Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Families come in all different shapes and sizes.  Some are big, some are small.  Some are close, while others, not at all. Tonight on Christmas Eve, there is nothing more important than the gift of the father and  family that has so graciously been given to me.

Our roots, they run deep. From the mountains of Eastern Kentucky to a corner on Daisy Hill.  Papaw Frank left the land of coal mines and stills, looking for something better.  He soon found that something better, Mamaw Patty.

Married in the Fall of 54, they started out with a lot of love, and not a whole lot more.  They made their home with Mamaw and Papaw Bailey, and soon started a family.  First came Debbie and Lonnie, then Amanda, and lastly Cliff. Six people in one bedroom was a lot, three bunk beds, a double bed, and a crib.  When it came time to take a bath, they would put an old wash tub in the kitchen floor.  Lonnie usually had to take a bath last, because he was always the dirtiest.  In their finest clothes, finger curls and all, they would be in the same pew at church each and every Sunday.

Mamaw and Papaw worked hard to provide for their family.  Papaw worked at the mill, while Mamaw ran a household. They would hunt and grow a garden to feed an army.  They would can all summer, so that when winter came around, they would never go hungry.  They'd even bury potatoes, cabbage, and brocolli, and dig it up in cold weather, and it would be as fresh as the day they had picked it.
Christmas in those days was the best time of the year.  After slaughtering three pigs the day after Thanksgiving at Papaw Till's, the preparations of the season began.  When it came time to get the tree, they'd climb the hill behind the house, and cut their own.  It would be adorned with ornaments, old colored bulbs, and strung with popcorn.  The cooking seemed to go on for days.  Bob Hurst's chicken made the best dumplings and Mamaw Bailey's divinty and fruit cake was to die for. The best part of the holiday though was family.  Donna, William, and the kids would come home.  The Baileys, Aunt Elsie, Uncle Bill, they all came, and they all enjoyed being together.

Finally after several years of hard work, by his own two hands, Papaw Frank built the house that stands to this day.  That first night in the new house was a long night. It seemed so big and that hallway was so long.  They soon adjusted though, but they still kept the sidewalk hot between Mamaw and Papaw Bailey's house too.

Years passed, and before you knew it, Debbie, Lonnie, Amanda, and Cliff were married and had started families of their own.  Mamaw and Papaw added four other children to their family.  Treating their in laws just as if they were their own children. Then along came the Grandchildren
Thats where I came into the picture.  Hunting trips, Fishing holes, sleep overs with foam mattresses, and Sunday night suppers at Mamaw's house, they were the best.  Ballgames, Band concerts, cross country meets, and plays, they never missed a one. Shot days and a ride to Salem to get a sandwich, they did it all.  We even got extra chicken nuggets in the cafeteria line at school. Big green bowls of popcorn, huddled around mamaw and Papaw's cable tv, when the Kentucky Wildcats were playing, that was the place to be. It was a wonderful childhood and before we knew it, we were all grown up and starting our families too.

  Over the past few years we have endured a lot in this family. You cannot replace a Papaw like we had. Cancer, NICU visits, surgeries and even Autism. When I found out my Frankie had Autism, I was brought to my knees, and I felt a pain that I have never felt before.  But when I looked around, each one of you were on your knees too.  That is what we do, we love, we support, we carry each other's burdens, and we go on.
In this family cousins are like extra siblings, and Aunts and Uncles are like bonus parents.  Everyone has their own special gifts that makes up this rare gem that we are.

With each passing year we grow, bringing new little ones in the fold.  As we grow, let us never forget the traditions passed on from those before us, and let us never forget the roots that have been planted firmly in our hearts.

 So, this Christmas Eve, Bless be this tie that Binds us, our faith and our family, for there is not a more beautiful package under the tree, than the one that is surounding me.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


This is my favorite time of year, Halloween to the New Year. From the smell of the leaves after a cold rain, to the first snow, I love every crazy, busy minute that the season brings.

The entire month of November I have seen all of the posts on social media every day of the things that people are thankful for.  I really enjoy reading them, and although I can't possibly list all of my thanks in 30 facebook posts or one single blog, here is to giving it a try.

