Tuesday, August 21, 2012


While texting with my daughter today, I sent one that said "...time for a nap for me." And she replied "I''m going to take one too."

And I thought "how neat that the W girls are napping together...only 400 miles apart."

Then the memory came.

My kids napped at home until the first day of kindergarten.  There is a reason kindergartners have rest time....Five -year-olds need naps.

And so do the mothers of five-year-olds.  At least at our house, that was the case.

After Blake started school, there were a couple of years during which it was just us girls at home between the hours of eight and three.

And the napping hour was a magical one.

Not because my preschooler was asleep and quiet, but because we napped together.

Each day at 12:30, we would gather up a book or two...or three or six...and head to my bed. We'd prop ourselves up on lots of pillows and pull a blanket over us. And we'd lie there and read.

Until my girl's eyes couldn't stay open any longer, we'd read one story after another.

And when she finally gave into sleep, I'd quietly set the books aside and fold myself around her. And I'd sleep.

I trained myself to sleep for one hour. It's amazing what mothers can do with their internal clocks. Every day, I'd wake up right at an hour after Kayla fell asleep. 

After that hour, I'd ease myself out of the bed and tip toe into the kitchen to make an after school snack for her and her  big brother, and to start supper.

About an hour after I'd wake up, my girl would come into the kitchen, rubbing her eyes and clutching her blanket. You all know how wonderfully irresistible a sleepy preschooler is, right? Well, because she was so irresistible, I'd always stop my work and gather her into my lap in one of the blue chairs. And she'd curl into me and sip on some juice while she gradually woke up. And always, every day, I'd put my lips on her forehead and kiss her.

And then I'd whisper "I think some monkeys made a nest in your hair while you were asleep." And she'd giggle very very softly.

And then the energy returned and she'd unfold herself from my lap and go on about the business of a three-or-four-year-old.

And I'd hear the school bus and go to the door to greet her brother and talk about his day, which was usually a very brief conversation because he was not one for details.

And then evening at the W house would continue.

And so would the sweetest of memories. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012



Operating room, incision, "IT'S A GIRL!" Pain, recovery, adjustment, fatigue, fevers, earaches. worry. Blessed.


Rested, first teeth, first smiles, first steps,  first words, ribbons, lace, ruffles, bows.


Potty training, dance lessons, preschool, tooth fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus. KINDERGARTEN.


Brownies, Girls Scouts, band concerts, music programs, best friends, piano lessons, hurt feelings.


Junior high, team sports, slumber parties, shopping, school dances, class projects, softball, softball, softball.


High school, leadership, service, diligence, friendships, dating, ball gowns, softball, an acceptance letter. A tiara and sash. Queen.

A cap, a gown, lists, packing, plans, excitement, counting. Flying away. 

Saturday, August 04, 2012


Two days after making the first "senior slide show" for Kayla, I updated it because I had left out a couple of her major events - the National Honor Society Induction over which she presided, the school musical (Foorloose!) and the Veterans Day Assembly at which she spoke.

Frankly, this slideshow could be 1,000 slides long but a mother must stop somewhere.  *sigh*

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Saturday, July 28, 2012


Dear Blake,
So many thoughts are swirling through my head on this day; this day that is such a milestone birthday.

You came to us so easily. It seems we decided to start a family and within a few months we learned you were on the way.  "A textbook pregnancy," is the term the doctor kept throwing around at each of my visits.  You were not to be delivered quite so easily but not because you or I were in distress; but, merely because you had decided you'd rather stay where you were and not bother with the outside world; thus the c-section which brought you to us with your perfectly round head that earned you the name "pumpkin head" by all the nurses in the nursery.  Seems your head and the teeny tiny bit of red hair upon it made them think of fall bounty. 

They simply made me think of Heaven.

I have a confession to make, though.

I wanted a girl. Or, at least I thought I did. I had this silly notion that I wanted a girl to dress up in pink and lace and satin bows.  And then.  Then you were born and I eventually got to hold you and I felt so silly for thinking a boy just wasn't for me. Of course, I had wanted a boy. Who wouldn't want a boy? Everybody needs a boy.

Especially one like you.

 God knew what he was doing; and of course he gave me my breathtaking little girl a few years later. I am such a blessed mother to have had a world filled with fire trucks AND baby dolls.

