Wednesday, September 18, 2013

3rd Birthday Letter to my Beautiful Girl--Happy Birthday Grace!

Dear Grace,

            Well baby girl, another year has gone by and you’re no longer much of a baby (although you will always be my baby girl, just so you knowJ).  Instead, you have grown into this beautiful little lady.  Even though you are only turning three this year, I can already see the woman you’ll become some day shining through.  It amazes me that someone so young can show such love, compassion, intelligence, and insight.  Your mommy couldn’t be more proud of you, and there is no one in this world that I love more.
            This year has been a busy one, full of laughter, love, and hope.  Now that you are getting older and more active, we have been taking full advantage of every spare moment together.  I have loved watching you grow this year and viewing the world through your eyes.  We have done many activities together that were certainly old news to me, but you made me look at them with the fresh excitement of childhood. 
            One of my favorite memories this year with you was our vacation to Pensacola, Florida in June.  You, being my little spitfire with a mind of her own, insisted that we go to the beach because you wanted to see a crab.  Next thing I know, we had a vacation planned with your MawMaw, Papa, and B!  The first morning there, I took you down to the beach as soon as we woke up.  We didn’t have time to play in it then, but I just couldn’t wait to see your face.  You certainly didn’t disappoint because your eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.  Later, I got to take you into the ocean for the first time.  Just like your mom, you LOVE the water.  No matter how long I live, I will never forget that first moment in the ocean.  Part of me was terrified to take you out there.  No matter how big you are getting, you are still my little girl, and you can’t swim quite yet.  However, my fears melted away as the first wave hit our backs.  I hugged you tightly, and you held me back.  As each wave met us, you started giggling uncontrollably.  In case you don’t know, I will tell you that you have the most contagious laughter.  As your giggling turned into big belly laughs, I found myself laughing with you.  We laughed so hard that tears streamed down our faces.  It was a beautiful moment.
            Along with our vacation, I have also enjoyed watching you get involved in various activities this year.  Starting this past summer, you became involved in both swimming and dance.  You also continued with the library program. 
            In July, you started swimming lessons.  While you’ve had lessons before, this was the first time that I wasn’t allowed in the pool with you.  I was nervous that you would be scared, but I have no idea why.  You are one of the bravest people I know.  Instead of fear, you found joy in the water.  In fact, you loved it so much that you have been continuing with lessons through the fall.  Just last week, I got to watch you swim by yourself several times!!!  It scared you the first time.  Then, I saw you look up out of the water when the teacher caught you.  You didn’t look at her though.  You searched for my face.  Instantly, you calmed down.  My heart melted that I could do that for you, that I could make you feel secure even when I wasn’t right there beside you.  Later in the lesson, I got to watch you jump into the deep end for the first time!!  Once again, I was worried you would be scared.  Once again, you surpassed all my expectations (which are already high!).  You fearlessly jumped off the edge with your arms spread wide and a smile on your face.  And, when you got out of the pool, I was waiting right there for you.  I hugged you tight despite the fact that you were sopping wet.  J
            Also this summer, you became involved in gymnastics and dance.  You have started a class at Turner’s Tumbling called Gym and Jam, where you do half an hour of gymnastics and half an hour of dance.  I love watching you in your adorable leotard flipping and dancing. 
            Finally, you continued with the program at the library.  Before the summer, you went to Toddler Time each month.  Then, you did the summer reading program.  At each session, you made crafts, sang songs, and read books.  We also read all the time at home.  I’m so glad that you’re just as voracious of a reader as you were as a toddler.  Now- you get to start going to Preschool Hour later this month!
            Among many other activities this year, we have also spent hours and hours at the St. Louis Zoo.  You love the bears and carousel best!  And- you touched the sting rays for the first time!  We went to the Science Center for the first time and saw the Egyptian exhibit, where you insisted on me taking your picture on a life-sized camelJ  Your Aunt B and I took you to the Magic House, and you and B got to touch the big ball to make your hair stand on end with electricity!  Your MawMaw and I took you to your first movie at the theater.  We went to see Turbo (a Disney movie about a snail) in 3D.  We’ve also spent hours in the back yard playing on your swing-set and in the new sandbox Daddy bought you.  Inside, your favorite activity is playing with your baby dolls and pretending to be a mommy.  However, you also love to make crafts with me, read, and color.  And- you’ve become interested in taking pictures!  (Since you can’t read this yet, I don’t mind telling you that I bought you your first camera for your birthday!  I can’t WAIT for you to open it!!!)
            While I know it is the beginning of you spending less time with your mom, I have been so happy that you have been making so many friends.  You have been so excited this year as you’ve grown up with your friends at daycare.  You have gone to lots of fun birthday parties and had a blast on playdates.  You even had your first sleepover this year!!  You, Regan, and Leah had so much fun playing princesses, putting on my make-up, eating LOTS of snacks, and watching Beauty and the Beast.
            Among so many other things about you, I am so proud of all that you have learned this year.  You talk like a tiny grown-up.  You have learned to spell your name, mommy, and daddy.  You have learned your shapes, ABCs, and can count to twenty easily by yourself and to 100 with a little help!  You know all of your colors.  I’m probably most impressed by how musical you are!  You are always singing songs and you know all the words after only hearing a song once or twice!  One favorite moment was when you sang “Amazing Grace” to me in church so sweetly I cried in the middle of mass!
            Well, tootsie, I hope you have had as much fun with me this year as I have had with you.  As always, you are my life and my love.  You take such good care of me and always know what I need.  I love how close we are and how much we love each other.  Despite our age difference, you are my best friend and partner-in-crime.  I’m so proud to be your mom, and everything I do in my life, I do with you in mind.  I want to always be someone that you are proud to call Mom.  Just remember, like we talk about—Mommy will always be here for you, no matter how old you get.  You can always call Mommy if you need her.  No matter what the problem, I’ll be here.  I will be here to kiss your boo boos away.  I will be here to mend your broken heart when you’re sad.  I will be here to hug you and take care of you when you don’t feel well.  I will be on the sidelines as you continue to grow in your sports, and I will be your biggest fan and cheerleader.  I will wake up in the middle of the night to calm your fears when you have a nightmare, or even if you just need a drink of water.  I will be here to answer all of your questions about how the world works.  I will be here to hold your hand.  I will be here to attack you with “mommy kisses” until your big belly laughs ring through the house.  I will be here to play with you, laugh with you, read to you, and sing with you.  I love you so much, Grace.  Happy 3rd Birthday!!

