Friday, December 11, 2015

Entrusting my life to a teenager

I finally got to ride Devany this summer! I always predicted that I would start riding her as a 3 year old, but alas, her maturity dictated waiting another year. She has been fabulous in every way possible and proven herself to be a steady, reliable, and athletic equine. She is such a personable and relational horse - always whinnying at me when she sees me, including when she's standing in the horse trailer and I get out and say "hi" to her - I love it!

She questions my decisions a lot more than Fancy ever did, and will sometimes give a little squeal or kick out with her hoof if I ask her to proceed where she doesn't think we should. She always gives in, though and ultimately trusts me in the final decision(s) on things. She rarely spooks and has learned to approach anything she fears (as long as I've "got her back" and encourage her forward). 

We've mastered over 61 miles, since June, and already she's yielding to my leg aids, half halts and transitioning from gaits beautifully. She has mastered steep hills (both up and down), rocky terrain, deep mud, river crossings, and jumped over fallen trees. She has encountered 4-wheelers, bicycles, golf carts, barking dogs of all shapes and sizes, blowing tarps, rain + wind, riding in the darkness (oops), deer in the woods, coyotes and hikers. She continues to astound me! I'm so happy with her and so completely in love. :-) 

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Female humans

(In a whisper into my ear, one evening) "Mama, I don't know which is worse. Watching Jevy get out of his bed [after you told him not to], or having to not tell you because Daddy said he doesn't want me telling on Jevy."
"Well, Bundle, aren't you telling me right now?"
"Not really because I'm just whispering and telling you about my troubles. I'm not really telling on Jevy."

"Madigan, what are you doing? You look lost in thought."
"I'm coming up with an hypothesis."
Of course you are... you're your Daddy's son.

After a long day of running errands in preparation for our long journey west, Paugie slid into my lap with his snuggle face on. I inquired, "Paugie, are you alright? Do you know how much I love you?" After a lengthy pause, he replied, "Mama, some days I feel lost without you." Little boy of mine, I will stop this world from spinning right now just to hold you and remind you that you are never lost - I'm here and my heart is yours.

As I helped him into his shirt one morning, I asked, "Madigan, how did you get those scratches on your tummy?"
"Oh, I can't say for certain... it was definitely one of my baby brothers."
"Which one?"
Hesitantly, "Probably the smallest one." Big brother loves little brother.

"Paugie, why do you need to take your shirt off? Is it because you're hot."
"No. I just choked on my milk and now I need my shirt off." I'm really trying to understand...

"Paugie, I need you take a quick shower, so please hop in."
"No, Mommy, I'm too cold and it will make me too much colder."
"Paugie, it's warm water and will help warm you up."
"Whaaaaaatttttt? I CAN'T take a warm shower because I will be so much hotter!"

"Mama, I just got eye boogers out of my nose."

"Madigan, please stop chasing your brother! He's not enjoying it."
"I wasn't chasing you, Paugie, I was chasing the bug that was trying to suck your blood." So, even if you weren't enjoying it, you should be thankful that I always have your best interest in mind. Obviously.

Conversation I overheard between Madigan and Paugie tonight: 
"Madigan, are we humans?"
"Yes, Paugie, we're humans, just a different kind of human [from Mom and Dad]."
"Yes, I know that we are different. I can tell."
"And Mama is a female human, so she's different, too."
"What about our Aunties?"
"Yes, our Aunties are all female humans as well. Aunties are humans that long to see their male human grandchildren. Well, actually, I think it's nephews they are wanting to see. I get it confused, but the important thing is to remember that Aunties are different because they are female humans and they love us terribly."

Here are a few photos from our adventure in Arizona over the past couple of days: 

Friday, December 04, 2015

Powdered Sugar on my boiled eggs

As we brainstormed about additional ways to raise the remaining funds needed to cover Sabina's surgery, we decided to rent our house on Airbnb for the month of December. My parents graciously offered to host us for the month, (Kris had dear friends also graciously offer to host him until he joins us, in a few weeks). So the 7 of us (yeah, that's right: Mama, 4 amazing boys, 1 Scottie for good measure, and the (in)famous white dog (with the broken leg) began our journey westward from Nashville to Arizona. "You can do this", my dear George assured me on the morning of our departure from Nashville - he didn't know how far his faith would carry me in the coming days.

