What I’ve Learned in 2016

What I’ve Learned in 2016

With 2016 coming to a close tomorrow evening, I thought that with this post, I would look back through this year and see what all I’ve learned this past year. A lot has changed in the last twelve months, especially for my little family. So, here’s five things I’ve learned in 2016.

  1. God knows what He’s doing. Even when I am freaking out and having anxiety attacks about something I have NO control over, I have to remind myself that God knows. God has me where I am for a specific reason. He has the exact right people in my life for this current season of my life. He knows what tomorrow holds, even if I don’t. When I was nervous about going into labor, God already knew how it was going to turn out. Sometimes we forget that and try to handle everything ourselves, which ends up a disaster. If we just take a deep breath and remind ourselves that God is in control, things would go a lot smoother in our lives.
  2. Taking care of other people’s children is nothing like taking care of your own child. I used to help my mom babysit. I worked in the nursery at church. I went to college to be a Pre-K through 3rd grade teacher. I taught at a learning center for three years. I learned A LOT about taking care of children. But NOTHING prepares you for taking care of your own child. Yes, I had changed many diapers, learned a lot about different illnesses, how to potty train a child and how to feed a baby, but everything is different when the baby is your own. I loved the kids at the learning center, but they weren’t mine. At the end of the day, their parent or guardian would pick them up and take them home. I care for Maddie 24/7. I rarely get a break. And I love it, but I’ve learned a lot from it as well. You learn all their cues and quirks, likes and dislikes, all their little signs. And they rely on you to learn all of that. It is very scary and intimidating being a parent, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
  3. You can discuss parenting styles with your husband all day, think you’ve agreed on EVERYTHING, and still not agree on everything. Ken worries all the time that Maddie is going to end up a spoiled brat because of how much I cater to her every need. I keep telling him that there is a difference between being a spoiled brat and just being spoiled. My grandma would say “She’s not spoiled, she’s just loved.” and that’s how I want to see it as well. I was spoiled as a child, but I ALWAYS appreciated everything I received. I plan to raise Maddie to feel the same way. I love my baby girl and I want her to always know that. She doesn’t always need me to buy her a toy, but I don’t mind getting her something small if we’re out together. She may not NEED me to pick her up if she’s reaching for me, but why shouldn’t I? If she’s crying, if holding her will fix the problem, that’s what I’ll do. I see no problem with this. I want her to always know that I’m there for her. And it’s okay to not agree on everything with your spouse. Just listen to each other and find some compromise. A lot of it is not worth fighting about.
  4. We may not talk every day, but I know the people I can always count on if I need anything. My dad is my number one fan and I know if I need anything, he’s there for me. My husband, obviously, is always there to help me and cheer me up. My siblings and my nieces and nephews are all amazing and I know they’ve got my back. My best friends are just utterly amazing and I am beyond blessed to have them in mine and my family’s lives. We all have separate lives and always have something going on. We don’t live in the same small town anymore and we could go months without speaking. But if something were to happen, they would be there for me at the drop of  a dime, and I would do the same for them.
  5. Being a parent is hard, and I know it’s only going to get harder. For the last almost 11 months, I’ve raised, fed, and nurtured this beautiful baby girl, and before that, she spent over 9 months inside of me. There were a lot of decisions that were made about her before she was even born. Getting her vaccinated was a big choice me and my husband made (easy decision for us), and it was a decision we were in agreement on. From the moment she was born, I’ve had to make decisions that would effect her life. I chose to have her vaccinated. I chose to breastfeed her. That decision in itself made being a parent harder. Figuring out when she needed to eat, especially toward the beginning. Feeding her while we were out of the house (usually leading to me sitting in the back seat of my car and feeding her there. Then there were (and still are) times where I worry if she’s getting enough to eat. There are times I worry if she’s gaining enough weight. Being a parent means you’re pretty much in a state of constant worry, but you love your child too much to be upset about it.

 

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I’m going to post my goals for 2017 (as long as I find time between getting ready to go to my dad’s for New Years and cleaning/packing for our trip to Disney).

