Tuesday, February 07, 2017

CHD Awareness Week 2017

There is an incredible amount of awareness and education surrounding adult heart disease, but very little about the number one birth defect or leading cause for birth-defect related deaths.

Did you know:
  • Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) affects approximately 1.8 million families in the United States
  • CHDs are the most common birth defect and the leading cause of birth-defect related deaths worldwide
  • Nearly twice as many children die from CHDs as from all childhood cancers combined, yet research for cancer receives five times the funding
  • There are currently 35 distinct CHDs recognized
  • There is no known cause for CHDs and there is no cure. Only treatment, such as medicines, numerous surgeries and heart transplants.
  • Each year an estimated 1 in 100 babies are born in the United States with a congenital heart defect
  • 1 in 10 of those are born with a fatal defect
My daughter, Allison Grace, was one of these statistics. Allison was born on April 29, 2002, with several complex heart defects. Prior to her diagnosis in utero, I could not even tell you what CHD stood for. Allison spent 32 days in the NICU before we were able to bring her home to meet her brother and sister. Our next few months were filled with doctor visits, echocardiograms, medicines, and a heart cauterization. 

On August 9, 2002, Matt and I kissed Allison and handed her over to the nurse for what was to be her first of several open heart surgeries. This was the last time we held our daughter alive. On August 13, at only 101 days old, Allison earned her angel wings.

We never got to see our daughter take her first steps or say her first words. We never had her wrap her arms around us and say "I love you mommy and daddy." There is no "first day of school" photo. She will never graduate high school or go to college. Matt will never walk her down the aisle and give her to the man who has promised to love her forever. We were blessed to have had 101 days with our daughter. Many CHD parents are not as fortunate as us. 

February 7 - 14 is "Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week". Raising national awareness about Congenital Heart Defects is important on so many levels—it will provide hope for families of CHD survivors and comfort to those whose loved ones have lost their battles; it will inform the general public about the symptoms of CHDs and possibly save lives; and it will affirm the need for researchers and medical professionals to continue their work to improve the outlook for CHD patients. 

Here are a few ways you can help bring awareness to CHDs this week.
  • If you are looking to give to a charity, think about donating to one that supports CHD research, such as the Children's Heart Foundation.
  • If you give to the American Heart Association, put "Zachary Brooks Foundation" in the memo designating that your funds will go to a foundation set up specifically for CHD heart awareness and research.
  • Wear red on February 14 to remember those who are affected by CHDs.
  • And if you have children, hug them a little tighter and thank God for the miracle and wonderful gift you have been given.

Friday, November 13, 2015

**Tap** **Tap** Hello? Hello? **Tap** **Tap**

I love social media. Having lived across the world from family and friends for five years made it an important part of our lives to stay connected. And while we don't live across the world anymore, we are over 1,200 miles away from all our family and many friends. Social media has evolved to being more than a way to stay connected to people today, it also has become a way to stay connected to the past with things like #TBT (throwback Thursday) and Facebook memories.

The past few weeks as I was scouring my photo files for the "perfect" pictures for #TBT it really hit me just how short of a time left I have with my "babies". Emily is turning 20-years-old and already a sophomore in college, Chris is a junior and Sami is in 7th grade. In the next six years we will be "empty-nesters". Let's pause for a moment while I pick myself up off the floor at the thought of Matt and I alone. Yikes.

I haven't updated this blog in over a year. I don't really have a good excuse. Maybe it is because I can communicate easier than when I lived in Japan, or it's because we have gotten settled into a busy "American" life of driving (can I mention how much I HATE driving) to some sort of activity every night, or maybe it is because we are just boring people.

One thing I have learned in adulthood is that life is short. It can change in the blink of an eye. Kids grow up too fast, parents don't live forever. And while we all know this, sometimes I think we forget it until something happens to remind us. This morning I read an article that Lloyd Carr's 5-year-old grandson is dying. A year ago Chad Carr was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor and his time is coming to an end. It breaks my heart every time I hear that another parent has to join the "club". So today I decided that I don't care how boring or busy my life may be I need to take time to write because life is short and someday words may be all we have.

July, 2003 to August, 2015

Friday, September 05, 2014

Forever Faithful

This past Sunday at church our youth worship leader sang the song "The Lord Our God". For some reason this song has really been laying on my heart this week. The chorus goes:

The Lord our God is ever faithful

Never changing through the ages
From this darkness
You will lead us 
And forever we will say 
You're the Lord our God 

I know several people who are struggling right now. Some of the struggles are small, while others are giant mountains that seem impossible to climb. This song really spoke to me, reminding me that no matter what the circumstance, no matter where our heart may be, God is faithful and that will never change. He will be there, whether we want Him to or whether we think He is, to bring us through every situation.

