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The summer before it all changes…Or how do I officially have a high school senior planning for college?!

The summer before it all changes…Or how do I officially have a high school senior planning for college?!

Ahhh, my sweet, beloved (and neglected) blog readers. You’re still here. I love you to the moon and back for checking in on me here in this tiny, dusty corner of the Interwebs.  Summer break has finally begun. (Why, yes, that IS the Hallelujah Chorus you hear!) I am one of those rare breed of moms who loves summer break with her kids. I adore having them around. Truth be told, they make me laugh so much! We have a good time.

So, I officially have a high school senior, a high school sophomore and a fifth grader.  “So what?” you ask. (First, that is rude. Don’t be rude.) A  s-e-n-i-o-r in HIGH school. High freakin’ school. As in, I am planning for college. For someone I gave birth to. How is that even possible?? First of all, I am too young. Second of all, he is too young. Third of all, COLLEGE? We get to go on college visitations. We get to discuss majors. We talk about the real question of “What do you want to be when  you grow up?” conversations. Wha-huh?

When I started my first online journal I had two kids. I now have three. When I started this baby– Mommy Needs Coffee– I had three kids ages 2, 7 and 9. My babies. Now? I have one talking about college. How did that happen so fast? Trust me, mommybloggers– those of you who think these days of diapers, toddlers, playdates and tiny people will never end– it comes up on you so fast you won’t know what happened. You’ll blink and before you know it, you’ll be planning for college, scheduling SATs, getting driving tests taken and watching those little babies drive off towards their very own lives.

And you will be proud. And sad. And happy. And overwhelmed. And excited. And scared. And it will be one of the most amazing times in your life.

Or? You’ll live in denial. That works, too.

How do you find words for the unspeakable? How do you find any good in tragedy?

How do you find words for the unspeakable? How do you find any good in tragedy?

“Sometimes there are a thousand things to say, no words to say them and a heart too broken to try.”

That was my latest update on Facebook. It sat there on my profile for well over a week. Most of the time when something happens that breaks my heart or I have trouble processing the horror of it, I write. But sometimes it can be so tragic, all words are lost to me. I become a virtual mute when it comes to writing. What happened to throw me into such a stage of sadness and heartbreak?

Two weeks ago I was with a friend and neighbor when her world shattered around her. This was how the extended family shared the news with their Facebook friends.

We need your help facebook friends. Last night  The Hendricks Family suffered a tragic loss. Rusty was fixing their one and only car when the jack broke in half and crushed him. He lost his life. (He was 36) The Hendricks family needs your help. Teresa is a stay at home mom with 3 children Samuel 11, Sara 9, Matthew 7. There is no life insurance and Teresa is left to raise her beautiful family alone.

*(I am not divulging anything private or breaking a trust by sharing those details. This is the information the family wrote for the fundraiser they are holding to try to help this wonderful family. Please if there is ANY way you can help…even just a little bit, this lovely woman truly needs it.)

I’ve never felt more helpless and heartbroken for a friend.  As I said, there were a thousand things to say, no words to say them and a heart too broken to try. Not a day went by that I did not cry for this family. Not a night went by when I didn’t crumble to the floor of my bathroom wracked with gut wrenching  tears of desperate sadness. It was how I dealt with it at night. Alone. So I could try to refuel and be strong for the whole family when or if they needed anything. I wanted to be there to help.

What you have to know about this family is how amazing they are. They touched the lives of everyone they met.  I loved watching Rusty play ball with his oldest son in their front yard. When it snowed, he would be outside with the kids laughing and playing just like one of them. I always laughed when he would give Clint a hard time about not putting up Christmas lights. (He even taught my next door neighbor how to hang them “correctly” so that she could have them up for her kids.) He was one of the most joyful men I have ever met. Teresa is one of the kindest women I know. She is soft spoken, sweet and so very giving. She has a heart of gold and a tenderness about her that makes you smile and gives you peace. And those kids? Wonderful kids. Gabby plays outside with them and the sound of their laughter is beautiful music to my ears. Honestly, laughter is the first thing I think of when I think of those kids. Rusty and Teresa are very strong in their faith and they’ve been raising their kids in a faith filled home.

And so the first question is why. Why Rusty? Why this way? Why now? I don’t know the answers. I still can’t even wrap my mind around it all but I do know that this is a family of faith and I know that faith will help them through this. They and their extended families have actually blessed and comforted people who came by to comfort them. They are that special.

One thing Rusty’s sister shared with me (and I don’t think she would mind me sharing) is that he would want people to find something in this tragedy to help them grow- in their faith and their relationships with others. To never let a moment pass without sharing your love.

Photo by Brandon Satterwhite
I lift my eyes...

Through this tragedy I have seen some very beautiful things occur. I have seen friends and strangers pull together to help this family. I have seen relationships heal. I have seen new friendships form. For myself I have solidified friendships that I knew were there but didn’t know how very strong they could be. I was pulled from the dark place I was hurled into last year to see people in my life that truly will always be there for me when I need them.