Lessons Learned from “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Lessons Learned from “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Merry Christmas to everyone!! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! We were very blessed and had a fantastic Christmas!

As I sit here in my bed, my 10 month old baby beside me, waiting for her to wake up, my mind starts to wander. Last night, as I went to bed, I turned on my favorite Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. It’s safe to say that I get around to watching it at least once during the holidays, sometimes more. As I watched it, I started to think about all the great themes and lessons that can be learned from watching the movie. Here’s some that I came up with.

  1. Prayer works! As soon as the movie starts, you hear random characters praying for the main character, George Bailey. His wife, Mary had called everyone they knew and asked for prayer for her husband, who she knew was in some kind of trouble. All the prayers lead to Clarence, an angel from Heaven attempting to gain his wings, to come to earth to save George from killing himself and to show him that he is an important person to a lot of people in the world.
  2. Even though prayer does work, sometimes we don’t get the answer we’re wanting. At one point in the movie, George is at the bar and just about to lose his mind. As he sits there, he prays that God show him the way, and instead of getting a positive answer, he ends up getting punched in the face by the husband of one of George’s kids’ teachers. He had no hope to begin with and when that happened, it drove him to go to the bridge where he contemplates killing himself and where he meets Clarence.
  3. Sometimes God lets you go through a deep valley before you see something positive happen. George was about as far gone as a person could be. God knew what was going to happen to the money that Uncle Billy misplaced, but He also knew that George needed to see what life would have been like without him to appreciate what he did have. So God let all the bad things happen to George so he could learn from all of it and appreciate all he did have.
  4. Being too nice and selfless can pay off in the end. At least it did for George. That poor guy couldn’t catch a break! He lost his hearing in one ear when he got sick after saving his younger brother, who had fallen through an icy pond. He kept his mouth shut about the druggist who accidentally put poison in the capsules instead of the medicine. He stayed in town instead of going to college when his dad died so he could run the Building and Loan. The list goes on and on. But when he needed people there to help him, they came from all over and gave willing. They loved George and knew that he would help them if they needed it.
  5. Each man’s life touches so many other lives, more than anyone realizes. When George got to see what life would have been like if he had never been born, he got a huge shock. His brother, the same one he saved from the icy water, died in this reality because George wasn’t there to save him. The druggist would have been thrown in jail for accidenly putting the poison in the capsules. His wife would have ended up an old maid. The list is endless. Seeing this alternate reality, George realized how important he really was.

What’s your favorite Christmas movie? What’s your opinion of “It’s a Wonderful Life”? Comment and let me know!! 

I’m Taking My Baby to Disney World

I’m Taking My Baby to Disney World

Some people may think this is absolutely insane. Why in the world would I even dream of taking a 10 month old on vacation, let alone to Disney World?? When I first mentioned to my dad that we were going in January, he made a comment that Maddie could stay with him while we were gone. I laughed and told him that she would be going with us. I love my dad and I would trust him with Maddie in a heartbeat, but if we were going to Disney World, she was going to be coming with us. I’m going to list reason I’ve heard to NOT take her, with my response to each!

