August And Everything After

In August of 1996 I moved down to a small college town on the Central Coast of California in what was sure to be The Next Great Chapter in the tale of my epic life. Clearly I was full of that specific kind of arrogance that one only has right as their college years begin and I had waited so long on this precipice of independence that when I was finally able, I took a running swan dive off a cliff into the sparkling abyss below.

Unfortunately college, for me, was very shallow water the first time around.

While I loved the town I was in, at 17 I was just not ready to be on my own and responsible in the ways that were demanded. Looking back the demands were so few, but at the time they felt like the weight of the world, and after only a couple of years I knew it was time to go back home. I needed to regroup. I needed a new goal. I certainly needed a new boyfriend and frankly, I needed a new life. Be careful what you wish for.

In hindsight, this was also the first time in my semi-adult life that I absolutely led with my gut. Somewhere in my mind I just KNEW that packing up and leaving was the right decision, and as I’ve gotten older I have remembered this particular moment when I’ve needed to trust myself. But at the time, when you added up the facts it was a disastrous choice — Cal Poly was an amazing education and I was just throwing in the towel. San Luis Obispo was a safe and small town (uh…for the most part) with so many amenities that I was trading in. But at the time I didn’t care what the facts said, my heart said “Go back home. Now.” And as August of 1998 unfolded, I realized why.

A year later, in August of course, I found myself heading south again. I would spend a few years in Los Angeles losing myself and finding myself (over and over and over — it kept me quite busy actually) and after a while I knew it was time to head back home again. Home looked a little different this time — it was a new city, Sacramento — and my mom was living there alone without my dad. But I was ready to finish college, it was a slower pace of life than LA and I needed the change. This time I wasn’t so bold to think I needed a new life — I was still scarred from the result of that wish the last time — but I was open. Open to whatever and whoever was coming next.

I enrolled at Sac State and rented a bedroom in a (what would end up being a CRAZY) 5 bedroom house that would ultimately be occupied by 4 other female students. I didn’t know a soul in town and I wasn’t quite ready to live alone. This seemed like a somewhat less scary option and I packed up my car and started my new life on August 13 of 2002. It was over 100 degrees that day, and if you have ever packed and unpacked your life on a day that hot, I tip my hat to you. It was a rude awakening and I will not lie, there were many times that day I thought that The Universe must be telling me that I had made the absolute wrong decision. I was coming from an apartment 11 blocks from the beach. From a job where I was successful. From a town where I had made friends close enough to call family. And now I was here. In the fiery furnace of hell, living out of boxes and not knowing a soul.

Shortly after I unpacked — sweaty, alone in the house, and super disheveled — Sarah walked in. I’m sure she thought I was a hot mess. She and her brother were carrying her mattress up the stairs and somehow or another it got away from them, went sliding down the stairs, and crashed through the glass partition in our front door. It was just the perfect icing on such a craptactular moving day that the only thing anyone could do was laugh hysterically.

Magnum and Blue Steel

After that day, Sarah and I spent the next 6 years as roommates. We both finished college, had many fun days and long crazy nights, and after graduating we even both moved on to our Real World Jobs with the same company (that 8 years later we both still work for!) I used to always joke that no one lives with a person that long unless they are married, and most people seem to agree, but something about our friendship has just defied the odds, you know?

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A few years ago, Sarah moved back home. What is coincidental is that Sarah’s “home” is the Central Coast, so she has an intimate knowledge of this gem of our state that I had to leave all of those years ago to come back to my home. We didn’t know each other then, of course, but the geographic overlap of our coming of age created a common bond. Garrett + I love to visit her whenever we have the chance, not only because it is a beautiful place and always sort of nostalgic, but because there are only handful of people in life for which you can go months and months without communicating, but then pick right back up where we left off — and Sarah is one of those people for both of us. Years of shared history does that in the best way.

All of this is on my mind because this weekend we are heading down to San Luis Obispo to celebrate Sarah and her awesome fiance’s wedding. On Saturday night they will be married, and I was thinking about it all last night the only way to describe how I am feeling about the whole situation is joyous. I am not a super mushy wedding person, but something about the way this wedding has weaved together so many threads of my life just feels a little special. I can’t wait to be in this town, with my love, watching these two have this particular moment. It feels like a little wink from The Universe. But more importantly, it feels like another wonderful reminder that everything is unfolding just as it should.