I remember when the doctors told us Allison was going to die. It was a very dark and long period in my life, and to be honest, for a long time I wasn't sure I believed in God anymore. We were good people. We were kick-butt parents. We were faithful to God. But in the end, none of that mattered. I can now look back and see ways God was faithful during that heartbreaking time, even though I couldn't and didn't want to see it.

I don't know, and I will never understand, why good people suffer. Bad things do happen to good people. I don't understand God's purpose or plans in many situations, but I do know that He is faithful in every situation. So to those who are struggling right now, hang in there. No matter where your heart may be, no matter the situation, no matter the circumstance, He is there.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Making the Jump

We often tell our children things like "don't let fear stop you from going after something you want" and "just go for it" but how often do we follow our own advice? 

Just over 16 years ago I graduated from Ohio State with a degree in Agricultural Communications and Business. After graduation I worked for a small public relations firm for a few years before gaining the experience I needed to open my own consulting business. This was the perfect career path to allow me to be able to do what I loved, while being able to stay home with my kids. When we moved to Japan I was unable to continue with my business and took the time to truly immerse myself our expat assignment.

Since returning stateside, I have been substitute teaching. It started as a way for me to get to know the local kids, as well as, the school district. What I didn't count on was that I would absolutely love being in the classroom. This should come to no surprise as both of my parents and my aunts and uncles were all teachers. So after much discussion with my family and lots of praying, yesterday I made the jump and sent in the beginning paperwork to return to school and get certified as a teacher. 

My hope is to one day be able to teach English/Language Arts and/or Marketing to high school students. I want to share my love for books and writing with students and hopefully, somehow, make a difference in their lives. I remember at my mother's funeral, students she had over 25 years ago talking about the impact she had on their lives. I never thought I would say this, but I want to be like my mom. (Matt, please take that statement with a grain of salt) 

We all have fears. We all have something that we want to be doing, but fear is holding us back. Today I encourage you to let go of that fear and make the jump. Take the risk. Just go for it. 

"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic." ~ Unknown

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My baby has gone to college-- now what?

When you are in the middle of diaper changes and midnight feedings it is hard to even imagine a time when your child would no longer be at home. After long summers of hearing "I'm bored" most mothers are counting down the days until the big yellow bus comes and takes their child off for another school year. And while you know it will eventually happen, not once do you picture loading up the car and taking your child off to college. I blinked and that wrinkly, 6 lb 2 oz little girl was suddenly 18-years-old. This past Sunday we made the 5 hour drive to Texas Tech University to take our "little" girl to college. 

Taking your child to college is bittersweet. On one hand you are excited about everything your child will accomplish over the next 4 years. This experience will be the stepping stone used to help your child achieve all their dreams and goals. On the other hand you are full of worry and a bit heartbroken. What if your child needs you?  What if they struggle with school? Where are they at 2 am? Who are they hanging out with? Does your child miss you as much as you are missing them? And the list goes on. 

God has a plan for Emily. Over the past year, He has been faithful over and over. We were worried about her transition from Japan to here, especially considering it being her senior year, but she did better than we ever could imagine. There have been people put in her life over the past year, that I know without a doubt, are part of His ultimate plan. I need to remember as sad as it is for me, that her leaving the nest and embarking on this college adventure, is all part of His ultimate plan as well. And I am so excited to see what God has in store for her and her future. I know it is going to be great.  

