As the year draws to its conclusion, this is the time to reflect on the adventures we have embodied and to highlight the triumphs and glory that made our hearts sing. For our family, we had these moments. Mad Dog’s new job, moving to the beach, Full Speed’s coaching dreams pursued, T. Puzzle’s spelling bee victory, but they somehow pale in comparison to the one simple fact, …
So did you.
If no one has told you lately, let me remind you what a marvel you are. You didn’t give up, even on the darkest mornings and the bleakest days. You kept rising to the challenges that erupted like land mines across all your expectations.
I am dedicating this post to you.
What an honor you continue to be a part of our family’s journey. Thank you for all the ways big and small you have shown up for us, for your loved ones and I pray above all else, for yourself.
Now that we have the scars of survival etched in our hearts, this is our roadmap to the turnaround. This is where the lessons learned, the gratitude gleaned, and the hope harvested move us beyond our collective healing.
This is where our survival becomes a revival.
We can’t prevent disaster but now we know whatever happens, we will get through it. 2020 tried everything in its power to stop us. It knocked us down more times than it lifted us, but we kept righting ourselves back to the life in front of us. To all those tiny, precious details we never had time to notice, until 2020 halted our motion and busyness and these little miracles were all we could see.
What beauty to know our strength is infinite and that together or apart, we are one.
Thank you for reading. May the year ahead provide us with all that is needed to grow our courage, cherish what matters, and cultivate love for ourselves and for one another.
The first part of the year found T.Puzzle winning his school’s spelling bee. As a fifth grader he went on to place ninth out of thirty-six at the county level with mostly 7th and 8th grade competitors.
T.Puzzle has always been a good student and leader, but in many ways, he is more content configuring Legos or playing video games. However, with our move to Texas, he has come into his own. With his academic load increasing in amount and rigor, he is exceeding all our expectations. Mad Dog and I have been amazed at his growth and maturity. But do not worry, his unique brand of humor remains fully intact:
Full Speed’s first year participating in track had all sorts of life lessons woven into it. It provided great fodder for WFAM, but truly, it helped him learn about honoring commitments and to not take life too seriously:
Over the summer he attended a three-week high school honors class at Northwestern University. He received high marks and a glowing summary report from his instructor. It was a growth opportunity not only for him, but for me, too. Letting go of your children in any capacity is never easy:
Full Speed’s transition into his new school has not been without challenges. But really, even in the best of circumstances, is the life of a middle schooler a breeze? It took a bit, but he is finding his way. It helps he is now a team basketball manager. At a recent tournament, he was gifted the championship trophy by his team and his coach:
Mad Dog continues to demonstrate exceptional leadership within his new role at work. It may have taken a while for his title to reflect the scope of his responsibilities, but this never hindered his passion and commitment for lifting others up to their highest potential while making a positive impact across the globe. Despite all this awesomeness, on occasion, he still needs to be supervised:
I would happily follow Mad Dog anywhere. Even though I mean this, moving to a new city and state has been quite the shake-up for me internally. Now that I feel like my boys are in a good place, I think I can finally exhale. My only goal for the new year is to make sure I appreciate the blessings I already have. If I stop and soak in the prayers already answered, I could not ask for one thing more.
Not one thing.
May your 2019 be filled with all the love and adventure you seek and may your dreams, if not already here, find their way to you as quickly as possible.
It’s hard to believe, but another year is drawing to a close. To date, this has been a year of tremendous change as Full Speed became a teenager (!) and T.Puzzle jumped more solidly into the double-digit realm. It’s not the age-number per say, 13 and 11 respectively, but the growth and maturation I’ve seen from them. It’s been a lot to process as I am seeing more clearly the young men they are becoming.
T.Puzzle continues to surprise us. He developed a love of distance running. How Mad Dog and I produced a distance runner is still a bit mystifying, but it is awesome that T.Puzzle is finding his own interests and pursuits. LEGO construction and playing video games remain firmly at the top of his list, but nice to know that he likes to get up and go sometimes, too.
