As I am sitting in my dad's living room watching the sunlight beam through the window, sipping my coffee, I am anxiously awaiting for everyone to awake and kick of this special day. The Macy's Day Parade is being recorded, just in case my littlest one sleeps in...ahhh it is Thanksgiving.

I keep catching myself just smiling looking over at my dad sleeping in the family room. He is very still and breathing loudly and it is a glorious site.

Happy Thanksgiving Daddy

When we first brought him home and into hospice over five weeks ago, the nurse told me he had just a few weeks. I wept, a lot. But I told her he was strong.

Since then they have nick named him the grizzly bear. Partly because it would take a grizzly bear to tolerate the meds they have him on and partly because he is so darn strong. He is still getting up from his bed to go to his chair. He insists on using the restroom, by himself. He has such a strong will and I am so unbelievably proud, blessed, and honored to have this time with him.

All he has really talked about since he came home was Thanksgiving, and we have been planning it together since. Where would we have it, what would we have, who would be here...

I am happy to say that it is indeed Thanksgiving, and the most blessed one I have ever had. We are having it here, we will set up tables in a makeshift Thanksgiving feast style around the hospital bed, oxygen tanks, med tables and the like. My littlest one will make her place setting pictures with everyone's name and decide where we sit (papa always at the head of the table of course) and we will do our best to not notice that he really isn't eating much. We will give thanks for all that we have and for me...for this unbelievably special day with my dad.

These past five weeks that I have stayed here with him, I have had so much to be thankful for. Of course for this precious time God has given me with him, hearing the stories, being his caretaker and just sitting by his bedside. But also for my family. My husband Steven, son Sean, daughter Samantha and youngest daughter Tessa. They have been so supportive, have come over every night and call or text me every morning to see if Papa is ok, if I am doing ok, and if I need anything. My husband takes care of our house and our two older ones make sure our youngest one gets to school every morning. They all make grocery and errand runs and take turns staying with Papa if I need to go to a meeting. Tessa writes me a note every night that she cannot spend the night with me and leaves it somewhere for me to find. Or she will set up a Tessa look a like in my bed for me to snuggle with. I am so thankful and blessed to have such a loving supportive family. I could not have done this without them.

My snuggle replacement for Tessa she left for me (Just not the same)

Just knowing that I woke up today to my dad still breathing is enough to make me thankful. But knowing that I am going through all of this with my unbelievably wonderful family...makes me twice blessed.

I pray that you feel as blessed as I do today and that your Thanksgiving day is surrounded by friends, family, good health, laughter and cheer.

Make some memories today that you will remember for a lifetime...I plan to do just that.

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours...

Happy Thanksgiving

We have all heard that old saying "If I only knew then what I know now."
Me and my "Daddy" the fall after his tracheotomy and the beginning of his fight
How true it is and especially at a time like now as I care for my dad.

...I should have spent more time with him.

...I should have not taken his gruff attitude to heart.

...I should have hugged him everyday.

...I should have had him over for dinner more.

...I should have made the time.

Cancer is an unspeakable disease that has taken so many of those I love. I hate to even give it the satisfaction of saying it's name.

My mom battled the disease for many years and now my dad is going through the same thing and he is nearing the end of his life.

As I sit in the living room looking over at him in the other room, sitting in his chair I feel it well up inside of me. These are the last few weeks I will ever have with him.
Daddy in his chair

There is so much that I want to say to him and I know he feels the same. But we don't talk about it. He doesn't want to cry he says. Instead he says, "You know how I feel Terri. I don't have to say it." He tells me not to say I love you too much then tries to get the last one in as I go up stairs. (I usually win at this one though).

It is easier for him, and really, for me to. We are just enjoying the time we have together instead of mourning the time we do not. I make him all of his favorite meals and do everything I can to make him comfortable.

He has been through a lot over the past three years. First the cancer in his voice box, then the lungs, then the bone and is quite literally everywhere. But he fought it as best as he could.

He has gone through all of the chemo, radiation and bone drips...
Daddy at one of his treatments

He's been in and out of the hospital...

Tessa, Daddy (Papa) and Me visiting him in the hospital
Tessa and Papa snuggling
Tessa and Daddy Papa  being goofy -
through it all he has kept his sense of humor.
Papa and Samantha playing cards to pass the time

Tessa, Papa and Sean in a group hug

Tessa, Papa and Sean being goofy.
My daddy always says...
"When I stop joking, that is when you need to start worrying."

And now his home has become his hospice.

Daddy and our Chihuahua's Nikki and Nina -
He asked for me to bring them over and have them
stay here with him and I, he says they calm him down.
As I sit quietly and work on my laptop I glance over and see him staring off into the room. Some days we play backgammon, sometimes we have visitors, some days we just talk, other days the TV gives him some background noise and other days he sits with Nina in his lap.