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."Proverbs 22:6

Saturday, August 09, 2014


For those who are frequent readers of my blog (although considering I have not blogged lately I am not sure how many readers I still have) or personal friends, you know the month of August is a particularly hard one. Two years ago today, my mother died. Twelve years ago on August 13th, our 3.5 month old daughter, Allison Grace, died. My mother was buried on the day Allison died. Allison was buried on my parents' wedding anniversary. My mother's birthday was August 27. So yes, my family would perfectly be okay if the month of August did not exist. 
Last night I was laying in bed and thought about how my mom was a "glass full" type of person. She was a firm believer that when life handed you lemons, you make lemonade. When you get knocked down, you put one foot in front of the other and go on. She is the reason I am the person I am today. So today, to honor my mom, I am going to look at today as half-full. Rather than dwell on what I am missing, I am going to count my blessings and be thankful for what I do have, for who I have and what I have had. 
I am very blessed. Matt and I both managed to graduate college while raising a baby. Matt has a fantastic job and I am blessed to be able to be at home with my kids. I have a wonderful husband who I am blessed to wake up to every day. I have three healthy kids who love Jesus. We had 101 days with Allison, more than some parents are ever given. I had 37 years with my mother, and while not every moment was rosy, I am so thankful for every day. I have some fantastic friends, who I know are always when I need them. Our family has been given opportunities to see and understand parts of the world that most will never experience. Yes, there have been hard times and dark days that I would not wish on my worst enemy, but I am also a very blessed person. And today I am going to focus on these and so many more blessings that I have.
So today, my challenge is this: Look around you. No matter what you are going through or how dark your day may be, there is something blessing you today. Focus on this blessing today. Use it as a reminder that there are rainbows at the end of the storm.
My mom and I watching the Buckeye football bowl game right before I left for Japan. 
 “Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing” ― Camille Pissarro

Thursday, May 22, 2014

You've Got a Friend in Me

Yes I know I have been silent for the past 8 months. Our family has been slowly working through repatriating back to the United States and coming to Texas. There will be a blog entry soon on how things have gone, but today I want to write about something different -- friendships.

When we learned our family would be coming to Texas Emily begged us to let her stay in Japan and finish her senior year. We obviously shot that idea down and told her she had two options - Spend her senior year counting down the days until high school was through or go and immerse herself in the school and making friends. To our surprise not only did she choose the second option, but she went above and beyond we ever could have imagined.

Emily is graduating from high school in 9 days. I won't even get into that right now as I am out of Kleenex and I can already feel the tears coming on just thinking about it. She has been counting down the days until she is finally done with high school and until she checks into her dorm in Lubbock for months. She has been talking non-stop about how much she can't wait to start the new chapter of her life. Until last night. It finally has dawned on her that life is about to totally change, and the friendships she has worked so hard in making this past year, will change.

Last night as the tears were brimming in Emily's eyes and she declared she was no longer going to graduate, I told my daughter my thoughts on friendships.

First, you have those that are "friendships by location". These are people whom you are friends with because of where you live or maybe an activity in which you or your child may be involved. These are people that you know if your location or activity changes, it was fun while it lasted but you will part ways and not really think twice.

Next, you have friends that you may communicate with on social media or see each other every once in a while, but in a time of need they won't be the person you call or contact. They are more acquaintance friends.

Then you have what I call good friends. These are people that you may communicate with often or do things with when you can. These people may or may not live in the same place as you. These are people that if you need something you know you can call upon them and vice versa. There is an equal amount of effort to maintain this type of friendship.

Finally, you have what I call life-long friends. These are people that you know in a moments notice they will be there. You know you can call them at 2 am sobbing and they wouldn't even blink, even if it has been months since you spoke last. These are people that you may not see or talk with often but you know they will always have your back. Friendship between the two of you comes easy.

I am blessed with amazing friends. Some I have been friends with for over 20 years, while others I have met along the path of my life. As I told Emily, distance doesn't have to stop a friendship. It may and probably will change, but that change isn't always bad. With the technology options today, you can communicate with just about anyone, anywhere, anytime around the globe. The choice is hers.
Walking across that stage in 9 days, doesn't have to be an end-- it can be just the beginning of something great.

There are those who pass like ships in the night, who meet for a moment, then sail out of sight with never a backward glance of regret, folks we know briefly then quickly forget. Then there are friends who sail together, through quiet waters and stormy weather, helping each other though joy and through strife. And they are the kind who give meaning to life. ~ Unknown

Friday, September 27, 2013

Take a Look, It's In a Book

Growing up we didn't have things like Xbox and PS3. Minecraft didn't exist. MTV actually played music videos. Computers, if you were lucky enough to have access to one, consisted of floppy disks, the old Pong game and dot matrix printers. Pac Man and Atari were just being discovered. Boys could be found pushing their Hot Wheel cars, while making vroom vroom noises. Girls would be playing school and house with their friends. We made mud pies and ran in the rain. Kids had to be creative and use their imagination to have fun and keep themselves busy. 

I love computers and the Internet and my iPhone. Technology has allowed us to send people to live in outer space, has cured terrible diseases and given us the ability to be connected to anyone, just about anywhere in the world. But with all the benefits, there are days that I wish things would return back to the time when kids had to think for themselves and not rely upon technology to do it for them. A time where kids found enjoyment in books, rather than watching YouTube or increasing their risk for carpel tunnel from constant use of their video game controller. 