Day 1:
Endless rain, of the pouring variety. Roads water logged. Traffic slow. Visibility impaired, at best.
Traffic stopped on two separate occasions for over 1 hour each.
We're now three hours behind our trajectory, making our intended destination an impossible venture.
Jevy barfs all over his carseat, himself and the seat.
Kelton starts screaming, uncontrollably.
Rain still pelting down.
Call George, crying, to see if he can locate an alternate hotel for us, 3 hours shy of our original destination.
Arrive at alternate hotel. Room on the second floor, by the stairs. Unload kids into hotel room. Key cards don't work (no, they did not get near my cell phone or anything else magnetic - they just didn't work).
Go to front desk to have them reset. Jevy and Kelty scream every time I leave the room to make another trip whilst unloading. Unloading takes 50 minutes. Neighbors across the hall complain to management who complain to me about the noisy children.
Almost done unloading. Take Kelty and Jevy (still covered in vomit) with me to unload Sabina. Key cards don't work. Go to front desk to get them reset. Sabina can't do stairs. Find the elevator where a vicious dog and his owner greet us. Wait for another elevator opening.
Meanwhile, Valiant poops on the floor in the hotel room.
Wash carseat cover in bathtub. Set aside to wash out Jevy's clothes.
Turn around to find Jevy throwing newly cleaned carseat cover in toilet full of pee.
Kelton spills dog water over the entirety of the bathroom floor.
Rewash carseat cover.
Dry carseat with blow dryer.
Dogs won't stop barking throughout the night; fairly sleepless night.
Things can only look up from here. Tomorrow will be better, right?????

Day 2:
Reload car leaving kids upstairs in the hotel room - Kelty and Jevy scream, waking up neighbors, who again complain. Manager knocks on door to inform me of second complaint, which causes Sabina to bark. Manager scowls.
Great day of travel - kids wonderful, everyone in good spirits, hot dogs and Starbucks, weather fabulous, several great stops to walk around and keep ourselves sane and happy, no traffic. Happiness abounding!!!
Arrive at hotel in Nowhere, New Mexico, and get checked in. Restart truck to park and hear horrible clacking under the hood. Discover a broken fan blade (miraculously nothing else appears to be damaged).
Hotel room on second floor by the outside door, again. Unload the car, carting Jevy and Kelty along for each load. Takes 45 minutes.
Go to get ice (with Jevy) and the ice machine is broken.
Downstairs neighbors complain about walking noises above them.
Kelton won't go to sleep and I put his bed on top of my bed, so that the neighbors below won't hear his movements.
I sleep on the floor because Kelty's bed has absorbed all of my bed.
Kelton wakes up all night. Kelton gets a second bottle of milk at 2:00 am.
Fridge in the room breaks, ruining all of our perishable items, except for the 1 gallon of milk that had been frozen.

Day 3: Jevy wakes up at 5:20 and wakes up everyone else.
Reload car, with Kelty and Jevy in tow, lest they wake the blessed neighbors.
Check out of hotel in case we're able to leave this dead town sometime today.  
Drive broken truck to mechanic (2 miles) with much trepidation, lest the fan blades break further.
Mechanic says he can fix it but has to order part from Albuquerque.
Part will arrive tomorrow, possibly as soon as 9 am, but possibly as late as noon, depending on when UPS will deliver.
Mechanic says not to drive car except back to hotel. If another piece breaks, radiator could go.
Drive back to hotel. Ask to re-check in. They say not until 3:00.
Go to car and cry. A lot. Text friend, Shelly. She suggests taking all the kids and crying in front of hotel staff. I do as she suggests, and they let us into the room at 11:00.
Unload car, with Kelty and Jevy in tow. Takes 45 minutes.
Make Mac n Cheese, by pouring boiling hot water on the noodles and letting them soak for 20 minutes. Boys approve. Whew... no restaurants nearby, no vehicle and food in short supply.
Try to turn on Nick kids, but TV doesn't work.
Take kids and Val for a walk, but they all run into stickers - evil stickers. Sit by the side of the road picking out stickers for 1 hour.
Kelton spills the dog water on the hotel floor.
Someone puts washcloths in the toilet (not sure who). At least it was flushed this time.
Let kids run around hotel parking lot for 1 hour.
Running low on clothes... enough for one more day.
Wash my socks and lay over vent to dry.
Order pizza.
Kelton wakes up many times in the night because he's cold - thermostat won't heat above 67 degrees.
Shower at midnight... I'm cold and it's my only "free" time.