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“My father is the standard by which all subsequent men in my life have been judged.” – Kathryn McCarthy Graham

During the summer of 1998 my dad gave me a small book of quotes and poems called The Love Between Fathers and Daughters. He signed the inside of it, I put it on my nightstand and beyond that, I’m not sure I gave it much extra thought. I was 19, I had a lot going on at the time — my friends and boys were very important — but even at the time I did think it was a sweet gesture.

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In August of 1998 he passed away and it became the last note he ever wrote to me that I kept. It goes without saying I pay a lot more attention to it now. I see how our handwriting is similar and it reminds me that he was always thinking of me. His only child, I was always at the center of his universe, and there was a comfort that I carried with me daily because of that relationship we had that I didn’t even realize was there until it was gone.

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It’s been 15 years since he’s been gone and today he would have turned 59. There is part of me that mourns his loss a bit every year on this date, and this year will certainly be no different. But also today I find myself thinking more about how grateful I am for the bar that he set in my life. He was a spectacular athlete who made a successful career in the NFL when everyone told him it was impossible. He was a family man who never let a day go by without telling the women in his life that he loved him. He had the kind of smile and infectious laugh that you could hear from all the way down the street and he was willing to share it with anyone would listen. He was a loyal friend and the type of guy you could count on no matter what because he believe at the very core of his being that one should always do what they say they will do.
Holly and Dad 1
Also: He was my dad.

And while I didn’t realize it at the time, the book that he gave me about the love between fathers and daughters did capture something incredible. Some of us experience that love for many years, and others of us get shortchanged. But if you are lucky enough to still have it in your life, hold that close to your heart today, because I will tell you what, it is something that I have yet to find anywhere over these last 15 years. It’s irreplaceable. And while there is a part of me that feels sad about it, I know that who he was lives on inside of me every single day of my life. And for that, I really do feel grateful. Some days I am so grateful that it hurts.

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Relationship Real Talk

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I mentioned recently that Garrett and I just celebrated our 7 year anniversary. When friends and co-workers asked how we were going to celebrate, I jokingly responded “By staying together, obviously.” Gifts are not either our “love languages” (HA!) so it was no surprise that we didn’t run out and shower each other with material things, but I have honestly begun to realize that this year, more than any year, staying together really was the big gift.

That sounds a bit dramatic when I reread it, and I don’t mean to mislead you like we are on the precipice of a dramatic breakup, because we are not. I REPEAT, NOT BREAKING UP AT ALL. But what I will say is that during the seven years of highs and lows this has been the hardest year of our relationship. Like in all capital letters. And it is for a multitude of reasons, none of which need to be detailed here mostly because they will be tedious and boring to just about everyone who isn’t me or Garrett, but it has been a working year. And I feel like people don’t really talk very often about those working years — but they are the most important aren’t they?

I am firmly in the camp that we’re doing okay if we are able to say “Yes, things are hard but we are working on them.” And I am even more firmly in the camp of — HEY LET’S TALK TO EACH OTHER ABOUT WHAT TO DO WHEN THINGS GET HARD. But then again, I like to talk about lots of things, so that’s probably not a surprise.

My mom always likes to remind me of that Buddhist Proverb that says “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” And I feel like I have come across a number of things lately that have given me great food for thought and perspective about my life and my relationship. In an effort to do a little more talking about the hard stuff and not just post glossy photos about stuff when it is easy and awesome, I thought I’d share a few things I found useful lately:

  • I particularly enjoyed this post of Jennie’s about questions and answers. As someone who likes to always feel capable (that was my nice way of calling myself a Control Freak) I don’t do well with long periods of time full of lingering questions. But I am starting to realize that it can be helpful sometimes to just sit with them.
  • Also, when I read Liz’s AWESOME POST yesterday (seriously, go read it immediately, I can wait) about the singular task of juggling your careers and relationships I found myself letting out an enormous sigh of relief. I often let my work life get sorely out of balance (not only with my day job, but all of my other crazy endeavors.) And I found it really comforting and simple to read about this one approach. Of course at first I was like “WHO THE HELL DOES THIS GUY THINK HE IS?” But I honestly think that the whole post is just full of really smart thinking.
  • And lastly, I know I have already regaled you with fascinating quotes from Rules of Civility, but there is just one more that I have to get off of my chest because it really spoke to me. And to this time in my life, really:

If we only fell in love with people who were perfect for us…then there wouldn’t be so much fuss about love in the first place.