  1. “It’s so expensive” – While Disney vacations CAN get a bit pricey, that has nothing to do with Maddie. Up until she turns 3, she is free. We don’t have to buy a ticket for her. We don’t have to put her on our meal plan. No fast passes for her either because she doesn’t have a ticket. So taking her at 10 months is the same as Ken and I going by ourselves.
  2. “It’s not like she can ride any rides” – NOT true. Most rides at Disney World have no height requirement. Because of that, Maddie can ride most of the rides there, even at 10 months old! Plus, whatever we choose for our Fast Passes, she can come too, even if she doesn’t have a real ticket. I’ve picked rides based on their lack of a height requirement, and we can ride them all together as a family!
  3. “It’s not like she knows any of the characters anyway” – Again, not necessarily true. She may not know all the princesses, and she may not be able to speak real words yet, but she knows Mickey Mouse. She LOVES Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and watches it whenever I see it’s on. She gets excited when she sees them on the show. So will she know all the characters? Probably not! But I know she knows some of them and will be excited to see them in person.
  4. “She’s not going to be able to be at the parks all day” – Well duh! I wasn’t planning on going from sun up to sun down at each park. We stay at one of the resorts for a reason. Sometimes you need a breather. Babies will definitely need a breather and a nap. And we drive down, so it makes it easier on us with the car seat available to just drive back to our resort and chill out for a while. And if you get Park Hopper on your tickets, you can go to one park in the morning, go chill in your room for a bit, and then go to a different park in the evening!
  5. “You aren’t going to be able to nurse her there” – I’m not one to just whip it out and feed her anyway. And one huge plus? All of the parks have a baby center where you can go and feed your baby, change their diaper, or just take a break. I think all public places should have something like that! Being a breastfeeding mom, I would love privacy when I nurse. I know some women don’t care, and that’s fine! But just not me. 
  6. “She won’t remember it anyway” – This is the one I hear about the most. No, she’s not going to remember her first Disney trip. Heck, she won’t remember her next one either (we’re going back in December of 2017 for our 6 year anniversary). But guess what? I don’t remember my first vacation and I was 10. And that is what pictures are for! She will be able to look back one day and see all the pictures from her vacation and we will be able to tell her stories about them. And Disney has a thing called Memory Maker, where you can get your picture taken by a cast member and they will scan your Magic Band and you can look at it online almost instantly. We got it the last time we went and I plan to get it every time! Too good to pass up and they take pretty good pics! So no, Maddie won’t remember going to Disney, but we will always remember Maddie’s first trip.

Have you heard any of these? Any I missed? Comment to let me know!!

Why Everyone Should Visit Disney World

Why Everyone Should Visit Disney World

(Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Disney World or any of their parks or companies. This blog, and the posts to follow are all based on my own experiences, personal opinion or by research I have done. I’m not getting anything from Disney by writing about this.)

So tonight, I’m going to give a brief explanation as to why everyone should visit Walt Disney World. It’s simple: IT’S AMAZING.

I know, that sounds very vague, but it’s true.

When my now husband and I were trying to figure out where to go on our honeymoon, I don’t remember why we decided on Disney World. We both had never been there before and we had always wanted to. And honestly, if I had the money, I would go back every year if I could. There is something magical about it, as silly and corny as it sounds. We’ve been there twice, the first time being our honeymoon and the second time for our 3 year anniversary. On January 3rd of 2017, we will be driving down for our third trip starting on the 4th. And this time, we’ve got Maddie to take with us!

So here are a few (and there are MANY) reasons why everyone should try to go to Disney at least once.

  1. The parks are immaculate. No joke, you will be hard pressed to find garbage or anything lying around. They go above and beyond to make sure that your park experience is magical, and rarely do they disappoint. Fun fact, they do not sell gum at Disney World, which is one way they can keep their parks clean.
  2. Kids get in free from newborn until they turn 3 years old. Hence why we are taking Maddie (twice next year, weirdly enough). She won’t need a ticket, won’t need a meal plan (she’ll share with us or we can buy her something separate), and she’ll be able to ride many of the big attractions. As long as the ride doesn’t have a height requirement, she is free to ride. For example, she will be able to ride “It’s a Small World” and the famous Dumbo ride. But she will not be able to ride Expedition Everest or Splash Mountain.
  3. There is something there for everyone. Some people thought we were weird wanting to go down for our honeymoon, but again, Disney goes above and beyond. Every step in the planning process, especially if you call, they always ask you if you are celebrating something specific. When we got there, we had buttons to wear that showed we were newlyweds and because we wore them, everywhere we went, people knew why we were there. We got special desserts, balloons, and many congratulations from people just because they saw our button. And honestly, we never felt like we were weird for being an adult couple at Disney. We chose restaurants that were a bit nicer than what we were used to and used the time to just be together. The last time we went down, I went and got a pedicure at my resort. I loved it! We talked about visiting there so much, that both of my best friends went there on their honeymoons.
  4. The food! Oh my goodness. Ken and I, both times now, have gotten the Deluxe Dining Plan (definitely check out the dining plans if you plan to go, such a great deal). With our meals, we got an appetizer, an entree and a dessert, plus a non-alcoholic beverage. We had SO much food. And they have some amazing restaurants. My husband’s favorite is the Yachtsman Steakhouse, which was our first dining reservation when we went for our honeymoon and a must when we go. They also have some awesome character dining experiences. This time around, we are making sure we hit a lot of those for Maddie. We especially are excited to hit “Be Our Guest” for dinner on our first night, a restaurant in Magic Kingdom devoted to Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite movies.
  5. The ease of transportation. Even though we drive down (all the way from southwest Ohio), the transportation on site is pretty amazing too. We especially love the monorail, which is connected directly to three of their Deluxe Resorts (Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and the Contemporary). When we went back for our 3 year anniversary, we stayed at the Grand Floridian (AMAZING), and I loved being able to just leave our room, go to the 2nd floor of the main building and hop on the monorail. The monorail from Grand Floridian goes to the Magic Kingdom and from there, you can hop on another one to lead you to Epcot. Other transportation includes buses, which most resorts have one that comes there, and a ferry that can take you from certain resorts to the Magic Kingdom. A big reason why we drive down is because we then have our own vehicle and do not need to rely on their transportation, but we have had pleasant experiences with all the transportation.
  6. The atmosphere. Again, it sounds corny but it really is a magical place. I honestly don’t care if we ever vacation anywhere else (we plan to, but I don’t need to). I would go to Disney any time.