Daddy with his
favorite little Chihuahua Nina
He is no doubt going over in his mind what he would have done differently, what he should have done, what he will miss and when he will be reunited with the love of his life.

They fell in love and never fell out

My mom passed away 12 years ago and I have missed her dearly, and the one thing that gives me comfort in all of this, is that I know without a shadow of a doubt, they will be reunited.

A collage I gave them for their 45th wedding anniversary
A few short weeks later Mom passed away

Caring for a parent is not something that you ever hope to have to do, but I am so thankful that I have this time to share with him. I feel incredibly blessed to hear the stories of his childhood, how he fell for my mom and how proud he is of me and my husband and how we raised our kids.

There is a constant stream of people coming and going. Which makes me proud to know that he loved by so many. And my kids and husband are here all of the time. I have an incredible supportive family. My husband has taken over our household while I stay here with my dad. They come over for dinner and stay with me on the weekends. They cherish every moment as do I.

Daddy and Tessa just hanging out

We celebrated Halloween together and we pray to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with him in just a few short weeks.

Daddy and my kids Samantha, Sean and Tessa
on Halloween night

Daddy, Samantha, Sean, Me and Tessa on his lap

Daddy (trying to tell me the camera was on), Samantha, Sean,
Steven (my wonderful husband) and Tessa on her Papas lap.
As the days go by, I see him changing. Gone is the lively and constantly joking and often times gruff daddy and instead that is replaced with a frail man who sleeps more and more and gets frustrated when his days and nights get mixed up. He disease is slowly progressing, taking him over and will inevitably slip him away from us. Yet, I want to remember this time, as hard as it is to go through, I want to remember each and every moment. I feel incredibly blessed to be here with him.

I admire his bravery, his strength, his advice, his unconditional love, the years of memories behind us and the eternity ahead of him.

And no matter where he is...I will always be daddy's little girl.

I love you daddy...always and forever.

"Mom! Stop I can do it!" 

The words of independence...and also the words every mom hears at some point. 

I know she can do it, it is just scary letting go as a parent and letting them do things on their own. 

And when it comes to my little girl climbing a tree...yikes!

Yes! That is Tessa half way up the tree!

However, I have to admit that when I watched her climb, well once I stopped holding my hands up to catch her or give her a boost and mainly because she kept saying "Mom, stop, don't help! I got this! " Wow! so wise for an 8 year old! Anyway...once I stepped back, took a breath and really watched, it was actually pretty amazing seeing her face just light up the higher she got!

Her smile was ear to ear!
Sure I could keep saying, be careful, watch out, and keep worrying about that old thing called gravity, but dang it, she was having a good time. And besides us mom's have a kind of super agility and strength when it comes to saving our kids. So I knew I would throw myself under that tree faster then she would fall.

But she didn't...she climbed that tree just like I did as a little girl.  As I thought back to that time I was fun to see the world from a different perspective.

I think part of me doesn't want her to grow up so fast, and the other part of me wants to watch her to make these awesome accomplishments. I shared with Tessa about the tree in our backyard and how I used to climb it everyday. Her simple response... "Really?!" with a big wide grin was just what I needed. I did leave out the part about hanging upside down from the branches though. Look it's tiny steps alright!

I noticed that as she climbed up the tree and then down the tree and then back up the tree she would look up first to see where she was going to go next, where to place her foot or where she would be able to peek out at me next. It made me grin and beam with pride just knowing I had raised a young lady that could figure it out on her own.

It was at this looking up and her looking down at me all proud of what she had accomplished that the old saying... "If I knew then what I know now" came to mind. And I kind of shrugged my shoulders, smiled and said, naaaa it wouldn't have been nearly as fun growing up.

Who knows....maybe tomorrow...I might just climb that tree!

Say WHAT Mom?! Bahahaha

Over the the last few years, I have watched as our little girl's Halloween choices have changed.

She has gone from a cute little kitten...

OK yes that might be a fake bug in her hand
and she may be trying to scare her friends

To a not too scary witch, with purple hair of course.

To a little girl who pretended she lost her eye ball while trick or treating. Yes, all the candy and she went for the fake eye ball. She said it was better than the candy.

Ya gotta love the jack o lantern teeth!
Which brings me to the reason for this blog post, last year's costume. But first let me just tell you about my little Tessa. She is a loving, caring, be friends with anyone little girl who has always embraced life with a wonderful outlook. She tends to be a home body at times, and I won't lie, I love that about her, more hugs for me. But what I love most about her, is that she doesn't care what other people think. Not in a bad way, but in a good way. She is a leader not a follower and she loves to be an individual.

