Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The first angel I ever met's name is "gramma"

It's been 29 years since my sweet little gramma S. slipped into heaven.

I was 11.

(I know you are doing math right now. Stop that.)

She had a bee-hive hair-do, painted fingernails, she sold avon, she LOVED Elvis, (had a scarf of his from what I am told) and she wore those turquoise rings on almost every finger. 

She lived only 20 minutes or less from us. But as a kid, that drive to her house seemed like it took

Perhaps it was because I just loved loved loved it when I would get to spend the night there.  She lived in a 1-bedroom house. With a kitchen and unfinished basement.

Hard for me to fathom (now) how she raised three kids in this house.

But she did.

And I remember a little cubby she had that was sort of a cut out on the way to the basement.  She stored shoes there.  I would get in there and pull out all of the high heeled shoes I could find and wear them around her house. 

Her tiny house didn't seem so tiny  30-35 years ago.

But I would clip-clop around in those shoes around her kitchen while drinking RC Cola and eating Totinos pizzas.

And later I would remember sitting in front of her while she was in her recliner, wheel of fortune was on T.V., and she would make two small braids in the top of my hair and rubber band them together.  The rest of my long blond hair hung down past my shoulders.  I remember it being so relaxing.  And something I would ask for every time I stayed there. 

Only gramma could do my hair like that. 

I would sleep either on the floor or couch of the living room.  If it was summer, a big box fan was set up.  And I would lay right in front of it.  Something my own mom would never let me do....but gramma did!

We would paint our nails.  Gramma kept a finger nail file in the same case that she kept her cigarettes.  Why I remember this detail, I don't know.

(Sometimes we would paint my brother's nails because he didn't want to be left out of our fun!)

(Much to my dad's dissappointment!)

In the morning we would eat something like the equivalent of "super sugar crisp"  and gramma would make her coffee and share it with us.  Of course, ours was basically milk and sugar with a dash of coffee. 

Memories are good.

I wish I had pictures of those memories. 

I understand that my gramma was one of those strong/stubborn types.

When it came to medical issues, at least.

To the best of my recollection, she either had lung cancer that spread into breast cancer....Or breast cancer that spread to her lungs.

But I do know that she died of cancer.

And I remember her showing me scars from surgeries.  While I was wearing some of my favorite shoes of hers.  Shoes that she didn't wear....but still kept stored in her closet of shoes.


I saw what it looked like to lose a part of you.

Except when I look back on the experience, I see it as a warning.

From my gramma.

My angel.....

There were no secrets between us when we were together.  Not that she just would reveal details to me....but if I asked, she would tell.

So she told me about her breast cancer.

And while I don't know this for sure right now....I am pretty certain she was about the age I am...or not much older than me.

And she told me.

"I know you have questions.  I waited too long.  this is what it looks like."

and I saw her scar.  

In my small little way, I knew it was a significant moment.  But in my little kid way, I will still remember how I raided her shoe closet, we drank RC Cola, ate Totinos pizza, watched Wheel of Fortune, she braided my hair, and my mama picked me up after I ate sugar for breakfast and had "coffee."


When Gramma was sick, I vaguely remember my grandpa and his wife inviting us all to their home for Christmas.

As a kid....it was the "bestest."

I knew gramma was not in good health.  That was not a secret.

I'm not sure if I remember these details the way they actually happened, but to the best of my recollection, gramma spent the rest of her days in the hospital.

And we weren't allowed to see her.

But I remember talking to her on the phone
like it was just a breath before this....

"Gramma....can I please come see you?"
"Not now. Let's just talk."

And we talked on the phone.

About my Christmas presents, about Wheel of Fortune, about Elvis, about fingernail polish and high-heeled shoes.

A few days later (as best as I can tell), I was watching my new black and white TV in my room after Christmas. 

I fell asleep. 

And in my dreams, gramma came into my room. 

My closed door was opened and she walked in. 

