A Story of Love, Loss, and Life

This week I read a powerful newly released book I haven't been able to get out of my mind. It's called Rare Bird by Anna Whitson-Donaldson. In September 2011, Anna's 12 year old son, Jack, drowned in a neighborhood creek flooded by a freak storm in the suburban Washington, DC area. Before this happened, Anna had a blog, An Inch Of Gray, that focused on painting furniture and the occasional posts about family life. After the accident, she poured her emotions out and walked through her grief with blog readers.

In the introduction to her book, Anna writes,

I thought the first book I'd write would be about painting furniture. It would have suggestions, techniques, and even inspirational Bible verses sprinkled throughout it...But this is the book I wrote. I wish I had nothing to say on the matter of loss, but I do. Because one ordinary day I encouraged my two kids to go out and play in the rain and only one child came home.

Anna's writing is very honest, raw and emotional. But it's not a story without hope. As a Christian, Anna knows her son is in heaven. She knows she'll see him again someday. Rare Bird addresses a question in the back of every mother's mind...how would I go on if I lost a child? She writes,

My new story was a tragedy so frightening that, as parents, we feel we risk something even by thinking about it, because it whispers into our hearts a truth we don't want to hear. That we can't keep our children safe. That we don't know what the future holds. We want to cover our ears, close our eyes, and turn away from the horror of that truth.

Anna asks the hard questions and doesn't hold back in describing her journey from wanting to die every day after the accident to embracing life again. She brings her son to life with her words. She writes,

...this isn't a scary book. It's a book about a loving relationship between a mother and her boy. It's about being faced with impossible circumstances and wanting to accept nothing less than the chance to turn back the clock. It's about anger and profound sadness, but also about a flicker of hope that comes from the realization that in times of heartbreak, God is closer than our own skin. It's about being real and showing up in the pain.

We all have or will face circumstances that bring us to our knees. Rare Bird is a book that holds out hope in the midst of pain. It's a beautiful testimony to the power of love, community, faith, and ultimately trust in God.

The Things You Do For Your Kids

Did you hear the iPhone 6 came out? Not exactly new news, right? Well, you would have thought it was the only thing going on in the world with the amount time and energy we've devoted to upgrading our phones this week.

First let me give you the background...Two teens with phones that have cracked screens and barely functional Wifi from hitting the floor so many times. Two people that rue the day they let me talk them into buying the iPhone 4 with only 8GB instead of the one they wanted with 16 GB. Believe me, I've heard about it every time they couldn't download an app due to a lack of storage. So...six months after our upgrade date, they waited impatiently for the arrival of the iPhone 6. They couldn't wait to throw off their shackles and own the latest and greatest. 

Of course, they optimistically assumed one would be waiting for them in the store on the first day...NOT. When they realized pre-ordering would make them wait a few extra weeks, where do you think they turned to make their elusive dream a reality? Good. Old. Mom. Possibly the least likely person to care about getting the iPhone 6 on the first day. 

Of course, they protested. You don't care because your phone still works. Our phones are held together by packing and duct tape because we thought we were invincible and didn't think a case was necessary. Can we camp out? Can you camp out? Can you run down there at the crack of dawn and wait however long it takes? Wait Mom, if you do all that and there's only one, can I have it?!?

Victory was ours last Friday when I found some at Sam's Club. However, the spoils went to me and my son because my daughter had yet to make her final choice. She didn't decide until a couple days later when there weren't any left. So the waiting, begging, and complaining came my way again.

Today though, there is hopefully a happy ending to this story. I'm a tad frustrated and hungry waiting in a 45 minute line at Apple as we speak, but my fingers are crossed. It's a good time to draft a blog post musing on why moms do the things they do. I guess it's out of love. It's to see our kids' happy faces and hear thanks, mom. It's to get them off our backs so we don't have to hear the whining anymore. :). Whatever the reason, moms are out there waiting in lines, working behind the scenes, smoothing the path to make things the best they can for their kids. 

Also, it's because of these texts...

I guess I can stand waiting here a little longer. No guarantees on the not looking at her new phone though. Ha!!

It's My Blog Birthday!

Normal Everyday Life is turning ONE! It's been a whole year since I started this blog. What fun it's been to put my thoughts out there and have people relate and respond to them!

Just in case you missed my first post, Am I Normal?, here's an excerpt that I hope I've lived up to this year...

I like to read about normal life, the things that happen everyday.  Things that make me say, "Oh, I can relate to that!"  The posts that stick in my mind the longest and keep me coming back to read a blogger are the ones that inspire the feeling that she's just like me.  She's had those "losing it" moments where the house is a wreck, there's nothing for dinner, and the kids are talking back.  She knows what it's like to fail as a wife, a parent, a friend.  And she's gotten back up, said she's sorry, and started all over again.

I started this blog to document my life, to celebrate the big and small moments, but I've loved hearing about the lives of others as well! I've "met" other bloggers that I enjoy checking in with regularly in other parts of the United States and even in other countries. It's sort of weird that I'll find myself wondering how a situation in their family turned out or what color they've decided to paint their kitchen. I guess that just proves the power of the written word. It's an amazing window into a writer's world!

Today I want to say a big "THANK YOU" to everyone who reads and comments on my posts. I really appreciate you spending a part of your day with me! I hope you'll keep visiting me here for another year!

We're Pet Owners...Kind of?

