December 31, 2017

Remembering 2017

We were driving in the car a few weeks ago and Sadie piped up, "Man.  2017 feels like a scooter to the ankle."  I think I said something like, "Amen, sister”. I've been overwhelmed with the "bigness and heaviness" of this entire year.  You know how you can just feel in your bones when you are in transition?  My bones feel transient right now but there is an unknowing of what it is that we are transitioning into.

My precious step father, David, passed away in August after a courageous battle with cancer that eventually took over his brain and his whole body. What a gift that man was to me.

 His passing feels enormous. There is a huge hole in our family in his absence. There have been so many tears shed this year at the toll cancer has taken on our family.  My mom has been my best friend since the day she dropped me off for college and my heart has shattered watching her lose the love of her life.  It has been an honor to try to prop her up during this time and I'm so grateful for the gift of time with her while she adjusts to her new life.  Our lives will never be the same without David's big goofy grin in the world.

This is my favorite picture of David.  This was on Miles' second birthday and I love the way they look at each other with such love.  Miles and David had such a special bond and for some reason Miles could convince David to do anything.  When Miles was a toddler, he would get bored in the bathroom and he would always ask David to sit outside the door and talk to him while he sat on the potty.  And David did it!  They had many hilarious conversations through the bathroom door. 

 All my brothers and sisters and my mom.  Going through this loss together has brought us all so close.  I'm so honored to call this bunch my family. 

Losing David was a wake up call for me.  For most of my life, I've lost myself in busyness.  If only I could stay active enough all the things rattling around in my brain would stay on the periphery. But losing someone so dear, makes you re-evaluate what is important.  Since August, I've learned to say no like a champion.  I've hunkered down with my people and not worried about "not my people". I can't even begin to explain how freeing this has been. I am craving simplicity in a way that almost feels vital to survival. In many ways, it's like my soul came up for air for the first time in my adult life.  Instead of scrolling Facebook in the mornings after getting the kids to school, I opened my Bible. (I'm ashamed to say it, but the last time I intentionally and regularly read my Bible everyday was 1997)  Instead of mindlessly spending hours looking at strangers' photos and getting worried about political debates going nowhere online, I read books and snuggled with the kids and watched Disney channel with them. I had regular breakfasts and lunches with friends where we got real and vulnerable and cried (both from sorrow and from laughter).  I frequently slip into old patterns of being overly distracted, but I'm learning to have grace myself.  I haven't quite figured out how to give myself grace over gaining  25 pounds in 2017, but Rome wasn't built in a day and just whatever, man.  I will never be one of those people who stress eats kale and such.  Bring me all the cheese.

S is still in residential treatment.  (15 months and counting) Between the trips back and forth across the county to see her and the stop and start progress it's hard not sometimes feel like we are starring in a weird Lifetime movie.


Every year for Christmas, I print out all of our pictures from the year and put them in an album for Kamron.  I go through the kids' artwork and put the best in the album.  In a year where everything felt upside down and inside out and hard and heavy, looking at those photos from this year grounded me.  Yes, it was a hard year, but we have had so many beautiful moments.  The relationships with our kids have grown so strong through this adversity and their smiles make me remember that childhood is a gift. We have had some amazing adventures this year and spent time with some wonderful friends and there is much to be grateful for.  Here's a long, long look at the joyous times of 2017.

 We had a "romantic" Valentine's Day.  Noah insisted that we light about a billion tea lights and surprise daddy with all the romance.  We had carryout fried chicken and cookie cake and an impromptu Frank Sinatra dance party in the living room and it was probably my favorite Valentine's Day on record. 

My Granny turned 81 this year.  The whole family came over to celebrate and I had this grand notion that I wanted to be like the Bravermans from Parenthood and set up one huge, long table so we could all eat together.  

The babes at Easter. 

My dad got married this year!  We adore his wife, Tammy.  Y'all, the older I get the more I realize that inlaws, outlaws, and step parents and grandparents are just more people to love my kids.  I have never seen my dad this settled and happy and I'm so grateful. 

The kids all got to be in the wedding which was super fun!  Except the dress shoes and tucked in shirts part which made my boys think they were dying.

Kamron snapped this picture one day this summer. He was mowing the grass and just happened to look over and see this adorableness.  I love it so much I have it framed in my house.  Noah and his best friend, Grace, are pretty much the sweetest, most pure friendship in the wide world.  They are like Forest and Jenny. 

 We spent a lot of time at the pool this summer.  

These girls... I can barely think of how good they have been to me this year without almost bursting into tears.  They have held me up in so many ways this year.  I think when you go through fire, you always find out who your true people are and these ladies are the truest of the true.  I'm realizing that almost all of the pictures we took this year together are taken at distilleries. Some years are like that. Jenn and Nickie- don't know what I'd do without you.   

We took a trip to the lake with Papaw Gary and Neeter (Kamron's dad and step-mom).  We had a blast relaxing, fishing, tubing and just being together. 