You were the sweetest, most compliant little guy a mother could ask for. Your toddler and preschool years were so easy and magical.  It seems you woke up each morning and decided your job for the day was to make me smile.  ALL DAY LONG.   My biggest challenge with you was keeping up with your vocabulary. That and finding books you enjoyed; when you were four, you informed me you only wanted to "read stories that were true." 

Yes, I did have to ask the children's librarian at the Decatur library: "Excuse me, ma'am? Where might I find non fiction for preschoolers?"  And it was a challenge I had to meet weekly, as we visited the library at least that often; and I placed no limit on the amount of books you could check out. 

You could not be bothered with talking bears that lived in a tree and carried flashlights. You wanted to learn about the White House and the men who had lived there. You wanted to learn about Marin Luther King, Jr.  And, as you informed me when you were in first grade, you wanted Peter Jennings' job.

I always said your vocabulary was bigger than you were and you often left me slack jawed and mute with your responses and requests. I wanted to look around and find the 30 year old college professor who had taken over my toddler's body. 

When I look at the man you have become, I cannot stop my heart from beating just a little faster. I cannot stop my eyes from filling with tears. You have made me so proud with your choices, your independence, your diligence, your loyalty.

I want to list some of my sweetest memories of your childhood; but time and space limit me.  For now, just know that this birthday, your 21st, is one that your family will always remember.  Knowing that you chose to come home and spend this time in Central Illinois with us...well...it is overwhelming.  Knowing that you only wanted one thing for this birthday - to go to Wrigley Field with your dad...well, it makes me fall in love with HIM all over again because I absolutely love seeing you guys together.  You are so lucky to have him but we are lucky to have you.

As you move forward into your very bright future, know that we love you, we are proud of you, and we stand behind you all the way.

Happy 21st Birthday, Son.

You have blessed me so.

Friday, July 13, 2012


When that LAST first day of school arrived for my girl in August of 2011, I had a checklist in my mind; at the top of which was "get that homecoming float built." 

I knew, though, that the year would fly by and it certainly did; full of one event after another that reminded me that the clock was ticking away on this chapter. The pages of the calendar turned so quickly this past year.

I am so very very thankful that KaylaBeth embraced her highschool years and squeezed so much joy out of this phase of her life. I'm especially thankful that I was able to enjoy every bit of it with her.  She and her friends have made me laugh more than I ever dreamed possible with teenagers. My cup runs over.

For you younger moms who read this; it really does happen in a blink.  But don't despair, each phase is wonderful and magical.  Just sit back and enjoy the ride. 

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Thursday, July 12, 2012


Different school, different hairdo. Same dress and same boy.

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Friday, May 11, 2012


Sweet Mercy. My cup runs over lately.

 I knew that my daughter was creating a special Mother's Day gift for me. I knew that she was working on it in the art room at school.

When she offered to let me have it early, I said "absolutely; if it will make you happy, dear."

 She carried it in from her car and I caught a glimpse of it behind her back.

Even before I saw the whole creation, my face crumpled and I began to weep.

THIS is my newest treasure. The W house now has a priceless painting in its dining room.

 My children....captured by my daughter's creative eye and talented hands. My heart cannot contain all this happy.

Thursday, May 03, 2012


It might seem like I brag quite a bit about my kids on this blog.

That might be because I brag quite a bit about my kids on this blog.

 BUT. One reason for that is they are young adults and can read. If I posted about the times they made me....um....a little irritable...well they could read it and that would make them a little irritable.

 DARN my husband and myself for pushing that whole literacy thing.

 And DARN that we didn't have blogs when they were toddlers and I could REALLY vent. *sigh*

Having said all that; I'm going to brag about my daughter right this very minute.

Yes. Yes I am. Because I own this blog and I can.

 So. Here is the story. Kayla has quite a diverse group of kids in her class. One of the things I've been very thankful for in our school is that my kids have been allowed to interact with kids who are not just like them. This includes kids who might have behavioral or physical setbacks. I believe our kids have learned compassion, patience and tolerance by being around those who society might deem less than perfect. I believe my kids have learned, even outside the walls of our home, to simply look at their classmates and love them the best they can.

