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Partner

There have been a select few people who have stuck like glue through the somewhat turbulent stretches of my life. The more experience I have, the more I realize how rare and valuable that is. My wish for each of you, dear readers, is that you would have a friend like my fire partner, Michael.

A partner in Fire and EMS is such a multifaceted thing. You have to be able to trust them with your life, whether you like them or not. They can be your best friend, or your biggest annoyance, and sometimes you just hope for tolerable. Michael and I met at the fire station as I was finding my way as a new recruit, and him a seasoned member. He was always helpful and courteous, and before long we were pulling the same shift together. From the start he was the kind of partner who knew what I wanted without having to say it. That’s the best kind of partner to have. He was always willing to jump right into whatever crazy ideas I had to improve the department or the care we gave, even when that meant spending hours on a Sunday at the station to complete my projects.

I got to be the first person he ever poked with a needle, and he willingly sacrificed chest hair to my ekg patches so I could practice. He patiently taught me how to drive the giant water tank on wheels, and we spent many evenings scrubbing station toilets and floors together. He poked fun at me having to climb the giant tires to see into the engine compartment of our trucks, and he understood my desperate need to have a label maker always at hand. Whatever we were doing, we were the perfect team.

Unfortunately it wasn’t terribly long into our partnership that my disease really started hindering my ability to perform. I was eternally grateful for him picking up the slack for me where I needed it, but eventually I had to admit I couldn’t continue. This is where he showed his true loyalty. Instead of bidding me goodbye, he was visiting bedside when I was long days in the hospital, frequenting my house to love on me and my family, and was always a text or a phone call away when myself or my family members needed it. I learned this was the kind of guy who would literally give you the shirt off his back, no questions asked.

He and his wife Katie rose up to meet my family and I numerous times in our last months in Colorado. Taking the kids when we needed it, bringing us meals, picking up groceries, helping drive me to appointments when Mark had to travel. There was never a time they said no.

Relocating to Ohio didn’t change my partnership with Michael. Within weeks he was on a plane to come see us in our new home, and he continues to do so on a regular basis; having guy bonding time with my husband, standing in as help for my family when work takes my man away, and loving and caring for us in every way he can think of.

If he’s not cooking up our favorite tacos, he’s looking for things to fix or improve around our abode. He has cleaned up my messes, picked me off the floor, and sat in silence with me when that’s all I needed. He reaches out to meet my wingman where he’s at, offering love and camaraderie to the man who carries our family. He plays with my children, helps them with their math, and isn’t afraid to keep them in line when they need it. He will long be a trusted figure they know they can run to.

We giggle at how he can come up with a solution to most things we are clueless to fix, smirk at how the owners of our local hardware store recognize his face, and we make fun of him for nerding out over things we fail to understand.

Michael has loved my family through days of joyous celebrations, as well as walked with us through heavy and disheartening days, and that’s what makes him different than most. He has never backed away. He is a safe haven for any one of us, and it’s the most comforting thing to know you have a friend that you can trust like that. I know that in the weeks and years ahead he will continue to be a soft landing place and strong anchor for each person in my family, and regardless of what I’m capable of, he will always be called my partner.

Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you’re listening!

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Four Favorites

It’s a drizzly morning, and I’m headed to the hospital soon for the third attempt at making my feeding tube right. What a stereotypical Monday! I could use a little pick me up, thought maybe you could too. Because the thing is, past the soggy shoes, and gray skies and cold, sterile rooms, there are amazing bits of joy all around us. Let me share a few with you.

Run, don’t walk to Trader Joe’s for some cookie butter! You. Guys. I don’t know how they came up with this, but it is truly Heaven in a jar. I made my kids two sandwiches, and the entire rest of this jar got eaten by me. With a spoon. It’s that good. We put it on pancakes, ice cream, graham crackers, sandwiches… pretty much wherever your imagination takes you, it’s delicious. It’s like Christmas before Christmas. The crunchy version is even better; somehow they’ve gotten little bits of those amazing cookies to stay crisp and crunchy throughout the butter, and it’s simply divine.

Young Living’s rose ointment. This stuff is good for so many things! It’s wonderful on cuticles, dry hands, rough patches of skin, as well as to smooth on your lips when you’re caught without your favorite lippy. I personally use a little on the delicate skin under my eyes, which makes them look and feel brighter, and rub a little into my eyelashes to help them stay soft and not dry and brittle. It’s small enough to throw in your bag and take everywhere with you, and a little goes such a long way, a jar will last you forever! Find your favorite friend who does Young Living oils (ahem, myself included), and ask them how you can get some!