We went to some bucket list concerts this year- U2 and Guns N' Roses. 

Kamron, Noah and I were all baptized this summer.  Kamron and I were both sprinkled before but wanted to be submerged and Noah was baptized after dedicating his life to Christ.  We are so so proud of him!

Having a teenager is so much fun.  Truly- I love this stage of parenting- even though it is emotional and difficult in new ways.  Plus, we have the same style and mostly wear the same size so my wardrobe has doubled.  Not to mention, we bought the same bathing suit this year and thought twinning was the best. 

Grabbing some ice cream on one of our monthly visits. 

Every year we have a huge 4th of July party.  We invite everyone we know and do it up huge.  It's the one time of year all of our worlds collide and our high school friends, colleagues and neighborhood friends all come together.  It's one of our favorite days of the entire year.  We snapped this pic of me, Sadie and my mom in the middle of the party and I love it! The last few years we've made a 100 foot slip and slide in the back yard and it's been the funnest. 

 Noah tried his hand at pitching on his baseball team.  Cute as a button. 

We took an amazing vacation to Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico.  It was incredibly chill.  We played in the ocean, swam in the pool and drank a lot of milkshakes and fruity cocktails and just enjoyed being together after a busy, busy spring.  

 I can not emphasize just how much I love breakfast food.  I mean, really love it.  So breakfast delivered to my balcony while I sit in my bathrobe is pretty much my idea of heaven.  

Noah and I are the early birds in our family.  We wake up before everyone else and get restless so we tend to take long walks on the beach in the mornings while everyone else is asleep.  While walking on the beach, Noah kept finding these tiny washed up starfish on the shore.  He lovingly picked each one up and tossed it back into the water.  He's such a compassionate little guy. 

We snapped green beans and went on picnics and visited the creek with Granny Sadie.  She was recently diagnosed with her 4th bout of cancer.  It feels like cancer affects some families more than others and we feel stuck in its grips right now.  We are treasuring these times.  How lucky are my kids to have their great grandparents in their lives?

Speaking of great-grandparents we also took a trip to St. Louis to spend time with Kamron's grandparents. I could listen to their stories for hours.

In the fall, the kiddos went back to school.  Sadie is in the 8th grade, Noah is in the 5th grade and Miles is in 3rd grade.  

I grew a little garden this year and that 12x12 patch of soil brought me the most insane amount of joy.  I had a bumper crop of pumpkins and peppers.  I attribute it to how much a I sang out of key to those vegetables. I weeded and watered that little garden every single morning with my cup of coffee in hand and it was a great way to start the day off with solitude and quiet time as the sun was coming up.  

Miles played football in the fall and we spent Saturday mornings cheering on the Orange Crush.  

Sadie looking fierce on the softball field.

Our loyal dog, Maggie.  This dog is pretty much the best.  She is the most calm dog that has ever been on earth.  She follows me around all day long.  If I go to the bathroom she's standing by the door waiting for me when I come out.  She sleeps right next to my side of the bed and sits on the kitchen rug and watches my every move.  It's like having my own personal fan club that I trip over a dozen times a day.  

Kamron rotated through taking all the littles to cheer on our beloved Kentucky Wildcats football team. 

About 6 weeks after David passed away we took my mom to Disney World.  We all needed a break from real life and some time to get away together and process together.  We didn't quite know how to act- it feels strange to try to find joy again after such heartbreak but we tried our hardest to make the most out of the happiest place on Earth.  And as always, spending time with my mom is the best.  I love her to pieces.  

In the effort of full disclosure, it was 3 billion degrees and wall to wall people and by 7pm 3/5 of us were in tears at Magic Kingdom.  Disney is a weird microcosm of all the feels. 

 I'm almost embarrassed to post the following picture.  My kids insist though.  They have made fun of me mercilessly that this is my roller coaster face.  Not gonna lie, roller coasters scare the living crap out of me. 

I gave in and had to buy some readers this year.  Getting old is the pits.  

Halloween is Noah's birthday and we try to go all out with the trick or treating.  Kamron tends to go as Slash every year but this year he just went as himself.  
 How precious are my boys?!  Photo credit: Gary Terry

Scarlett is becoming quite the horseman this year.  She loves horse therapy and taking care of the horses.

Sadie turned 14 this year.  I'm early grieving that college is in 4 short years. 

 Holidays with cousins!

Kamron made me swear that Christmas Eve photos would not see the light of the Internet.  He thinks husbands in matching pajamas make one appear whipped.  I think it makes one look sexy and like a team player.  Just saying. #sorrynotsorry

When you focus on the good, the good shines through.  And while there are so many things I would change about this year, we've learned a lot about ourselves and what's important.  I'm not sad to see this year come to a close, but years from now I want to remember that we loved each other well, held each other close through tragedy and tried awfully hard to make lemonade out of some very bitter lemons. 

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