 

I suppose you could say pretenses were stripped and people were seen for who they really are. It blessed me to see a community pull together as it has. It blessed me to see people I respect pull together not only for my friend and her family but for each other. To feel their love and have them extend their “family” to encompass me as “one of them”  not only healed so much in me, it made me see how jaded I had become by a completely irrelevant event in my past.

Why did it take a tragedy for that to happen? For me to really see things as they are? For me to realize who truly cares and who I can depend on for the good times and the bad? For me to tell my friends that I love them and that I appreciate them? To take those negative voices in my mind and silence them?  To reach out to others- not just those involved in this but people in my life who may just need to know someone is there and cares? Why did it take something so unthinkingly horrible for me to take stock of my life and realize the wonderful, beautiful people that I am blessed to have in my life?

I don’t know. I hate that this happened. I am heartbroken that this happen. Yet, even now Rusty blesses me with his joy and love because to not honor his memory in that way just wouldn’t feel right.  He touched so many people. And his memory will continue to bless others. Now that? That takes one amazing man. And that was Rusty.

May he sing with the angels.

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Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

Gabs with her newly pierced ears
Gabs with her newly pierced ears

Then the day comes when she is old enough to ask to get her ears pierced and you are filled with pride as she is growing up to be such an amazing little lady but your own heart pierces just a little because…wow, she is growing up so fast.

When family calls, everything else gets put on hold. See also: No, I Did Not Go To BlogHer.

When family calls, everything else gets put on hold. See also: No, I Did Not Go To BlogHer.

Quick update:  I haven’t been home for about 3 weeks.  Many of you wonderful readers have send me emails or called to check up in me.  One of you smart alecs went as far as to say that silence from me- especially for so long everywhere online- is the sign of end times.  Or at least that something is wrong.  I am okay.   There was a crisis situation in my family.  The story is not mine to tell.  I’ll just say that there is no where on Earth I would ever be when someone in my family needs me.  Ever.

I’ve been asked if I won the Energizer sponsorship.  The answer is no. (Go ahead & slap your hand on the desk in frustration.  I know you feel I was robbed.  It’s okay.  I’ll just buy Duracell until we get over it.)  However,  not winning a contest wasn’t  going to keep me from going to NYC.   I’ve never missed BlogHer and had no intention of missing this year.  Things were lined up, planned and looking good to go.  I found ways that would get me there.  But you know what?  Sometimes life happens.

A family emergency or crisis or whatever you want to call it came up.  As much as I love BlogHer and the friends I only see each year and the chance to see the wonderful PR reps I work with throughout the year — as much as I love all of that,  I love my family more.  Family first. Always! No questions asked.

So the Monday before I was to leave, I had to call my roomie and let her know. (This is where I say that Busy Mom kicks so  much coolness ass, it’s off the charts!)  I will not lie and say that I was totally cool and knew it wouldn’t even cross my mind that I was  not in NYC but I will say with all truthfulness, there absolutely would not be any way to get me away from where I was at that time.

So there you have it.   I gave you the brief lowdown on going to BlogHer, then not going to BlogHer and that when someone in your family has a crisis, nothing else in the world matters.  Nothing.   I would make the same choice again and again every single time if I had to choose between BlogHer or being right where I’ve been with family.

It’s family.  Family is what it’s all about, right?

Next up: So if I didn’t go to NYC and I’ve been out of town, where did I go? Tales of HomeHer ’10!

Misbehaving, plotting & sneaking my Plum

Misbehaving, plotting & sneaking my Plum

When you share a bed with the same person for 20 years, you establish some “unwritten rules” of behavior.  For instance, it is not okay for me to wake Clint up to tell him about something I just thought of that was really funny.  He will not find it amusing.  Another example, it is not okay to wake me up to ask me if I am sleeping or what time I am planning on waking up.  Simple things that keep a marriage going strong and prevent one from getting pushed out of bed when one least expects it.

I have a confession to make.  One of these rules I break every chance I get.

You see, I have been banned from reading Janet Evanovich books in bed.  Especially the Stephanie Plum series.  Why Janet Evanovich?  Because I “allegedly” wake him up every time I read these books in bed.  Okay, I admit to laughing.  Out loud.  Sometimes I try to hold it in.  That just results in me shaking the bed so hard it wakes him up simply because I am laughing so hard and trying not to make a noise so as to not wake him.  Or it results in the loud laugh-snort.  None of it works.  I laugh. Out loud.  Every time.  Thus, the ban.

So last night I was ready.  I came to bed as if everything was normal.  I had my water (ahem Diet Coke), my phone and my book.

Freeze!”   He looks at me hard.

“What?” I mutter in my most demure manner.

I was ready.  See, I am onto Clint.  He knows the release date for the new Evanovich books.  He had the nerve to think that I would blatantly bring in a new Plum novel.  Ha! You see, I knew he might be looking for it so I did what any rational person in this situation would do.  I put a Stuart Woods cover over the book so that it appeared to be a Stuart Woods book and not my forbidden fruit of hilariousness.