*Every time I have to take the dogs out to go potty, Jevy and Kelty have to come so they don't scream, and Sabina has to use the elevator. This part of my day(s) gets wearisome.

Day 4:
Paugie wakes up at 6 and wakes everyone else.
Feed everyone cold pizza and the last of the previously frozen milk.
Dress everyone in last remaining clean clothes: Pajamas.
Try to locate my socks (washed the morning before) only to discover that one is missing through the vortex of nothingness - gone forever. Put on one clean sock and one mismatched dirty sock. Yum.
Reload car, taking Jevy and Kelty back and forth every trip, to prevent panic/screaming.
Wait for a text from the mechanic letting me know part has arrived.
Call mechanic 4 times to see if part has arrived.
Wait until 11:00 am (check out time) to check out, and ask for extension, since part for truck still hasn't arrived. Request denied. Let kids play in parking lot at hotel from 11:00-2:30.
2:45, get text that part has arrived.
Drive truck to repair shop - wait in the truck while it is repaired.
4:00 pm: on the road again.
Krista uses points to get us a really nice room in a really nice hotel.
Find a grocery store (restock milk supply and gather other essentials for the remainder of the trip).
Break glass bottle in grocery store, requiring clean-up from their staff.
Arrive at hotel at 5:00
Unload vehicle, carting Kelty and Jevy along. Room on the fifth floor. Elevator insanely slow. Faster to walk stairs.
Make dinner - first real meal in 2 full days - feed boys, bathe boys.
Kelty spills dog water on bathroom floor.
Take Jevy out with me to potty the dogs for the night in the back of the hotel. Key card doesn't work to come back into hotel. Walk to the front of the hotel to enter. Reset key card.
Put everyone to bed with only diapers - no clean clothes left.
Hand wash clothes in the bathtub so they have clothes for next day. Plan to air dry clothes in front of vents.
Attempt to turn thermostat up a little higher as it is chilly. Thermostat falls off the wall.
Replace batteries, set temp and wait. Nothing.
At 10:00 pm, call front desk to let them know the temp has dropped to 67 degrees. Put more covers on the naked children.
Front desk employee offers to assist me. I place Sabina in the bathroom with the noise machine turned up to full volume jungle noise so that she won't hear the "intruder" and wake the sleeping boys. Employee arrives and kindly offers to show me how to work it. Thermostat falls into his hands. He replaces battery and resets it. When it doesn't come on, he says he can move us to a new room. Boys already asleep. I decline his offer. Temperature continues dropping.
Decide to blog to help refocus and not feel like my sanity is edging on a precipice. Internet needs password. Text Krista for the PW, but my phone decides to stop sending texts.
Call George, sobbing, at 11 pm. Sanity seriously in question. He calms me. Helps me regain hope.
Shaking constantly - fatigue. Stress.

Day: 5
Wake up early - it's cold - and go grab breakfast. Check the salt and pepper shaker lables to ensure they are correct before heaping some onto my boiled eggs. Sit down to feast upon breakfast, only to discover that my boiled eggs are covered in powdered sugar, not salt.
Reload car, carting Jevy and Kelty alongside. Check out of hotel.
Only 7 hour journey predicted - we can do this! Everyone hopeful (though, in all candor, my hope may have been tentative, at best).
Paugie says he needs to go potty. We stop, go potty, As we enter on-ramp to get back onto the highway, Paugie says he has to go potty again. I tell him he will have to wait. Paugie poops in his pants/carseat. Paugie couldn't wait. We pull off at next exit to get cleaned up and regroup (BTW whoever invented babe wipes should be lauded a saint).
Kelty cries. A lot. Sick of traveling. Wants to snuggle with his Mama and blanket. Too much carseat.
Jevy gets motion sickness on the winding mountain roads of Arizona, so we stop every 10 minutes for 2 hours to ensure that barf does not accompany us.
George gives me directions for "short cut" to my parents house (traveling an unfamiliar route). Unfortunately, my parents address is not unique, so directions failed.
Topography all wrong. Road is a dead end. Darkness replacing sunlight. It's okay... I'll just call and get directions.
No cell phone coverage. Drive 10 minutes to locate signal. Get directions. Misunderstand directions (Left vs.West). Drive 30 unnecessary miles. Kids unraveling. Madigan trying to stay positive and keep Mama looking ahead.
Find another cell signal. Call for directions again. Total darkness.
Finally arrive at my parents house!
Prepare the kids for bed. Milk frother (for the nightly warmed milk) breaks. Seriously?
Gumbum (Grandma) sick.