A few days ago Emily and I went to a college application essay writing seminar. The speaker stressed the importance of reading and how in today's busy and technology-driven society reading is no longer a priority for many. How good readers breed good writers, and good writers are something colleges look for in their admission process. It is something employers look for in an employee. She also went on to say that what you read isn't important –– just read. Magazines, books, newspapers, essays or reports on a topic that interests you, anything –– just read. 

Reading Rainbow was one of my favorite shows growing up. I was a huge LeVar Burton fan and was so excited that Reading Rainbow was still on-air when my kids were younger. As a child I constantly had my nose in a book. If I wasn't reading, I was writing my own stories. My parents helped foster my love for books. Even as an adult, my mom was always giving me books or sending me gift cards to buy something new. When my mom wasn't discussing Ohio State football or politics, she was discussing books. For several holiday's I would introduce my dad to a new author or series, to only have him tell me that he finished the books within a matter of a few weeks or sometimes even days. 

When I was pregnant with my children I used to read to them while they were in utero. I loved having them sit on my lap as toddlers while I read to them from some of my favorite children books. Then Emily and Chris got a bit older and their very analytical, number driven side came out. No longer did they want to read about Fudge's next adventure or what Judy Moody was doing, and as an avid book lover that made me sad. Sami still enjoys reading, and since she is horrible like her mom with numbers, I hope her love for reading continues to grow. 

So this is my challenge to you. Turn off the TV and computer. Open a book. Find a magazine. Buy a newspaper. Find something to read. Teach your children there is more to reading than just checking-off the mandatory 20-minute nightly reading assignment. Teach your children that books are our friends and that reading will teach you about some of life's greatest lessons. As Oscar Wilde once said, "It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it."

Friday, August 30, 2013

Language Learning

One thing we discovered over the past five years is the importance of learning languages. In today's competitive and transient world, one really needs to know more than their native language. I admit before moving overseas I had this notion that everyone could at least understand English, even if they couldn't speak. Boy was I wrong.

Another thing that surprised us was just how many kids could speak multiple languages. Kids who do not have mixed nationality parents. Kids who are not "full-time" expats. We learned kids are like sponges and soak up languages easier when they are younger.  This point was proven to us over and over again.

When we moved to Japan we had this very unrealistic idea that we would leave the country being able to easily speak Japanese. While Emily can speak and understand it pretty well, they rest of us left with what I like to call "survival Japanese".  Japanese is hard. Like, really hard. It takes alot of effort and I really think total immersion to learn it. While I took lessons the whole time I lived there, I reached a point that to progress any further something different needed to happen.

We have made a family goal now that we are back in the states, to all learn Spanish. Our hope is someday we all will be fluent. Emily and Chris started taking Spanish at their school in Japan. Matt and I both took it in high school and I tested out of it in college. My mother taught high school Spanish and my Aunt has lived in Venezuela for over 40 years (I spent the summer before college visiting). So besides Sami, we all have a basic understanding and some background, although Matt and I are pretty rusty.

All three kids are taking Spanish here in school. So it is Matt and I that need to really buckle down and get our feet wet. I am not a Rosetta Stone fan, although we do own the ridiculously expensive program. I have been downloading apps on my iPad. I have thought about taking a class at the local community college, but what I think we really need is to concentrate on the immersion factor. No, we won't be running off to South America quite yet, but I think finding someone to come speak with us may be key. There are many, many options here for listening on the radio and TV (Spanish infomercials are almost as funny as Japanese ones). Trying to incorporate it around our house. Finding ways to make learning fun for all of us and not so "school-like".

I would love to hear from people who have learned a language as an adult. How did you do it?  What advice and suggestions do you have?  In the meantime, I am thinking the best place to start may be with the words margarita and enchiladas.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Okay so Dallas isn't so much deep into Texas, but it is the only song I could think of at 6 am with Texas in the lyrics without straining my brain. The last time I posted on this blog, it was my last night in Japan. Since then Emily has arrived in the states, we have gone on our yearly vacation to North Carolina, spent two weeks in Ohio, made three college visits, put over 6,000 miles on my new car and the kids have started school. 