So as Halloween quickly approaches and she starts talking about what she wants to be this year (we are still up in the air...the Thriller Michael Jackson (because he's scary in that video), to a skeleton or maybe a hippie, but not just any hippie we will most likely have a twist on it.) I can't wait to see what she decides on.

I am also reminded about our experience last year at Halloween.  I am reminded of one very important lesson that I was taught and I would like to share it with you.

It is quite simple really, let them embrace their individuality! They will be OK not going along with what everyone else is me on this! 

Tessa was taking a dance class last year. Now I will admit, it has been a pretty long time since I was in dance class. And, I will also admit that I am not one of those mom's that takes the classes very seriously, I mean they are like 6 and 7 right? We just do it for fun. I am not looking to raise the next Ginger Rogers. 

Quite frankly it makes me laugh and shake my head at the mom's that have their kids in all of those classes. It is not like they are all going to grow up to be big stars. The chances of that are pretty slim. And I bet if you asked a lot of those kids, they would much rather be outside playing and not having to run from school to dance class every night. I honestly believe a lot of those women are trying to live through their kids. 

The moms all sit around and try and one up each other on what their kids are involved in. Why not watch your kid in class, isn't that why you are there? Guess not. They did entertain me as I watched Tessa, kind of like having a comedian playing in the background.  Every once in a while I giggle out loud and they would stop talking and glare at me. 

I guess I have always been a big believer in letting them just be kids. I am not one of those stage moms. And oh wow, I did just say all of that out loud. Please don't send hate mail. 

So anyway, off of my little soap box there...

They handed out a flyer after class, they were going to have a Halloween party. Tessa was so excited. On the way home all she could talk about was what she wanted to be. And I kept asking, are you sure? Tessa wanted to be a zombie bride. 
Yes I did say zombie bride. And yes she was only 7. However, in my defense, not all little girls want to be a princess or a winged fairy for Halloween. Some of us really get into the idea of Halloween and like to dress up, well, yes scary. Isn't that part of the idea? I remember going to haunted houses in the neighborhood as a kid and loved being scared. And...there are are still some brave souls out there that embrace the theme.

I will admit that I did second guess her when she announced what she wanted to be. But once I realized her mind was set, who was I to try and change it. She was embracing her individuality and I loved the idea! So when she asked me to make her a zombie bride costume, I said "Sure! Let's do it!" 

To be honest, I loved the idea of making a costume for her. When I was a kid we often had home made costumes. The year I was a hobo was one of my favorite trick or treating memories, not the year I had the store bought mask. 

We did try looking to buy something to get us started, even just a zombie costume we could add to, But Tessa said they just weren't what she wanted. We couldn't find a good zombie bride anywhere. So we came up with our own. 

We started with an old beaded dress we found in my closet. It still had the tags on it and I know why, it was hideous! Must have been one of those great finds um about 10 years ago! I added some off white tulle to give it that old look and put some tears into it to rough it up and make it zombie bride worthy. 

Tessa had the picture of her costume in her head and explained to me that she wanted a torn dress that was big and full. Done! So I made a l and she loved it.

Now we just needed some accessories! So we went to the mall. We quickly found a cool black and silvery long hair wig that was perfect! But what's a zombie bride without a bouquet right? We found the perfect one at the Disney store. It was a set, bouquet and veil. Perfect!

I wish I would have recorded the look on the clerks face when we were checking out. She said, "Oh I see someone is going to be a princess bride for Halloween." and Tessa said, in a disgusted voice "Uh nooooo!" then beamed a bright smile and said , "A zombie bride!" the poor girl was left speechless. I guess that should have been my first clue. But I tend to learn from repetition at times. 

We finished off the costume by adding some netting over the bouquet and a nice big honking spider of course. Then purchased some face make up since Tessa wanted to look like a real zombie.

It started off like this...

But Tessa slowly transformed it...

Into this...

Tessa in her zombie pose
We were ready! Dance class Halloween party here we come! But before we leave, we had to take some pictures. The photo shoot we had at the house before class was so much fun. 

Tessa really got into it. Although I could not get her to smile, because, of course, "Um mom,  zombie's don't smile, duh!" My bad, sorry!

The neighbors even came out to watch her

She was really in character

Hmmm has she been watching zombie movies after we go to bed?

I love this one, she looked so eerie walking across the lawn.
She even started dragging her foot at one point. Priceless!
Well, photo shoot done! Let's head to class.