I’m just scratching the surface. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting more about Disney World (mostly because we’re getting ready to head down there ourselves). Have you been to Disney? Let me know what I left out!!

Family is Everything

Family is Everything

It’s the little things in life that usually end up meaning the most.

On the 13th, I got to help celebrate my brother John’s 49th birthday. It was such a blessing and we had a great time!

For those that don’t know me or my family, earlier this year, John was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer. They can treat it, but they say its incurable. Doctors say that he will have plenty of years ahead of him, which is wonderful. And the treatments are doing what they are supposed to. They say incurable, but I say that nothing is incurable with God. God is in the business of performing miracles every day. I have no doubt that God can cure my brother.
So we will celebrate every birthday we can. And we’ll be there for each other through all of it. Because we are a family. And no matter what, we always have each others’ backs.
Starting tomorrow, I’m going to start a series of posts about our favorite place to vacation! I cannot wait to share it with you!! 

We’re Not Who We Once Were.

We’re Not Who We Once Were.

I saw a picture tonight on Facebook that really hit home to me. It was just a picture that said, “I’m definitely not the same person I was when year started”. This statement couldn’t be more true in mine and Ken’s lives, more mine than his. 

From the moment back in June of 2015 when I found out that I was pregnant with Maddie, my life changed. I had another person to think about. And even though she wasn’t in my arms yet, I knew that she would be soon enough.

The picture in this post was from May of 2015. I wasn’t pregnant yet and I was the matron of honor at my niece’s wedding. I thought a lot about myself and made decisions based on what I wanted. Ken and I made plans based on what we wanted to do. The day after this wedding, we went to a concert. The next month, we went to a WWE event. No worry in the world.

Fast forward to February 18th, 2016. Suddenly it stopped being about me and Ken. Suddenly, all my decisions dealt with Maddie. Any plans I made, I had to think about her. If we decided to go out, she went too. We’ve only had people babysit her twice since being born, otherwise she has been with us. My best friend got married back in October. Guess what? Maddie was with us. We were both in the wedding! I was the matron of honor. We had a full weekend of activities planned for the wedding. Maddie was there for all of it.

Her needs and wants have become my needs and wants. I live for her. I want her to be happy and as long as she’s happy, so am I. That’s how it should be! Before she was born, I would hop in the shower whenever I wanted, once a day, and take my time. Now, I either 1) Wait until she’s napping, 2) Wait until Ken gets home from work, or 3) Don’t shower that day. It’s simple. I would do anything for her, even if that means I go without.

She’s my world. And I would never go back to who I was before. Who I am now is who God meant for me to be, and I know how blessed I am.