 

I MEAN HOW TRUE IS THAT? I just loved that quote.

The highs and the lows are worth it.
The question years and the answer years are worth it.
Figuring out how to prioritize your family life is worth it.
But man, they don’t call it commitment for nothing, right?

I would love to hear your relationship philosophies and strategies. How do you balance that in your own life, or even if just in abstract? I love to read gems of wisdom that I can tuck in my back pocket for when I am ready to listen and who knows, maybe it will be just what someone else needs to hear as well. :)

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The Moment Is Now

Despite my best intentions, the week prior to every vacation Garrett and I end up fighting about something ridiculous and mundane. I’m usually wound tightly, he can see the cogs in my head start to spin, and at this point I think his strategy is mostly just to avoid conflict at all costs. But sometimes I’m the jerk who goes looking for it. I think it’s my coping mechanism when the stress builds up.

We are heading out to Colorado on Wednesday so if everything goes according to plan that means we should probably be speaking in terse sentences right about 9pm tonight. Set your watches. :) But the thing is, I don’t want to fight with Garrett. I’m so excited that we are getting to spend 5 days in a beautiful place together. We’re going to a state that has been on our List of Places to Visit Together since we first started dating. We have had conversations where we completely map out our fantasy life living in Boulder over glasses of wine, and now WE GET TO GO THERE ON SUNDAY! I want to make sure I enjoy all of the beautiful and fun and even the scary bits of this whole trip (Hi, public speaking nerves. Haven’t seen you in a while!)

I find it hard not to live in the future. I’m constantly thinking and preparing and planning, and most of the time I tell myself it is because it helps me be more in the moment. But then I came across the quote above and I realize that maybe I spend a little too much time in the future and need to start focusing a little more on what I’ve got right here in front of me. Less Anxiousness // More Gratefulness. I’m adopting this as my motto for the next week it seems.

So.

What this looks like in real life is: I’m vowing not to snap at Garrett about getting the suitcases out of the attic. I promise not to pace around the house staring at him asking “Are you almost ready?” 30 minutes before we leave the house. I swear that I’m going to roll with the punches in Colorado and not have FOMO if I’m not attached to my vacation spreadsheet (even though I will completely admit to maybe doing a liiiiiiiiiiiittle pre-planning.) I want just enjoy what everything this trip has to offer and I’m setting my intention right here. Now let’s all cross our fingers that I can do it!

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Goodbyes and Hellos

This is a very grainy picture of the house where I grew up in Fremont, California.

We drove by it Saturday night and despite the terrible lighting and the fact that we had a 2 hour drive ahead of us, I insisted on stopping to take a picture of it. This is the sidewalk where I used to play hopscotch. The street where I learned to ride a bike. That window on the right is where our two golden retrievers used to sit and stand guard, waiting for someone to come home with their noses sticking to the window. This neighborhood is where I made my first friends, walked to school and indulged my teenaged entrepreneurial tendencies by starting a little babysitting ring. It was a good house, and I lived there from the time I was shorter than our kitchen table until the end of high school.

My parents sold that house when I was 17. I went away to college and never really got to come back “home,” although they stayed living in the same town. A couple of years later my dad passed away, and though I spent a year living back in this city where I grew up, I eventually moved on to Los Angeles and then to Sacramento (where I live now) because my mom and grandparents had made their way up there. This year I will have spent as many years away from Fremont as I did living there.

I moved to Sacramento to go to college and it was somewhat arbitrary. I didn’t imagine staying long and I never imagined calling it home. But then of course I met a boy. And slowly but surely friends and family starting moving up towards our direction. I’d run into high school friends at my job, and see the parents of people I graduated with at the grocery store. More family moved closer, good friends moved away from my hometown to other cities and states, and little by little there were less people to go back and visit in Fremont.

My Aunt and Uncle, however, continued to remain there in their home of more than 20 years. In my mind, that house is filled with just as many memories as my own. It is where my cousins and I would have sleepovers, where we would run around in the backyard. As I child I remember it was the fun house with cable television and the Good Cereal. (Sorry, Mom. Grape Nuts was not that exciting as a kid. :)) And when they sold it about a month ago to move up to a little town about 20 minutes from Garrett’s and my house I was ridiculously excited! More family nearby — YES! But also, there was a part of my that was just a tiny bit sad.