“What do you have?”

“Ummm, a drink, my phone and a book.” I held the book up for him to see.  He looked doubtful but let it go.

I silently giggle and crawl into bed.

By the third page I am giggling and trying to hold it in.  By the second chapter I am laughing out loud and trying to practically bite my pillow to resist.

“Hand it over.”

I jump.  I thought he was asleep. “What? Huh? What book?”

He lays there with his hand outstretched waiting for me to hand over my book.

“That is SO unfair!” I pout and hand over the book.

“I cannot believe you thought you could sneak this past me.  You know you laugh.  You know you wake me up.  Did you think your fake cover would work?”

“Well, actually, yes, I did.  Let me get this clear: That book right there in  your hand is off limits in bed.  That book.”

I could see he was wondering where I was going with that.  “This book and any of her books-paperback and hardback. One through 16.”

There was victory in his eyes as I rolled over and turned out the light.

As soon as he fell asleep, I reached for my book light & my Kindle.  I giggled as I threw the covers over my head and began to read Sizzling Sixteen right where I left off when I handed over my book.

Silly man!  He totally should have seen that one coming.

I tried it again tonight.  He totally busted me when I started to giggle.  I get my Kindle back at daybreak.

Good thing I have Kindle app for the iPhone!

Vacation- All I ever wanted! Vacation- Had to get away!

Vacation- All I ever wanted! Vacation- Had to get away!

I went on vacation and fell in love.  Yes, it’s true.  I went with expectations of enjoying some time with my family and maybe catching some good beach time but it turns out, I fell in love.  Many of you know Clint could not go with me on this trip.  It was me and the kids and a total of 23 people in one house.  Yet, each morning, I would sneak away to meet my new baby and we would spend a few stolen moments together.

We met here the first morning I was there.  I was just relaxing on the beach and he caught my eye.

"Our Spot"
"Our Spot"

It’s not like I could resist jumping up to see him and meet him.  I knew my eagerness would scare him away but it did not.  He approached me cautiously but didn’t flee.  My heart leaped with joy.  In 17 years of vacationing here, this had never happened to me. What I thought was a one time meeting became an every day experience.  At the same time every day I would race to the beach to meet him and there he was.  Even my son met him face to face.  I suppose my only regret is that we missed each other my last day at the beach.  Maybe he was too sad.  Maybe he knew I would be too sad.  Maybe it was the idiot teenagers chasing everything that moved in the water that caused him to stay away.  Perhaps it was for the best.  Goodbyes are never easy.  I tried to get a picture of him one day, but he raced off too quickly.

This is a rendering of him along with a picture that looks very much like he does:

Rendering of my ~Crush~
Rendering of my ~Crush~
~Crush Look Alike~
~Crush Look Alike~

What?  Like you never went to the beach and met a sea turtle that you had a crush on and then met up with him every day? Oh, please, it isn’t like that kind of stuff just happens to me.  Is it?

But it wasn’t just folicking with sea turtles.  Oh, no!

Everyday I spent laughing with people I love, sharing amazing food and spending time relaxing and refocusing.  I did a lot of writing.  This was the view from my office:

My Office View

Oh, but it certainly was not all work!  Not at all!  I spent some wonderful time with these people whom I love:

Who needs poses when you have laughter
Who needs poses when you have laughter

I think some of my favorite times were spent with my brother and sister.  We always laugh when we are together.  Always.  Being with them is so good for my soul.

Oh, the tales we could tell on each other!
Oh, the tales we could tell on each other!

Of course, I spent time with my amazing children.  And, well, you know the tale: Getting two teenage boys to pose for more than a couple of pictures is sheer TORTURE.  It is practially downright abusive to them.  But, I did get a few.  Here is one of my favorites with my and my babies:

Yes, my boys are that much taller than I am!
Yes, my boys are that much taller than I am!

At the end of the day, there was much to laugh about.  Especially for your kids when they knew that you were about to be attacked by a flock of seagulls.  And totally not the kind that will sing to you.  The kind that absolutely will poop on you.

The Flock of Sea Gulls didn't even sing to me as they flew over!
The Flock of Sea Gulls didn't even sing to me as they flew over!

But at the end of the day we all enjoyed beautiful sunsets together.  We knew another perfect day was ending when we saw this:

Another perfect end to a perfect day
Another perfect end to a perfect day

Though some of us night owls tended to get back up after the house of 23 was quiet and calm.  when we did, we were treated to beautiful sites such as this:

If you were a night owl,  you enjoyed nights like this
If you were a night owl, you enjoyed nights like this

So, there is a brief glimpse into my vacation.  Oh, there are tons more pictures I could share but the time, the bandwidth, the “that is so sucking vacation chill from me” is going to cut it here.  (I have many more on Facebook!)

THE END!
THE END!