Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Turtley Awesome 4 year-old

Just so you know, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have made a comeback. What better way to celebrate the cutest 4 year-old I know, than with a "Turtley Awesome" Birthday!
Oliver turned 4 on January 15th. I. Cannot. Believe. It. He's not a toddler any more...he's a BIG BOY! I feel blessed beyond measure to have this little ball of energy and happiness in our lives. He's simply precious.
Per the birthday boy's request, we went to Moe's for his big night. Fortunately, Sarah Dippity was on hand for Ninja Turtle face painting! Nana and Papa and Muzzy and Boppa joined the fun!
His eyes in this picture...crack me up!

Big bros are the best!

Oliver as "Raphael"

Now onto the party!
Turtle POWER!!!
 My pathetic attempt at cupcakes. ;-)

Custom Ninja Turtle party favors by Muzzy & Me!
{We made 18 of these little get-ups in red, orange, blue, and purple!!!}

Big Ninja Turtles!


Just hangin' out.

Ninjas in all colors!

 Then back to the house for a rip-roarin' time with presents!
Happy 4th birthday to my adorable blue-eyed green-turtle-machine! You're such a blessing to us!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

At A Loss

I don't even know where to start. I didn't think I would return from a 3 month break with this kind of update.

The month has been so VERY hard for us. It's bad enough when you lose one person, not to mention, two. On February 27th we lost my mom's oldest sister Elaine {"Laynie"} and 2 weeks later we lost my precious 98 year-old great-aunt Nita. It's all been quite overwhelming.

It's been exactly one month since I said good-bye to one of my favorite people on this earth. My Aunt Laynie was one of the most beautiful women - inside and out - that I have been blessed to have in my life.

I keep thinking it's all a bad dream. But it's not. And the reality of it is extremely hard to accept. It seems like everywhere I look in my house there is something that triggers a memory of her or a desire to talk to her.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity the day before she passed to sit by her bedside and tell her how much I loved her and thank her for all she had ever done for me and my boys. I prayed with her and held onto her hand so tightly, dreading the moment I'd have to let go. It was painful to leave her room. I prayed for peace and the wisdom to know when I had told her all that was on my heart. I didn't want to leave out one.single.thing.

My cousin Emily, her granddaughter, delivered the most beautiful eulogy. When she was compiling all the necessary details, she asked us to describe her "Mimi". I said in one word, "selfless", which sums her up completely. But as I use this little blog to archive these times in my life, I just have to document and share who she was to me in more than a word. She was "My Laynie" {A little possessive, ya think?}, a true inspiration.

She was born  May 23,1938 and her name at birth was Claudia Elaine. When I was born my parents gave me her first name and I have always been honored to have it. My whole life we've had an extra special bond. At birth she called me "Rosebud", but as I grew up Rosebud turned into "Blossom". I can still hear her voice in my head. "How's my sweet Blossom?", she'd always ask.

Her only daughter Renee - who's more or less a big sister to me -  is about 17 years older than me. So while she was off at college, my Aunt Laynie and Uncle Russ - an equally amazing man who passed away when I was 15 -  borrowed me for their entertainment. I spent many nights at their house and enjoyed being spoiled! My weekends at their house were made up of special dinners out at Steak & Ale, Shoney's for all-you-can-eat shrimp night - where she taught me to peel boiled shrimp, animal pancakes for breakfast, coffee-milk on the porch, crafts, and fishing. I flash back to those days frequently and without fail I get the most warm and fuzzy feeling all over. I am so thankful for those memories. She had me so rotten that sometimes, as a child, when I was upset or feeling bad, I would call out for her, "I want my Laynie!" I'm sure it made my poor momma feel great! ;-)

On top of all that, she never missed a dance recital, graduation, sacrament, or birthday of mine. On my last birthday, even though she wasn't feeling well, my mom made sure she had a card to sign for me. I am so thankful my mom knew how important it was for me to have "just one more card". I cried as I read her simple birthday message, knowing it would be the last. I will cherish it forever.

Her kind deeds were countless! I recall one of the coolest outfits a preteen could have owned was MINE because of one of our shopping trips to Tapp's. It was an ESPRIT eggplant-colored flared skirt with an off-white top donning tiny Aborigines in beautiful jewel tones that I wore with my eggplant-colored suede flats. It. Was. Awesome! I remember her bending over backwards to help my mom on my wedding day. And then there was the time that a very swollen, pregnant girl's washing machine broke while she was supposed to be on bed rest. The laundry was piled to the ceiling. The poor pregnant girl came home to find that the Laundry Elves {mom and Laynie} had visited and left her a new washing machine and folded stacks of clean baby clothes. She was so, so good to me.

Her goodness will never be forgotten by those who knew her. In her life and in her suffering, her inspiration never ceased.

Before her diagnosis, Aunt Laynie shared her life-verse with me. I'm not sure why, but I'm forever grateful that she did. She lived every aspect of her life through this verse and it now has an extra special meaning to those of us touched as a result of her service to her family and to the Lord.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. -Psalm 19:14
After 2 years of battling lung cancer, God saw that her body was growing tired. Even though I selfishly want her here with me - healthy, laughing, and baking her famous Cocoon cookies - HE no longer wanted her to suffer and wanted her to be reunited with my Uncle Russ for eternity. It's that cardinal reminder that we belong to HIM and as much as I hated to let "MY Laynie" go, the good Lord called for "HIS Laynie" to come home.

Aunt Laynie and Uncle Russ - The love of her life.

My heart aches everyday for my mom and her siblings, my cousin Renee and her girls, and all those she touched. We are going to miss her so very, very much!

October 2005 - My mom's siblings with Aunt Nita: Uncle Robert, Aunt Laynie, Aunt Judy, Momma, Great Aunt Nita, Uncle Phil

May 2008 - Laynie's 70th Birthday: Aunt Laynie, Emily (one of her 2 granddaughters), Renee
October 2011
November 2011

I love you, Laynie...and miss you so incredibly much!

{You} have fought the good fight, {you} have finished the race, {you} have kept the faith.
-2 Timothy 4:7