5. otis – my little heater and snuggle buddy.
  6. my job and coworkers – for the ability to work and actually like the people i work with.  and for those who are working today.
  7. our story – as heart breaking as it has been, we have learned so much and are thankful that we have the option and are able to adopt.  (next year i hope to be able to put a specific name instead of just the idea).
  8. our animals – they bring an element of peace and furry happiness that makes me smile.
  9. our house – the one we live in now, but also the one we put in an offer on this past week – it is conditional but we are thankful and hopeful that it will be ours in the near future.
  10. God for all that he blessed us with

happy thanksgiving!

sad/happy vs bipolar

 *names and relationships will mostly be eliminated to protect individuals privacy*

one night i was talking to one of my best friends over a glass of wine and things got serious.  she was hesitant to say something and i was hesitant to listen.  i kind of felt where the conversation was going because of the lead in, but i still didn’t know where she would go with it and i didn’t know how much i wanted to admit and how far i wanted to take the conversation but we were too far to turn back… 

we had been talking about her family and she looked at me and said she was scared.  i nodded because with that one statement i knew…i knew what was coming next so i took a gulp of wine and finished her sentence.  …scared that we didn’t “escape” the mental illness in our family.  she nodded.  in each of our families we have members who are clinically diagnosed (and some who are textbook) bipolar.

we talked about how sometimes when we are sad we fear that “it” has finally caught up with us.  how sometimes we wake up and we are sad and just have bad days and we both evaluate is it just a normal bad day or is this part of the depressed aspect of bipolar.  do we have reason to be sad?  did something set us off?  are we validated in being sad?  if people notice we are sad is it acceptable to just say we are having a bad day?  is it ok to have a bad week – or does that throw us into a category of needing medicines and intervention?

we went on to talk about when we wake up and are really happy.  how sometimes we get up and it is just a great day and being yelled at by someone or bad drivers or anything that would normally annoy us doesn’t make us upset.  it doesn’t damper our good mood and our happy day.  do we really have a reason to be happy?  oh no is this the manic part of “it.” 

as the seriousness of the conversation started to fade we both started laughing.  almost at the same time we both took a deep breath and said something along the lines of i am so glad that you understand.  the reassurance that we weren’t “crazy” for having those thoughts was amazing. 

we decided that it is ok to have a good day or good week and that it is ok to have a bad day or week and still be free.  at the first sign of a really bad day or good day with what seems like no reason at all doesn’t mean that “it” has caught up with us.  we had to remind ourselves and each other that our emotions are right sad or happy we are ok.  it was a reassurance that only a best friend can offer. 

 

in light of this past week and the loss of robin williams who left the world way too soon – i wanted to say that mental illness is real.  being bipolar or clinically depressed – depression where the end seems like the only option is real.  feeling like you are all alone in the world even when surrounded by family and friends.  feeling like if you were to start screaming in the middle of a crowded room no one would actually notice and hear.  feeling like the end is the only way to cry out for help – for a hug, a friend, a conversation, to be noticed.  feeling like people would soon forget you and it would be no big deal, feeling like you don’t want to fight any more. feeling like you have given it all that you have and failed miserably.  feeling tired – just really tired. be blunt and grab on to someone – make them listen, make them hear and remember: you ARE worth it.

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!