Day 6:
Drive to mountain cabin in Flagstaff to avoid getting sickness from Gumbum.
Heavenly. Fire roaring in the fireplace. Christmas lights sparkling. Boys happy to be free to move, play with toys, watch fire.
Madigan getting sick. Here we go. Sigh.

I may never travel again - that's true. But I've learned some important things on this journey:
  • Bad things do happen, but they could often be much worse
  • I have a lot of ugliness and raw humanity inside that I don't as often come into contact with - it's not pleasant and I'm not pleased by it
  • I have some amazing friends and family
  • My boys are resilient, loving, hopeful and remarkably forgiving

Thursday, November 19, 2015


As I went about living this day filled with sunshine and cool fall air, the shadow was persistent and, as always, unwanted. I watched these four little humans galloping around the backyard, with so much joy in their hearts, with passionate interest in every detail and I thought about the life that was taken in but a blink of an eye and how earnestly he would have shared in their joy and their passion. As with every day, the nearly constant interruptions can become so tiresome, and yet I dare not take them for granted, for they are windows into the thoughts and hearts of these fine men and I know that I am deeply blessed to share in them (and have them endlessly shared with me). My father did not get to relish the endless conversations indefinitely as I have had the chance to do.

So, as I tuck away each treasured moment that comes (and goes, oh so quickly), I cannot but realize how rich I am, and how profoundly grateful I am to have had a father who, in the brief life we shared, showed me love unconditional, and exemplified the sustaining/life altering faith in his creator. I revel in the time I have been given.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

$4 blender

I felt like grumbling yesterday as I stood outside in the "cold", cloudy weather watching people rifle through my discarded items (most of which were donated to me to help raise funds to cover Sabina's upcoming surgery), looking for treasures. A toothless man rode up on his bicycle and immediately began a conversation with me and a few others. He asked me how much I would take for a blender and explained how difficult it is to get nutrients due to the missing teeth. I told him to pay whatever he had, and our conversation continued in many other directions - for almost 2 hours.

He met Sabina and after he had heard her story, he whipped out his ancient cell phone and dialed a caring friend with a big heart. He relayed the details in full, and then got off the phone and told me that he and his friend, Ron, would be returning in an hour for Ron to meet Sabina and help me brainstorm about fundraising opportunities.

Charlie, who lives in a storage shed, along with all the treasures he has procured over the years, showed me his new glasses which were made especially for him by a local optometrist (at no charge). He talked about various members of the community and it became rapidly apparent to me that this man is a well-connected, and even more well-loved member of our local community (even my neighbor greeted Charlie on a first-name basis). His heart was so tender toward Sabina and toward the children. He told them stories and poetry that he had written, and he sang an exact rendition of a song he admires in a voice clear, and a tone so beautiful I found myself tearing up. He explained all the ways that He sees the hand of God working in every tiny detail of our lives and in the lives of each valuable person he encounters.

He was quickly warming the hearts of each person that stopped at the sale and I was quite comfortable letting them think it was his sale to benefit Sabina because he was doing a stellar job! He and Ron schemed together and located a free dining table/set of chairs to give me to sell for Sabina's profit. Charlie called me today to tell me that Ron posted information about Sabina and received over $200 in pledges by this afternoon. Then he told me that the blender had worked perfectly, that he had blended up canned vegetables last night and had a "really wonderful meal. I am just thrilled and want to thank you so much for the blender and for being hospitable and caring." How do I explain how he touched my life? To see so much compassion and kindness in one person for so many, to see genuine interest and concern for the details of life. It's so easy to live our lives nearly autonomously when it comes to the details of our lives, the hurts, the joys, the suffering. Charlie has crossed that barrier (many times over, quite apparently) and lives alongside those he encounters, meeting them where they are.

Tomorrow, I'm inviting Charlie to come share a meal with us and some of our closest friends because a treasure like Charlie should be shared. I'm going to make warm soup and we'll have hot chocolate for dessert, in consideration of any dental setbacks.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Humanity can be beautiful

I read this summary this morning and haven't been able to stop thinking about it. These children have lost so much and this officer made a life-altering difference in a span of hours, as they were faced with the greatest tragedy imaginable. Humanity can be beautiful.