Cotton Candy Grapes. I have no idea what miracle went into making these taste the way they do, but it is epic. You know when you’re really craving dessert, but you try to be adult and choose something healthier? This is a win! Not only are they perfectly sweet and juicy for a grape, but they literally taste like cotton candy. It will take you right back to that baseball game when you were a 5 year old licking the sticky blue whisps from between your fingers. Sweet craving satisfied! Trader Joe’s has them, and Walmart and Kroger/King Soopers do at times as well.

These stamps. All the heart eyes! Yes, I am the lady holding up the line at the post office because I want to see allll the stamp designs before I choose which ones to buy. These ones do not disappoint on the cuteness factor! I bought an extra book of them because I was so in love and wanted them to last a long time. I seriously want to send mail to all the people just so I can use them, and on the same hand don’t want to use a single one because I find them so adorable and I love looking at them. I don’t know how long they’ll be available, so hop to it and get some of the cuteness before it goes away!

Oh, and let’s circle back to the cookie butter again…according to my fire partner it also works amazingly ON TOP of TJ’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups, in case you needed another reason. Now run!

Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you’re listening!

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Mixed Media Self Portraits

When Mark travels for work we don’t do much. That can be tough for the kids, but without him here to drive us and to push me around long distances in my wheelchair, we just aren’t really capable of getting out. I try to plan special things for when he’s away that break up the time and give the kids something to look forward to. We almost always order pizza with all the topping he won’t eat (hello olives and peppers!), we rent movies, and come up with activities we can do while we are huddled in. Today I’m sharing with you a fun idea we copied from another family, and had so much fun doing it.

First I took a picture of each kid (and dog) against a white wall in our house. Then I printed them out in black and white, set out our crafting buckets, and let the kids get to work. The rules were there were no rules. They took scraps and stickers and colors and every creative thing they could rummage, and transformed their pictures into works of art. I did some with them, and we truly had the best time giggling and getting our creative juices flowing. The pictures are proudly displayed on our kitchen wall, until the next thing we come up with!

Try it yourself! It’s great fun for kids and parents alike!

Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you’re listening!

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Hard Doctor Day

Yesterday began at the office of my tender hearted hospice doctors. Despite my anxiety, I am always soothed by the kind hands and gentle eyes that meet me. Hearts that truly want to help; to listen and find the thing that will make my days the most bearable. I always end these visits knowing that I matter, that my needs are important, and that I have a team in my corner.

My heart thumped more uncomfortable as I had to brave the pulmonary office later. There is not the same gentle atmosphere, but one of facts, hustle and bustle. I knew by my panting for air and the bluish of my fingernails that I was fighting harder. There was no tenderness in the hard words; my days could be changing, my lungs needing more support. My positivity deflated as I considered my days tethered to these machines that help me suck in and out the air of living.

Immensely sad is what I know I felt, but it came out as anger. I didn’t even know where to direct it, and my sweet little loves ended up getting the brunt of my frustration as I reeled with how to reconcile my thoughts and fears. I finally removed myself, tucking early into bed so as to not keep expressing my frustration to the people I love so dearly. Some days you just have to put it all to bed; pick it up again when your courage is renewed.

The facts are the same today, and my heart is still sad, but I am renewed in my hope for these coming days. There is nothing I won’t do to fight for more beautiful days with my people. Expectations laid aside, for I know that the true meaning of my days is not found in my misguided expectations, but it’s found in the great gift of deeply loving and being deeply loved by my people. That’s where you’ll find me; wrestling another hard bit of my story, but drinking deep in the grace found all around me.

Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you’re listening!

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The Best Roller Coaster Ever!

I was gifted with big strength this weekend. It’s an exciting weekend in our town; Labor Day is celebrated with fireworks, big festivals full of vendors, music, and eating, and a long parade. As I brave my days not knowing if I’ll be able to make it out of bed, I was especially pleased to be able to fully participate with my family this weekend.