Sami (5th), Emily (12th), and Chris (9th) on the first day of school in Prosper, Texas

I am hoping the start of school will also be the stepping stone to the beginning of turning Texas into our home. I think we are going to really enjoy living here. The people are friendly, the weather is right up my alley, overall Texas is pretty conservative and there is so much to see and do here. It is very different than any place we have lived in the United States and very, very different than Japan. 

I know I have said this many times before, but I will be back to blogging on a regular basis. Our life is hopefully settling into a normal routine of chaos rather than the abnormal chaotic roller coaster that we have been on the past year. Some days I will have much to say on this process of repatriation that we are going through. Hopefully my words will help others who are about to embark on a similar process. Other days I may be bragging writing about my kids because 1) they are AWESOME and 2) family reads my blog and 3) Emily leaves for college in a year and since this is our last year together, I want to remember every moment. Our plan is to continue to travel, both in the United States and outside. I am excited to be able to explore new places that we have yet to experience. I hope to write about the fun (and not so fun) places we visit. And of course I will be posting LOTS about this great state of Texas. 

So stay tuned... there is much more to come!


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Challenge Accepted

It is 2:06 am on my last night in Japan. In the morning I will go to the ward office and deregister, cancel my cell phone, have one last bowl of ramen, say too many goodbyes and board a plane bound for Dallas, Texas. Emily will follow in a week-and-a-half.

I should be sleeping, but I can't. As odd as it sounds, I want to soak up every minute I have left here. I know in my heart I will return to Japan in some capacity, whether it be as a visitor or to live again I do not know, but I firmly believe the "Japan chapter" in my book of life is not fully written yet.

The HS principal at the school here sends out a weekly blog entry on Sunday evenings. Last night she sent what will not only be the last one for the year, but her last one at CA. She too, is about to embark on an exciting, new adventure. In this entry she talked about challenges and there was one line that stood out to me: The truth is, I think challenges are good for us: good for our brains, but also good for our development as people.

To be honest, I am not one who enjoys change. I like the status quo. I know this is hard to believe considering Matt and I have moved five times with his company since graduating college 15 years ago. Japan is the longest place we have lived at just over 4.5 years. Each move was hard. Each move had its challenges. Each move was full of ups and downs. I can look back though and see how each move has developed and shaped not only the two of us, but our children as well. Each and every one of us are who we are today because of challenges we have faced in life, no matter what the challenge may be.

The principal closed out her entry with the following: I’ll leave you with this: never stop challenging yourself.  You’ll never know how much you can achieve until you push yourself to do things you never thought possible.

As Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother would say –– "Challenge Accepted." I am ready to look forward to what lies ahead for our family. I am anxiously excited about the adventures we are about to go on. I am ready to face each challenge head on, and hopefully have fun along the way.

Monday, June 10, 2013

While Mom Is Away...

Dad saves the day!

I have spent the past month back in Japan with Emily. No, she didn't miss her mommy so much that I had to rush over here to tuck her in at night. In fact, I am pretty sure she would have been okay if I didn't come back (to her defense, sharing a room for 4 weeks with your mom probably isn't all that grand). It was always planned that I would come back for the end of the school year to help her get ready for prom and then close out the school year. So while I have been over here having a wonderful time missing my family immensely, Matt has been holding down the new fort back in Texas.

I have to say I was very nervous leaving for a month. I have never been away from my kids that long, ever. Matt is always the one traveling for weeks at a time, so the idea of him being home with Chris and Sami alone for a month was downright scary. The beginning was a bit rocky with Sami (AKA Drama Queen) sending me texts of her picture so  I could always remember what she looked like, and telling me how daddy didn't understand her problems and she was sooooooo (her words) alone with just boys. I guess she decided staying with boys wasn't so bad as I rarely hear from her unless I am Skyping to Matt or Chris. She tells me she is just sooooooooo (her words) busy and can't talk.

Matt hasn't just done an okay job while I have been gone -- he has nailed it. Baseball games, movies, bike rides, baking cakes, making dinner, celebrating both the kids birthdays, going to the pool, playing sports, going to football practice, seeing movies and even taking Sami on a shopping spree.

I admit, Matt drives me crazy most days. He can be extremely stubborn, works too much, has no idea where the laundry hamper is located, forgets almost everything I tell him and drives my car when rain or hail is expected. But after the past month, between all that he has done and allowing me the opportunity to come here and be with Emily without worrying about what was going on back home, I love him more today than the day I fell in love with him almost 20 years ago.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Motherless" Mother's Day

A few weeks ago I saw an advertisement for a "Motherless" Mother's Day brunch. This was a time for  any woman whose mother had died to get together and remember their loved one. This made me stop for a minute and think –– am I motherless?  She didn't abandon me. A stork didn't drop me in Canal Fulton, Ohio 37 years ago. I know exactly where my mother is right now. Did she stop being my mom just because she died? I didn't stop being Allison's mom when she died. So no, I am not motherless, and I don't think any amount of time would change my answer.