"You are a good girl," she said.  "Keep being a good girl." 

"Gramma is always here for you."

She sat on the edge of my bed and told me she loved me. 

"Okay Gramma.  I love you too."  

And then I woke up.


My gramma passed away in the hospital that day that I had that dream.

I am absolutely sure....from that day till this one....that God allowed her to speak to me in a dream.

And even if I am mistaken....the dream has always been a gift.

Love you gramma
thanks for the shoes
the sugar
the big box fan
the nail polish
the Elvis stories
the braids
and Wheel of Fortune
I believe my mama when she later told me that 
You heard music and saw angels. 
You had made peace with your God and Savior
And you wanted us to know that you did.

Your story inspires me to live a better story of my own.





Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Snapshots from 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone!
Thank you for visiting with me here at Write-On, Mom!
Once again, I'm gonna just let the pictures tell the story.....

Sunday, December 15, 2013

not sure how this happens

somehow we have gone from here....

and here

 and here

to here....

For Christmas, I'd like to stop time.
Or slow it down some.

I sure am loving this chapter. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Our Merry Christmas Video-Card

Merry Christmas everyone. 

I'm so glad you stop by to visit with me here.
Thank you for your support and kind words throughout the year.
Enjoy the video card!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Today Marks an Anniversary for us....

Feel free to go here to read more about the raw events....here....

I know the big picture made small is that lives are touched and saved because of the life and death of my niece. 

But that doesn't make me wonder/wish/imagine what her life would be today. 

It's a selfish perspective, I know. 

But that is just me being human, I guess. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Feeling like I have a Sophomore Angel

So here is something really weird about homecoming....

...if you are taking one of my children, during their sophomore year, to the homecoming dance, your dinner may be paid for.

I have a Junior and a Sophomore.

Two weeks ago, they both went to the homecoming dance.

I found out, after the fact, that my daughter (the sophomore) went out to dinner with her date and another couple, and when they went to pay....the tab was already picked up.

When we visited about this hero-ic/angelic/thank-the-lord turn of events, Nathan...who is a Junior...said that last year, when he went to pay for him and his date....their ticket had already been taken care of.

Dear Internets,
 I had nothing what-so-ever to do with this ticket-paid-for turn of events.
I have my suspicions...but do not know how this person would have taken care of Nathan's tab last year when he was on a party bus of a bunch of people....all who had to pay for their own way.

The only thing I can guess right now is that there is an angel watching over my kids during their sophomore year in high school.  (and if you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I'm not just talking about homecoming tickets.) 

Feeling like I have a Sophomore Angel....helping me watch over my sophomores....

Monday, October 7, 2013

Happy Birthday, Claire!

and then there were three....teenagers.

On this very morning, as of 4:56 a.m., this girl became a teenager.

Making 3 out of 4 people in this photo teenagers.

(consequently sending me to my knees in prayer)

In keeping with birthday tradition in our house, she got to choose her birthday breakfast.  Her favorite cake...angel food with strawberries.

No surprises here.

Which is unlike the story of her birth...which she likes to hear every. year.

Claire was due on the 19th of the month; I had a scheduled c-section set for the 11th; water broke on the 6th; she was born on the 7th.  And she has been cutting her own path in life ever since.

Last night as I was tucking in my 12-year-old for the last time we chatted about how special it was to be a teenager and some of the important things to remember during these years.  We talked about when she was little and how she used to say that when she grew up she wanted to live in a camper in my driveway with her two adopted daughters.  We talked about what she was going to wear for school on her birthday.  We talked about her friends.  We talked about her.  And I might have said something like this:

Dear Claire~
Now that you are a teenager, it is important for you to know a few things.
I know that you know this, but it bears mentioning...deodorant is a necessity, not an option. Personal hygiene and taking good care of you is important because...
You are special.
Probably more special than you even know...but I know these things and I need to tell you.  Again.  And again.
You are special.
It is important for you to always remember this.  You need to treat yourself as the special person you are.  The best person that you want to be is the way you should treat yourself.
Do not ever talk badly about you.
Do not think badly about you.
You are a daughter of the most high King.
That makes you a princess.
Remember that and treat yourself and others accordingly.
And on the same note...don't let anyone else treat you in a way that you do not want them to.
Some may say things or act in ways that hurt your feelings or are unworthy of a princess.
It is okay to stand up for yourself.
There is no reason for you to believe or follow the world if it is not fitting for you.
You are special.
And you have many sisters who are also princesses.
Remember that and stand up for and by your sisters in Christ.
It's okay to cry.
And eat cake for breakfast on occasion.
It's okay to reach out and ask for help.
And even though you have been blazing your own trail in life since before your first appearance on earth,
Know this one thing....
the "okay" sign
Our code for
"I love you this much"
the 3 fingers meaning "i love you" and the pinch being "all the way around the world and back to where we are"
and if there is another thing I can add to this...
as you grow up, I know you no longer aspire to grow up and live in a camper close to my house so we can always be together....
but as you grow up, I can honestly say that my proverbial camper is always  parked outside of wherever you are....praying for you no matter where you are.

  Happy Birthday, teenager!
 Love, Mama

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Eeny meeny miney moe...

Not sure which emotion I want to feel right now; embarrassed that our lawn hasn't been mowed in over a month and my almost father-in-law showed up out of the blue to mow it, or thankful that Brian's dad came over to mow our overgrown weeds/lawn.

I think I'm feeling both.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Are you Good with Numbers?

I'm not naturally gifted when it comes to numbers.

Even though numbers are a big part of my life.

But I have found something to the following equation to be true, no matter what the numbers are:

(# of extra curricular activites) x (# of kids and young adults )

is directly related to

(# of hours on the road/in the gym/on the field) PLUS (loads of laundry) Plus  (# of times I am so thankful for the help and support of friends and family)

So here's a math problem for all you who like a numbers-sort of challenge

If a mama spends  15.75 hours in 4 days (mostly at the speed limit) in a vehicle
in order to watch 6.75 hours of various sporting events
does 11 loads of laundry at home and 5 loads of laundry simultaneously at the laundromat in the  2 days immediately following the aforementioned sporting events/extracurriculars,
with 5 loads of laundry left to do before the 48th hour of the second day is up....

Exactly how insane does the mama in this scenario go before she snaps? 

Just curious...in case you are good with numbers, I'd like to know.

'Cause like I said, I'm not so good with numbers.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Team Dinner and the Home Field Advantage

These days, our lives seem to revolve around all of our activities.

2 kids and a significant other are tied up with football.

1 kid spends her after-school hours running cross-country.

2 kids are in volleyball.

And some bonus kids who are away from home are busy with their own sports.  Brian and I try our best to keep up and support them in their respective lives and activities. 

Each week, on the night before a game or a meet, the kids all go to a team dinner.  Moms of each class take turns hosting the team dinner.

I find such value in sitting down with others and sharing a meal.  It's no surprise that this serves as a team building event between the athletes, coaches, managers and all involved.  I believe there is even research that supports the the benefits of regularly sharing a meal with your....team.

I guess that is why I am pouting today.  I used to host these team dinners. It was a time to re-group, talk, plan, dream, laugh and even argue.  No matter the meal or the topic/sport/theme, I can honestly say that I saw the benefits of regularly sharing a meal with my team.

Only we just called it "supper."

And nobody called me "coach."  They just called me "mom."


I'm trying really hard to keep building up my team.  To remind them that no matter how the game of life turns out, there are always people in their corner.  A place to share a meal and people to share it with.

A Home Field/Court/Course Advantage. 

But it just isn't as easy anymore.  And my team isn't always receptive. 

This weekend I had something planned for all of us to do together.  I have two willing participants, one reluctant participant, and one who just can't squeeze the time into her schedule. 