My black Old Navy yoga pants from 2006.  They have stuck with me through two pregnancies, and although they are faded, stretched out, and nearly see through, they are still my favorite pants.

The guy that works the counter at the Speedway on Westport Road by the St Matthews Target.  Every morning when I stop in to get my 32 oz diet coke, he smiles, rings me up, and tells me to have a good day.  He doesn't act like he rode to work on a unicorn while stopping to rescue a litter of puppies on the side of the road, and for me who isn't a morning person, I'm thankful for his monotone voice and quiet demeanor.

The Carpool line.  I know I complain about it sometimes, but I love being able to pull up to the door of Frankie's school and not to even have to get out of my car.  His teachers even unbuckle him out of his car seat, and then they pack in the 10 pounds of backpack he has to take with him as well.  They rock!

While we're talking about them, I'm thankful for teachers.  There is one job in this world that I would not want to have, and that is being a teacher.  That says a lot, because in my job I clean up poop, deal with all kinds of body fluids, smells, etc etc.  Their dedication to my children and their well being is to be commended.  Especially Frankie's teachers.  They love him, nurture him, and are giving us hope that we once thought we didn't have.

TV shows like Hoarders and websites like the people of Wal-Mart.  Even on my worst day, when I look like holy hell and I have laundry stacked on top of the dining room table to the chandelier, they make me feel just a little bit better.

Jimmy Johns.  Because while the kids are perfectly fine eating leftovers from two days ago, I'm over it.  Also, because they bring my Pepe without tomato and with hot peppers to my doorstep freaky fast.

Barney, Dora, The Backyardigans, Mickey Mouse, and any other character on Nickelodeon or Sprout. This entire gang of a holes as annoying as they are, have given me the opportunity to shower, wash my hair, shave my legs, feed my facebook habit, and have a phone conversation over the past six years.  Thank you, Thank you very much.

The surprise phone call from my hubby during the afternoon in between patients.  Although we only talk for a minute, to hear his voice and to share a funny story, it makes my day.

Speaking of my husband, I'm so thankful for my better half.  He is one of the most hard working, dedicated individuals I know.  He trained for 14 years to enter into a profession where he works 60-80 hours a week. He misses doctor visits, birthday parties, holidays, school plays, etc etc to help other people's loved ones live. On the days he gets home before bedtime, he always drops everything and rescues our little rug rats and gives me a break. He loves me for me, and he still gives me butterflies.  He just makes life better.  My how I love him!

My children.  Olivia is sweet, spunky, caring, and so inquisitive.  She was my firstborn, she was the baby that was held every waking minute of the day, rushed to the pediatrician at the first sign of a sniffle, and the person who literally changed my life.  My Frankie, well, he is the cutest little boy I've ever laid eyes on.  His blonde curls and smile can literally melt your heart.  He loves like no child I have ever been around.  I don't know if it is because he can't express himself with words, so he uses his actions, or if it is just because he is so sweet. Either way, he has my heart, as well as all those who know him.  My children although they wear me out sometimes, are wonderful.  They make life worth living and are the most precious gifts I've ever received.

My parents.  I'm thankful for the things that they taught me, and for the examples they set.  I'm thankful for discipline when needed and love all the time.  I'm thankful for the Sunday mornings when I was a teenager, where they would wake me up and make me go to church.  I'm thankful for every softball game, basketball game, band concert, etc etc where they were front and center cheering me on.  I'm thankful for meals together, advice, and now their friendship.  They are pretty awesome.

My extended family.  My brothers, in-laws, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins.  My brothers are three of the best guys I know.  Chad, well he was my big brother, and hero.  I always wanted to be just like him growing up, I even tried to stand up and pee once, because I thought if he could do it, I could too.  Zach, my baby brother, he was like my first baby because he was so much younger than me.  He was the first person who introduced me to my dislike of Barney.  Andrei, even though he is technically Bobby's brother, I think of him as my brother as well.  He has loved me and welcomed me to his family from day one, and I love him for that.  All three of them also have awesome women in their lives whom I love dearly.  The rest of my family, well they are awesome.  Their love and friendship is something that is rare, and I know how blessed I am to have them.