My mother could be a pain. She was many at times stubborn. She could be a bit selfish. She was a horrible cook. You may have been talking to a wall anytime an Ohio State football game was on television. But she had so many amazing qualities that outweighed her "moments". My mother helped me through some of the darkest times in my life after Allison died. She was dedicated to teaching and helping teenagers. The messages we received from past students last fall after she died showed us the impact she made in their lives. She was an awesome, lay-down-your-life type of friend, and would do anything for them. She was a huge animal lover, and at times I am pretty sure she liked the dogs better than her own kids. If you looked up perseverance in the dictionary you would find her picture. She really loved my dad, and although they drove each other crazy at times,  I never once doubted the love she had for my father. And her family –– she would lay down her own life for them if that is what she had to do.

We don't always like our moms. There was that party we didn't get to go to. That boy we weren't supposed to date. That time we were grounded you for something our sibling did. But no matter how angry I may have been at times, I always loved my mom.

I was very blessed that I got to spend so much time with her last summer. It wasn't always happy time, but it was precious time that I will forever cherish. I wish I had known last year that it was my last Mother's Day with my mom. So I encourage you -- call your mom. Send her a card. Cherish her. You never know when you won't get a another day with her.

And this year, no matter how big of a hole I have in my heart, I know my mother is having an amazing Mother's Day because for the first time in 34 years she gets to spend the day with her mom. And I know that is something she wished for every day.

So happy Mother's Day mom. I love and miss you very much.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Safety Patrol

I have to admit one of the huge perks to raising children in a country like Japan was safety. Kids walk alone or with friends down the street, go play at a park, go to the store and take the train from the time they are really young –– like FIVE-years-young.  The biggest worry we had was if the local inoshishi (wild boar) would chase our kids home (Don't judge me. Those boars are mean!) or if Family Mart would be out of corn dogs and the kids would come home disappointed.

One of the worries we have with repatriating is that our children have grown up in a "bubble", meaning everything and everyone is good and safe. Sure, we traveled to some very "non-bubble" places, but that was just a blink of an eye in comparison to our 4.5 years in Japan. We have talked over and over with Sami and Chris about safety, talking to strangers, taking things from people. However, no matter how much we preach, they still slip back into their "bubble".

Last week Sami rode her bike to school with some friends for the first time. I may or may not have followed behind them for a while and then dashed to the school to make sure they got there safely.  After school she showed up with a popsicle in hand saying the "nice crossing man" gave it to her. I am sure the "nice crossing man" is a very nice, sweet crossing man, but the whole concept of taking things from people we do not know and when we are not with mom or dad went out the window.

Yesterday Matt and I ran to Costco and Home Depot. Upon our return Sami is waving to us as a SUV pulls away. Apparently Sami's little school friend came over, asked if Sami could come swim at her house and Chris thought nothing of the fact that we have no idea where this girl lives, what this girl's name was, or who were her parents. After Matt and I picked our jaws up off the floor Chris's response was "I told her to be home in 30 minutes". Both kids looked at us dumbfounded when we explained the safety concerns behind just letting Sami run off to who knows where with who knows who.

I am in no way saying the United States is this big scary place full of people just waiting to prey upon our children. What I am saying though, is we as parents shouldn't live in a "bubble". It's important we teach our children everything we can about keeping themselves and their friends safe. We can't afford not to.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bittersweet Birthday

Yesterday Allison would have been 11-years-old. Someone asked me if after 11 years, this day was any easier. I had to think about that a moment. Easy isn't the right word to use. There is nothing easy about a birthday that will never be for your daughter. So I choose the word different. Each year that goes by is just different. Every year that passes a new bandaid is placed over a broken heart that slowly over the years the cracks in it have changed. I will never stop wishing that April 29th could be a day for celebration, and there will never be a day that goes by that I don't wish she was here, but I know for some reason this is the path God chose for us, and that is something we can't change.

So happy 11th birthday Allison Grace. I know this is a very special birthday for you because this year NaNa is there for your party. And for me, that makes this the most bittersweet birthday yet.