Full Speed became a middle-schooler this year (it starts in seventh grade in our region) and he has adjusted beautifully. He shows leadership to his classmates willingly coaching them through Algebra assignments, and has a zest for presentations in class. A recent assignment in Civics had him debating school politics and he was in his zone. Leadership qualities and a passionate debater, hmmm…does that sound like anyone we might know? He also learned that not every dream is realized as he tried out for his school’s soccer team and didn’t make the cut. My favorite part about this life lesson was his genuine happiness for a long-time friend and classmate who did make the team this year. It’s not to say Full Speed’s given up on soccer forever, but oh my, isn’t there a wonderful world of possibilities out there waiting for him?
One of the very best parts of 2017 was the addition of our newest family member, Miss Lady. She is by no means a perfect dog, but she absolutely has been the perfect dog for our family. She keeps things lively here which I’m not so sure our senior resident (Little Guy) appreciates.
If you ever need to feel like you are the most amazing being alive, come on over and hang out at our house for a while, Miss Lady will not disappoint with her enthusiastic snuggles and love for you.
Mad Dog continues to travel all over America and then some as the scope of the call centers he oversees grows and grows. As hard as it is to be away from him sometimes, I see how fulfilling his position is and know it is keeping him challenged and inspired. That’s truly all I want for all three of my boys, to be challenged and inspired.
As for me, I’ve made a little more space in my life for the things I enjoy. I continue to walk our dogs every day, have started a daily yoga routine and write as much as possible.
Life is short so whatever brings us joy is absolutely what we should pursue. It’s as simple as that.
Hope you had beauty-filled 2017 and that the lessons that lie ahead for all of us keep us growing in the direction of love.
Mad Dog and I were seated 15 yards back from the end zone. Our panoramic view of the field added to the excitement. T.Puzzle was at QB calling the shots and Full Speed was zipping up and down the field at a breakneck pace.
Sounds amazing, right?
It kind of was and it kind of wasn’t. There are many perks to having the boys on the same flag football team such as shared practices and games. There are also many pitfalls. Let’s just say there are days when egos collide and managing the talent is way above my pay grade.
Even though their flag season was a mixed bag of victories and defeats, I am grateful that I get to watch these boys from the sidelines. Besides, I’m feeling generous because I am a World Series Champion! Yes, it was a long road and a lot of hard work, but I hung in there. Don’t worry, I haven’t let success go to my head.
In the spirit of full disclosure, success actually has gone to my head a little bit. As it happens Mad Dog and I are predominantly featured in a recent World Series recap. It premiered on FS1 and is available for DVD purchase. Well, we are flashed on the screen for a millisecond or two, but it still counts. Here’s proof the Cubs couldn’t have won without me.
Now that I’ve sufficiently addressed my newfound celebrity status, here’s a breakdown of the rest of my team:
Let’s start with T.Puzzle. This is the child that continues to confound me. He is overly opinionated and strong-willed yet gets glowing reviews from teachers and coaches. Often, after another flip comment has escaped his adorable face I’ll say something like, “wow, raising you is the challenge of a lifetime.” His instant response is, “because I’m so awesome, right?” Something like that. He’s something alright.
T.Puzzle continues to loathe school, adore video games and aggravate his brother. He’s entering the double digits age-wise. I have a feeling I may need to start another blog dedicated to coping with T.Puzzle’s impending milestone decade. The truth is, he is completely true to himself and even though he challenges me a lot, I know he is always going to land on his feet.
Full Speed is transforming before our eyes and becoming a kind and thoughtful young man. Thankfully, he still has a great sense of fun and is loving his Extended Studies this year with its focus on improv. He loves school, reading, reading and oh, did I mention reading? He is a walking encyclopedia of sports facts and stats. This was really helpful for me, especially as I got farther into my World Series winning season. Chicago thanks you, Full Speed!