My friends. Some of the most wonderful blessings in my life are the handful of friends that I consider family. They are truly golden, they are constant, and they love and support me at my best and my worst. I can't imagine trying to navigate all of life's twists and turns without them by my side.

Last, but not least, my faith.  My hope in something greater than this life.  The promise that I am never alone, and the comfort of someone who I can cast all of life's burdens on, because he cares for me.  His mercies are new every morning, and his love endures all things.  He has given me all of these things that I have to be thankful for.  Thank you Lord!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Best Day

On a crisp March weekend in this part of the country, it can only mean one thing, March Madness.  People frantically trying to fill out brackets, watching each game closely and cheering their favorite college team on.  This year though, in our little town, people were less concerned about their NCAA tourney bracket and focused on something greater.  We were playing for the Indiana High School State Championship.  Well wishes, players names and numbers, and red and black adorned yards and signs all across town.  Pep sessions, t-shirts, news stories, and articles in the paper put our town of 800 on the big stage for the first time.  People relished in the atmosphere, showed their pride and school spirit, and for the first time felt like something great was in our grasp, and that we finally would get our storybook ending. 

Driving up I 65 Saturday morning as the sun was coming up, my family and I were caravaning to the big game.  I have attended state finals before, but never to watch my hometown team.  I can remember seeing the other schools there, the excitement they had, and it only seemed like a dream that I would ever be there rooting on our beloved Braves. Now here we are, on our way to cheer on our team, it was our turn, and our time to shine.  Other cars passed us on the road, flags flying, horns honking.  Stopping at a rest area, seeing people donned in red and black giving each other high fives and hugs, the day had finally come for our team, our school, and our community. 

Hearing the roar of the crowd when the team took the floor, and listening to the sweet melody of "Back Home Again in Indiana" before the game started brought so much emotion to the surface. I am sure that emotion was palpable for everyone in the crowd who called Borden home.  From the tip off to the final horn, our kids played hard and confident.  They hit big shots and at times, it almost looked like the angels of Borden past were up there giving them a little tap, just at the right moment.  In the final seconds of the game when it was apparent we were going to win, I turned around and looked at the crowd. Thousands of people there for our team, our town.  The horn sounded, the team celebrated and I think that everyone from Borden had to wipe back the tears that flowed.  It was a moment of pure joy, a moment that I know I will never forget.  You see, I've said it before, and I will say it again,  it was about so much more than a game.  It was about a group of boys that while working together on one of the family's farm last summer decided that they were going to win a state championship.   It showed each kid in the crowd that with hard work and determination, the sky is the limit and that they too can do great things both on and off the court.  It showed the Borden community that years of rallying around and supporting the school, even when times weren't great was all worth it.  It showed everyone else what we have all known for a long time, that our community and school is relevant, that we have something special that is hard to find.  It showed that people of the past who are no longer with us, that their hard work and dedication to Borden and the school lives on and has not been forgotten.  It was amazing. It was the best day, and a moment I will cherish.

After the game the team headed to the bus carrying their state championship trophy to head back home. Amidst the charter buses of every other school there that day stood our little yellow bus. Our humble coaches and team carried the trophy onto the bus and headed south, having accomplished the goal that they and so many others have dreamed of long ago. They were welcomed home as heroes.  The town and surrounding communities stopped, and watched a parade of fire trucks, police cars, and fans ushering that little yellow bus down the highway into town.  People lined up by the road for miles, not only from Borden, but our neighbors who supported us along the way.  Tears flowed again because at that moment to everyone there, Borden was the center of the universe. It was a homecoming that even Hollywood couldn't orchestrate.

Some people say that this is the end to our fairytale, our Cinderella story, but I beg to differ.  It is the end to a chapter, a great chapter, and the story will go on, and these kids and this team will be legends, as they should be.   Not only did they represent what we are all about, but they brought a town together and solidified what we have always known. Our pillars of faith, family, and community are what makes this place so special.

There was a sign on the edge of town for years that said "Welcome to Borden, a small town with a big future".  They were right, and our future is bright.

I believe, I believe, I believe that we have won...STATE!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

No place like home

Over the span of my thirty one years of life, I consider myself to be a very blessed person.  I have a loving God, wonderful husband, two beautiful children, an amazing extended family, church family, and friends.  I am educated, I love my profession, and I have a job that I enjoy.  Upon thinking about all of these things, one of the blessings that I am most thankful for is my hometown, the place where I grew up, and where my roots are firmly embedded. 