It's not their fault that I am upset about this.  I'm extremely proud of my team and have seen them become great leaders in their own lives. 

I just miss the days when our activities revolved around our lives and not the other way around. 


Thursday, September 19, 2013

A New Season. A New Story. A New Normal.

As I go through and edit and organize photos for the football team this year, I find myself dragging my feet just a bit.

Some have asked me if I'm trying to do something that someone else already does as far as taking pictures of the team.

No. I'm not.

I'm organizing a story in snapshots for some athletes whose parents have asked me to do so.

As I do this, I look back at my own Wildcat's story from last year.  And this week, of all of them, is harder for me.

We play North Cedar this week.  Last year, this was the last game that I was able to see Nathan in the role that he played for so many years.

And this time last year, I didn't know that it would be the last time I'd get to see him calling plays, leading his team, defending and receiving the ball. 

This year his role is different.  He is on special teams.  And his role is no less important.  But there are things he misses.

There are some who give him a hard time about this.

But I see how far he has come just to do what he is doing.

And I know that the story could have turned out way different.

It's a new season.
A new story.
And a new normal.

And I'm so thankful for being given a new chapter.

I guess sometimes you have to know what the previous chapter said in order to appreciate the new one.

Monday, September 16, 2013

the sweetest sound of the story

It's fall.

I stand along the sidelines of a high school football game, camera in hand.

I'm taking photos for the team and for parents of some of the athletes who have requested a photo-score of their son throughout the football season. 

My goal:  To capture the story of the season--for better or for worse--through snapshots. 

I'm pretty good at tuning out the smell of sweat, the spitting, the swearing and other sideline distractions. 

I'm pretty good at capturing the guts and heart of the story taking place on the field.  Through snapshots. 

There is one sound that I cannot tune out.

 In the middle of the thundering noise of 22 young men running feet in front of me,

the cheers of the crowd,

the whistles, the coaches and other reporters. 

In the middle of all of that I hear a a sound that rings like music to my ears and reaches the depths of my soul. 

One word.

Spoken through the facemask of one athlete.


That one word and an outstretched arm in gesture to give me a fist pound...
and for those few seconds the entire game stops for me. 

Then he runs out to the field and kicks an extra point for the team.

I'm just so thankful for the opportunity to capture the stories of several athletes on this team.

But forever grateful to be a character in the story of #6.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Meet Some of my Wildcats

Friday night was our meet the Wildcat night.  The community gathers around the football field and coaches introduce all of our athletes out for fall sports.  The pep band plays.  The cheerleaders cheer.  The cross country team runs their time trials.  The volleyball team scrimmages.  The boosters serve a meal.

And I take pictures.


I've mentioned that I am taking pictures on behalf of the football team. 

It's really quite a nice little gig for me. 

It would be quite accurate to say that my heart is totally in this job. 


On Friday nights you will find me down on the sidelines, taking snapshots of the Durant Wildcat football team. 

And my heart will be under those same Friday night lights, only on the other side of the camera. 

You will find my heart wearing the number 4 and filling water bottles and taping wrists. 

It will also be wearing the number 6 and

a size 11 shoe like this...

My heart may also be wearing a headset and calling plays or assisting the line players

It's safe to say that my heart is definitely in the job.

It's just on the opposite side of the camera. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Blog

So I have been working on putting a new blog together.  One that would serve more as an "author/speaker/snapshot-storyteller" website than just a journal. 

I have exactly ONE post up over there.  It's called "Football is a team game. So is life."

I think I am scared of the word "professional."

And I'm not sure if I should just keep it all here on Write-On, Mom!

Tell me what you think.  Click on over to A Well-Storied Life

Should I keep up with the two blogs, or keep them all here on one?

Seriously...I want to know what you think.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back-to-School Snapshot & Pep-Talk Torture

It's the first day of school.  Not our first go-around with the back-to-school drill.