 One of these boys, in Kayla's class, "K", is a young man who has been with this class since kindergarten. I do not want to assign a "label" to him or diagnose him because, frankly, I don't know what struggles he may or may not have. I do know that he struggles with social situations. And I do know that he has received his fair share of teasing over the years.

I also know that most of the girls in the class have taken it upon themselves to be his advocates, which is unfortunate for those who tease K because, REALLY, one does not want to test a teenage girl's loyalty. It has been my experience that once a teenage girl has set her loyalty on someone or something, it is best for the rest of us to just STEP BACK. So can you imagine if a whole pack...I mean....group....of them was in protective mode?

Make no mistake, sometimes K grates on Kayla's nerves too - but more in the sense of a pesty little brother.

 A few weeks ago, the kids were signing up for Grand March at our school. (*Grand March - an event in which those attending prom are introduced to the parents and families, on the stage, under a spotlight, so that we may all ooh and ahh over their fine attire and clap and clap and clap over how pretty they look. Grand March takes place before prom; and afterward the parents are sent home so that we do not embarrass the kids further. And so that we may start the paperwork to declare bankruptcy.)

 It was discovered that K had signed up for Grand March and he did not have a date. But, evidently, there was some teasing that he would be on that stage alone and some might have suggested that K just forego Grand March instead of standing in the spotlight alone. So my tender hearted girl marched herself into the classroom of the junior class sponsor and signed her name next to K's name so that he'd have a friend on stage with him, under the spotlight with hundreds of parents oohing and ahhing over him from the audience. She told me "Mom, nobody should be alone on that stage if they don't want to be. Plus, he's been our classmate for 13 years; he deserves it. What's the big deal?"

 I told her that I was so proud of her for being named to prom court but that those actions shined brighter than any crown she might or might not have placed on her freshly coiffed head.

 So at Grand March, Kayla was introduced with her brother, the far away Marine who flew home (with his amazingly sweet girlfriend) just to walk across the stage with her. Then she was introduced with K who seemed very glad to have a buddy on stage with him. Then she circled back around and came BACK on stage to stand with the court. I had visions of her tap dancing in on her third entrance, carrying a sign that said "ME AGAIN!!"

 Or perhaps out-of-towners might have thought we had identical triplets in our little school. She told me later that as they were preparing to walk on stage, she told K to smile and he gave a little grin and then, in her usual slapstick manner, said "No...bigger. Like this," giving a GINORMOUS smile that made me giggle.

That ends my boastful post and also explains why, even though my daughter did not receive the crown that night, she is most definitely the queen of my heart.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Funny story: Marine mom asks son to wear uniform to "Welcome Home" party after boot camp. Request denied. Marine mom asks son to wear uniform to church while home on leave. Request denied. Marine sister asks brother to wear uniform to National Honor Society ceremony. Request granted. Marine sister asks brother to fly home and escort her across the stage for her Senior Grand March; not just in any uniform, but in dress blues. Request granted. Marine mom incredibly happy about this double standard.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Dear Kayla,

When you were born, my first thought was NOT what a lot of mothers say upon learning they have a daughter: I have a new best friend.

No, I did not think that; in fact, I spent much of my early mothering years determined NOT to be your best friend.

See, I think it's somewhat unhealthy for a young girl to consider her mother her best friend. In a friendship there is an expectation of equality and that means equality in the types of struggles we share, the types of news we share, the problems that drag us down.

It was never your job to be EQUAL to me in that regard.

I always felt it was important, in our relationship, that somebody be the teacher and somebody be the student; that somebody be the protector and somebody be the innocent one; that somebody be the giver of advice and somebody be the seeker of advice.

I always hoped to be the former for you in each of these scenarios.

Make no mistake. I've always enjoyed you. I've always looked forward to the end of the school day when I would see your smiling face. I've always cherished each moment with you. But I have not expected to be your "friend."

But over the years I have been drawn in. Your knee weakening laugh, your easy smile, your quick humor, your giving spirit, the fun we have when we are together....all have made me finally give in to it.

You are my friend.

I enjoy you.

I like you.

I look forward to spending time with you. Always.

If you were 45 years old and I met you today, I would seek a friendship with you.
If I was 18 years old and I met you today, I would seek a friendship with you.

Because that is the kind of young woman you are.