I've been a mom for over eighteen years and this weekend was the first time I gave into the line, "Everyone has a pet, but me!!!". I couldn't help it. My youngest girls have begged me for a pet since preschool. They would absolutely love a D.O.G., but I just can't go there...yet. (If my dad is reading this and sees my "yet", he'll start sending me dog listings by the end of the day!)

Anyway, when I found this note cleaning out the garage the other night, I felt very small. I mean, look at this, my daughters are resorting to caring for snails they find in the yard.

So...this Saturday I gave into their pleas for a pet and got four...Jasmine, Sparkles, Roxy and Millie.

Meet our new beta fish...

I know you're probably thinking that fish aren't very exciting, but believe me, you would have thought we were welcoming royalty with how thrilled my girls were to bring these little fish home. They prepared spots in their rooms and planned out a feeding schedule and asked all their friends at school which names were best. Now they have finally achieved one of their dreams...being able to raise their hands when the teachers asks "Who has any pets?"

Of course, seeing my girls go wild over fish makes me reconsider, just a little, the whole D.O.G. thing.

Kids and pets...let's talk. Have any of you ever gotten a dog or cat just because your kids begged? I mean that has to be a textbook bad reason to enter the world of pet ownership, right? If you did do such a thing, how did it work out? Any regrets? Tell me, caution me, persuade me, whatever the case may be...

Heartbeat Of Our Home

A cacophony of sounds represent our lives, our home, our family...

Football game and smack talk coming from the living room. 

Ice spilling from the ice maker into a glass. 

Murmured discussions plotting something from the twins. 

Music playing. 

Footsteps up and down the stairs, in and out of the kitchen.

Phones ringing.

Water running in the bathroom. 

Doors slamming. 

Kids laughing.

Kids fighting. 

Garage door opening. 

Blow dryers. 

Fights over the bathroom. 

Washer, dryer, dishwasher running.

Facetime conversations in the background.

Backpacks dropped on the floor.

Homework papers rattling.

Snack wrappers being opened.

Dresser drawers opening and closing.


Calls for mom to make the offender stop singing.

The click of the door lock.

Rhythmic typing on the keyboard.

Sighs of frustration.


I can often place where each child is and what they're doing, just by the sounds I hear or don't hear in our house. It's unique, it's comforting, it's aggravating, it's too loud, it's too quiet, it's joy, it's sadness, it's perfect. It's the melody playing in the background of our family life. It's the thrumming pulse of our home.

Do you hear what I hear? What does your family home sound like?

Tubing Through Life

Life can sometimes feel like you're riding on a innertube behind a speed boat. You start out ready to go, prepared for the adventure.

Then it takes off and you hang on for dear life, alternating between smiling and screaming!

 Sometimes, you feel on top of the world...

But beware, pride goes before a fall...

So strap yourself in, make all the crazy faces you want, and enjoy the ride...

Grandparent's Day

This Sunday is Grandparent's Day. It may not be a widely known holiday, but we've certainly got reason to celebrate some special grandparents at our house!

I'm fortunate to live just one neighborhood over from my parents and a few miles from my mother-in-law. I can honestly say that if it wasn't for the help of grandparents, I don't know if we would be the family we are today. You see, ten years ago we had twins, and life became wild. Grandparent help was great when we had three kids, but it became essential when we had five! A couple years after the twins were born, my husband went through four years of night school to get his law degree and then took a job where he travels much of the time. We wouldn't have been able to do all the things we've done if we hadn't had our parents close by.

So just what have our parents been doing over the past ten years? Here's a short list in no particular order:

Chauffeuring and cheering for many games and practices.

Attending school functions and programs, sometimes even when we couldn't be there.

Baking cookies and decorating cakes, roller skating, going to football and hockey games, and visiting the zoo.

Coming up with great Halloween costumes every year...

Babysitting for long and short periods. I could never repay the hourly rate all that's been worth!

Helping with homework. Teaching them to love and care for pets. Playing tennis. Dressing up like Santa Claus...

Overpaying my kids for tasks like feeding the dog and picking up sticks in the yard.

Doing crafts, puzzles, and playing countless board games and rounds of Skip-Bo and Bingo.

Going to kids' movies, playing kickball, blueberry picking, and fishing...

As well as, cheering our family on through all the milestones they've seen their grandchildren achieve..

Happy Grandparents Day to Nanny and Papa, and Grandma! We couldn't do it without you!!!

How about you? Do you have some special grandparents to celebrate in your life?

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

I always feel like Labor Day Weekend is that last little bit of summer fun before fall really starts. It's a time to say goodbye to one season and welcome another.

This year, we spent the holiday with my college girl. Yay! Even though she's only been gone a short time, it feels like a long time since we've had the whole family together. We had a picnic lunch by a lake and enjoyed some swimming and hiking. Listening to my other kids pepper her with questions about college and tell her all the news of home was heartwarming for me. It was great to hear what she's been doing and really talk for awhile. Phone calls, FaceTime, and texts are wonderful, but they're no replacement for face to face conversation.

We even stopped for a little visit on campus to see her dorm. This thrilled my twins as they've been full of curiosity about where she stays and how it all works. They don't really understand college life, but they know enough to think it looks like something they'd like to try!

As my kids have grown, they've become more and more fun. I look forward to family conversations and think what they say is so interesting. When my children were little, I felt like I knew everything about them. As they've grown, I've come to appreciate the things they share with me as gifts. They alone can choose to let me be a part of their lives and thoughts and feelings. I don't take that lightly. It's a great privilege. Days like today when we share laughter and time are a treasure that I hope never runs out no matter what changes different seasons may bring.

*This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!