I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read this. I am a State Trooper with the Georgia State Patrol. Our purpose is to work cooperatively with all levels of government to provide a safe environment for residents and visitors to our state. We are primarily focused on the enforcement of traffic laws, as well as the investigation of crashes - which brings me here.

This past Halloween (October 31st 2015), I overheard an operator going over the details of a wreck with a trooper that was a couple counties away. "Single vehicle wreck with possible fatalities" she regrettably informed. I urgently typed the provided address into my GPS - the wreck wasn't but twenty minutes away. I started making my way down the road, letting dispatch know I would be en route.

After a drive that would feel like an eternity, I could see a display of blue, red and amber lights in the distance. I exited my patrol car and felt the stillness in the air - the emergency personnel weren't scurrying and a crowd of witnesses were covering their mouths off to the side. I approached the horrific scene to validate what I had already suspected. We conducted our investigations and were now responsible for contacting the families of the two occupants involved. They had matching addresses, which was less than a mile away.

A county deputy, the deputy coroner and myself made our way to the house that was backed into the woods. You could hear dogs barking behind the wooden door as we knocked with desperation. The door hesitantly opened and there behind the locked screen door stood four children in full costume - a 13-year-old Freddy Krueger, 10-year-old daughter of a Dracula, 8-year-old wizard and a 6-year-old that appeared to be a firefighting ninja turtle. We were lost with words. The deputy then asked the eldest boy if anybody was home, hoping for a 'Yes' but the boy would unknowingly disappoint us. "My parents went to the store to get more face paint. They told us not to open the door for anybody, but they should be back soon."

We would stall for the next hour while we frantically search the national databases for the closest relative. We were able to reach the kids' paternal grandmother. She had wished for my call to be a cruel Halloween Prank. I urged her to please come to the house and claim custody of the children. She informed me that she lived in south Florida, but would be on her way. During my phone conversation, I watched through my windshield as the three youngest children ran around the yard, laughing.

The sun was set and their grandmother wouldn't arrive for seven hours. I'm nearly a quarter century old in age; I've never been responsible for a child's life and suddenly I was the custodian of four. I didn't know what else I could do, so I squeezed the talk button on my radio and asked radio to notify the Department of Family and Child Services.

I immediately fell ill. Not only would these children discover they lost both parents, but would spend their Halloween in a county jail until somebody could tend to them; it just wasn't right. I pulled the deputy coroner to the side and told him that I was split. I wanted to preserve these kids' Halloween and the ones to come. I suggested that I'd care for them until their family was able to. Being a retired commander with the state patrol, I desired his approval, which he eagerly gave.

I ran over to the kids and asked if any of them would like to go eat with me. Again, they mentioned their parents would be arriving soon. It was important to me that I would not lie to them. I acknowledge their statement and threw out that their grandmother would be meeting with us later that evening. They piled into the unit and buckled up. I activated the emergency equipment in a poor attempt to occupy their minds. The eldest son told me that he thought my campaign cover and two trooper ball caps were cool. I thanked him for his compliment and told him he could wear them, if he chooses. When I asked where they liked to eat, I was bombarded with four seperate suggestions. They all had two cravings in common; Ice cream and candy. 

The three youngest, who were sitting in the back couldn't control their excitment. The little girl mentioned that going out to eat was rare in their family because her mom is such a great cook. Another part of me torn. We stopped by McDonald's to grab the 10-year-old a large fry and the 6-year-old a Happy Meal, as requested. We then drove several miles to the nearest Burger King; the 8-year-old desired a Whopper with onions on it. I ordered us all milkshakes, again hopping to absorb as much time as possible.

As the group enjoyed their meals, I slipped away to answer a call from my Corporal. He had called to check up on me and was made aware of the situation. I have the best supervisors in the state, so I wasn't suprised when he told me that he was bringing his wife and their son to meet us. The manager suggested that we stayed as long as we needed to, but it was time for us to get going. She gave the group some crowns to wear and said her goodbyes. The eldest son hugged her tightly and said, "We give hugs in our family." as the younger siblings followed the lead.

I asked the children if they were wanting to find some candy. They all cheered and load back into the car. The girl asked if I was a fan of Law and Order: SVU. I couldn't help but laugh. I joked that she couldn't possibly enjoy that show at her age. She interjected that she was a fan of many police shows, but "nobody was better than Olivia and Stabler". She stressed that she records every episode but her DVR no longer has space. She had plans to help clear the reruns with her mother. 