No more family in Fremont.

Saturday afternoon my mom and Garrett and I ventured back to Fremont for a big friends and family BBQ and one last hurrah at my aunt and uncle’s house. It is so exciting that they are starting a new chapter, retiring, moving closer to us, and building their dream house. But it also tugged on the heart strings just a bit that this chapter of my hometown was being closed for good. I grew up there. Many of my cousins grew up there. All of our parents grew up there. It’s where my dad made a name for himself, and where he died. There are memories around every corner, and now there will be no trace of us.

As with any goodbye, there is a little sadness. But when one chapter ends, another starts and that is exactly what we were celebrating on Saturday. There were family, friends and neighbors in spades all clinking their glasses to good things and good lives. Garrett and I did not resist the siren song of red wine as we thought we might, but after 32 days of clean eating and no drinking, it was a lovely day and occasion in which to imbibe!

All of us will miss that house and that town for sure, but we will carry the good memories with us as we all start our own families.

The Fremont chapter is over, but the book of our family is long and ever evolving.

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Time Flies Whether You are Having Fun or Not

The thing about time is that it just keeps moving. It doesn’t pause for anyone to get caught up, make their way or catch their breath. Every once in a while we stop long enough to do the math, count the days, sing Happy Birthday, note the month, marvel at years that have gone by — but even as we do it, time flies flies right by with no regard to your particular goals or agendas.

For me, today, 14 years have gone by. It’s a day where I always pause and note the passage.

The pain of losing a parent doesn’t get better. People tell you (and genuinely hope for you, I believe) that time will heal all wounds but the truth is that time is ruthless and unfeeling. And the relationship between time and pain is nowhere near linear. When it comes to healing, time actually fails quite spectacularly, in my opinion. I try and re-focus the sentiment in order to assuage my grief: Time does not heal all wounds, but it does allow you to find a comfort level with the pain. Yes, this sounds better. And in a way this is slightly more accurate, but it still doesn’t get to the root of the experience.

This week, as the date has approached and I have paused to feel that passage. I have again sought out a way for my mind to make sense of this experience. Of this loss. It’s a continuous adventure actually, trying to figure it all out, and the event itself is a tiny scratch on the camera lens through which I view every single day of my life. This year it feels very present.

We are trying to plan a wedding. We are taking steps towards having a baby. There is no way to get through these types of moments without being acutely aware that my father is gone and will not be a part of any of it. They are happy and momentous occasions, and to go through them without focusing on what is missing will take discipline, because no matter how you dress it all up, there will be an empty space where he should be.

But emptiness is not the only experience. I mentioned discipline, and the thing about this entire situation — this event that has shaped who I am in how I live — is that I am no stranger to discipline as a coping mechanism. In the past few years I have felt more motivated than ever to get my health in check. People ask me all the time how I stay so disciplined and I always struggle with how to answer. I hear on a regular basis, “How do you do what you do?” “I don’t have that kind of time or energy.” “I can’t be so extreme, but I appreciate that you are so focused.” And I totally get all of that. I wish I could tell you my discipline comes from a pill or a beverage or an inspirational quote pinned on a pinboard near you. But the truth is my discipline comes from a place of self-preservation.

What motivates me to get out of bed in the morning, or to get into the gym, or to eat strictly for 30 days like a crazy person is that one morning I woke up, got dressed, ate breakfast and watched my father collapse on our living room floor. I watched his lips turn blue and his face get puffy and the life slip right out of him in a matter of seconds. It happened in an instant, and from that day forward he was gone. No trace of our times spent together except for what has lived on in my memory. On that day he became a story. He became past tense. He became a bookended period of time.

Things change faster than your brain can process it, and this event for me that has left, among other things, an indelible drive to take advantage of my own life. A drive to make sure I do all that I can to make sure the hole I leave in the lives of my friends and family as small as possible. I am motivated and I am disciplined because it helps me compartmentalize my pain. It helps the world around me make sense. And it is not something that I would want to advise another person on. I am not trying to win at life, or prove that I’m the best or be an inspiration. I am just a girl who is trying to make sense of it all, and more importantly trying to make the most of her time.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Garrett

Well you know he has a salty sense of humor and a high tolerance for crazy (hello — he’s dating ME!) but there may be some things you don’t know about the boy behind the blog. Today I thought it might be fun to pull back the curtain a little on my favorite dude ever.