Love always,


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Thank a Stranger

For Teachers Write, our Tuesday challenge was to "Thank a Stranger."  Here's my letter.

Dear Stranger:

    You don't know me, but you have changed my life.  You don't know me, but you have inspired me.  You don't know me, but you have given me hope.  I thank you.

   At my first Relay for Life, I had only been a cancer survivor for 6 months.  I was only a month out from my last round of chemo.  While I was feeling much better, my hair was still missing.  A bandanna still adorned my head.  I was proud to be standing there, but I was also still a little shy about calling myself a survivor.  I was still full of fear.

   Then, as survivor after survivor shouted out their years of survivorship, I listened.  Near the end, I heard your voice.  You proudly shouted out that you were a breast cancer survivor and you had been one for over 45 years!  You have no idea what those words did to me.  I was instantly filled with hope.  Tears came to my eyes.  I told my husband that I wanted that to be me one day, giving hope to the "newbies" like me.  He replied that it would be me.

   I wish I would have caught your name, or gone to speak with you.  I wish I could know you now.  I wish I could thank you in person.  I have thought of you so often over the last year.  Any time I feel that familiar pull of fear, I think of you.  I know that I CAN and WILL make it through this.  I know that I will continue to do the work and fight for the passion that you unknowingly instilled in me.  I will fight for hope.

   So, thank you.  Thank you for being a survivor.  Thank you for being a fighter so that you could be a beacon of hope for others.  Thank you for lighting the path before you so that others like me would know the way.  Thank you for being unafraid to shout to the world what you have been though.  Thank you for HOPE!