Then, there’s Mad Dog. He continues to excel at work. There I reasons I love this and reasons I don’t love this. I love this because I can tell that he is feeling challenged and inspired by all his new and varied responsibilities. He’s also an incredible leader. I am very proud of him and like that he remains humble and grounded. I don’t love this because he is often working long hours and has to travel. I’m not a huge fan of sharing Mad Dog with the world, but I get it. He’s awesome and the world needs him. So, I let him go with love.
As for me, it really all boils down to this. I realized that I am my truest, most genuine self when I am in the company of these three incredible men and they all accept me exactly as I am. My goal for the coming year is to be the self that is loved by them when I am out in the world. It is easy in concept but hard in execution. I’m not sure if the world is ready for an empath like me. All I know is that if I have these guys in my corner, then what the world thinks of me is less important. In fact, for any of you reading this, I encourage you to be your truest self in all circumstances. The only approval you actually need is your own.
Wishing you a Blesssed Holiday Season, a Bright and Merry New Year and above all else Love.
I don’t know how you top going to the National Championship to see the Buckeyes win in 2015. It was a spontaneous January trip to Dallas that fortunately ended in a Buckeye victory. The whole of it was as special as the individual parts. For Mom, sharing it as a family was the icing on the cake. To read more, click here:
Losing a loved one not only changes who you are, it sometimes changes your ability to enjoy the things you used to love. After losing my mom in 2009, I lost my passion for watching baseball. She was my partner in crime. Thankfully after years and years of healing, the time to return to baseball finally felt right. Thank you to the Cubs’ organization for making this season the best in ages. Thank you especially for beating the Cardinals in the NLDS. That pretty much sealed the fate of my boys’ allegiance forever. Seriously, thank you! To read more, click here:
Mad Dog and I recently celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. Our relationship has weathered life’s ups and downs and above all else, we have maintained an underlying friendship. He still makes me laugh more than anyone. He still is, in my opinion, ridiculously handsome which is also a plus. But, the reason I love him so very much is because he loves the real me. When I struggle with self-acceptance and doubt, he never judges. When I say things in frustrated despair like, “Why can’t I just be normal?” He responds with, “Full Speed isn’t ‘normal’, T.Puzzle isn’t ‘normal’ and I’m not ‘normal’. Just be you. Once you learn to be comfortable being you, things will fall into place.” A better response I could not imagine. Thank you, Mad Dog. To read more, click here:
Parenting is hard. I’ve seen enough and learned enough that the only surety is your ability to accept whatever is in front of you. This year my boys finally no longer have to patch their eyes for amblyopia (lesser vision in one eye). This all started when Full Speed was twenty months old. He recently turned 11. That’s a long time in kid years. Again and again my boys and their vision challenges have taught me to accept what I can’t control. That is so hard to do, but eventually, it’s all that remains. To read more, click here:
I started this blog when my boys were little. I wrote it to cope. If you ever had a chance to be around them when they were small, you would understand that my coping skills were challenged relentlessly. Through the years we’ve all grown. They continue to evolve. I’m most grateful for the evolution of who-they-really-are. They have this core of intangible awesomeness. We all have it and sometimes the only person who can see it is your mother. I see it. They have it. And, they are awesome. Let me clarify, they are awesome but they are not perfect. They back talk and fight. They have a really hard time following directions, even super-detailed step-by-step directions. They took FOREVER to potty-train, ride their bikes and tie their shoes. Full Speed especially didn’t understand my distress over the shoe-tying. I mean, he would just pay someone to tie them for him once he made it to the NFL anyway, so what was the big deal? Life is too complicated to only focus on achievements (or lack thereof). Achievements are a dime a dozen. They come, they go and in the end, they aren’t really all that important. That core of awesomeness, it is there, even if your kid gets an ‘F’ on a test (true story, it happens). Instead, spend your time being present and consciously try to catch a glimpse of their awesomeness. When you do, it is the best feeling in the world. It is better than straight ‘As’, four hundred touchdowns or winning a spelling bee. It is Pure Love.