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1. His name isn’t really Garrett.

No, this isn’t some blogger pseudonym, he does actually go by Garrett in real life too, but his parents actually named him Charles. So on paper he is really Charles Garrett Franklin even though has always gone by the Garrett. You know when he’s not answering to G-Unit, G-Money or G-Funk. Charles is a family name and they liked the way Charles Garrett sounded rather than Garrett Charles so that’s what they named him. After a lifetime of telling teachers that he doesn’t go by Charles, he definitely won’t do that to our own kids.

2. The word “Husky” gives him PTSD.

Oh the awkward years. During Garrett’s (Late 80s/Early 90s) he had to buy “husky” sized pants but not everyone carried them back then. Since pants were such a booty-licious drama, and Garrett’s grandma was skilled enough to sew him pants, he used to pick out fabric from the store, send it to her and she would mail back his own couture Hammer Pants.

COUTURE HAMMER PANTS, you guys.

3. He is obsessed with all motorsports. Well, except Nascar.


Formula One, Moto GP, World Super Bike, V8 Super Cars, Indy Car, World Rally, OMG the list goes on and on. If it has wheels, he will probably watch it race all while nail biting, yelling at the television, and pre-empting the announcers. I think his dream career is basically to be Will Buxton. If you want to know why he doesn’t love Nascar you’ll have to ask him. The answer is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long and thought out for one bullet point.

4. He is also an only child.

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Yep. We’re both lonely onlies. Well, except neither of us is lonely. That said, we are both completely comfortable with the idea of having an only child. Or of having 10,000 babies. We’ll just have to see what happens. It makes both of our extended families super small, but we are lucky that we both have awesome cousins who are similar ages that make up for the lack of siblings.

5. He is basically fearless – unless you want to stick a needle in him or touch his eye, take a picture of him or blog about him.

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Garrett will only have blood drawn in life or death situations. Oddly enough, he was in an EMT/Paramedic program for awhile and was around needles all the time with no problem. Just don’t bring the needles around his arm. Similarly, he will avoid cameras like the plague. He hates having his picture taken and whenever I talk about blogging about him he gets a little itchy. Today’s post was collaborative, and he only agreed to it because so many of you requested “More Garrett!” on my recent survey. I’m sure after this post he’ll probably go underground or something. :)

6. The eye ball fear is inconvenient since he is almost completely blind without his glasses.

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I mean like Bliiiiiiiiiiiii-ind. But he refuses to even think about lasik because he is sure there is needles and eye balls involved and that is a No-Go.

7. His Bachelor Decor when we met left a lot to be desired

All I will say about this is when we met he had a Lindsay Lohan poster hanging in his living room. Sure this was pre-coke-head Lindsay who was darling, but oh has he never lived that down. Speaking of things he’ll never live down, he used to have a Laser Tag blanket on his bed.

“What? It’s a blanket. And it still works!” This was his 22 year old excuse for terrible bedding, and literally the next day I took him to the mall and made him buy a legit duvet. Bachelor men, man.

8. He is an encyclopedia of random BBC programming


Inspectory Lynley, Ballykiss Angel, Luther, Prime Suspect, Torchwood, Keeping Up Appearances — all shows Garrett has turned me onto. He is a veritable Anglophile when it comes to TV and Mini Series’ but oddly enough he was a hard sell on Downton Abbey at first. Obviously he totally came around.

9. He has a serious mayonnaise aversion, but beyond that he will eat almost anything. And 10 times more of it than you would expect.

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Even amazing homemade mayo hasn’t converted him. And he can practically spidey-sense it if it’s in his food. He should bottle that skill and sell it. But instead he just refuses to eat mayonnaise based dishes. That said, he doesn’t refuse to eat much else. He can be a really impressive glutton when he puts his mind to it. :)

10. One of his major life regrets is sitting next to Suge Knight in the airport once and not talking to him.


I mean, I can’t really blame him. I probably wouldn’t have talked to him either. Garrett doesn’t live his life with many regrets though, and that’s one of the many things that I just love about him!