I'm sure when most people talk about their hometown, they feel a sense of pride and nostalgia.  It has a place in their hearts, it is special, it is home.  To some people Borden, Indiana is nothing more than a small dot, that doesn't even make some maps.  A town that consists of a caution light, one gas station, churches on every end of town, and most recently a coffee shop and a Subway (which is a big deal).  Our school is one building, consisting of students K-12.  People make the joke that if you blink when driving through town, you'll miss it!  This weekend our Boys Varsity Basketball team will make history, and will be playing in their first ever State Finals Championship game.  What most don't understand is that this weekend is about so much more than a basketball game. 

Borden is a community that usually only makes the news when tragedy strikes.  Whether it be an accident on Hwy 60 that intersects town, or tornadoes that have now affected our community for a third time, you rarely hear the good news about how wonderful this little farm town in the valley really is.

My roots go back multiple generations.  My parents, grandparents, and great grandparents have all called Borden home.  My Grandmother had either a child or grandchild in the Borden school for 50 years straight.  This is just one family, and there are many, many more.  It is a community that loves thy neighbor in every sense.  Last year when the tornado of March 2nd hit Daisy Hill, the community came together and helped those who were affected.  The Boy's Basketball team even helped with the clean up.  That is who we are, and that is what we do.  We love our school too. 

I can remember in elementary school saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before class started.  I think of teachers like Jo Ann Wright, where we would sing every day before class, even sing a special song about Borden, Indiana that she wrote.  Mrs. Wynn, she not only taught me, but she taught my parents too, as did so many other teachers.  Whether we sat in the pews next to them on Sunday morning, were friends with their own children, or they were our coaches , our teachers cared for each and every single one of us. Only now do I realize how wonderful that was, having to send my children to a school where I don't know who is influencing them.  It is very scary for me, and I long to have the feeling of community that I once had growing up in Borden and attending school there. 

I have lived in other places, and have traveled far and wide, and I can honestly say that there is no place like home.  On any given Friday night during basketball season, a town with a population of 800 will fill a gym that seats 2000 almost to capacity to watch a ball game. There is nothing better than watching the team roll into town accompanied by the fire truck after winning the big game, with a caravan of fans following in their cars, and people standing on their porches waving.  It isn't just something written for the Hollywood movie, "Hoosiers", it is a way of life here.   My grandpa said it best when he told us that he had been many places, but no place was better than the bottom of Daisy Hill.  Living in Louisville, I choose to drive 30 miles each Sunday morning, passing many churches along the way, just to go to my little country church that I grew up in, and that my parents and grandparents grew up in as well.  It is important that even though we don't physically live in the community because of circumstances beyond control, that my kids still feel at home there, and that the roots continue to grow deep in their hearts as well.

Whether you are a transplant, or whether you have shopped at Brewer's and Randall Martin's store, there is no better place.  Whether you picked berries on the hill for a nickel a gallon, hauled watermelons and cantaloupes for the Kirchgessners, or pitched hay for Frankie Brown, there is no better place. 

This Saturday our Boys will do something that Borden players of the past, both boys and girls have only dreamed of.  Finally we are not in the shadow of our larger neighboring schools, it is our chance to shine.  It has been a long time coming, and a foundation that was set decades ago.  A foundation that is strong, based on faith, family, community.  From Daisy Hill to Jackson Road, from Starlight to Martinsburg Knob.  From Deam Lake past Dow Knob, down the valley into town, the Borden faithful from far and wide will ascend on Indy and Bankers Life Fieldhouse to cheer on their beloved Braves.  Win or Loose, these kids and this community are winners.  We have grown up in such a wonderful place and have the privilege of calling it home.

  Alabama may have football, California may have surfers and sunbathers, but this is Indiana High school basketball, and it doesn't get much better than this!  In the words of Merle Webb in the movie Hoosiers,  "Let's win this game for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here." 