The eldest son, who sat to my right would carry on in conversations that were beyond his age. We discussed topics such as the observable universe and his father's service with the military. He explained to me that his father served in the United States Army for eight years, completing two tours; one to Afghanistan and the other in Iraq. He told me how intelligent his father is, even sharing some of his idea for inventions to better the lives of fellow soldiers. He further explained that his father was honorably discharged after tearing his ACL.

I was amazed at the maturity level of the "Kids". I asked how'd they get to be so smart. They gave credit to their parents, whom homeschooled each of them. The eldest stated his mother was the teacher, but his father was the principal. We both chuckled.

As we made our way to the post, the boys celebrated me "being the best cop ever". They didn't know I was bearing terrible news, so I struggled to accept the praise. We made it to the post and I gave them a tour. I explained to them how we accept each other as family and that the post was a shared home. I further explained that being that it was our home, they shouldn't be surprised should other people drop in. That was my attempt to disspell any suspicion they may gain after my Corporal arrived.

It was now about 10PM. My Corporal arrived with his family, bringing some candy, popcorn and a variety of Disney films. The three youngest sat on the couch, while the eldest read a magazine. I had to excuse myself after receiving a phone call from a number I did not recognize. It was the Sheriff of the county where the family was from. He had heard about what occured and asked if there was anything he could do to help. I told him they children wanted candy and I that we were running low. He stated he would do his best and would be in touch.

As we watched Monster House, there was a knock at the door. It was three residents that heard the news and felt the need to help. In their hands were decorated goodie bags made up of candy and small toys! The kids were absolutely delighted and the visitors helped with entertainment. Shortly after they left, the Sheriff arrived carrying four holiday buckets full of candy! The kids were so excited, especially the little girl that loves cop shows. She stood on the couch and explained how she never met a real sheriff before. The sheriff was touched by the children. He held conversations with each beofre pulling the 13-year-old to the side and presented him with a miniature deputies badge, made of metal. I could tell the boy admired the gift.

The night continued and it would be another five hours before their grandmother arrived. We have several bedrooms on location, each with their own bathroom. We suggested they stay the night until their grndmother arrived; they agreed so we escorted them to their rooms. After their showers, they were tucked into bed. The little girl grabbed my attention when she said "You turned an F-Minus day into an A-Plus night!" I can't begin to explain how hard it was to hear that, considering the night would be memorable but for reasons that were yet to be disclosed to them.

Grandmother arrived just before dawn. We discussed the mechanics of the crash, her role as their guardian and options available when it comes to funeral arrangements. We both agreed that it would be best for the children to finish sleeping and to be told of their parent's fate the next day. We hoped that they would then relate the tragedy to November 1st, rather than Halloween. After the kids woke up, we walked them to the truck so that they could head home. The 13-year-old would remind us of the task ahead by saying "Hopefully mom and dad will be home by now." I wanted to remain in these kids lives, so I took one of my trooper ball caps and on the bill, I wrote a note telling the eldest to never change. I also wrote down my number so that he could contact me if he needed support.

I told you all that to help you understand the series of unfortunate events:

The children lost both parents.
They children will now be moved from Georgia to Florida.
Due to the move, they will be placed into public schools.
And they would have to rid of their pets (they have about six dogs; two of which are pregnant) because their guardians are unable to tend to them.

I was contacted by the 13-year-old this morning; I was glad he felt comfortable reaching out to me. He told me that it is going to cost his grandparents $7,000 dollars to transport his parents to Florida and the remaining funeral costs.

The Georgia State Patrol as four core values: Trust, Fortitude, Professionalism and Compassion. Although, you may not be a Georgia State Trooper, I'm hoping you could help me with the compassion part. All sums donated will be given directly to the family to be used for funeral costs. Any additional donations after our initial $7,000 goal is reached, will be placed into a trust fund that is setup by the family and will be used to provide higher education to the four children involved.

This is important to me because I have bonded so closely with this family. We weighed out other options and I strongly disagree with the parents being left in Georgia, while the family remains in Florida. These children must be able to visit their parents' graves during their adolescent years and well into their adult years.

Considering the circumstances, the need for donations is urgent. Any donation amount will help, but if you are unable to donate I appreciate you taking the time to read and share this message.

Thank you.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I smelled it and it's not vanilla

"Paugie, it is vanilla. See, here's the container. It says V.A.N.I.L.L.A. which spells vanilla." "No, it's not vanilla. I smelled it and it's not vanilla." "Paugie, here, taste it. See? It's vanilla!" "It's delicious and I do like it, but I can't eat it because I smelled it and it's not vanilla." Welcome to Paugie-land where four year old reasoning reigns supreme.