******

Hope you learned something new about my Partner in Crazy!

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Life Snapshot: The Seed

Yesterday I woke up at 5 am and made Monday my bitch. I had a quick lunch, was super productive in the afternoon and by 5pm I was at the gym sweating like my head was a water faucet (it wasn’t even that hot!) The workout was brutal — Cleans and Cleans and MORE CLEANS, but since I have been working reeeeeeeeeeeeeeally hard to improve my clean form the past 3 weeks I wasn’t all that sad to see them on the menu. There is something incredibly satisfying about doing hard work and actually seeing progress. I left the gym exhausted and molded myself right into the scorching leather of my car’s seat and headed home.

Halfway home I decided this gorgeous evening called for some sun roof action. It was super windy and even in a ponytail my hair was kind of blowing all over the place. I clicked through some radio stations playing endless iterations of teeny-bop boy bands and as I got to my last pre-set this song came on:

It’s a song that I must have listened to a thousand times the summer I met Garrett and instantly it reminded me of hot nights, drinking beers on patios, playing darts, feeling the twinge of butterflies and getting to know someone new. I smiled a little bit to myself, turned the radio up way louder than appropriate for a 33 year old woman driving a Subaru and drove home thinking that this song was indeed a seed planted all those years ago. And almost 10 years later I am just so happy that it is still growing.

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Weekend Wedding + Attitude Adjustment

Thanks for the encouraging words Friday, y’all. Couple that with a productive (and celebratory) weekend and I feel like I’m getting my head back on straight!

I had Friday off from work and it was nice to just get some stuff done around the house and then officially start the weekend. Sarah and I enjoyed a little Happy Hour action over at de Vere’s Irish Pub. I like the vibe there and their fried pickles are always on point. We had closed out our tab when we overheard the bartender mention that the tacos of the day were Pork Belly. You know that is the secret password around here, right? OBVIOUSLY we had to immediately open a tab back up and order some. In the end, we were both convinced that those tacos were chicken, which was quite a sad situation for a pork belly enthusiast like myself, but the company and the libations were fantastic! And I guess I should have gone in with low expectations — I mean, tacos at an Irish bar?

The Black and Tans, on the other hand, were FABULOUS.

Saturday was a big day as wedding bells were ringing for my cousin Jim and his fiance Gina. Garrett, my mom and I packed up early and headed out for a day in Sonoma to watch them get hitched over at the Jack London Lodge. If you have been around here long, you know trips to Sonoma involve some customary food-related Traditions:

Glarifees at Swisshotel and Sandwiches and the Cheese Factory

(I explain the Glarifee here. Definitely worth a try if you are in the area!)

After that little indulgence, we headed over to the wedding which was, in a word: emotional. I am a crazy wedding cryer. I can be completely composed before the wedding but the second it starts it’s just WATERWORKS! I am surprised I don’t look like a raccoon in every photography I am in. I was so proud of my cousin Jim standing up there with his lovely bride and their ceremony and vows were personal and beautiful and you just couldn’t help but feel the love!

At the reception, my 10 year old cousin Olivia gave us a lesson in how to be fierce and my 2 year old cousin Chelsea schooled ALL OF US on the dance floor! Oh also, there were Samoa flavored cupcakes. No one can resist those! It was coconut cake FILLED with chocolate. Aaaaaah, delicious! A good time was had and memories were made, and that was just what I needed on Saturday.

Sunday I woke up and felt determined to get things back on track! My mom and I hit up the Farmers Market, I cooked some breakfast, prepped for the week and ran out to the garden to pick some zucchini.

Whoops!

Guess I negelected them for a a day or two. YIKES! Regardless, after a month of boozing it up and enjoy some crap food liberally, I’m ready to get things back on track. My fridge is stocked with healthy food and even though I have no idea What’s For Dinner beyond tonight (Uh, I was serious about Zucchini Boats), I’m getting there.

It’s a new week, a new month and I woke up this morning and consciously put on a new attitude. I’m ready to see how this all unfolds.

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On Mother’s Day

Me + My Mama

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.

~Washington Irving

Truer words have never been spoken.

In this phase of my life, as I wish and dream for my own family, I feel eternally grateful for the amazing mentor I have in my mom. No one does it better.

I love you, Mom!

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