Making Sense of Sensory Writing- Teachers Write prompt

All right.  Grace and I have been busy bees, so I've neglected my writing this week.  So.. I need to catch up.  This was actually the Monday morning prompt.  Fun times with Grace are always most important though:)  We've been having SO much fun this summer, but I feel like we are always on the go.  Last night, my "baby" started swimming lessons at Lewis & Clark.  I was worried she'd be scared going into the huge pool all on her own.  Boy was I wrong.  I was a nervous wreck, and she was begging to jump off the diving board into the deep end (obviously that will have to wait for a "few"more lessons).  We normally have dance on Tuesdays, but tonight it was cancelled because of the parade.  Oddly, we have had something going on for the other parades since Grace was born, so this was her first Jersey County parade.  She had a BLAST:) and now we are the owners of a HUGE bag of candy:)  At any rate, by tired baby is in bed, so writing time for me before I follow suit.  

Anyway.... on to the warm-up: 

For the entire prompt, check out Kate Messner's blog at  The prompt asked us to describe an experience triggered by one of our senses other than sight. 

As a little girl, I had a very special relationship with my Mottaz Grandpa.  We connected in a way that I haven't quite seen again until now- watching my own daughter with my dad.  Unfortunately, I lost that amazing man when I was in second grade to a brain tumor.  Despite my young age, I have many crystal clear memories of my grandpa and I still, years and years later, have moments where it hurts that I can't talk to him.  One thing though, always reminds me of every happy time with my grandpa--ice cream:) 

I sat in my grandparents kitchen.  My grandpa and I had just got done playing at the park near their house and come back for our usual bowl of vanilla bean ice cream with Hershey's chocolate syrup.  They had run out of syrup and Grandpa drove me all the way to the grocery store just to buy some more:)  Now we sat at the table with heaping bowls.  I took a few small bites of my vanilla, analyzing the small brown flecks of vanilla bean.  The icy cold concoction slid down my throat, giving me goose bumps along my arms.  Then, I proceeded to do what I always insisted upon doing with my bowl of ice cream--making ice cream soup.  I began to stir my vanilla ice cream, mixing and mixing until it became one with the dark brown Hershey's syrup.  I loved watching the snow white ice cream combine with that rich dark color and become something new.  I loved the smooth light, chocolate brown.  The ice cream melted some as I stirred, becoming the consistency of a thick chocolate shake.  I kept on stirring, taking a few bites of the cool "soup" as I went.  Finally, when it reached the state of "soupiness" that I so desired, I ate it all--right down to the last drop.  Yum!

And, while I haven't made "soup" in far too long, I still think of my grandpa each time I eat ice cream.  I love and miss you!!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Setting the Mood- Teachers Write

This warm up was from Thursday, but since that was the 4th of July, I was busy with my family:)  If you would like to look at the entire warm-up, check out Kate Messner's blog at  

The room I'm in:  "bare bones" description: 
-comfy, beige couch
-brown recliner with a quilt
-pictures of family and friends adorning the walls
-large tv
-fan circulating cool air
-long green curtains
-toys on the floor
-desk with black chair in front

From the point of view of someone who is scared: 

She sat down on the edge of the couch, fumbling with her hands because she was unsure where to put them exactly.  She listened intently, analyzing each and every sound.  What that "pop" coming from the dryer downstairs, or was someone here?  The whir of the fan seemed to resound in her ears.  She wished it was quieter so she could listen.  On the other hand, she couldn't turn it off because then the stifling air might suffocate her.  She already couldn't breathe.  The people in the photos on the wall seemed to stare at her.  Their smiles seemed to morph into sinister sneers.  The baby dolls about the room reminded her of bodies.  Suddenly, a lock clicked and the door handle turned...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In the Garden- Tuesday's Writing Prompt- Teachers Write

You can find the full writing prompt here:, but this one is a three-parter.

First part of the prompt:  Create a character with conflict. 

  - Conflict: Mom trying to be the best she can be at being a mom, but still keeping house, being a good wife, taking care of work, being a part of charity work, etc. 

Second part: Take your character to a memory of a garden and describe, describe, describe. 