Outfits were picked out, lunches packed.  Band instruments, gym clothes, binders....

The kids got it all together; my role downgraded to merely spouting off the checklist before they headed out the door.

And taking the traditional first day of school snapshots and my rah-rah pep-talk to get them fired up for the new school year.  They used to roll their eyes at me when I would get the camera out.  But now it is old hat.  Expected.

They still roll their eyes.

As I was getting my camera ready, it occurred to me that this is a temporary tradition.  Just because August comes every year, doesn't mean I'm gonna have students in my home heading off to their first day of a new school year.  I only get 13 first-day-of-school photos.

And I'm on the 12th first day with this kid:
 11th first day with Marz. 

 8th First Day for Claire:

7th First Day for Tookie:

I was asking the kids how they hoped their new school year would go.

Actually I said "How do you want the story of your (junior/sophomore/7th grade/6th grade) year to read?

Responses were things like:  good grades, no drama, go to state in sports, the best jr. prom in the history of our school.....

Mind you, the discussion was forced.  I was the only one who really wanted to talk about it.  So I forced my pep talk which I wanted to sound like this:

Happy first day of your new school year. 
This year is your story to write. 
It is your story to live. 

Want good grades?  Want to go to state in sports?  Want to plan the best Jr. Prom in the history of our school?  Don't let someone else determine what your story should be.  And don't sit back and watch other people live their stories.  Write your story.  Live it.  Become a positive character in the stories of those around you.  

Don't want to be known as a drinker?  Be involved with drama?  Get bogged down with negativity?  You don't have to be.  Edit that stuff out of your story.

I can't promise you that there will be a happy ending for each story you write.  But one thing I have learned about the ending of every good story is this:  it isn't about the ending at all.  It is about the journey.  It's about what happens on each page that makes you want to turn to the next page.  It's about the struggles that are going to happen.  The struggles that can make you stronger, or the struggles that can bring you down.  Yours is about how you handle each day, each page, each good and each bad thing. 

Your (Jr/sophomore/7th-grade/6th-grade) stories will come to an end in 180 school-calendar days. 

Make it a memorable story.

Except that my pep talk came out more like this:

Don't buy a water a la carte at lunch. It's too expensive.  Take one with you.

As you can tell, I'm pretty good at this motivational speech stuff.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Another Week/end in Snapshot Review

This sort of sums up my week:

I spent it behind the lens.

But I'm so glad I got to capture these week in snapshots.

 Marz turned 15 this summer.  She has been so busy, it's been hard to get away for some snapshots to mark it.  Last Sunday she pretended to be a model and I pretended to be a photographer and we snapped away. 
Guess what...she is a model.
In beauty and character.
How blessed I am to witness and capture it.

Here she is at the football field.  She is a team manager.  
It works out that I am the team photographer.

So I bring my lovely assistant with me, aka:  Tookie, and she gets recruited:

A great thing about this snapshot-story gig for the football team is that I get to capture some of my own kids too.

Speaking of Snapshot Stories.....that is what I am calling the photography that I have started doing.
Actually, I've been doing it for years, only it has been my way of chronicling my own family and life story.
Now I am helping other people, and the football team, to tell their own story through snapshots.
Check out the new page here on the blog for more info.

Here's a snapshot at camp.  
It's gonna be fun to follow this story this season:

 Also spent time at a parade:

 Look who decided to go out for band this year: 
 And my girl scout, Claire:

In between all of these snapshots, I actually worked at my two three other jobs, registered kids for school, dropped kids off at all the places they needed to be, and picked them up again.  I also fed these people.  

And I tried to keep some sense of order in my head and in my house.  I wasn't necessarily successful at the order part.

But we did eat and get to where we needed to be.

I feel like I should get a medal or something.  

What do the snapshots of your week look like?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Weekend in Photo Review

Alot of little things adding up to a nice weekend.