How bout them Braves?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rainy Day

Today is just one of those days.  A day where you want to crawl back under the covers, and sleep your worries away with the rain drops.  In running my daily car pool this morning, trying to get everyone where they needed to be, I had a million things on my mind.  I need to get to they gym, what will I make for dinner, making out invitations for the bridal shower, etc etc.  I would have given my life savings for just one more day on the beach where all I had to worry about was keeping Frankie from getting too much sand in his eyes, and making sure Liv had enough sun screen on.  Reality was slapping me in the face though, and I didn't like it, not one bit.

I have to confess, vacation made me think about just how hard the past 18 months has been for our family.  It is the first time that things have slowed down enough for my mind to wrap around everything and try to process it all.  This was a double edged sword, because although it allowed us to relax for a period of time, it also allowed everything to really, really sink in.  For me it has brought emotions to the surface, emotions that I have been ignoring for quite some time. 

I am mad.  I am worried.  I am scared.  I am exhausted.  Now, I know that all of these are negative, and yes, I am also happy, excited, and hopeful.  The positive ones are easy to show, but the others, they tend to stay hidden deep down in a place that only I am allowed to visit.  All of this time, I have tried to keep a positive attitude, to look at all of the good things, while deep inside, the negative ones have been slowly chipping away at my spirit.  I need to be honest with others, and most importantly myself. 

I'm mad.  I'm mad that my boy, my beautiful, blond headed, brown eyed, baby boy has Autism.  I want to know why he has it, what has caused it, and what I can do to make it better.  I want to know why he has to try so hard to master simple tasks.  I want to know why he can't do or experience all of the things that his sister can.  It is true.  All parents who have a child with a disability always tries to let their child do and experience everything that other kids get to do, but I'm just being brutally honest, sometimes you can't.  I can't take Frankie to a place like Chuck e Cheese, it is a painful experience for him.  I can't take him to a bunch of ball games, because the crowd and the noise, it is just too much for his little sensory system to try to process.  Birthday parties, they are supposed to be fun, but we usually have to leave before they even cut the cake because all of the kids overwhelm him.  Yes, we try to do everything that he can, but some things he just can't do, not yet. 

I'm worried.  I'm worried about Frankie, and all of his treatments, therapies, etc etc.  I'm worried about Liv.  I'm worried because we have to devote so much time and effort toward Frankie, that she will feel left out.  That she may get over looked at times, because we are focusing on her brother.  Trying to balance raising more than one child is difficult even when everything is perfect, but when one child has a problem, it magnifies it even more. 

I'm scared.  I'm scared that things may not get much better than they are right now.  Frankie is making huge progress, and is doing well, but that doesn't give us the green light that all will eventually be OK.  No therapist, No doctor, No teacher has ever said that everything will be alright, and that he will be able to grow and experience life just like everyone else.  They say that we are on the right track, that we are seeing positive things, but they never tell you that your kid will be a good case.  They don't know, and we don't either. 

I'm exhausted.  I am tired from worrying, from staying up at night, wondering what I will do tomorrow to make things easier for my boy.  Having therapists in my house almost everyday of the week.  Trying to take Liv to extracurricular activities to make her feel as important as her brother.  Trying to keep a constant eye on Frankie, because at any given moment he may be climbing up the outside of the staircase to the top, or unlocking the door and running out into the street, or trying to jump in the creek, or eating the end of the pacifier.  Constantly putting things in his mouth, pooping out beads off of Livi's purse, you name it, he has done it. 

Maybe it is because today is a rainy, gloomy day, and my mood is the same, or maybe I felt like I had to get all of this off my chest and out in the open.  I feel though that I need to be honest about this journey.  There are people that ask my opinions on their children who are going through this process, and they need to know that it does stink sometimes.  It isn't all happy and positive thoughts.  It is a struggle some days to make it to the end of the day without crying at least once.  Then there are the good days.  The days where Frankie will do something new, or say a word, just one word.  Where he climbs in my lap and kisses my face a hundred times, because that is how he tells me he loves me.  The days where he and Livi play together, and laugh out loud at each other.  The days where she is concerned about his every move,  just like a mother hen.  The days where daddy gets home before dark, and we can all eat dinner together.  Those are good days. 