You are a light in a dark world, a cool drink of water in the desert.

You are my treasure.

And I tremble with thankfulness when I realize that, when God decided to give me a second chance at motherhood, YOU are what He had in mind for me.

Happy Golden Birthday, KaylaBeth.

Daddy and I love you more than words can express.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


Just before leaving for Wal-Mart yesterday, I heard our local newscaster report that there was a purse snatcher targeting women in the very parking lot in which I'd soon be parking my van.

YAY! Even more excitement in store for me.

I am a cash shopper so I was a little concerned that I might lose my grocery money. I also was concerned that some skanky thief was going to make off with my shiny cheetah print purse - cost: 15.99 at Payless. But it is KAH-YUTE!

I'm telling you if somebody tried to take my purse I'd be like "oh no you didn't just try to steal my big shiny cheetah bag!!" And then I'd be like "Yo! I've been in a bad mood for like 5 months now....YOU. DON'T. WANT. TO. MESS. WITH. ME."

Plus I had a birthday cake to buy for my husband and, really, does anybody want to stand between a menopausal woman and cream cheese frosting?

I think not.

So anyway, I made it into the store and was not at all disappointed in the colorful array of patrons there. There were three men causing quite a stir as they moved from checkout lane to checkout lane yelling at the world in general - but mostly each other. Anybody ever see the movie "The Dream Team"? These men were like characters out of that movie.

The best part was when I was in line and realized I'd forgotten to pick up strawberries. Strawberries are pretty important in this house. I had promised my daughter there would be fresh strawberries when she got home from school. What to do...what to do.

Thank goodness I left my spot in line to go get strawberries. Otherwise, I never would have ended up in a different line behind a man whose pants were riding below his hips, allowing me to see his undies (which were also oddly below his hips) AND the ends of his suspenders which were interestingly being worn INSIDE his shirt. Thankfully the suspenders were actually attached to his jeans otherwise they would have been on the floor, although there is not much more I could have seen.

He was about 75.

Well, this certainly put me on the horns of a dilemma.

Do I pull my cell phone out of my purse and snap a picture of this...this....this...unfortunate sight I was being forced to view all because we like strawberries. Do I go there? Do I get my very own "people of Walmart" photo added to the site?

I decided to take the high ground and leave my phone in my shiny cheetah print purse. My eyes were already going to be scrubbed with a Clorox wipe as soon as I got home; why put others through the same misery?


But wait! It gets better!!

As I pushed my cart out of the store, I notice TWO city police cars with flashing lights; and a third one just sitting there being non-flashy. They had boxed in a black SUV (the same vehicle described on the news regarding the purse snatcher).

And then I was all like "Yippee!! Our boys (and girls) in blue caught the bad guys!" And they had. And I got to see part of it.

I would have stayed around and watched the whole scene but I was disturbed by how the theme from "Cops" was suddenly playing in my head; so I loaded my groceries and came home.

Where I promptly dropped my husband's birthday cake on the floor - frosting side down. Thankfully it stayed covered. Thankfully my husband is VERY easy going. And thankfully, it actually looks homemade now that I've repaired the damage. It now looks all crooked and unevenly frosted - with a few cake crumbs blended into the frosting.

Just like I would have made. Now I can present it with love.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Time is ticking away here at the W house and I have sorely wanted to get back to this blog. It seems all my ideas - all my best words - come to me as I lie in bed at night. By then I'm already warm and cozy in my cocoon of blankets and have no desire to come downstairs to sit at the computer.

By morning the words are gone.

But it is time. It is time to get the words back. For me. For my kids. It is time to pull myself away from Facebook and get back to this "legacy" and do with it what I'd intended when I first started blogging - writing words for my kids.

For now, here is a brief timeline of what life has thrown at us in the last few months. Some of these events have been like getting a hand full of sparkly party confetti poured over our heads. Others...well, others have been like a body slam that left us breathless, bruised and struggling to regain our footing. Such is life.

As I record the high and low points of life over the last few months, I also record what I hope will be a reminder of what I need to further delve into as the blog comes back to life.