16 Bible Verses for an Anxious Heart

16 Bible Verses for an Anxious Heart

The other day, I shared the story of my mom passing away. I shared it for several reasons. I want people that read my blog to know me and know why I am the person I am today. I also hope that by acknowledging that it happened and talking about my struggle with it, that it may give hope to someone else that may be dealing with something similar. Because of those reasons, I felt that I needed to write this blog and talk about what happened after losing my mom.

Not long after I had lost my mom, I started having trouble catching my breath every now and then. This concerned me a lot because that was the only symptom that my mom had of her heart attack initially. Eventually I decided that I really needed to go to the doctor and get checked out. What he diagnosed me with, I’ll admit, I didn’t expect.

He informed me that I was on the brink of having depression and anxiety. My one symptom was actually a symptom of anxiety and nothing to do with my heart. Instead of putting me on medication, which he really didn’t think I needed, he told me I should start exercising at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes. I was happy enough that it wasn’t anything heart related, but I did start working out a little bit more, which helped me get better.

Another thing that always helps me when I’m a bit anxious is reading God’s word and reading what He has to say about fear and anxiety. So today, I’m going to post 16 verses that I personally love dealing with the topic of fear and anxiety.

  1. 1 Peter 5:7 – Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
  2. Isaiah 41:10 – Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
  3. Philippians 4:6-7 – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passerby all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
  4. John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
  5. 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
  6. Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
  7. Psalm 23:4 – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
  8. Joshua 1:9 – Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
  9. Psalm 118:6-7 – The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.
  10. Mark 4:39-40 – And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are he so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
  11. Psalm 34:4 – I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
  12. Deuteronomy 3:22 – Ye shall not fear them: for the Lord your God he shall fight for you.
  13. Romans 8:38-39 – For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  14. Zephaniah 3:17 – The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
  15. John 16:33 – These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
  16. Psalm 73:26 – My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Those are just a few of many great verses to help with anxiety! Did I forget your favorite?? Comment and tell me what your favorite verse is!

10 Christmas Traditions to Start This Year

10 Christmas Traditions to Start This Year

I wanted to start off this post by thanking everyone who read the post about my mom. I got a lot of positive feedback about it and I am very blessed. You all are wonderful!

But back to happier topics! 

My favorite holiday is Christmas! I love everything about it! And now that we have our first child, there is just something more magical about Christmas this year. Ken and I had a discussion before Maddie was even born that even though she will learn about Santa Claus and believe in him, that we will make sure she knows the real reason why we celebrate Christmas. We want her to know about God sending down his only begotten son to save all of us from our sins. So I started looking at some traditions that we could start or continue to do as a family. Here is a list of ten that I am adding to our holiday!

  1. Reading the story of Jesus’ birth. My family never did that growing up, but Ken’s family does it every Christmas. We all gather around and several family members read passages out of the Bible giving an account of the birth of Jesus Christ. In doing this every year, we are reminded as to why we actually celebrate. Presents and Santa Claus are wonderful, but the birth of Jesus is just amazing.
  2. Set out an nativity scene or find a church that is doing a live nativity scene. One of the first things we bought when we were buying Christmas decorations was a nativity scene. Ken’s family actually has a list of which grandkid set up their nativity scene the year before, so everyone can have a turn. And several churches around our area are doing a live nativity scene. Check online or in your local paper to see if any churches around you are participating.
  3. Decorate the Christmas tree as a family. I have had such a wonderful time the last few years decorating the tree with Ken. This year, I can’t wait to see Maddie’s reaction to the tree! Spending the time together is always a blessing. You could also have a Christmas movie or some music playing in the background while you decorate.
  4. Watch all the Christmas classics. My all time favorite Christmas movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life” and I make it a point to watch it every year. I’m also a huge fan of “Charlie Brown’s Christmas”, “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Make some hot chocolate, put some festive pajamas on, make some popcorn and watch the movies together.
  5. Sing Christmas carols together. You could go caroling or just sing them together at your house like my family used to. One of my brothers would make up folders of music and we would all go into the living room and sing them together. It’s one of my favorite memories from the holidays.
  6. Buy a bunch of Christmas themed children’s books and read one a day until Christmas. I know people that wrap each book and give them as a gift every day until Christmas. And there are some great books out there! I recently bought one that actually talks about the real reason we celebrate Christmas! Make it a daily event, even if it’s right before bed!
  7. Do some random acts of kindness. It’s the time of year to love one another and that is an easy way to show it. I have had people pay for my drink in a drive thru or my entire meal! I’ve even had a guy give me $20 to help pay for diapers, just because. I have always wanted to secretly pay for someone’s meal or groceries. 
  8. Drive around and look at the Christmas lights. There are some people that go all out when it comes to decorating their house for the holidays and I love to look at all of them. And out here in the country, they’re easier to see without all the city lights shining all around. 
  9. Take some family pictures and make them into Christmas cards. If you go on Pinterest, there are a ton of amazing picture ideas for family pictures for Christmas. You can see if any of your photographer friends are doing any mini sessions or attempt to do the pics yourself. Either way, you’ll have that memory forever!
  10. Visit Santa Claus. This one was a big deal to me. I believed in Santa growing up and there is just something magical about believing in Santa. So as you can see in the picture, we already took Maddie to see Santa and it went really well! But do your research before you go! Some places allow you to take personal pics with a phone or a camera, and others won’t allow it and want you to buy a picture package, which can get pricey! We spent $40 on pics with Santa and that was Package D!