Being a parent isn't easy, in fact, it is pretty freaking hard.  It is hard whether your kid is normal, or if your kid isn't.  It is hard whether you work full time or stay at home.  As hard as it is, it also is wonderful, exciting, and filled with joy that just overflows my cup.  If I could make my baby better, I would in a heart beat.  The people who say that they wouldn't change a thing, they are really lying.  I would make things easier for Frankie in a second if I could.  I didn't chose this for my child, but I have to trust that the Lord knew best when he gave Frankie to me.  He has filled my heart in a way that I never knew was possible.  He captivates everyone he is around.  I LOVE him just the way he is.

 Tomorrow will be another day, and it could rain and pour, or just maybe the sun will come out. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Finding Joy: Where the heck is she?

While sitting in a huge line of traffic on I 71 the other day, I was a little more than irritated.  I had one kid in the back seat licking the last of the sucker that was keeping him occupied while in this traffic nightmare, while the other was screaming at the top of her lungs that she had to pee and could not wait another minute.  After 15 minutes of crying that she was literally going to pee her pants in the car seat, I decided that since I had not moved in 10 minutes, I would jump out, open the van door, and let her pee right there on the side of the interstate.  I really didn't care that all 5,000 cars in the line behind us would see this wonderful example of parenting, I was just praying that the news chopper circling above us would not show it on live TV.  Door open, squat, pee, back in car seat in about 40 seconds.  Any mom would give me a big round of applause for this feat, because we all know how freaking hard it is to unbuckle and buckle car seats while under pressure.  After getting back in the drivers seat, I sat there, frustrated that I was stuck in this traffic jam and having a little pity party for myself.  For the first time in a long time, I literally just let it all out, and started to cry right there.  How had life become so difficult?  Why can't we catch a break?  Why is the semi in front of me not moving?  Where is my silver flippin' lining?  I never knew that bumper to bumper traffic could be so eye opening.

This past year has been difficult to say the least.  I keep hearing that things will get better, and that they will get easier.  Guess what?  They really haven't, at least not as much as I thought it would.  The constant worry of Frankie has already taken a toll on me.  I know that some may not understand this, but literally everyday, 100 times a day, I think about when or if he will talk.  If he will ever call me Mommy?  If he will be able to grow and learn like his sister?  Will he be able to be a "normal" kid?  Will he be able to grow up and have a family of his own someday?  The list goes on and on.  I know that I should not worry right now if he will be able to play soccer with the other kids, that I should think about today, but it is challenging.  I have literally been in a hole that seems to be impossible to climb out of.  Yes, people, I am having a big pity party.

This morning I was reading a devotional and it was talking about joy.  As I was reading it made me think of a verse that I memorized a long time ago in my summer church camp days.

 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4

I'm not one that usually "preaches" on my blogs, but this is my blog, and it was so profound to me.  It was speaking directly to my heart.  It confirmed to me that right now may be difficult, but that there is a light at the end of this tunnel.  Not only that, but it made me look at all of the things that are good and wonderful in our lives right now, and that finding joy isn't quite as hard as I have been making it. 

As I was pulling in the parking lot picking up Frankie from school recently I noticed a beat up clunker of a car parking beside me.  The mom quickly got out and opened the trunk and took a wheelchair out of the back.  She hurried over to the passenger side in the back seat, where she got her little girl out, and put her in the wheelchair and was quickly pushing her in, because it was starting to rain.  Here I sat in my brand new mini van that has plenty of room, and I got my little boy out of his car seat, and he ran inside the building while trying to jump in every mud puddle on the sidewalk.  What a cry baby I have been.  My baby may not be able to talk, but he can run, play, jump, etc etc.  Joy was standing in the parking lot that morning. 
Joy was in my bed this morning, poking me in the ear, and giving me tons of loves.  Frankie gives me the biggest kisses and hugs every morning.  It is his way of saying "Good morning, Mommy!" 
Joy was in the traffic jam the other day too.  The fact that I didn't have to clean out pee from the car seat and that I found one more sucker in the bottom of my purse to keep my kids happy. 

Finding the positive in challenges is difficult a lot of the time.  Trying to be happy when you just don't feel like it is hard.  Everyday though, I am going to wake up and try to find Joy, where ever the heck she may be!