Now, in my defense, I did call up to her dance studio prior. I told the woman who answered the phone that Tessa was going to be a zombie bride which she replied "Oh that sounds cool!" I then asked if they were allowing the girls to wear make up, which she replied "Oh of course!" I mistakenly assumed when I said "Are you sure, because it is kind of scary?" and she replied "Oh we love make up here!" that we were on the same page. So when Tessa said "More blood mommy, add more blood!"...I did!

Tessa helped put on the make up - I think she did a great job.

Well, we arrived at the dance studio. I realized fairly quickly I might add, that we were indeed so many pages off.  

I have never felt worse for Tessa then I did as we walked into that dance studio and a hush fell upon the entire room. As Tessa and I walked past each scantily clad fairy, princess, peter pan and angel it became blatantly apparent that there was a difference of opinion as to what Halloween meant to them. Or for that matter scary makeup. I felt awful for Tessa, but when I looked down at her she was smiling.

Kids were staring and whispering and worse, parents, so much for being an adult. I could never have acted as some of those moms did that day. They should be ashamed of themselves. 

At first Tessa didn't notice, but when the lady at the front desk turned around and shrieked "Ohhh you meant that type of makeup. Oh well, um, doesn't she look, well just scary. What a great costume." I realized I might have made a bad decision letting Tessa dress up like this for class and Tessa started to realize that not everyone was going to get her costume, actually, no one was going to get her costume. 

As I walked past I gave the lady at the desk my best, oh yes we are coming in dressed like this grin, nodded and kept on walking. I put my arm around Tessa and thought, we will NOT turn and run. 

We were getting a lot of attention, whispers and stares and I wasn't sure how it was going to go. I looked at Tessa and asked if she wanted to leave or change? That was a mistake I realize now, I shouldn't have said that, it was as if I was questioning my child. Tessa said no I want to go, so I smiled the biggest smile I could and we went with it. 

I wish I would have taped the dance class, it was as if there was this invisible bubble around Tessa and no one could come near her. I mean, I guess it was easier for me to see her dance that day. I had a clear view almost the entire class.

When they came in to take a class picture at the end, Tessa was nonchalantly escorted to the back of the group for the photo. I mean she did stick out like, well a zombie bride in a room full of princesses, but in my opinion she was the best dressed one there, playing her part like it was supposed to be played. When they said smile, she did a zombie pose! I loved it! I was never more proud of her. She was an individual and I was never more proud of her then at that moment. I loved her so much for embracing what she wanted and not caving to the masses!

As the door opened and they let the girls out of class the stares continued, Tessa walked up to me and at first I thought she was going to cry, she had this quizzical look on her face. She looked up at me, I looked at her little zombie face and she smiled. I leaned my head down and asked if she was OK, still fully expecting tears to come or for her to say, mom can we go home. But instead she whispered. "I don't think they get it Mommy." I wanted to cry. I leaned down and whispered back "To bad for them. You look awesome!" to this Tessa replied, "I do, don't I!" and gave me her best zombie impersonation as we walked, er zombie walked out the door together and laughed all the way to the parking lot!

It wasn't long after that Tessa decided dance class just wasn't her thing. She does love to dance, but she does it on her terms. What is that like no one is watching...she does! And I love it! 

I learned a very important lesson that day. And no, it is not don't let your daughter go to dance class dressed like a zombie, although I really don't recommend it. But instead I learned that embracing ones individuality early on makes for a much stronger person. Tessa is not afraid to be different, to dance to her own song, and I think a lot of us could learn from how she handled herself that day. 

And I might add we found the perfect place for her zombie bride costume...
Boo at the Zoo!  She did smile for this one!

  1. 1.
    the quality or character of a particular person or thing that distinguishes them from others of the same kind, esp. when strongly marked.

As I sit looking out my office window, anxiously awaiting the full arrival of fall, I am reminded of nature's beauty.

Fall is my most favorite time of year. The leaves are starting to change, the air starts to get crisp and everything just starts to come to life in a whole new way. Not to mention I get to pull out my boots and sweaters! Yes!

I love being outdoors this time of year. As you walk along a path the leaves make that wonderful crunching sound beneath your feet, then smell of the leaves hits you, and for me, it just makes me smile.

I am savoring every day and watching as the leaves go from green to beautiful golds, oranges and reds. Mmmmmm I love it!

I hope that you have time to get outside today and enjoy this wonderful time of year! I am heading that way as soon as I post this!

OK this is not out my office window, but in a farmers field close by.
I just love this picture, I can almost smell the leaves!
 A little poem to get you in that autumn mood...

The wind rocks the trees with its sweet lullaby
The branches they sway back and forth to its cry.

The leaves how the flutter
and dance as they fall.

The earth that's beneath me
let's out a great call.

Breathe in the smell
then let out a sigh.

Feel the kiss of the wind
and be in awe just as I.

Have a fantastic fall day!