Conversation between Bundle and Paugie:
"I dreamed I was a dragon..."
"A whale?"
"Yes, I was a humpback whale and Bundle was a centipede."
"You mean, I was a squid."
"Yes, I dreamed that I was a whale and Bundle was a squid. Jevy was a lemur..."
"Jevy was a pronghorn sheep?"
"Yes, I dreamed I was a whale, Bundle was a squid and Jevy was a sheep. Kelty was a kitten. I drove Mama's car to come rescue..."
"Dragon's can't drive cars, Paugie."
Sometimes - every now and again - I crave an adult conversation. :-)

"Paugie, would you like some water?" "No, Mama, I'm not thirsty." 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1 seconds later. "Mama, I'm so thirsty. Can you get me some water, please?"

"Mama, can I have a morning mug?" "No, Paugie, because it's bedtime and it will make you pee-pee in your bed." "Whaaaaatttttt?" (tears and bluster included) "Paugie, I'm very sorry. You can have one in the morning!" "No, I will just have one tonight and when I have to pee-pee, I'll hold it until I can't hold it." Yeah... that's kind of the point.

Whisperings in my ear: "Mama, guess how much I love you?" "How much Paugie?" "More than all the leaves that are falling from the trees." 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The number three

As I reflect upon the last three years that I have been able to share with you, dearest blue-eyed wonder, I am astounded at all you have taught me and I find myself earnestly anticipating what I have yet to learn from you in the years to come. 

From your tiniest (and just to be clear, you've never exactly been "tiny" - you've always been off the charts in every way possible) moments, you have been insistent upon the importance of physical touch and close proximity to the ones you love (Mommy and Daddy, in particular). You were so adamant in the matter that I purchased a carrier when you were 3 months old to enable me to complete my daily tasks and responsibilities with you strapped onto me, snuggled in as close as you could get. Those days/weeks/months having you next to me, feeling your gentle breathing, kissing your insanely soft head are some of the sweetest of my life. 

You're a boy full of mystery, and thoughtful reverie, and overflowing with joy. 

You don't readily share your emotions, but when you smile and let out that prodigious laugh, all the joy inside you is overwhelmingly/beautifully evident and brings so much joy to those around you. 

You're a complicated and complex combination of so much that is meaningful and you reflect the depth that is humanity and what it was created to be. 

Your love is never bold and rarely overt, but it is fierce and steady. "Steady Jevy", as your Uncle Crease so aptly labeled you. 

You are loyal and your love, once earned, is dependable and relentless.

You find life in what has been created around you, and your delight in it is unrestrained. You can be quite terribly pesky and obnoxious when you are denied what you feel you are entitled to: entire day spent outside reveling in all that is to be experienced in it's wonder, or having to continue onward down a trail leading away from a beloved water hole (perfect for tossing stones and making great splashes), 

You are determined and not easily deterred from any task you set your mind upon - so much fortitude of character and resolve is embedded deeply within the core of who you are. I know this will bring you tremendous strength as you grow into the man you are to be and face the challenges of life. You will have the resolve necessary to weather those storms and hold your feet steadfast to the course that you are to walk. 

Even in your (often stubborn) determination to do as you wish, you are receptive and eventually willing to adhere to our guidance as we endeavor to teach you right from wrong, or even just a better way of doing something. 

Once you master a challenge (the slide, climbing onto every high(est) surface possible, a game, a lengthy hike) you tuck away every morsel of knowledge you gained in the process and look eagerly to/for the next challenge that awaits you. Keeping your active mind engaged/stimulated is one of my full-time jobs. 

You play an integral, albeit subtle, role in this band of brothers. You lead, you follow, you work as part of the team, and you work independently - all as you see fit. 

You find joy in simple and in complex things and you express that joy with no reservation. I often find you and Kelty sharing together at the kitchen table, giggling at one another or mimicking each other in some silly antic, or romping about the house in full gallop, one leading the way and the other following. Currently, you're both going through the kitchen cabinets, trying bowls on your head for size.

You are magnificent and I adore you. You have challenged me beyond measure, helped me see the limits of myself, given me new insight into humanity and it's complexity and shown me that love is truly most powerful.

Happy birthday dearly beloved three year old!