   -When the world got too busy, she often thought back to peaceful childhood memories.  One memory, in particular, took place in the garden at her childhood home.  A short walk from her front door was one of her favorite places--the family garden.  It was beautiful and peaceful.  She smiled happily as thought of helping her dad plant the garden.  The earth was cool and soft as they pushed seeds into it.  Soon, the garden would be a kaleidoscope of vegetables: potatoes, carrots, peppers, corn on the cob, and others.  She loved helping her dad here.  It was their special place.  Near one of the corners stood their apple tree, sweet tasty apples adorning the branches.  Along another side of the garden stood a row of lilac bushes.  She had always loved the lilacs.  As she would lean in to smell their rich purple blooms, she was swept away to a peaceful place.  The strong, heady scent filled her nostrils and instantly calmed her.  

Third part:  Bring these two together.  What can the character learn about her time in the garden.

-Remember the time in her childhood garden, the young mom realized that she was doing all that she wanted to do for her daughter and for herself as a person.  Just as she remembered spending time with her dad, she knew that her own daughter would remember the many times they spent together.  She knew those memories were good ones and would bring her daughter joy.  She also knew that she couldn't feel guilty about the other parts of her life.  She never, ever put anything or anyone above her daughter.  However, she wanted her daughter to know that it was healthy and wonderful to be a well-rounded person, to go after things you love and are passionate about, and to have a career that makes you complete.  The only way to teach her these lessons about life was to show her.  She must lead by example. 

Before I die, I want to...

All right, this is the Monday morning warm-up for Teacher's Write.  Yes, I understand that it is no longer Monday morning, but I am off work this week.  This means that mornings are devoted to my daughter, not my computer or myself.  So.. now Grace is asleep and it is my "me" time.  So.. this morning Jo Knowles shared some pictures of chalkboards she had seen up on vacation.  They had lots of spots for people to fill in the statement, "Before I die, I want to..."   You can see the pictures and prompt, by going here: Jo pushed us to answer this question for both ourselves and any characters we are currently writing about.  I am not working any writing project, so I suppose I will just make my own little bucket list:)  

1.  Obviously, this list can never be complete.  I think of things daily that I would like to see or do.
2.  Also, some of these are obviously more important than others.  That doesn't mean I don't want to do the smaller things as well:) 

My Bucket List as of July 2, 2013 at 12:04 am:

Before I die, I want to: 
  • See my daughter grow up.
  • Have grandchildren I get to spoil.
  • Grow old with my husband. 
  • Live a long, happy, healthy, cancer-free life.
  • See a cure for cancer.
  • Lose about 15-20 lbs and keep it off. 
  • Get into an exercise routine and stick with it.
  • Get two more tattoos:  a pink ribbon and my daughter's name.
  • Watch my sister get married and have kids of her own because she'd be a kick-ass mom.
  • Be the best mom I can possibly be.
  • Help my daughter plan her wedding.
  • Live to be 100 and have my picture in the paper (haha, This was a dream of mine when I was little for whatever reason.  However silly the picture thing is, I still like the dream)
  • Have a successful photography business on the side.
  • Have a long, successful teaching career.
  • Obtain a second master's in Speech Communications.
  • Continue working with Relay for Life and possibly be chair some day of my local event. 
  • Write a book.
  • Get an article or book published. 
  • Take my daughter to Disney World. 
  • Take another cruise. 
  • Travel to the following places: Ireland, Italy, Greece, the town the Cedar Cove series is based off of (can't think of it at the moment), Wine Country in California
  • Have another baby
  • Watch my daughter and nephews graduate high school, and college if they decide to go.
  • Have a leadership position in my department
  • Have a surprise party thrown for me at some point 
  • Raise my daughter to be smart, sweet, intelligent, fun, and to walk in God's ways
  • To read the entire Bible

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


My Tuesday quck-write for Teachers Write:)  Here's a link to the orginal post if you want to see:

Sometimes.. in those quiet moments,
my heart nearly pounds out of my chest
with love for my daughter.
When playtime is done for the day,
and she smells like lavender baby soap,
and all she wants to do is snuggle.

My heart melts as she gives me her award-winning, toothy grin,
as she says, "I love you, Mommy!"
We snuggle deep in the comfortable recliner,
covering ourselves with a soft, warm blanket.
As she settles in, she whispers,
"Sing me a song. Sing me my song, please."
And she falls asleep to "Amazing Grace."