Friday evening we spent with our season passes at our amusement park. Usually I sit patiently in my wheelchair and enjoy the thrill-swept faces of my loves enjoying the rides, but I had a crazy hair to try something bigger this time. My loving husband helped choose the smoothest of the roller coasters, and I used my special pass to roll my chair right up to the cars and strap in. What a rush! My kids were terrified; not for the ride, but that I was going to get hurt. Precious loves. I screamed the whole time, but from absolute joy, not pain! Next time I’m going with no hands! I feel like my life is full of many roller coasters, but that’s the kind I’d like to ride again and again! It made my day to see my littles laughing and cheering for me. I enjoyed the rest of the evening watching them ride while I sipped Dr. Pepper and rolled around with the lights dancing on my wheels.

Mark and I spent Saturday afternoon together to enjoy a show and dinner together. I love getting to have time with my man one on one, hearing him laugh and catching his gaze over a table for two. I surely am the luckiest.

The rest of the weekend we enjoyed the vendors of crafty creations, delicious food trucks, and fresh squeezed lemonade. I found the perfect gift for my sweet nephew, and we let the sun warm our faces until we were all glowing and exhausted. Monday morning we pulled our chairs right up the street from our house and enjoyed an hour and a half of one of the most spirited parades you’ve witnessed. The town really comes out to celebrate this day, and we enjoyed waving, clapping, and admiring all the fire trucks and marching bands.

After the parade we even squeezed in a trip to an outlet mall we’ve been wanting to check out, and enjoyed browsing the stores in and out of the sunshine. Our girls are reaching the age they like to walk to the stores on their own with their friends, so we stayed nearby with the littlest one and tried out all the games in the game store. There’s fun to be had wherever I go with these two!

At the end of the day I was thrilled to have enough strength to love my family by cooking them a special dinner. It’s such a big gift in a small thing; being able to sit at the counter and chop vegetables and mix in mixing bowls. We sat down to enjoy steaming bowls of home cooked goodness after a deliciously busy weekend spent together, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

How are you embracing your strong moments today? How are you spending your strength to love your people?

Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you’re listening!

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Four Faves

I’m away from home in a strange bed tonight, and I thought I would do something a little different on my blog to pass the time. As I grabbed a few “necessities” and threw them in my bag on the way out, I thought about how some of the best things are discovered from other people’s suggestions, so I’m going to share with you a few of my favorite things!

5 gum in Strawberry Flood. It’s no secret that the peppermint 5 gum is my absolute favorite, but not too long ago I tried the strawberry on a whim when I came across it. Just like the mint, it keeps its flavor long after most gums fade. The strawberry is a perfect blend of tart and not-too-sweet. It’s juicy and fruity and just the best pick me up on a hot day of running around.

Double stuff is my jam, but an Oreo completely encased in fudge? That is perfection! These tiny bites have the perfect ratio of cookie to chocolate, and they come in pre-measured portions so you don’t go overboard! They also come in flavors like mint and coconut if you’re looking to switch things up.

BiC Gelocity pens. Not only do these come in a bunch of vibrant, fun, as well as practical colors, but they glide so smoothly you’ll never want to stop writing! I use these for jotting down notes and writing letters, as well as doodling or drawing in my journal and sketch pads. The creamy inks are a pleasure to work with! I keep a variety of pens tossed in my bag for when opportunities arise.

Ecolips lip balm from Whole Foods. This organic lippy is divine, and I find myself reaching for it time and again. It moisturizes exceptionally well, and never feels thick or sticky. Yumberry is my favorite flavor, but they have many delicious flavors to choose from, like vanilla honey, blood orange, and pomegranate.

Black paper sketch pad. I got some great new markers and pens for my birthday, and I picked up this sketchbook at Michaels to practice with them. Not only are the pages super smooth and thick enough to prevent bleeding through, but I absolutely love how it makes the colors pop!

There you have it, a few of my favorite things. I hope you find something new you enjoy!

Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you’re listening!

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The Grumps

After a sleepless night, I’m curled under my favorite blanket watching a cloudy gray sky. I’m dealing with some nagging pain following a procedure yesterday, and it’s got me feeling down. Well, maybe just sorry for myself. There were other things I wanted to do with my day today. Thinking how to be grateful anyway… there are so many with larger struggles than I. I can lie here and save my energy for my little people who will come bounding in from the bus and find me with love to share. That’s where the gift is found; in strength that’s beyond my own, and that’s meant to be given away. Tell me, where are you loving beyond your strength today?

Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you’re listening!