*August - We had the most wonderful of Summer Vacations. Paul, Kayla and I drove 16 hours over two days to North Carolina, where we met Blake and headed to the beach for a week. Kayla has always been a gold star traveler and this trip was no exception. What fun we had traveling from our flat corn fields, through the mountains of West Virginia and, finally, hitting the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. And seeing my son? For the first time since he left home I saw where he lived and worked. A wonderful trip that literally left me trembling with excitement and thankfulness.

*September - my sweet, outspoken, funny, creative friend Tina passed away suddenly from a heart attack. She left behind a husband and five children. And a small community and school district that will mourn her loss and grieve for her forever. Tina. My bold, loyal friend. She deserves a post all her own.

- Amongst the sadness of watching her friends and classmates bury their mother, and noticing the devastating absence of "Miss Tina" around school; Kayla was busy with float building and dance preparations for her final homecoming season of her high school days. She was named homecoming queen and we couldn't have been happier for her. She is a bright and shiny girl and she got to wear a bright and shiny crown. And, I'll just admit it right here. I was one proud mama.

*October - Senior photo shoot!! Sweet mercy, was that ever a fun day. We chose a photographer whom we have known for years; in fact, I taught her in Sunday school when she was in second grade. She later went on to become a student teacher in Kayla's fifth grade class. Teran can certainly work the magic behind the camera and my daughter certainly made magic happen in front of it. It was a fun day to be sure.

*November - A quiet beginning to our holiday season with a small Thanksgiving dinner at our house.

*December - our first Christmas without our boy at home. We were thrilled to know he was amongst friends, new family and loved ones; and we were determined to bask in thankfulness, not loneliness. And we did. We had a wonderful, quiet Christmas eve with Kayla and her special guy, eating snacks and playing board games. And of course opening gifts. I got a Kindle. That also deserves a post all its own. Because I'm not sure I like it. (yikes)

*January - Our sweet, gentle, loving friend Laura passed away after a shockingly brief battle with leukemia. Laura was everything that is good. She was our kids' only babysitter besides their grandparents. She helped shape them. She had a mature-beyond-her-years love for children from a very early age. She received her diagnosis on the day she delivered her sweet son. The disease and the treatment ravaged her body and robbed that sweet baby of his mommy when he was 6 months old. Laura and her family endured more tragedy in the last three years of her life than any family should see in a lifetime. Laura. Our sweet, gentle, red headed angel. Our lovely friend with a smile that rivals the sun. She deserves a post of her own.

-Blake finally received his box of Christmas gifts which we mailed the first week in December. The boxes that Kayla's school group sent to troops in Afghanistan thankfully arrived to them in a week. Blake's box arrived in North Carolina in five. Even he said those troops deserved a timely Christmas more than he did.

-We bought a beautiful prom dress that Kayla loved so much she was willing to pay half the cost. Actually, we ordered it.

*February - I turned 45 and celebrated my birthday with my sweet friend, J, and her husband (whose birthday is also in February). "Mr. J" is a cancer survivor and as we toasted each other with our complimentary chocolate sundaes, I was overwhelmed and honored to see, right there in front of my face, how amazing another birthday is. Ladies, don't hide from your birthdays. Embrace them. Dance with them. Face them head on with a party hat on your head and a noise maker in your mouth. Dig into your favorite dessert and tell yourself "It's a birthday! It's life!!"

-We took a quick trip to Kayla's college campus. This also deserves a post of its own. But suffice it to say that Paul and I are beyond excited at the path that awaits our girl. We will miss her like we would miss our hearts or our lungs. But it is her time. She is in for the time of her life and seeing her on that campus; watching her blend in and embrace this phase already...well, it is what we have raised her to do.

-We were informed that the beautiful prom dress was not available after all - YIKES - and had to begin the search anew. Things were kept in perspective; however, as this news came at the same time as hundreds of people at my husband's company lost their jobs. We are so fortunate and beyond thankful that Paul's job is still there for us.
A new prom dress was found and purchased. It is a lovely purple and will be quite poofy with the added crinoline.

*March - I was reminded last week that Kayla has nine weeks of high school left. Nine weeks. NINE. WEEKS. I am bracing myself for the hurricane of excitement that is about to hit our home. We will leave next week for a brief spring break and then...then she will perform in the school musical...go on the senior trip...prom (two proms)....summer registration at college...and move-in day. And then we will begin our new chapter in this parenting story.

We will be empty nesters.