So what are some traditions your family do every year? What’s your favorite Christmas movie? Comment and let me know!!

Losing a Parent – What I Learned

Losing a Parent – What I Learned

This will probably be the hardest post I ever write but it’s the post that has been on my heart lately. I’m going to warn you now, this is going to get emotional. This post has been a work in progress for me for the past 10 years. In this post, I’m going to tell the story of my mom’s passing and what I’ve learned from it these last 10 years.

My mom was a wonderful woman. She was my biggest fan and someone I always knew that I could count on no matter what. She would fight battles for me and be there to just listen if I needed her to. She loved all six of us kids and definitely loved my dad. I was a mommy’s girl, which made all of this THAT much harder for me.

I was about a month away from turning 19 when she had her heart attack. She smoked the majority of her life and it was a big factor in her heart attack. On July 2nd, 2006, my mom woke up that morning and had trouble catching her breath. My dad decided that she needed to go to the hospital, so he drove her to the nearest one, which is about 25 minutes away from the house. When they arrived, they realized that my mom was having a heart attack. They decided to air-care her to Christ Hospital down in Cincinnati because they were an excellent heart hospital. They told my dad that it was just a minor heart attack, and she would probably be able to come home the next day. While that was taking place, my dad came back home, woke me up and told me what was going on. My oldest brother and his family were coming by to pick me and my dad up to head down to the hospital. I was hysterical. I never thought anything would happen to my mom. Once all of us siblings were in the loop, we all made our way to the hospital from wherever we were. By the time we arrived, a nurse came out of a room saying that they weren’t ready for us because my mom had just had a massive heart attack. I started bawling again and I remember hugging my niece Amber (who is only 4 years younger than me). We finally were able to talk to someone and they informed us that my mom had shot a clot through her heart, making a hole. The only way to possibly save her was to perform surgery to repair the damage done, but there wasn’t a guarantee that she would even make it through this surgery. It was really a no-brainer. My dad had them go through with the surgery, which ended up being over five hours long. Amazingly enough, she made it through the surgery and they repaired the damage, but they told us that the first 72 hours were critical. None of us wanted to have hope but it was hard not to. The next day (because that ALL took place on July 2nd), we went to visit my mom and she was actually awake. She had a breathing tube down her throat, so she couldn’t speak, but she was aware. She was asked if she knew who she was, what year it was, and how many kids she had. My oldest brother said she only had five, to which she adamantly shook her head ‘no’. I was so excited that she was awake and it seemed like, to me, that we were heading in the right direction. Before we left to go home that day, I told mom that we all loved her. She mouthed back “I love you too”.

The next day, they put her in a medically induced coma for several reasons. She apparently kept trying to pull her breathing tube out, which wasn’t good, and they wanted her body to relax so it could continue to heal itself. The next twelve days were kind of a blur. Things would look good and then things would look bad. She was still in her coma and because of that, they had to do things to help her circulation. One thing I remember is they brought in a type of bed that would rotate from side to side to keep her from getting bed sores. It was an odd contraption.

But on July 17th, the doctor sat down with my dad and informed him that my mom wasn’t going to make it. The doctor told my dad that she wasn’t really there anymore and that we could keep her on life support if we chose, but that nothing would get better. My dad was devastated, but knew what the right thing to do was. So the next day, with several family members by his side, he let my mom go. She passed away at 4:07pm on July 18th. She was 63 years old. The heart attack wasn’t even what ended up killing her. Because my mom was a smoker, she had developed chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Her lungs weren’t strong enough and her organs just started shutting down one by one. Her kidneys were next. So ultimately, she died from the infections due to the heart attack.

Okay…so now that I may have possibly made all of you cry, I’ll go on to the main point of this post.

I honestly didn’t know how to deal with losing a parent, or anyone really, at the age of 18. My mom was the closest person to me to pass away at that point and I, thankfully, had a friend of mine that had lost her mom at an even younger age that could help me through it. But it wasn’t easy. So here are 8 things that I learned from losing my mom.

  1. God knew what He was doing. I know that sounds insane of me, but just hear me out. I prayed. I prayed any chance I could for God to heal my mom. But as the days went on, and I could tell that things weren’t going great, I changed my prayer. I wanted my mom to live, but I also didn’t want her to suffer. Toward the end, she had lost circulation in her hands and feet. If she had survived, she would have had them amputated. She would have spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair, which I knew she would have hated. So, when I noticed that things were getting back, I prayed that God’s will be done. I wanted my mom to stay with me, but if God wanted her to be with Him in Heaven, that was okay too. And when we got the call that she had passed away, I bawled like a baby into my brother Matt’s shoulder. I was completely devastated. But I never questioned God. I knew that my mom would have been utterly miserable if she would have been put in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. So I think God knew what was best for her.
  2. You lean on the people that are closest to you more than ever. I had friends who were still in high school, going through band camp, who dropped everything to be at my mom’s funeral, with the band director allowing them to leave and come back. One of my best friends was celebrating her birthday and once they all found out that my mom had passed away, they all left the party (birthday girl included) to come and comfort me. All of us siblings leaned on each other for support. Two of my brothers were still living at home with me and dad, and we spent a lot of time together after that. Speaking of my dad, my relationship with him grew stronger too. To this day, I don’t know what I would have done without my dad. He has become one of my favorite people in the whole world and I’m so grateful that we grew closer.
  3. The first year is the worst. The first full year without mom was HORRIBLE. Every holiday was hard to get through. My oldest niece didn’t even want to celebrate her birthday that year. I missed quite a bit of class during my second year of college because I was just a mess. Every day that year was just as hard as the next. I honestly didn’t know if it would ever get better (spoiler alert: it does).
  4. Every major milestone in the family is bittersweet. Since my mom has been gone, I have graduated college, got married and now I have my first child. My oldest niece has also gotten married. Another niece of mine graduated college. One of my brothers is going to graduate college this coming year. And EVERY milestone, it’s hard to not wish mom were here. When I graduated college, my entire family was there to witness it. When they declared us graduates of the class of 2009, I cried. Partly because I was so happy to be done with college, but mostly because I felt mom should have been there.
  5. People will say that they understand what you’re going through. Unless they lost a parent EXACTLY the same way you lost yours, they really don’t. My brother had a friend who lost his mom to cancer. He told me that he could sympathize but not empathize. He knew what it was like to lose a parent, but not how it felt to lose a parent to cancer. I had a friend who compared me losing my mom to his losing his grandma. Again, he understood what it was like to lose a family member, but he didn’t lose his mom. No one completely understands what you’re going through unless they have gone through the same exact thing.
  6. It doesn’t necessarily become easier to deal with, but your normal changes. You become used to not having them there, which makes it easier to handle, but the pain never really goes away. Not completely. There are times I still cry, missing my mom that much. When I found out I was pregnant with Maddie, it made me happy but sad at the same time because Maddie would never know my mom, or Ken’s mom for that matter. Holidays are still bittersweet, but we’re used to the new normal, and that makes things easier, but never better.
  7. Take a lot of pictures. Do a family picture. We NEVER did that. We rarely took pictures and my mom HATED being photographed. Because of that, we don’t have many pictures to remember her by. I am almost obsessive about getting pictures of our little family. If, God forbid, something happens to one of us, we will have pictures to look back at.
  8. Do NOT take anyone for granted. We didn’t wake up back in 2006 thinking it would be the last time we saw mom. My husband didn’t realize that when he left the house back in 2009, that it would be the last time he saw his mom alive. You just NEVER know. I could have lost my dad back in 2012 when he had his heart attack, but thank God I didn’t. But after his heart attack, I made it a point to visit him more often. Even to this day, I visit him at least three nights a week and see him on Sunday after church for lunch. This is even more important now that Maddie is here. She LOVES her grandpa and it’s important to me that she has a relationship with both of her grandpas. But we don’t know what tomorrow has in store. So don’t hold grudges, practice forgiveness and grace, and make sure people know that you love them. Because you just never know.

I promise that my post tomorrow won’t be this sad, but I’ve really had this on my heart for the past few months and really wanted to get it out. Comments? Anything to add? Comment below!

Five Things I’ve Learned These Last Five Years

Five Things I’ve Learned These Last Five Years

Today, my husband and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary! I am very blessed to have such an wonderful, godly man in my life. We had a great afternoon together to celebrate.

Five years doesn’t seem like that long, but that’s still a significant amount of time. A lot can happen in five years! And in five years, you definitely learn a lot about yourself, your spouse and about marriage in general. So today, I’m going to give you five things that I’ve learned the last five years.

1) The first year of marriage is really, really rough. You move in with someone you’ve never lived with before and have to learn to live with this person! You learn their likes, dislikes, their quirks and what makes them tick. I can safely say that year number one was the hardest we’ve been through. Other than all the things I mentioned, my dad had a heart attack that year, which was very hard on me because of my mom and her passing away due to a heart attack. My husband had never dealt with anything like that before and had no clue why I felt the need to go to the hospital everyday just to sit around and talk to my dad, which causes some tension. But everything turned out okay and we survived the first year. So don’t get discouraged if the first year is a little tough. Things will get easier!

2) Communication is key. This is true in every relationship of any kind, but it is very pivotal in your marriage. Your spouse is not a mind reader, as much as you may want him to be. If you want something from them, tell them. If they are doing something you don’t like, tell them instead of giving them an attitude or the silent treatment. I don’t know how many times I assumed my husband would know exactly what I wanted and it would lead to disappointment. It’s not fair to you or them. Talking is so much easier!

3) There are big topics that you really should agree on. I’m not saying that some relationships can’t work if you don’t agree on certain things, but from my experience, it makes it difficult. Thankfully, my husband and I see a lot of things the same way. But we actually sat down and talked about big topics before we got married, to make sure we were on the same page. In my opinion, politics and religion are two huge things that should be probably agreed on before marriage. One of the biggest ones though is children. My husband and I knew before we got married that we were gonna wait a few years and then start a family, and that we wanted several children. That’s a big thing that needs to be addressed before it becomes an issue.

4) It’s the little things sometimes that mean the most. My husband loves it when I make him something to eat, because usually he is the one making the food for us. So when I actually try to make him dinner, he enjoys that. I like it when he takes the dogs out without me badgering him about it. Especially if it’s cold outside. Gestures of love don’t need to be expensive, they just need to come from the heart.

5) Even with all the things we’ve gone through in the last five years, I would do it all over again in a heart beat. Some days are going to suck, honestly. Some days you just want to be alone for a while and relax a little without them. But that is normal. Some days, he drives me absolutely nuts. But he’s mine and I don’t know what I’d do without him. He helps me get through all of life’s trials and does so without complaining. I thank God every day that He gave me exactly who I needed and not who I thought I wanted. I love him very much and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us and our family.

What have you all learned from your marriage? Any rude awakenings or were you not surprised at all? Feel free to comment and tell me all about it!!